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Friday, December 28, 2007

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No Such Thing as Falling in and out of Love

Every day you hear or read of someone "falling in or out of love." A mystical compelling thing that happens to people. They have no power over it. It just happens. If they "fall out of love" it becomes a rational reason to divorce.

Nonsense. Love is a verb, something you do or do not do. You can decide to love someone to whom you feel a strong attraction or you can decide not to love. The feeling we ascribe to love is the consequence of what we do.

In any long-term relationship there are times when you will not feel loved or loving. Those are the critical times in a long-term relationship. If at that time you decide to love, the feelings we associate with love, will come back stronger and at a deeper level.

Over a long period of time deciding to love when you don't feel loving will lead to the ultimate act of love, complete acceptance of the other person despite characteristics that may be irritating. A person can never receive or give a greater gift!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Surviving the Little Things

A great day. I bought a new blue outfit and I felt like it looked good. I could hardly wait to have my husband see me in my new clothes. Getting noticed by your special person can become a challenge after more than 50 years together.

I finished dressing, took a last look in the mirror and felt excited as I walked down the stairs to where he stood waiting. He barely glanced at me and turned to go.

I stopped and said, "You didn't notice." He frowned. "What?" "Don't you like it?" He looked at me. "Oh. It's nice."

To say I felt let-down is an understatement. When we arrived at our destination three or four people told me how nice I looked. Sometimes you have to take affirmation wherever you can get it. You may even have to be willing to give it to yourself. Don't sweat the small stuff. He doesn't always have other things on his mind.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Unique and Yet Alike

Isn't it interesting that no two people are alike and yet we have so much in common? That is especially true when it come to relationship.

These likenesses become the basis of humor all over the world. Jokes like this one that someone sent to me on the internet:
"Woman's Perfect Breakfast

She is sitting at the table with her gourmet coffee

Her son is on the cover of the Wheaties box

Her daughter is on the cover of Business Week

Her boy friend is on the cover of Playgirl

And her husband is on the back of the milk carton."
It is hard to escape the humor in this because at some level the reader understands why it is funny. Complaints about relationship are so much the same that a therapist, like me, has heard them over and over again. Too often they resonate because of personal experience as well.

It is that old story. In relationship0 we seem to do over and over again what has never worked for us. We talk more. We complain more. We expect more. We act surprised when a person who has never been punctual is late again.

What is helpful is to become aware and learn to talk less, complain less, expect less, and try a response that is new or different. Maybe it will work. Maybe not.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

You Cannot Escape

Even the most reclusive person cannot escape relationships. The most important relationships will always be with yourself and with God. If there is no you, relationships become empty, scary, and defensive.

It's fun to think back to the first, second, and third years of your life. Even if you don't have conscious memories of those years, you can probably reconstruct some of the things you do know into some kind of idea of what your first relationships must have been like.

Did you have both parents? Do you even know who both parents are? Where did you live? Farm? City? Country? What was your dwelling place? House? Apartment? Street? Were you wanted? Planned? Were you welcomed by one person or many people? What kind of caregivers were a part of your infancy? What happened to you during the first three years of your life has everything to do with this therepeutic process we call relationship.

Responding to care or lack of care not only affects early learning to talk, walk, and react, it also affects the development of perceptions about ourselves and others. Most of us formed distorted perceptions of ourselves and others from the beginning. Identifying and sorting out early perceptions becomes a lifetime task in relationship.