Are You & Your Partner Close Enough?

Your problem may actually be that you're too close.

Are You & Your Partner Close Enough?

Are You & Your Partner Close Enough?
Couples often come to my office to discuss the lack of connection, stating their relationships are disjointed or not close enough. Disconnected might be how they feel, but often the opposite might be true. They aren't too far apart - they're too close!
The problematic “too close” looks like this: couples sharing their anxiety, stress, purpose, or validation. They struggle when their partner isn't 100% with them on ideas or views. Think the “you complete me”  from Jerry Maguire. I am not a fan of the idea of Bennifers, Bragelina's, etc, because I balk at this fused appearance. This shouldn't be any partnerships' goal. Plus, I would be known as a part of a Kacco or a Jelly; not good for anyone.
Dr. David Schnarch, renowned psychologist and sex therapist says the issue is the connection in its unhealthy fused state. This is called emotional fusion. Schnarch says “giving up your individuality to be together is as defeating in the long run as giving up your relationship to maintain you individuality. Either way, you end up being less of a person with less of a relationship.”
You need to find balance, and the solution is differentiation; defined by Schnarch as the balance between the “drive for individuality with the drive for togetherness.” Finding this balance works against the fusion. You can disagree with those who are close to you physically and emotionally and not feel bad; you can agree with them without losing yourself.
Here are ways your relationship might be fused and confused and what to do instead:

The Reflected Self

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who Am I? If Maleficent had a securer sense of who she was she wouldn't have had to go around snuffing out the competition. In relationships, using others to gain attention and approval at all costs isn't healthy. If you are only beautiful when your partner notices, then you will not feel beautiful if you are not getting this external validation and you then operate with a deficit and are at risk for looking for it elsewhere. Validate yourself for yourself!

It's Not Me, It's You 

You simply chose the wrong person, right? Wrong. Schnarch says that couples generally pick partners that are at the same level of differentiation as themselves. Many will balk at this but it has been my clinical experience. Some of my most aghast clients, who felt more emotionally evolved than their partners and refuted the idea found themselves with the most work to do. Self-assess.

Avoidant Behaviours

See Jane Run—from problems. The minute it isn't working you bolt. From the conversation, the room or the relationship. To deal effectively with conflict you have to self soothe, hold onto yourself and manage your anxiety during differences while tolerating and hearing the other.

Near and (not too) Far

I have a friend who followed a big heart break with some good strong self (and friend) focused time. Eventually she met someone and loved how they had their own lives and could spend time together if and when they chose. This worked great for dating and early marriage but fell apart when real togetherness was required. What she never tested or saw was that he was selfish, a “good time” guy, if you needed him he couldn't be there, he didn't have the skills or the desire. The marriage eventually finished when needs presented as life evolved: kids, mortgage, more responsibilities. It is important to seek balance, having individuation with togetherness while being able to be there for each other.
Be good to yourself, aware of yourself and hold onto yourself in relationships. It is important to find balance with togetherness and individuality which will foster a healthy relationships built on strengths.






The Joy of Ditching Grudges

Get Rid of Hate; Make Room for Joy

The Joy of Ditching Grudges

Let go of grudges

The word hate is thrown around loosely. Our children hate pickles or baths. We hate our dishwashers, our jobs... and although hate may be a strong word, offense and resentment is something we all relate to. We walk around with things we're offended by somewhere beneath the surface, and some of these resentments are justifiable. However, harbouring grudges, offenses, and hate is unhealthy and unhelpful.

It damages your state of mind

No matter how an individual has been wronged, hate is usually more damaging than letting go would ever be. Unbroken POW survivor Louis Zamperini said “Hate is self-destructive. If you hate somebody, you're not hurting the person you hate. You're hurting yourself.”

It isn't good for your body

True, the treatment toward you, someone you love, or something you saw is wrong, maybe even repetitive and intentional. The person might be self-serving, a liar... but carrying around hate isn't good for anyone. We want to uncover the truth, stop their behaviour and receive justice. Hate won't get you there. You might need to introduce boundaries, end relationships or apply consequences, but hate isn't the answer and hate won't win.

It feels horrible

The more we dwell and ruminate on resentments the worse we feel. We have to let go, for ourselves. Take Officer Steven McDonald, a young police officer who was expecting his first child when shot in Central Park in 1986 after stopping to question a group of teens about some missing bicycles. One of the teens shot him three times leaving him paralyzed. Instead of harbouring hatred he said “I forgave because I believe the only thing worse than receiving a bullet in my spine would have been to nurture revenge in my heart.”

Clouds your judgement

Hate might dictate how you make personal and business decisions and it is a terrible advisor.

You are enslaved to it

Carrying around hate means carrying around triggers. If you walk around trigger happy, and see someone who wronged you - or something reminding you of a wrong - you will get upset or angry, when the truth is this: nothing is occurring in the moment, you are simply reacting to something from the past or a feared future. Let go.

Stops you from doing the important work

Resentments can lead you to distance yourself from relationships when it might have been important to stay in, explain the offense, work through conflict, apologize for your part and maybe figured it out. But even without a happy ending, you will have tried. Avoiding or rejecting can leave you with regrets. 

Makes no room for love

A hateful state of mind blocks you from seeing any good or a different point of view and robs us of our internal joy and freedom. Love opens up possibilities for understanding and forgiveness. 

What if we let go of all the offenses we have in our hearts?  We can move on then, free ourselves, and even find forgiveness. Forgiveness can be hard, it might need to be an intentional act every single day after every offensive action, and following every hurt and tear but it will be where we grow, thrive and overcome.

See Also: Do You Hate Your Spouse?