Commitment and freedom are not mutually exclusive. If you believe that it’s necessary to choose between a life of freedom or one of committed partnership, welcome to the club. What many people refer to as “commitment phobia” often has to do with an unwillingness to accept what they believe to be a necessary surrender of freedom that a committed partnerships require. The idea of being trapped in a relationship from which there is no exit is, to say the least, an unappealing prospect for most people. The belief that freedom and commitment are mutually exclusive, that it’s an either/or proposition is a common one. While it may be true that in many situations it’s not possible to have it both ways, relationship is one in which having it both ways is not only possible, but it’s a requirement.
Love does (sometimes) mean having to say you’re sorry.Breakdowns happen in relationships. Despite our best intentions, there are times in relationships in which one or both partners is careless with words, where feelings get hurt, when anger is unfairly displaced, where there is insensitivity to the other’s feelings, where we do or say things that we regret or that cause harm, and more. This is not to justify or excuse such transgressions, but to acknowledge the inevitability of these situations. It is of course a good idea to do everything that we can to minimize the frequency and severity of our transgressions, but when they do occur, the next best thing is to exercise damage control. This process generally involves the repairing of trust that has been broken or perceived to have been violated.
Having the Courage to DesireIn the days when traveling vacuum cleaner salesmen roamed the land, one came to my home when I was a little girl and offered to demonstrate the miraculous qualities of the new Hoover. “Mrs. Cooper”, he said, “this vacuum cleaner is world class! The very best money can buy. It’s got attachments for carpets, drapes, stairs, heating vents, hardwood floors, you name it and it will clean it. “Wow!” said my mom, clearly impressed. “Is there anything that it can’t do?”
Finding freedom in prison."Everything can be taken from a man [or woman] but one thing: the last of human freedoms- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances." ~ Viktor Frankl I met Jeri at a writer’s workshop where we were both students. She had an effervescent temperament, and I found myself strongly drawn to her from the moment we met. She had the look of someone who has paid some serious dues, yet as I listened to her story I found myself amazed that she looked as youthful and vibrant as she did. It would be a profound understatement to say that Jeri had had a hard life.
Some ways to find out.Many people believe that there is a “special person out there waiting for me”, and my job is to find him or her so that we can spend the rest of our lives in bliss. This is a particularly popular and seductive idea because it suggests that once I’ve located the person of my dreams, the work is over. It also suggests that there is only one person with whom I am destined to have this special relationship. On a planet of 7 billion souls, finding that right one is a daunting prospect. Consider instead the possibility that there may be many potential mates with whom it is possible for me to experience a soulful connection, and that the real work is not just about the finding, but also about what happens after we have found each other.
Do these 6 things and find out.Charlie and I have heard vast numbers of people making this claim over the years. My point of view is it only takes one. You may have to kiss a few frogs in the process but that’s a small price to pay for what could be a great outcome. It is true however, finding a qualified partner can be a daunting challenge. I'll be the first to admit that there are some trials and tribulations to go through in sorting through the possibilities. It's not a walk in the park to find somebody who will pair up with you, make a contract to support your development, won't bail when things get hot, who can stand the heat, and work with you to create the partnership of your dreams.
A Cautionary TailAs you probably know, J. Paul Getty was one of the wealthiest and most successful American industrialists in history. Fiercely ambitious from an early age, Getty made his first million at age 23 in 1916. He later went on to found the Getty oil company. In 1957 Fortune magazine named him the richest living American and in 1966, the Guinness Book of Records named him as the world’s richest private citizen.
Barbara and Jack got married twenty-four years ago. Barbara is fifty-one and Jack is fifty-two. Their oldest daughter is in college and their younger daughter, a high school senior. Over the years Barbara and Jack have drifted apart, avoiding each other in an attempt to keep the bickering to a minimum. Barbara’s numerous efforts to bring about more emotional closeness have been mostly unsuccessful. In her frustration, she has turned to her sister and women friends to meet her needs for connection. Jack has grown bitter due to Barbara's repeated rejections of his sexual overtures. He diverts his pent up energy into sports. Despite their parallel lives, the tension in their home is high.
If the three magic words in real estate are location, location, location, then the three magic words in relationships are communication, communication, communication. But just as some locations are more desirable than others, some types of communication are more fruitful than others. More talking doesn’t necessarily translate into better outcomes. Sometimes, as the song goes, the words just get in the way. Although we tend to think of good communicators as being good speakers, speaking is only one half of the communication equation. The other, perhaps even more important half is listening. A good listener is a good communicator because what he or she is helping to produce in that listening is greater understanding and an enhanced connection. While the content of much of our daily communication is about the sharing or transfer of information, in the world of relationships, understanding and connection are the jackpot. In Deborah Tannen's best-selling book, "You Just Don't Understand," she refers to these two modes as "report talk and rapport talk."
Lately there’s been a lot of attention paid to the Law of Attraction. For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past few years, simply put, this phrase refers to the idea that by intensely focusing your attention on what you want and keeping “negative” thoughts having to do with fear, anger, doubt, guilt, etc. out of your consciousness, you will draw into your life whatever it is that you truly desire. Call me skeptical but I find this philosophy somewhat simplistic particularly when it comes to relationships. While it certainly is beneficial to avoid getting ensnared in the trap of obsessive negative thinking, thinking positive thoughts is generally not enough to bring about any desired outcome, particularly in the domain of relationships. The idea that you can attract the relationship of your dreams is naturally quite attractive to those of us who are in search of a life partner. The number of websites and dating services that are in the business of bringing unmatched individuals together seems to be growing at an exponential rate, and given the number of singles out there who are looking to pair up with the right person, that’s not surprising.