By Steve Horseman for Good Men Project
When you’re keeping your pain to yourself, it’s hard to see the potential for change. Steve Horsman shines the light where you might see darkness.
If you’ve clicked because of the title, that might mean the thought has crossed your mind at least once during your relationship.
Don’t worry – you’re not alone.
This “dirty little secret” isn’t really that big of a secret. Our minds can go there easily – especially if there has been a frequent pattern of bad feelings, disrespect, disconnection, resentment, and waning intimacy.
I suggest taking a big, deep breath. Don’t believe everything you think. Don’t think everything you feel is valid.
But What About the Evidence?
The evidence that makes you think and feel like you’re with the wrong person is all the stuff exactly opposite of what made them feel like the right person to begin with.
- They are inconsiderate
- They are disrespectful
- They don’t pay attention to you and your needs
- They don’t trust us or value you
- They don’t desire you
- They don’t “connect” with you
- They don’t share your values
- They drain you and make you feel bad about yourself
- You don’t feel attracted to them.
Looks like an open and shut case, right? What if the evidence is false? What if some of it is simply fabricated?
What if this evidence is simply a reflection of the energy you are putting into the relationship?
It happens all the time.
Two people start out their lives together by constantly creating positive, loving energy. Then, they sloooowwwly morph into a couple who only reacts to negative energy.
They both have stopped giving what the other needs because they are now focused only on what they are not getting.
That’s the evil power of negative energy. It makes you go into a defensive mode when what is really needed is a strong offense.
A Reality Check
In some cases, two people get married who probably should NOT. In spite of a comfortable, fun, supportive, and respectful courtship, the cards are still stacked against some couples right at the very start.
- They may have a colossal mismatch of emotional maturity preventing emotional intimacy.
- There may be an enormous chasm between their relative intellectual gifts and ability to communicate and to share intellectual intimacy.
- They may have unresolvable spiritual values and beliefs that undermine respect and the ability to share spiritual intimacy.
- There may be pre-existing frustrations with the lack of physical attraction and badly mismatched sexual desires which stifle any ability to develop satisfying physical intimacy.
I admit, there are relationships in which issues with these 4 intimacies have no clear solutions.
Can two people compromise, negotiate, and sacrifice to work through these things? Sure. But they both start the relationship feeling like they may be just settling for less than what they want.
It’s possible to grow into any of these 4 intimacies even when it seems impossible.
Yes, it does take two. Before it takes two, it takes only one to want to. It’s possible you haven’t even come close to making the effort required. I’m still chasing my own demons around my decision to divorce. Do I still think I settled for 28 years? Yes. Do I think I made a strong effort along the way to help intimacy grow? I’m not so sure.
But What About “Soul Mates”?
With the divorce rate hovering around 50% (and much higher for 2nd and 3rd marriages), you can bet that wedding day “soul mates” are not exempt from wondering if they made a mistake.
Even those who take a second and third chance, believing they finally found the “right” person, actually do worse!
Every relationship has the ability to melt down into the state of feelings and mode I described above.
If you repeat the same thoughts, words, and actions in each relationship, you will get the same results.
Even “soul mates” can crash and burn if they have no idea they actually need to exert a little effort. They may think they “complete” each other as if each of them came to the party with only half a person! This mindset may cause them to make only a half-hearted effort, waiting for the other to pick up the other half.
Some people say strong relationships take work. That sounds ominous and scary.
I prefer to say that each person needs to make an effort. Effort is something you choose to do because you want to. Work is something you feel you just have to do.
How Much Effort?
Not much. Just your 100%. Not 50%.
Whoever said our relationships require a 50/50 effort from each person was bad at math – and relationships. There is no “other half”. You are a whole person and so is she/he.
- 50/50 means you have one foot out the door and one foot in.
- 50/50 means you will only do so much before needing something in return.
- 50/50 means your commitment to personal growth and to your relationship has certain conditions and expectations from others.
- 50/50 means you’re content to live your life on the 50-yard line and hand the ball off to someone else to run with it.
Not good. Not attractive. Not inspiring. No fun.
Living your life 50/50 is a recipe for winding up really pissed off – at others first – then at yourself.
What’s the other 50% you may have been missing?
- 10% – You start learning
- 10% – You start changing your frame of mind
- 10% – You start changing your words and actions
- 10% – You become clear on your values and operating principles
- 10% – You create your own inspiration and affirmation because you feel your own worth and value your own growth
At this point, you may be tempted to ask about her or his other 50%.
- not about them. You can’t hand off the ball to them at the 50-yard line!
You must want the whole 100% for you no matter where they are on the field.
You are the only person who can possibly succeed in this relationship – or your next one.
Take another deep breath. Now exhale.
Think about what you most want from life and your relationship. Are you willing to give your 100% ?
The only thing holding you back is you.
It’s your fear of the unknown. It’s the sadness of the past. It’s finding out that you, along with everybody else, are not perfect and you have a lot of learning and growing to do.
It’s the fear of being accountable–the fear of running the ball into the end zone yourself.
It took me 28 years of marriage and 53 years of living to get over the fear. I’ve learned about the joy in building relationships with people who can help me focus and be accountable for MY efforts.
There is SO MUCH more on the other side of fear.
Originally published: GoodGuys2GreatMen.com