Have you ever been told to just “let it go”? Many of us hear that from well meaning friends or family members trying to calm us down when we are upset or concerned. Heck, they may even sing you a song about it! We have often wondered what “let it go” really means (yes, we were wondering about this expression even before the song came out).
In a romantic relationship, partners often interpret “letting go” to mean that they should ignore or avoid addressing the problems that they are seeing in each other. We think otherwise. We do not believe it is beneficial to our own emotional wellbeing, nor for the good of our relationship be turning a blind eye to the problems that we see loved ones struggling with.
Many partners in a hurting romance will describe a sense of feeling lost. They wonder what could have happened to the closeness that they used to enjoy. “Could it be that we were young and immature and easily impressed by the excitement that came so spontaneously in our marriage?” This is a common question one of the partners might be asking. “Perhaps the kids have preoccupied too much of our time, love, and attention” is usually another line of thought.
Couples often tell us that they have lost the magical feeling they once knew in their relationship. They want to reclaim the romantic charge that they once shared during the early days of their relationship.
Most of us will recall those early years as emotionally challenging and spiritually draining but full of tremendous personal and romantic rewards. In the beginning we made a lot of mistakes, but our relationship was thrilling and alive.
Some of the time the rejection we experience is overt and direct. At other times it is more covert and subtle. Our partner may smile and say “what a great idea!” but their body language or tone of voice may be indicating that they are rejecting us on the inside. Sometimes we were even accused of trying to “attack” our partner or being “too bossy” when we were not at all intending to do so.
Your loving care of each other can envelop and soothe your children. Alternatively, your arguing and discord will frighten and generate insecurity and instability for them. Your kids and family members can benefit from your happiness and they can be confused and hurt by the pain they see you endure or inflict on each other.
Many have suggested that this recovery slogan, Live and Let Live, seems to be advising romantic partners to stay on separate parallel tracks and avoid getting personally involved in each other’s recovery. We found out early in our own recovery how detrimental our separate recovery programs became for our own marriage. We became more emotionally and spiritually intimate with our respective sponsors and support groups than we were with each other! We have subsequently seen this identical disconnect occur in so many of the couples that we have had the opportunity to work with over the past 40 years.
Unfortunately, partners who are less emotionally and spiritually intimate with each other than they are with their respective sponsors or support groups are more likely to grow apart than they are to grow together. True intimacy and union is developed by becoming one with each other – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – without secrecy or deception.
You may remember growing up with clichés like “do not cry over spilled milk” or “the past is the past…you should not live in the past.” Those rules for coping with feelings were prominent when pop music discouraged “big boys” from crying and hit movies suggested “love meant never having to say you are sorry.” There were so many rules for how we should feel or act that it is no wonder so many of us found ways to dull the pain of living.
While the journey down memory lane may be nostalgic, those rules for coping with our emotions can cause many problems in our adult lives and in our romantic relationships.
We typically encourage people embarking on a new romance to make a decision of complete commitment to their partner, a decision that from here on in, this is all there is. But are there no exceptions?
Many couples have come to us for marriage counseling with the goal in mind to “save the relationship.” They are full of doubt and fear and are somewhat suspect about the path we will lead them on in therapy. They are certain, however, that they must do whatever is necessary to prevent the dissolution of the relationship.
In recent articles we have introduced the importance of maintaining authenticity in our romantic relationships. In this article we will expand on the theme by exploring some of the excuses we use for not being open and honest with our partners – but first we offer two important disclaimers:
First, openness and authenticity does not give us a right to hurt people in the name of transparency. We must think about what we are saying, why we are saying it, to whom, and when. When in doubt we can
In our last article we introduced the importance of authenticity. In this article we will expand on the theme by exploring some of the masks that we wear that will make it nearly impossible to remain authentic.
In order to be true to self, we need to work toward there only being “one” version of ourselves and avoiding the tendency to masquerade around in different identities. If who we are and how we behave depends on the people or environment we find ourselves in, it may become impossible to know and speak the truth about ourselves.