Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Relationship Tip - Responsibility (=Power)

As a relationship coach, you might be tempted to think that my intimate partnerships are handled, worked out, or problem-free. NOT SO, my friend!

I recently went through a major breakdown with my fiance that shook us to the very foundation of our coupledom. I'm holding back on the detailed content - the 'he said - she said' of the matter, because, in truth, that's not the point. In brief, he violated one of our core agreements with each other... he lied. Not once, but multiple times over several days about the same topic. He convincingly lied to my face even when I asked, "Is everything handled? Are you sure you've got it covered?"

All of this ugly finally hit the fan as he was driving me to the airport last Wednesday in preparation for a presentation and conference in San Francisco, and sure enough, as with most reports on infidelity, it wasn't the subject about which he lied that ultimately bothered me - it was the lying itself. But I had to leave town before the issue could be resolved! What was I to do? I had to teach a class that night, and a disappointed, exhausted, and frustrated instructor does not create a safe space for the sharing of her attendees!

The solution looked like this...

Step One - I wrote a letter to him on the plane, and said what I needed to say, much of which got cut from the final version once I'd calmed down. The hurt, the upset, the frustration... it all needed a voice. To have held it inside of me would have made it cancerous, emotionally if not physically. The blame, the anger, the victimization (EX: How could you do that to me?!)... I let it all out onto the page where it couldn't hurt anyone. I coughed up that emotional hairball until I'd said it all and my pulse had slowed again.

Step Two - I acknowledged that I was viewing it as Wrong that he had lied to me. Setting aside my judgment of the matter, the fact remains that he did what he did, said what he said, and didn't do what he didn't do. None of that is inherently right or wrong but that I SAY its so, so if that is one of the aspects of my annoyance, it behooves me to let it go. The past is the past, and there's no changing it. Unless I wanted to take all of that anger and frustration back, I'd best look for a way to regain my power.

Step Three: The hardest part - I took a deep, long look for how I was responsible for the way it went down, and here's what I saw...

I KNEW. Deep down inside of me, I knew that something was not right, that something was off in his/our world. Sure, I asked him if everything was okay, but his response did not feel right to me, and I stepped over it. I chose the less confrontational approach of "Okay, then. Just checking, thanks!" instead of trusting my own instincts and calling him out.

Now, here's the point... It would have been very easy for me to blame the whole situation on him. He's the one who lied, who didn't keep his word to me, or to himself for that matter. I did my part, right? I asked the question! It's not my fault if he lied to me... but to maintain that view leaves me the victim of the situation. 'Poor me, he lied to me and broke his promise to tell the truth.' It's not very empowering, and it provides no access for me to choose a different path in the future.

By identifying that I had not been responsible for honoring my own instincts, I reclaimed my power and created a lesson from which I could benefit. In this case: Trust My Instincts, and Be Willing To Have The Uncomfortable Conversation.

We are back in a very good place now. He is on track, and our wedding plans are coming together. I am neither holding a grudge nor anticipating the next time that it might happen. The likelihood that it will happen again is, let's face it, moderate. But I will listen to and trust my instincts, have the difficult and uncomfortable conversation, and be prepared to discover another lesson in the process!

So the next time you're tempted to blame someone else, ask yourself, "How am I responsible?"

M. Makael Newby, 2010 - All Rights Reserved -

PS - I have my fiance's total permission to share about him and our life together in my blog and newsletters. He hears all of my entries before they are posted. :)

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