When a couple seeks help with their marriage, what they want most is to feel better about how they get along Maybe they want better communication — they don’t enjoy walking away from an interaction with each other feeling bad about it. They don’t want to feel critical, they want to feel loving. They don’t want to reject, they want to accept. They don’t want to argue, they want to discuss or explore.
Basically, couples ask me how to have more happiness and ease in their relationship. They are looking for ways to feel less negative emotion and more positive emotion.
In every session, we begin with where they are, by validating where they stand. Initially, many people find this somewhat counter-intuitive, meaning that they don’t like where they stand, so why in the world should they feel self-approval for what seems to be causing them all sorts of trouble? They believe they should push away from where they stand as fast as possible, not embrace it. But in the session, we embrace it, because there is a gift in where they stand.
For starters, where any couple stands is a perfectly legitimate place to be or they wouldn’t be there. There are very good reasons to be thinking what they are thinking, or feeling what they are feeling, and together, we find them. Unless we embrace where we are, we drag the past along into a new situation without meaning to, and can’t figure out why a problem follows us. It’s the idea that what we resist persists.
So a beginning point in every session is learning to welcome where we are, and welcome the gift of being there. One of those gifts usually involves welcoming negative emotion and seeing its value.
While anger, sadness or blame don’t feel heavenly, these negative emotions are actually helpful. Negative emotion is a signal that we’ve just disagreed with how our Higher Self thinks. Negative emotion is a clue from our all-knowing Self that what we’re thinking isn’t going to help us get where we say we want to go. It’s not going to help us receive what we say we prefer. Negative emotion is a flag.
Let’s say you want a loving relationship with your husband. You’ve decided this. The two of you are pretty good at getting along, but every couple can use help here and there, and you’re no exception. You love being together and both of you are open to upgrades to your “couple-ness.”
And here you are, moving about your day, and things are going quite swimmingly — until the two of you go suddenly sideways! He just said something that makes you irrationally and instantly upset and now you’ve gone and slammed a door. You’re in a huff. To make your point (and maybe give it extra clout) you’re walking out the door. You’re done talking. He’s wrong. You’re right. This is a moment where being right is clearly more important than being in love.
Are you with me? Have you done this?
Ah, probably. We’re human, and we humans have emotional wounds — we have ouchy places. You may have noticed that when someone pokes your ouchy place, it can cause an emotional ruckus.
So the question is not whether somebody’s ever going to poke our wounds. Someone will
The question is, then what? Then what will we do?
I have a suggestion for a starting place: Begin very simply.
Notice what’s happening and how you’re feeling and say it aloud if possible. You can also say it silently to yourself, if that’s more appropriate to the situation.
“Wow, I notice I’m really upset about this!” or “Whoa. I notice I’m really amped up about this.” or “I notice I am totally, completely, 100% pissed off.”
Saying “I notice…” does a brilliant thing for you: It puts you outside the reaction just enough to no longer be IN the reaction, or be (so much) at the mercy of the reaction.
You become the reporter. You’re the Observer, and this is where all good and worthwhile change can begin.
Notice your body.
What’s going on? Do you feel tense? Where? How’s your breathing? Your heart? Again, this puts you in Observe Mode. You’re outside, looking in. You’re not stuck as the doer of the action, you’re watching yourself.
For now, practice this step. No need to change anything, just notice. Next time, we’ll talk about change.
Are you trying to improve your relationship? Make it better?
Here are a few more tips for getting started.
Hold Your Horses…
Resist the temptation to try to remodel your relationship on top of the current conditions — the conglomeration of good stuff, the bad stuff, and everything in between.
Do a little due diligence and give yourself some time to investigate and reflect. Don’t be in a hurry. You have months or years and plenty of energy invested in your relationship, so give yourself the time it takes to see what’s really going on.
If you don’t know how to do that, get help.
Otherwise, it’s like trying to fix something without really knowing what to fix. Or trying to repair a sputtering engine without doing a diagnostic or checking the basics. You can fix this and fix that, but still the engine doesn’t run well. You haven’t found a main issue yet.
Hey, How About A Little Duct Tape?
In business, it would be like trying to consistently solve problems with a quick fix. When an issue arises, you get out your handy-dandy duct tape.
For example: “Oh, we’ll just tell our customers we’ve had an unexpected and unavoidable delay. It’s out of our hands, but we’ll get the product to you as soon as possible.”
Maybe that’s true and maybe it’s a convenient story. But it’s duct tape. It’s only going to hold things together until that emergency is over.
Instead of being pro-active, and making a long term plan to create a different outcome next time, often we’re relieved that the emergency has passed and we simply go back to business as usual.
But sooner or later another emergency arises, and out comes the duct tape. Maybe that same problem rears its head again and maybe it looks like a new problem.
The Problem With The Quick Fix
But here’s the thing. Duct tape can only do so much — it has its limits. It’s not going to fix a foundational issue. Swooping in with a quick fix of any kind does help with symptoms, but not main issues.
Relationship emergencies are no different. You can duct tape until the cows some home, but it’s not going to solve anything foundational. Are you tired of duct taping your issues and making things appear reasonably OK? If you don’t know how to get through your yeow-ly moments, disagreements, crashes, problems — then you’ve got nothin’ but a circus on your hands.
Seriously. You’ve got a Barnum and Bailey Circus Extravaganza — in your relationship!
Been There, Done That
So here’s what we sometimes do — and we’ve all done it or seen it.
There’s a big, awful disagreement between me and my beloved. Now it’s over. But there’s something we’re supposed to do in a few hours, a dinner with friends, and on a good day, we’d really want to go.
So we take a deep breath and gather a little inner strength. We put our lions and tigers away in their cages — lock ’em in tight. We make sure the snakes and the tarantulas are all quiet, too, and we get all freshened up. And, yes, we go out to dinner with our friends.
During the evening, there is always that chance, (and you know exactly what I mean here), that one of my personal tigers could get loose, say, after that second glass of wine.
And wow. It can be a pretty profound and defining moment.
Here’s how it might look.
First, let’s be clear that I’m not over what happened a few hours earlier. Let’s also be clear that I’m pretending to be present and I have put on my “I’m fine” face.
So… someone says something.
Instinctively, I set my tiger loose.
I set my tiger loose ’cause (in my defense) I saw one coming at me — from someone at the table.
( I TELL YOU — there WAS a tiger coming at me. I had to save myself.)
Maybe it’s from my beloved partner (with whom I had the earlier squabble.) Or perhaps it’s (an annoying) family member, in-law, or someone I’ve never met who miraculously got invited to this dinner and gets under my skin.
But, in any case, I react.
(It’s out there. I can’t take it back.)
Now, in that looooong pause while the others at the table are staring at me waiting to see what happens next and wondering if the scene’s going to get ugly(er) — it’s tense.
It’s tense for me. It’s tense for everyone.
Someone lit my firecracker (they hit my personal reactor button) and did it blow things sky high?
(Well, yes, actually, I did feel something explode…)
Table mates are wondering, “Are we all going to be on pins and needles from now on? Am I going to be able to digest my Scampi and Risotto? Or shall we all rise to the occasion and spin happy circus plates in the air to distract ourselves from all this disgruntlement? Shall we pretend??? Act nice? Try to help? Ignore it completely and start a side conversation? Join the ruckus? Get out the boxing gloves?”
Whatever shall we do?
We’ve been there…. we’ve either seen it or done it.
How Do I Turn This Around?
So… back to the more personal example at home.
If you want to calm things down, slow things down, and take a look at what’s really going on in any kind of chaos, start in an easy place. Look for the little places — not the big places — where you react to your partner or someone you relate to on a daily basis. Make notes.
Here’s what I mean by a reaction.
You know that thing s/he says or does that instantly makes you angry? And you have a reaction? And it’s not a good reaction? That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
Or s/he is predictable — oh, here we go again. The same (damn) story. The same (damn) habit. The same (damn) whatever. And you want to run away screaming?
Or you feel disappointed when your partner doesn’t do something. That’s a reaction.
Or your partner isn’t holding up his/her end of the bargain. S/he said employment was in his/her future, but it’s not happening. And you have a reaction.
Or your partner criticizes you? Cuts you down? And you defend, explain, justify? All of that is reactive (both sides). It’s not creative. Reactions aren’t wrong — they just don’t help you thrive. They are simply inefficient. They aren’t helping you get what you say you want.
You may think, “These reactions are really no big deal. Everybody deals with these. Everybody has them.”
Yes, that’s true. Every human being has reactions.
And the reactions sound small individually, but when you put them all together, and then add years and years of practice, and you’ve got a big clump of icky that’s not much fun. It can weigh on you and weigh on the relationship. It can be awful.
What Makes a Relationship Thrive?
A thriving relationship moves from being “reaction based” to a place where you can be more creative together.
Which means that YOU move from reactive to creative. Don’t worry about your partner, just concentrate on YOU about this.
Instead of ups and downs, or one crisis after another, and a lot of strong sticky tape, quick fixes or courses in Circus Management, the ride is smoother. You are more present. You see each other. You appreciate. You listen more, defend less.For a relationship to thrive, shift gears. Shift your focus. Shift your perspective of the circumstances.
(Yes, I know, easier said than done.)
For instance, shift from “We have a problem and this is a PROBLEM, this is bad, OMG…”
…to “We have a problem and this is a golden opportunity.”
Just start there.
Yes, there is a way for a problem to bring you closer. I really mean that. The solution to the problem can help your relationship, if you let it. You become closer because of that problem. No recovery needed.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if your “big problem” creates a solution that strengthens your connection? Yes. It’s totally possible. It’s possible if you see your “problem” as an opportunity to become more of who you are.
About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 14 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant.
I’m in favor of wandering time in the morning, listening to the birds calling to each other in the woods all around me.
Making fresh food is one of life’s big yummy pleasures, along with singing – especially creating heavenly, improvisational, prayerful, meditational sound.
It is my experience that children are born to teach (remind) parents, not the other way around. I’ve learned more from my daughter than from all other humans combined.
I believe that poet Mary Oliver writes the best bedtime stories available on Earth.
These mantras are for girls about boys.It’s for girls who like boys, as well as for girls who like girls. Because, after all, men are everywhere and you probably have a few in your extended family. Hey, and besides, a boy helped you into this world, and chances are, you’ve probably spent quite a few hours around him.When things aren’t going swimmingly, or you have a reaction to something a man did or said, here is immediate help. You might consider pasting these on the back wall of your brain for quick, easy reference.
Mantra #1. He’s Not A Girl.
He will never be a girl, even if he tries. Therefore maybe (going out on a limb here) he’s not like me. Therefore, what I might (naturally) expect of him may not be what he (naturally) does.Simply put, he’s different than me.What I am (naturally) asking him to be aware of might not be (naturally) on his radar. What I think is important about ______ may not be what’s important to him. It’s OK. In fact, it’s good.The fact that he’s not psychic and can’t read my mind is not a character flaw.What I (naturally) want is probably not obvious to him (this happens a LOT – he hasn’t a clue) so it would be helpful if I state what I want in plain English and in the fewest words possible. I don’t have to embellish, justify or explain why I want it, just state it. If he has questions, he’ll ask.
Mantra #2. Everybody’s Right.
He’s not wrong. He’s not wrong. He’s not wrong.In fact, what if nobody’s wrong? Ever! (Including me.) Well, that would be a breath of fresh air. And that would be some big time relief.
What if everybody is always doing his or her best, even if it doesn’t look like it to me? I know I’ve been there myself — when I thought I was doing a great job and someone else disagreed. Or when I did less than perfect job, or a downright crummy job — and in that moment, that was the best I could do. I get it.So…. Ok, he’s right as right can be. He’s doing his best. His point of view may not match mine. But this doesn’t make the point of view — or him — wrong. He has something different (from me) to offer. If I remember that, we can work together as a team and cover all the bases. He can do things I cannot do or wouldn’t think to do, or don’t know how to do for myself. This is not a problem. In fact, this is a (very) good thing.So my father was “right” about how he lived his life, and how he interacted with people, whether or not I ever fully appreciated, understood, or even liked my father. This is also true of my brother, my son, my friend.
Just because his priorities, beliefs, or motives are different than mine, it doesn’t mean he’s under developed. Or under evolved. Or an idiot. Or less than. Or trying to upset me. Or not focused on my well-being.Here’s my work. If I think he’s wrong, I may have missed something. As an example, what if I looked to see — not IF he loves me but HOW he expresses his love for me. Not IF he is generous, but HOW he is generous.And what if I appreciate that out loud. Often.The second question — “HOW is he generous?” — yields positive answers, which creates more love, connection and cooperation. Whatever you focus on grows.
Mantra #3. Don’t Assume What He Meant By That. Ask.
But for heavens sakes, don’t go to your girlfriends to find out what he meant by what he said. Your girlfriends don’t know. At best, they can only guess. Go to him. Ask him what he meant. (What a concept, huh?)This applies in business. This applies to fathers, brothers, uncles, sons and friends. And husbands and lovers.And when you do go to him, don’t “question him” meaning “grill him” about what he meant, expecting the worst. Give him the benefit of the doubt. You don’t know the answer. Listen.
Open the conversation when you’re in a place neutral enough to adopt the point of view that he probably has a good reason for doing what he did, and you’re genuinely going to find out what it is. Ask him with curiosity. Ask with an open heart and mind.He’s probably got a good reason for everything he does. Just as you do. You’re just different. His actions and intentions are always valid. If your point of view assumes he’s trying to do good, contribute, or make the planet a better place, you’ll automatically find more of that. And that’s a really good thing.
Mantra #4. Get To The Point.
Just the facts, Ma’am!This is a place where men and women can get really bent out of shape with each other. Women use more words than men. Yep, way more.It’s a scientific fact.Men (the masculine mode) is “get to the point.” Then the problem can be solved and it’s over and done. Women (the feminine mode) says “let’s connect, and talk until we find out whatever is important about all these words, ideas and feelings. And then maybe there’s no issue at all, or we’ll solve the issue, or not. Depends.” Notice how very different these two styles are, and you are well on your way.(Hint: Women can be in either masculine or feminine mode. If you’re on business topics, you may be more in your masculine mode. And you might notice that you want folks to get to the point and so you can move along and produce a result.)If your partner, friend or father gets a glazed look in his eyes, it’s code for “You’re overwhelming me. What are you trying to say? What’s your point?” He’s telling you that he’s losing ground, going under, and drowning in your sea of words. He’s trying to figure out what’s important about what you’re saying. He’s wondering, “Where’s the nugget?” Or “How can I best help her?”
But here’s the issue from my feminine point of view. Isn’t the whole point of talking to someone to figure out what’s important? To sort it out? To get it all out on the table, and see what’s up? Why do I have to “get to the point” at the beginning of the conversation? That’s impossible.Just be aware. A little give, a little take, a little understanding goes a long way.If you want him to listen while you’re figuring something out, tell him that’s what you need from him.Tell him how to listen.“Would you please help me figure this out? I’m going to tell you about a situation at work. I’d like you to ask me questions when I’m done that help me figure out what to do about it.”Or if you need to vent, let him know. But again, tell him how to listen. Otherwise, he’s going to naturally be in “problem solve” mode, because his contribution is most likely that he wants to make your problem go away.
You might say to him, “I’m full to the brim. Could you listen to me for 5 minutes so I can unload? All you need to do is hold the trash can for me. Nothing I’m going to say is important. Don’t listen to a word. Just hold the trash and ask, ‘And what else dear?'”What a great and generous service that is! It’s huge!Important: If he’s holding the trash, don’t go on and on and on. Like five (maybe, maybe, maybe ten) minutes is plenty, plenty. This is not his strong suit. He loves you, so he’ll do it because it matters to you. When our feminine self is “up to our ears” full of our week, we’re no good to anybody. When we’re “empty” we’re more present, and we have room to be creative, and we have more space for others. He knows that. Note: If you’ve got to spew for 30 minutes or an hour, journal or go to your therapist or a girlfriend.Your clarity about what you need will help both of you. If you discover there is a “point,” or an important piece in what you are saying, let him know what it is so he can let go of all the other stuff.
Mantra #5. If it feels bad, it is bad. If it feels good, it is good.
Notice how you FEEL as you speak to him, in real time, right now as you’re saying words.
Notice how you feel when you THINK about a situation with him.If it feels bad, (tight, angry, argumentative, etc.) where you are going in that moment is not where you really want to go. So hold your horses.You can’t get to a nice new happy place by criticizing him into doing what you want him to do. It won’t turn out well. He will not like you, and he won’t like himself. You won’t like you, because it felt bad, and it didn’t turn out well. It’s a downward spiral. Nobody wins.Every moment, we create our futures with words and feelings as a guide. How do I FEEL now?Make a practice of noticing how you feel as you communicate with others. Wake up in the moment. Notice. If it feels good, you’re on a roll. You’re creating a future you’re going to enjoy.
At first, you don’t even need to fix anything. Just notice how you FEEL as you speak and think. Start there. Start with awareness. It’s the beginning of everything good!
To summarize, like all new things, these mantras may take a while to become second nature.
She’s with you 24-7 — because she’s IN your DNA. And do you know what?
Mostly, our inner CAVEWOMAN complains, worries, and micromanages. She is careful — about small things and big things and everything in between.
And here’s the bottomline deal — she’s very focused. On surviving.
It’s her job to keep you alive. So…. she monitors, keeps her eye on, checks.
The good news? You can tell when she’s monitoring!
Do you know how to tell?
(Pause here and see if you know the answer to that…)
Go ahead. Look away from the page and take a guess.
The answer: when you feel tension.
Yes, when you’re uptight. Even the slightest little teensy weensy bit.
Keep in mind that tension occurs in many forms. Some forms are fairly subtle, some are obvious. For instance, there is tension when you react to something, feel offended, defend yourself, feel an urgency to correct someone or something, talk to someone, tell someone some news, tell the full story, do something for someone because they asked you and you “should” do it.
Ladies, meet your inner CAVEWOMAN.
It’s important that you get to know her.
If you don’t know who she is and what kind of trouble she can get going in a second and a half, you’ll think she’s YOU, the real you.
And that’s not helpful.
And you’ll think she’s telling you the truth. (She’s not.)
And you’ll think you have to listen to her. (You don’t.)
She will mess up a relationship with a man faster than you can say lickety split. She’ll talk to you and give you unsolicited advice when you’re around your son, your father, your brother, your husband, your boyfriend, or the guy down the street even if he’s trying to help you. She will tell you what to say and do, and it’s (usually, almost always) not helpful (at all!).
She’s not you. She’s CAVEWOMAN.
She’s the ding-dong bell of instinct. The ring-a-ling girl of survival.
She’s got some favorite methods of saving you from the tiger, which is her job. Check these out.
She complains. The purpose? Simple. To make things right — so nobody will die.
She questions, corrects, fixes, adjusts. She even questions competent people who know what they are doing. She wants to make sure that things will turn out right. By doing it her way. Yep, so nobody will die.
She worries. About things going wrong. If things go wrong, people might die, especially the nice people who could save her from the dangers of the jungle, and then she would die, too. OMG.
She thinks too much. About who is on her side. Who is right and who is wrong. Because if she is on the wrong side of things, she might not get saved. From all the tigers roaming on the wrong side of the fence.
She obsesses. About ridiculous details, mostly involving fake urgency. She makes you think that unimportant things are important. She doesn’t know when enough is enough, the day is done, and you it’s time to chill out and relax. She tells you you should do this and that and the other thing (just one more thing, and one more thing, etc.) at 11 pm when you could be heading for your soft pillow. She does not know how to leave the dishes until the next day, and she thinks that sending that final email will save the world. And everyone will live.
She has habits. Sure-fire methods. Tried and true ideas. Like how to load the dishwasher. How to prepare food. How to cut a vegetable. How to prepare for a trip. How to raise children. She’s doing things the way she’s doing things for one reason. To save the tribe. Her babies. Her hunter. And herself of course.
She wants desperately to please others. Why? So she can stay in the cave where it’s safe from danger. If she’s surrounded by people, she’s protected. And if she is nice enough, those other cave people will help her in times of trouble. They will look out for her and save her life.
She is with you when you are by yourself walking in a (well lit, even…) parking lot at night. She looks in your car, around your car before you get in it. You can feel her on high alert when you’re walking on a dimly lit street in New York City. Hang onto your purse. Look behind you. Notice the people walking near you. Read the faces. Notice the intent. Does that guy look scary? Cross the street and get away from him.
She convinces you that being alone is bad. It’s dangerous. It’s not good. You have no help. Surely, you’ll die if you’re on your own. So your feeling of loneliness drives you toward being with other people, which is safer.
She is desperate to appear to be low-maintenance. “Oh, I can do it myself, thank you.” If she is less trouble (and more helpful) surely she is more valuable, right? She has to be nice to her sisters and friends, too, so her these women don’t rat on her and throw her out of the cave (to starve, of course.) So don’t disagree with the Sisterhood! You don’t want to go there! You’ll die!
Are you getting the picture? Whew!
She shows up sure as tootin’ around men. Men are bigger and stronger and they could kill her if they wanted to, so CAVEWOMAN thinks it’s important to be extra careful and take that big guy down a notch or two if he’s getting a little too whatever… too loud, pushy, powerful, successful, handsome, funny, or arrogant. She doesn’t want him to be too good, too appealing to other women, because he might leave. And then she would die. So she makes fun of him, just enough to keep him humble. Ignores him, just enough to keep him less powerful. Doesn’t appreciate him fully. Withholds sex. Criticizes him in front of his friends. Cuts him down. She takes him off his game, so she can feel safe (he won’t get too full of himself and kill her or leave her. (But this is a longer story… and the short story is that taking his power away backfires. We should talk about that another time.)
The Good News is that CAVEWOMAN is NOT you — not the real you. But if you want to enjoy being the real YOU — it’s a good idea to learn to see CAVEWOMAN. Learn to feel her and know when she is running the show.
Awareness is a key to any change.
And here’s the thing. Welcome her. With open arms. There is no better way to create positive change or positive momentum than welcoming whatever is in front of you, even if it’s CAVEWOMAN. Might as well, because if you resist her, or push against her or deny that she’s there, she will stick to you like Velcro. And run your life.
The secret to being more aware is to start small. At first, don’t try to fix anything. Start by noticing when CAVEWOMAN ‘s active in you. Just notice her.
Remember the biggest hint for recognizing her presence: any time you feel tension in your body, she is with you and (in that moment) running the show.
Really important: If CAVEWOMAN is there, and you don’t see her, you will make decisions — say things and do things — simply to relieve your tension. That’s not necessarily a good thing, if it means casualties (which is what CAVEWOMAN is known for, especially male casualties.) And then you can’t figure out why he has distanced himself, doesn’t talk to you or confide in you as much anymore, why he spends a lot of time away from home, why he doesn’t consult you, why he doesn’t tell you the whole story, and why he strays.
Feeling pressure? That’s CAVEWOMAN.
She is telling you that there is an emergency and you should protect yourself from disaster. In your younger years, she will tell you to date a man who is not a match to you, just because it’s time to have a baby. She will tell you to pretend to be unavailable or play hard to get, just to keep him dis-empowered and a little off balance. She will find the best enemy she can find, and tell you to marry him. She will have you say things that are not true, be someone you’re not, or pretend to enjoy things that you don’t, just to be with a man who is a potential baby-maker for you and your survival instincts.
Seriously. This is what it boils down to. Survival. We are not designed to get along and fall in love and understand each other. Being in love and getting along takes a little work and awareness.
However, we are designed perfectly — to survive. Survival trumps everything. She’s only worried about food and shelter and a warm fire.
CAVEWOMAN is all about saving your life, even if it doesn’t need saving. She didn’t get the memo that you have plenty of groceries and a nice place to live. She is unaware that you have meaningful employment and a steady income and you’re loved by many friends.
She has no clue that you’ve “made it” in the world. She doesn’t know about the “Awesome Business Woman of the Year” award. She isn’t aware that you own a thriving business, have happy and productive employees, a pension, a second vacation home, excellent investments and a very happy savings account, thank you very much.
She doesn’t have access to that information. She is certain that you need to be saved from lions and tigers and they are everywhere.
Notice her. Welcome her. Take her by the hand. Have a little heart to heart talk. Celebrate that you see her. She’s there to help you in the way she knows how.
Soon, just by noticing her, things will start to shift. First, you’ll notice her, and nothing much will change except the fact that you notice your DNA is talking.
Then after a while, you’ll notice her and feel her influence, and you won’t need to succumb to it. You’ll get it. You’ll say to yourself, “Oh, that’s just my CAVEWOMAN.” You’ll calm down. You’ll smile, because in that moment, you have cut the puppet strings.
Yes, you can evolve your hormones. You and CAVEWOMAN can be friends, and she will yield to you. You can be in charge of both of you.
I would LOVE to hear your CAVEWOMAN discoveries! When does she show up for you? What do you notice?
Knowing about CAVEWOMAN is a totally liberating thing — so important in relationships (especially our relationship with ourselves.) Your input would be very helpful — I’d like to write more about this and do public talks about this subject.
Thank you in advance for any comments, examples, or questions you might have!
Comments and thoughts welcome — scroll down to the comment boxes. I will approve your comment and you’ll see it posted a little later. The approval process is an interim step which helps to avoid spam.
In Care of Relationships with Terri Crosby– Tools For Creating Positive Momentum. https://incareofrelationships.com. Terri is a relationship mentor. She helps create life-affirming, ever-evolving, happier relationships with those you love.
If you are ready to take your relationship to the next level, you can sign up to be on the mailing list HERE. To subscribe to her blog, hit the subscribe button on this page and add your email address.
Eric 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.
But sometimes it is.
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 Easy
So 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.
Today, I’m sharing a story about how I accidentally accomplished something on my bucket list. I ran through an exit gate while looking the other way. The hood of my car is scratched up, and one windshield wiper is a mess, but let’s have a good laugh about how we never expect what “getting what we want” includes!
It seems to be a growing fad these days to call someone a narcissist, or declare they are toxic.
Political name-calling is similar—we assign politicians and voters to categories, and brush them off as if they are unintelligent, inferior, or even worthless.
By labeling others, we miss their humanity. We gloss over their struggle, their best effort at dealing with life. We dismiss them.
We do to them what we believe they are doing to others.
Look past a label, and in the soft light of day, there stands a person like you or like me, coping as best they can. At the end of the day, no friend, parent, or lover making conscious choices intends to be mean, or to ignore, or to embellish. There is always more to the story.
If we label others, then for sure we label ourselves. We trap ourselves into believing we are less than. Or not enough. Or we don’t give ourselves the time and forgiveness to work through our “stuff.” Maybe, if we stopped accusing others of narcissism, we could forgive ourselves for those moments when we were narrow-minded, inconsiderate, or afraid.
When it comes to labels, nobody wins.
So, my dear people, I suggest we peer a little deeper into ourselves to investigate a need to separate ourselves from others by tacking them with a label filled with disdain or scorn.
It is my wish that you view this video and take it to heart.