Archive for the ‘Emotional Abuse’ Category

Guaranteed Freezing: “I’ll give you wood when you give me heat.”

Your spouse’s opinions may change over time, but seldom because you have lectured, pressed, insisted or demanded his or her conformity with your opinion.  It is far more likely that your spouses opinion, or yours, will change simply by being aware of each others views and being open to allowing those views, and others one will witness as the years go by, percolate deep inside until that view begins to meld into one’s own opinions.

Acceptance of differences is what both wins  hearts and eventually, at undetermined times and rates, can transform hearts and opinions.

Withholding acceptance, on the other hand, poisons intimacy.

In The Seven Levels of IntimacyMatthew Kelly writes:

The first truth of relationships is that all relationships have problems.  They all have unresolvable problems.  These unresolvable problems are usually the result of vastly different opinions on certain issues or varying expectations about the role each partner should play.  All of these are the result of differences in upbringing, education, and experience.

…it is how we choose to deal with these unresolvable problems that most influences the quality and depth of our relationships.

The relationships that thrive despite their unresolvable problems are those in which the people acknowledge the problems, find ways to adapt to them, and over time even find them amusing.  They don’t allow differing opinions to become a roadblock in their quest for intimacy.

The people whose relationships struggle take a very different path… They constantly argue to the point of gridlock; they keep hurting each other’s feelings, and consciously or subconsciously they stand at the stove saying, “I’ll give you wood when you give me heat.”

They withhold their love, affection, and acceptance from each other while promising themselves, “When I understand her I will accept her,” or vice versa.  Over time, a pattern emerges.  The people disagree about something; they criticize each other; they blame each other for their inability to resolve their differences; the tension escalates; the subject of the argument is abandoned for condescending and critical personal attacks; the argument becomes too painful, so one person (or both) abdicates; they retreat from the conflict and return to the superficial and safer levels [limiting conversation to cliches or facts, rather than opinions and values].

Unless they can lean a new way to deal with their unresolvable problems they will never taste the life giving waters of intimacy. The new way they desperately need to find is acceptance. . . .

We must work our way out from under the illusion that all problems can be resolved.  Once we are liberated from the expectation that we should be able to resolve all the problems in our relationships, we are free to turn our attention to helping each other become the-best-version-of-ourselves.

It isn’t your job to fix the relationship.  It is the relationship’s job to fix you.

Relationships are hard work, but the hardest work is letting go of our personal agendas and learning to accept that we are who we are and where we are right now for a reason.

Everything doesn’t have to be planned and controlled. Relationships should be treated as sacred mysteries.  Allow the mystery to unfold in it’s own time.

The greatest gift we can give anyone in relationship is acceptance.  Once we resolve to accept people for who they are and where they are, we are set free and so are they.

We are free to affirm them, encourage them, and appreciate them, and by liberating ourselves we set them free to be who they are and become all they were created to be.

All relationships have unresolvable problems.

It is difficult to come to come to terms with this truth at first, but in time you will discover, if you have not done so already, that it is how we deal with these unresolvable problems that usually determines the fate of our relationships.

Very few relationships lose their footing in the midst of great joy or even the everyday challenges; it is the unresolvable problems of relationships (and the illusion that they should not exist) that cause us to lose our footing.

We Are All Guilty. But Not Equally Guilty.

Here is a unwanted truth you won’t like to hear: “Every married person abuses his or her spouse.”

Most people will quickly dismiss or deny this truth because most of us don’t “really” abuse our mates.

But it is actually true.   Every married person has abused his or her spouse.

I’ll admit, most abuses are small.  But ignoring these small abuses is what gets us all into trouble.

Think about it.

A harsh word.  A criticism veiled as a “funny” tease.  These are the seedlings of verbal abuse.

The cold shoulder.  Withholding a smile or a look of affection.  Even benign neglect.  These are the seedlings of emotional abuse.  In these examples, the emotional abuse is in the form of rejection.

Remember, every person wants to feel loved.  Just as you want to feel treasured, honored, respected, admired, and cherished by your spouse, he or she wants the same from you.

The Seedlings of Emotional and Verbal Abuse

At least in some small way, any rejection or put down of the person you promised to love as much as you love yourself is an abuse of that loved one.  It is a betrayal of your vow to stand by, protect, support, encourage, and love your spouse.

But you may complain, such a broad definition of spouse abuse sets an impossibly high standard. Read the rest of this entry »

Sex, Success, and Security

Best selling author Dr. Warren Farrell’s Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say  is filled with lot’s of valuable insights for both men and women.   It’s given me much to ponder.

One line of thought that I would like to share with you stems from his thesis that men seek women for sex while women seek men for success.  Put even more bluntly,  men seek “sex objects” and women seek “success objects.”

Farrell’s would agree that this maxim describes just a “tendency” that does not sufficiently reflect all of the more complex and noble aspects of human relationships.

Clearly, men want more than sex and women want more than financial freedom.   On the other hand, it is sometimes useful to boil down even the most complex systems to the most base generalities.

Acknowledging that caveat–and with your promise of tolerating the following over generalizations–let’s follow the lead of a few of these stereotypes to see what insights they might give us.

First, it it noteworthy that Farrell’s formula can apply to both people who are avoiding marriage and people seeking marriage.Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say: Destroying Myths, Creating Love

For example, men avoiding marriage are attracted to beautiful women who offer sex without commitment. Women avoiding marriage are attracted to wealthy men who offer gifts, meals, housing, travel, and excitement without commitment.

For those seeking marriage, men marry seeking sexual security and women marry seeking financial security.


Marriage as A Promise of Security

Again, if we temporarily ignore all the many beautiful and important nuances to look at the differences in focus on sex and success, this is difference between what a bride and groom hear when they make their marriage vows:

  • a groom hears his bride promising to do her best to always be available to him for sexual intimacy, and
  • a bride hears the groom promising to do his best to always provide the necessities of life which will allow her to form their household, raise their children, and pursue all of her dreams for a happy productive life.

Read the rest of this entry »

Unconditional Love. What is Your Unilateral Promise to Your Spouse?

Marriage vows are intended to bind us to our spouse even and especially when we no longer feel like we want to be together, much less bound together.

Marriage vows are a reminder that promise to love someone is an act of the will, a decision to bind one’s will to the process of trying as best as one can to expand, renew, or even restore feelings of love . . . even when there is a drought of such feelings.

Following is a letter from a husband to a wife in the midst of marriage counseling.  At the time it was written, they had not had physical intimacy for over two years, and she was balking at plans arranged during a counseling session for them to go on a second honeymoon. Read the rest of this entry »

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