My Husband’s (Brilliant) Relationship AdviceEric and I had a dinner date recently. It was one of those perfect weather evenings, we were ushered to the just-right table by the window, and we talked and caught up on everything. I had spent the week in Atlanta with my (fairly new) business coach, and I had lots of stories to share! After the Atlanta stories, and Eric’s “while you were gone report,” the conversation turned to aspects of my business, and the clients I have.
Shall I Stay Or Shall I Go?As you might imagine, a query that frequently comes up in the business of relationships is — shall I stay in this relationship or shall I go? Of course I don’t tell my clients what to do in this kind of situation because the decision is in their capable hands. (Except in the case of safety issues and there is no good reason on Earth to mess with them) One of the ways I coach about this “stay or leave question” is to recommend that no couple has to make an unnatural, forced, “gotta-take-action” decision about it. We don’t have to get all steely and determined, with fists ready and defenses primed and poised. We don’t have to shout from the rooftops about “all the kings horses and all the kings men.” We don’t have to justify. We don’t have to yell a war cry. We don’t need to rally the troops (gather agreement from family and friends) and make a righteous exit. In my estimation, being right is a poor substitute for getting what we really want. And on the other side… neither do we have to force-fly our surrender flag, as in “I’ve been thrown out, rejected, dishonored. Clearly, I’m wrong.” We quietly pack our things and slink away into the night to try to create another hopefully better life somewhere else. The final conversations are uncomfortably tense and much is left unresolved emotionally speaking. It doesn’t have to be that way. I know. But sometimes it is. I know… But we don’t have to force. Forcing is not a requirement in decision making. If one is being honest and true — transparent and real — there is no need to hurry a decision, throw down a trump card, or declare anything drastic. The decision can simply become part of the flow – part of the natural evolution of things. The situation evolves as two individuals become clearer. The next step of staying or leaving becomes a natural extension of the couple’s clarity.
Take It EasySo when someone feels forced about a decision, or can’t seem to make a decision, I usually say that it might not be time to decide. Ideally speaking, a decision should not be hard or agonizing. It should feel “right.” In these cases, I tell people to try taking the decision off the table for a while and be easy about it. At one point in the conversation, I asked Eric for direct advice. My question to Eric was, “What advice would you offer, what thoughts do you have about coaching people who are teetering on the edge of leaving a relationship?” I was really curious what he would say. And he thought for a moment, took a bite of his Greek Salad (with really great olives by the way) and then said, “It’s a matter of Benefits vs. BS.” I started laughing. This is such an obvious thing, huh? Just look to see – do the Benefits outweigh the BS! Are the positive aspects more important than everything else? And for me as a relationship mentor, the not-so-beautiful stuff can often be transformed and transferred to the beneficial side of the equation. So there’s THAT. The idea that a problem can actually bring you closer is something I work with in almost every session with a couple. Ahhhh. Now that’s better.
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