Sandy and John had been through a lot of challenges throughout the years. They argued a lot and felt like the other didn’t want to be in the relationship. Tonight they described how they had been able to not verbally attack each other since our last session a couple of weeks ago. The two smiled as they reported how they were able to be conscious of their negative pattern. Sandy said she was able to feel in her body when the anger was triggered, and was able to let that go. John said he understands that Sandy is on “his side,” and doesn’t feel the rejection like he used to. We were celebrating this process in my office. This was surprisingly nice for me to experience because Jon and Sandy had been very stuck in attack/attack mode for some time and it was not uncommon for them to “get into it,” right in my office. Tonight they were happy and relaxed.
Don’t You Appreciate Me?
We long to be connected with our partner and know they appreciate us. When we feel like our partner isn’t there for us, we go into distress. This shows up as anger, blame or withdrawal. Perhaps you can relate with the following situation.
Joanne and Al sit in my office with some distance between them on the couch. Joanne is frustrated as she talks about how Al doesn’t support her at home. He doesn’t pick up in the kitchen and when he tells her he’ll vacuum, he never gets to it. Another day goes by and the trash isn’t taken out. As soon as she sees something not done, “the sparks fly.” Al hears about it, sees he’s being picked apart, and he tries to get as far away as possible.
Recently my significant other asked me, “What are your plans for your work day?” I was immediately annoyed. In a huffy manner I told her specifically what I was going to do and listed multiple phone calls that I was going to make, the errands I was going to run, and the other goals I had for the day. I told my partner in my, “annoyed – Why are you asking me this?” voice.
“The Man,” by Aloe Blacc, is a heartfelt rendition of an expression of what it means to be a man. The artist tells his story through the passion of his voice that originates in his soul. Aloe Blacc becomes more energized, soulful, and daring as the song progresses. He convinces us that “he is the man,” repeating that line several times in a smooth sultry style. He tells us that “for every lie he told he paid for every heart he stole.” This is his way of telling us how he had avoided connection and intimacy in relationships and that he paid for this. When you hurt your partner you get hurt too. That is not what a man is all about. The next stanza he tells us “he played his cards and didn’t fold, it ain’t that hard when you got soul.” I interpret this as he learned to be honest, expressive, and not fold or retreat. He explains it is not hard to do when “you got soul.” I believe that he feels his soul by believing in himself.
Diane and Monte are in my office relating a recent exchange of one of their typical arguments. As Diane is giving her version of what happened, Monte has turned away from her. The crestfallen expression on his face seems to be saying, “Here we go again. She is describing how I messed up.” Every time Diane brought something up, it seemed like she was going to interrogate him.
Chris Martin in “A Sky Full Of Stars,” tells us what being in love feels like. He projects the emotion he feels on the inside, to the outer limits. The beginning of the song describes a lover as “a sky full of stars.” The piano and his voice have an almost urgent sound and feel. He is going to give his heart to this sky full of stars. There is no thought but all instinct in this stanza. He goes on to describe how this sky full of stars “lights up the path.” I believe what he means here is how he has trust and feels safe in this sky full of stars that “lights his path.” The next verse he lets go of any fear or doubt with a melodic rendition of “I don’t care if you tear me apart because in a sky full of stars I think I saw you.” He sees and feels the essence of this lover in a sky full of stars, so it doesn’t matter to him what will happen next. He feels at one, he feels and sees the light of the stars in this relationship. This is what love feels like to him. He sees it in the light of the stars. Nothing else matters. Not even if he got torn down. He allows himself the feeling of love, safety, trust, and he can let go of all fear. At this point in the song there is an instrumental break with electronic rhythm and beat, mixing with his piano lead, that helps us digest this amazing description of love.
It is almost spring. Buds are starting to appear on the trees, and the days get longer. There is anticipation to be outside again, to get active, and to begin anew. Spring is an awakening from the cold and dark to the warmth and light.
With these changes, we come to life. Our senses are keener, and our emotions speak to us with more volume and energy. This can also be a time when we examine life with fresh eyes, including our relationship with our significant other. [Read more…]
Shawn found out that his wife, Sheila, was chatting and texting a coworker. They had talked about it. She agreed to stop contacting this person and also told that person to stop contacting her. She quit her job and found employment at another company. It has been three years and Shawn still has anxiety when Sheila goes out without him. He gets agitated whenever he sees her phone and wants to know who she is texting or if she has gotten any texts. He needs to know what she does with her time at work. He will often question her, gets irritable and short tempered when she leaves the room, goes out with a friend, or is on the computer. Sheila is getting more frustrated with how much pressure she feels from Shawn to reassure him that there isn’t another guy, and gets that hopeless feeling with how difficult it is for him to trust her. She can’t help from feeling that she has lost all control to convince her husband that she is not cheating on him. She can’t understand why he doesn’t believe that after what happened three years ago that she has learned her lesson, and would never do that again. She feels so distant and out of touch from Shawn right now due to his vigilant behavior towards her and the negative way that he is viewing her.
Roberta and Steve began battling as soon as they sat down. “You start,” Steve said. “No, you start,” Roberta countered. “What do you want to talk about?” was the seemingly simple question asked by me. Characteristic of the relationship struggles they were having, this couple argued over who was to begin the session. I got ready for a long and turbulent time with them. As their story unfolded, Roberta explained that she had been upset with Steve for a long time. She believed that Steve thought of her as undisciplined; that he thought she was gaining too much weight, and that he saw her as unmotivated. She described Steve as critical of her self-care and fitness. She felt judged by him and put down by comments he made. She reacted to him with sarcasm and by keeping her distance.