It’s easy to be good to your partner when things are going well. When we’re happy, isn’t it easy to treat everyone around you well? Our partner is (hopefully) the closest person to us in the world. So he or she knows when something is wrong even before we tell them. They know our patterns, our customary behaviors, so they are perhaps best able to spot an anomaly.
Because of that closeness and familiarity, however, our partner is the person we are most likely to vent our frustrations onto. We sometimes call this “displaced aggression”. Think about it, your boss gives you a tough talking-to, you lose a major account, your car needs an expensive repair, the air conditioner or heater just went out, etc. Not knowing you personally, we can’t say for sure what could go wrong in your own world, but just imagine: It could be the worst day ever.
You can’t take it out on your boss, or most authority figures around us, now can we? In most cases, we wager not. So you return to the sanctity of your own home, and your partner greets you with a smile. Though instead of giving him or her the opportunity to talk with you, to help you cope, or to at least lend a sympathetic ear, you unload on them. You take all the frustration you feel toward your boss, the mechanic, the cop who pulled you over, the customer who dropped you, and so forth, and you direct all that energy toward your partner – who is ironically only wanting to help.
This is a common occurrence for many people, and if it sounds familiar, you have an opportunity before you. We challenge you to learn something new, to recognize the impact you have, through your words, your actions, your entire interaction with someone else, and to find the opportunity for intimacy in the challenges couples face. Clearly, this is one of those situations where it works best when both people have a high level of commitment. However, you might be surprised to learn just how readily people can be seduced into a more powerful state of mind, indeed, a more intimate state, by someone willing to leverage their energy, their power, their seductiveness, to lead them.
Recently I worked with a client complaining of this very scenario – her husband was frequently irritable and when something went wrong with his work day, it was her fault. As soon as they both got home from work, he took out his anger and frustration on her and the kids. She asked, “If I want him to act differently, why are you saying that I have to change?” This is a common complaint, so it wasn’t the first time we heard it, nor will it likely be the last. If you have not acted with power and precision before, it might seem strange that as part of a system, when we change, the rest of the system must as well – if only to maintain equilibrium.
We lead by doing, by example. Like hypnosis, you go first, then your subject follows. Sure, you may have to develop a skill, but then, that’s why we’re here, now isn’t it?
As with other articles on this site, I want to restrict the length, so we won’t delve too deeply into how in the first part. First, we will focus on why you would want to do this and what impact it will have. Then in Part II, we will look at techniques – though we may offer a taste just to get you started.
Imagine the above scenario – you have had one of the worst days ever. You get home and your partner is already there, cheerfully unaware that you have superimposed a target on his or her chest. He or she is doing that irritating thing that always gets on your nerves, but tonight, that’s increased by a factor of ten.
Reading you, your partner says something that immediately stops you in your tracks. You suddenly don’t feel the same way and begin to feel waves of appreciation, of love, for this amazing person who’s stuck with you through the challenges as well as the parties (and of course, sometimes parties can become a challenge, and vice versa!).
Your whole perception has changed.
How did that happen?
Maybe more importantly, now that the two of your have begun sorting out your days in a spirit of love and appreciation, what sort of trouble can the two of you get into? Does it sound enticing yet? Or at least more fun than one of the other possible outcomes?
I suggest that the above turn of events is not only possible, but really easy once you make it a habit. Like anything new, it may seem a little awkward at first, but with some practice, can really lead to a beautiful shift in your relationship. Choose your own metaphor here: You might think of it as interior redecorating, or a reengineering, or an overhaul, of your mind. One that leads to more pleasure and happiness.
And it all begins with your making a decision – that the life of your relationship is more important than the moment of frustration. And deserves to be treated accordingly. As do YOU!