Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Stepping Stones, Not Stumbling Blocks: Toward Feeling and Being Vibrant and Alive
Couples come into my office for a variety of reasons. Sometimes their sex lives have tanked. Sometimes someone has gone outside the marriage for sex, love, or emotional connection. Sometimes one or both are suffering or struggling with emotional pain that they just can't pinpoint. Other times it because communication is at standstill, or there is lots of fighting, or lots of silence. Sometimes there is a feeling of stagnation. Nothing is really wrong, but nothing seems really right either. Or they feel stuck in some way.
Of course there are so many good and workable ways to improve communication, to help partners step up, communicate in new ways and better meet each other's needs. Talking and unpacking feelings, histories, patterns, ideas and fantasies are often integral parts of the process.
But underneath it all, I think we strive for something different, for some kind of aliveness, vibrancy, and clarity of desire.
What do we really want? And when we know, do we behave in ways that invite those feelings and that connection or that demand them and make what we want difficult to get. Do we think that we should be able to act, look, say and do whatever we want and still get the kind of connection we imagine and long for? Do we have a healthy sense of separateness and well as connectedness in our relationships? Are we willing to? What expectations are reasonable and which ones are beautiful soothing fantasies?
How tuned in are we to our own role in things? Our own aliveness? Do we have the idea that there are villains and victims in a marriage and we are one or the other? Or that we are part of a culture of two in which our own character and behavior help shape the landscape? Are we willing to look? And to look gently, without attacking ourselves or our partners along the way?
You don't have to be part of a couple to consider these ideas. Aliveness and vibrancy are good topics all around, and thinking about them can help put a new spin on emotional pain, on progress and meaning in life. When we can view our relationships and the challenges they bring us as stepping stones, not stumbling blocks to our own vibrancy and aliveness, I think we and our relationships fare so much better.