When THIS Relationship Looks Like A Previous One…
Have you noticed? The beginning of any relationship worth its salt is fun. There is plenty of discovery, curiosity and looking for what’s positive and “right” about a potential partner.
Then, after time passes — and the relationship settles in for the long ride — something strange can happen... the relationship begins to look a lot like (Christmas?)
the last one.
- Turns out he’s already taken. Am I a magnet for married guys or what?
- He refuses to help me around the house. He’s just like my Ex.
- He won’t share certain areas of his life with me. I’m cut off.
- We don’t talk like we used to.
- We don’t have enough in common. I feel alone.
- What happened to all the good sex?
- I thought he would participate more in raising my child. He said he would.
- I don’t get compliments anymore about how I look. I miss that.
- I resent what I’m being asked or expected to do to support my partner. Here I go again not getting what I want.
- She/He quit his job. I’m the breadwinner again. Just like last time.
We Have Choices
What to do?
We can (run screaming from the room)
go find a new partner, and start over, hoping for a better outcome.
(Hint: I’m personally familiar with this method. Let me be direct here — it doesn’t work.)
Or two, we can take 100% responsibility. We can say, “Oh, there’s my work.” We can sit down and take a gander at what’s lurking in the shadows.
(Our shadows, not our partner’s shadows.)
I recommend the second choice, but I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t make that choice until I was at least 50 years old.
So I can save you from chaos and catastrophe if you like!
To research these posts, I often ask friends, strangers, family (any willing human, really!) about my blog topics. This time, I asked my partner Eric, “When you become aware of something you’re doing that doesn’t work, what do you do?”
He thought some more.
I was really curious what he would say.
He said, “Well, I usually leave the situation. I bow out. I walk away. I go do something else to get my mind off what just happened. I go repair something. I distract myself. It helps me not get after myself so much for having done it.”
Then he added, “I also apologize as soon as I can. “
And being his partner, I can vouch for him — he does both of these things.
First, I have learned that when Eric walks away, it’s a really good thing. He’s saving me from the Tiger, and the Tiger is him. It also means he’s deliberately and consciously hitting the reset button. He’ll be better in a little while, and then he’ll be ready to talk about it.
And second, he’s better at apologizing than I am. And, yes, I have learned from him. Confession: apologizing was not in my repertoire when I met him.
It’s pretty easy to clean up a mess (or potential mess), if you’re awake and aware.
It helps to talk out loud, confess out loud — call yourself on it — as soon as storm clouds form. When I’ve said something regretful, or snapped, I say to Eric that I’m aware I just did that.
I say things like:
- “Oh, you know that thing I just said to you? Never mind that.”
- “Oops. That doesn’t work. Let me do that again.”
- “Oh, don’t pay any attention to that. I’d like a do-over.”
- “I need a rewind please.”
- “Wow, I am really upset. Let me go calm down and then we can talk about this.”
- “Don’t go there.” This is my shortest code for danger, danger Will Robinson! It means don’t follow me where I’m going, it’s not good and I know it. Wrong Way! Go back! I say this when he is starting to defend his point of view or justify what he did.
And Eric is really, really good at leaving my shenanigans alone. He never, ever picks a fight about “what I just said.”
Don’t get in a hurry to fix things while everybody’s upset. All you have to do is rescue yourselves from a tandem jump into that pit of peril. Really, that’s it. Don’t get all therapeudic in the middle of the yuckies unless you can step back twenty-five paces and really observe yourself. Most people can’t.
It’s OK. You’ll get there.
About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 15 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant. I love really good food, good friends, good relationships!