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.
To be an authentic person in our romantic relationships and to experience spiritual communication we must learn to be true to our partner. In order to be true to our partner however, we will need to first be true to ourselves. The opposite is also true. In order to be true to ourselves about who we really are we must learn to be completely open and honest with our partners.
Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions:
I’ll lose weight. I’ll stop smoking. I’ll spend more time with my partner or my children.
Somewhere around the second week of January however, those promises go the way of all the other promises. We start snacking, smoking, and/or spending more time at the office.
Many times our promises are unrealistic. They are often made to impress someone else. Other times, the promises are made half-heartedly, with no real intention of following through. Still others are made with the hope of doing the impossible.
What reaction do you get when the holiday season is mentioned? Do you immediately have warm thoughts of family, holiday meals, and merriment, or does your mind conjure up dark images of depression, chaos, and family arguments?
Memories are a powerful thing. Feeling memories of the pain and disappointment of holidays past can overwhelm us so much so that we have come to expect nothing different. Or perhaps, our feeling memories might be so wonderful that we again have expectations of exciting holiday experiences to be had.
If we are so sure that the pain of the past will revisit us, we automatically brace ourselves for it, and we are seldom disappointed; the pain returns because that is what we were dwelling on. In the same vein, if we are so sure that each holiday will bring the same joy of the past, we are bound to be disillusioned if the reality does not favorably compare with the memory.
So many of us seem to rehash the exact same arguments with our partners time and again, yet nothing changes. It is as if the dialogue could be pre-scripted, each partner knows what the other is about to say beforehand and then we each go ahead and say it anyway!
The truth is that change is possible. There is a way out of this vicious lack-of-communication cycle.