I worked with a couple, Julie and Tom, who came to see me shortly after they got married. They’d called each other “soul mates.” However, once they tied the knot, Julie started pointing out problems, trying to get Tom to fit into the image she wanted her marriage to be like.
In her attempt to nip the problems in the bud, she initiated conversations with Tom. She told him about the sadness and worry she was feeling.
She expressed her disappointment and frustration with the way things were going between them, and she tried to tell him what was important to her.
When she did this, he lashed out in anger at her and backed away. The “conversations” seemed to Tom like long, drawn out criticisms of how he was failing. He started saying, “I just can’t seem to make you happy.”
Guys will back out when they can’t make you happy.
They turn off. They see your happiness as vitally important and your unhappiness as a sign of their failure. It’s evidence to them that they can’t fix it. And over time, they shut down, spiraling into inertia.
Men don’t try, they only do. Can you see how that’s a set up for relationship failure?
The more Tom backed away, the more fear Julie had about their future, the more angry she became and the more she tried to get him to understand what needed to be “fixed.” It was a downward spiral.
The problem is that our brains are wired to look for danger and things we don’t like, and to call up past memories, so we don’t make the same mistakes again. It’s an attempt to avert disaster. It’s our survival instinct.
In order to make changes that will get you what you want, you must retrain your mind to see something other than what you’re wired to look for.
Julie and Tom had forgotten to high-light what was working in their relationship and express appreciation and gratitude for each other.
They were letting fear get in the way of their love for each other.
Love survives the inevitable ups and downs in relationships when we are conscious about where we put our attention and focus, and choose instead to express what we appreciate about our partner regularly to them.
Julie started coaching with me first, and what I worked on with her was to bring her focus back to the present moment and to turn her attention on what she liked, appreciated and valued – to remember why she had married Tom.
It was hard to do when we started working together because there was so much tension between them, but she was committed and persevered.
I had her call her energy back into this present moment by catching herself when she started worrying. She was re-training her mind to look for the things that she liked, appreciated, and were working, and then express them and only them to Tom.
Tom had to get himself into the present moment too. He’d been reacting with anger to Julie because of a memory of his previous long-term relationship that had ended badly. He’d seen himself as a failure. My work with Tom was to heal the memory of his past relationship, so that he wasn’t projecting worry onto his marriage with Julie.
By being in the present moment and focusing their attention and energy on what was working, they’ve been able to remember why they got married and co-create the future they truly want together.
Through our work together, they began expressing gratitude and appreciation for each other daily and enhanced the love they have for each other.
If you’re experiencing similar challenges in your relationship and wondering what you can do to turn things around, schedule a 30-minute appointment with me to discuss your unique situation and goals and what you can start doing right away to achieve them.
I’m here for you. I’m on your side. 🙂