Linda: Sometimes, in our attempts to keep our relationship in a zone of calm and cooperation, too much accommodating is going on and resentment starts to build. We may be reluctant to disturb the peace, fearful of retaliation if we bring up the difficult subject, or don’t quite trust ourselves to communicate in a respectful way. We don’t want to hurt our partner and make things worse. But when our boundaries are violated, the anger is there to alert us that we must speak up. The resentment does not go away by repressing it; it tends to grow larger.
Once again, we are being called up on to practice our skills in communicating our anger in an effective way. It is not a favor to our partner to hide the anger. And a responsible communication can be a gift of awakening for them when they are causing harm to the relationship and are not aware that they are doing so. If your mild attempts have not penetrated their denial system, a more vigorous, passionate communication is required.
Consider the case of Leah and Chad:
Leah: I have spoken to you on many occasions about how painful it is to me to constantly be in the position of initiating lovemaking with you. And each time I bring up my dissatisfaction in my gentle, quiet way, you agree that it’s only fair that there is shared responsibility for who gets things started. We always thoroughly enjoy our sexual encounters, but afterwards, it’s back to business as usual and you forget to initiate, sticking me with the responsibility.
Chad: You’re right. I need to remember our agreement. (Then there is a long pause.)
Leah: (Speaking with more intensity in her voice) No, I’m not willing to be dismissed this time and then to have another relapse to business as usual. I’m willing to admit to being too mild mannered in the past about the way I have communicated this request to you. I am determined to do better this time. I am going to be thorough this time. I’m hurt that I have been in this position for a very long time.
And I am angry that I have been put in the position of responsibility that the pleasure of our bodies contributes to keeping our connection strong. I am the one sticking my neck out being vulnerable, and risking rejection when I initiate. And you get to be the happy recipient of my overtures, thereby feeling desired. I would like to enjoy those experiences too. I would like to see you doing more of the heavy lifting to keep our partnership in the thrive zone. I would like you to be vulnerable with me more of the time, especially by inviting me to have sex. And I would love to be the happy recipient of those three magical words “I desire you”. Hearing them would thrill me. It would be such music to my ears to feel that you find me attractive and want me in that way after all these years.
Chad: I’m hearing you this time. I hear how hurt you are; and I hear how angry with me you are too about the broken agreements. I admit it; I’ve been enjoying being indulged by you. But your strong, fierce voice is getting through to me now. I feel how much you love me even while you are growling at me. And I feel how dedicated you are to our partnership staying in spectacular shape. And I want you to give me a chance to show you that I honor both your message and the way you have delivered it. So how about we make love right now?
Leah had said these same words in previous interchanges she had with Chad on this very subject but had not gotten through to him. Her distress over not seeing any change take place was accumulating. It was an act of self-love to let Chad know in clear terms what she was unwilling to continue to tolerate. They had drifted into an unhealthy pattern and Leah was determined to interrupt it. Chad needed Leah’s fire to wake up. Due to her determined effort, all at the same time, she was in service to herself, to Chad, and to the well-bieng of their relationship.
When I last spoke to Leah on this matter, she winked at me and said, “It worked. We’re having plenty of terrific sex and both of us are initiating getting it going which makes it even better!