“Marriage, families, all relationships are more a process of learning the dance rather than finding the right dancer.”- Paul Pearsall, writer
“She appeared to be use to being listened to and obeyed.”
Sahar was forty years of age, living alone in an apartment, after having divorced two men over the past twenty years. She had no children and was disconnected from her two siblings, a sister Samantha and a brother, Samuel.
She was very well dressed in stylish, expensive clothes that enhanced her age and her full head of luxurious black hair. She sported lots of jewelry including a sparking diamond watch and several, almost gaudy, bracelets and rings.
Sahar, in deference to what some might assume about her from her dark skinned Arabic background, was anything but reticent in her communication. Instead, Sahar was direct, dominating and almost dictatorial in her manner. She appeared to be use to being listened to and obeyed.
Sahar told me she had a successful on line cosmetics business which provided her a solid income and financial stability. She indicated she had three very competent staff who had been with her for years. She seemed genuinely proud of her vocational success.
“I want to find a new partner.”
After I collected a brief history, I asked her what had brought her to my office. Her direct manner continued,
“I’m tired of living alone. I’m starting to talk to myself too often! I want to find a new partner. Someone who appreciates me for who I am.”
“Who ended your previous two marriages, Sahar?”
“Me…both times!” she said with a hint of defiance.
“What motivated you to make those two decisions?”
“They were both wimpy, white men who didn’t respect me!” she replied, her anger poking its head up again.
“Did you want some other colour?” I asked smiling to test her thinking flexibility.
She smiled back at me, the first of the day, saying,
“I’m not really sexist or racist, Ken, but I do still carry some anger at those two guys.”
“Sahar, since there are no mistakes in the natural world, including ours, those two guys helped you prepare for your next relationship. So, you learned something very important from your first spouse that got your the second one. Can you tell me what it was?”
“What did you learn from Sid that you used to get Stan?”
“They were very different from each other. My first husband, Sid, an Australian, was a self centred egomaniac. And, Stan, a local man, was a sports addict. He never left the TV room except to use the bathroom.”
“That tells me they had different values than you. That is to be expected in a marriage. What did you learn from Sid that you used to get Stan?”
“Nothing, Ken. Sid was a right off! As was Stan later on.” she said, emphatically.
“That’s you current perception…but, not how nature, and your biology, works. You learned things from Sid that enabled you to continue forward in your life. You did the same thing with Stan. Those two men helped you get to be here today…but you don’t see it,… yet.”
“You’re saying I learned something about relationships from Sid that got me Stan?”
“It could have been about relationships or about you or about anything you needed for your future. Take a moment and look for it carefully, Sahar.”
She was quiet for a bit, then looked over at me saying,
“I’ve often thought Sid’s egocentric approach to life showed me how to do it. He always talked like he was the centre of the world and everyone should just get used to it. And, I also noticed he didn’t have any more or less friends or enemies than me or anyone else.”
“The success of marriage comes not in finding the “right” person, but in the ability of both partners to adjust to the real person they inevitably realize they married.” – John Fischer, painter
“So this time I’m looking for someone who puts our relationship first.”
“How was that useful to you?”
“That was when I started building my own self respect, my own self worth and looked for someone who would respect it…that was what attracted me to Stan.”
“Very insightful! Now, what did you learn from Stan that you are still using today as you live your life and think about a new relationship?”
“Stan helped me learn about priorities. He thought more of the NHL and NFL than our relationship. So this time I’m looking for someone who puts our relationship first.”
“So, you’ve learned to value yourself more and also to value your relationship more from those two people.”
Then I added,
“What did you think was the purpose of being in a marriage, Sahar?“
“To be happy, of course!” she replied, as if stating the obvious.
“Cute and confusing names…but how do you know one from another…”
“Sahar, that’s not the purpose of a marriage! If you’ve been thinking a successful marriage should have all pleasure or even more pleasure than pain,…you have been buying into a popular fantasy.” I said, wondering how she would deal with a truth she already knew at some level of her awareness.
She paused again, thinking deeply with her eyes downcast. Then, she replied,
“I’d even settle for someone who would respect me for who I am and what’s important to me. I don’t know a single person who’s married who isn’t challenged regularly by her or his spouse…so I kinda of know what you’re talking about, Ken.”
“It sounds like you want someone who will respect you and your values, eh?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I want!” she said.
Then, you probably need to know the three types of communication that occur between people, and the most effective one between successful couples. Does that interest you Sahar?”
“Indeed it does, what are they?”
“The first is called Careless Communication, the second, Careful Communication and the third, Caring Communication.”
“Cute and confusing names…but how do you know one from another, Ken?”
“It is sometimes essential for a husband and a wife to quarrel – they get to know each other better.” – Goethe, poet
“It shows self respect and respect for the partner..”
“Well, the first two, Careless and Careful actually sabotage a relationship, while the third, Caring, builds a relationship.”
“How does that work?”
“Let’s look at each. Careless Communication occurs when partner A expects partner B to put partner A’s values first and ignore their own. It is called self-righteous communication (It’s going to be my way or I’m leaving.) and creates an unstable power difference within the relationship.”
“OK. Tell me about the careful style.”
“Careful Communication occurs when partner A ignores their own values and follows partner B’s values, instead. This is called self-wrongeous communication (How high do you want me to jump so you will stay?) and also creates an unstable power difference within the relationship.”
“That leaves the caring type then, eh?”
“Yes, Caring Communication occurs when partner A respects their own values and also partner B’s values and so injects their own values inside partner B’s values to encourage their cooperation in the relationship. (My values are right for me and yours are for you so, I will put mine inside yours so we both are respected.) It shows self respect and respect for the partner. it builds a stable relationship because the power is equal and shared.”
“I also know it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you.” – Zig Ziglar, author
“Caring Communication encourages people to cooperate because they feel respected and cared about…”
“I’m familiar with the first two having used them both at various times with Sid and Stan. But this Caring Communication is new to me. Would you give me an example?”
“Let me offer you a simple one so you can get the idea of it. Imagine a traditional, stereotypical couple of a man and woman who are sharing a coffee at the kitchen table. The woman’s values focus on their kids and their home while the man’s focus on work and home maintenance. With me so far, Sahar?”
“Yep! Sounds like a movie….but I get the idea, please continue.”
“The woman is scanning the internet for sneaker sales for the kids and finds one at the local Sears store. She check the details of the sale and then says to her partner, ‘Honey, Sears is having a storewide sale, today. I need to find sneakers for the kids and you said you broke two drill bits repairing the fence, what do you think about checking out the sale this morning?’”
“So, she respects her value of the kids and his value of his tools and hoped he would agree, right?” Sahar said.
“Caring Communication doesn’t make people do things. Caring Communication encourages people to cooperate because they feel respected and cared about at that moment.
“Why is that so important?”
“It is this repeated process which makes the relationship work over time, because each person’s power is counterbalanced by their partner. It is done consciously at first, but with practice, becomes automatic and then unconscious.”
“Are you saying I shouldn’t right some guy off just because we have different values?
“You’re saying, I have to show respect, not just for my own values, but also any partner I have at that moment…is that what you mean?”
“Yes, because that’s the basis of any successful relationship. You don’t have to like your partner’s values, but you do have to display respect for their values to maintain the relationship.”
“But, why can’t I just find someone with the same values as me and save all that time and energy?”
“Since values come from personal experiences, no two people will ever have the same values. Besides, that would make the relationship boring and then it wouldn’t last anyway.”
“But, I thought we were supposed to find someone like us…with the same priorities, likes, dislikes, etc.?”
“Our similar values attract us (often called the ‘honeymoon’ stage) but our differences are what keep us together (the ‘real’ relationship stage) because it is there we learn the most for our own future.” I said.
“Are you saying I shouldn’t right some guy off just because we have different values?”
“Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.” – Joseph Barth, physician
“You’re telling me this little word is the key to a successful, long term relationship…”
“I’m saying having different values from your partner is inevitable in every relationship. The challenge of being with a partner is demonstrating respect for them, not agreeing with them or taking them on yourself.”
“I never thought about marriage that way before, Ken. Are you saying I could actually marry anyone if I could find a way to display respect for their values and they did the same to me?” she said thoughtfully.
“In my professional experience, if two people are really committed to having a relationship, there is usually a way to make it work for each of them.”
“If it is just commitment, that sounds too simple! What else is required, Ken?”
“The other part is a willingness to learn how real relationships work. Does that interest you Sahar?”
“Yes, at this point in my life I’m ready to make a relationship for the long term.”
“Then to start, I want to introduce you to a small word that is a big factor in every successful relationship. It is a word you already know and use frequently. But, many don’t realize it is the key to a successful relationship. When you know it and look for it in your relationship, you can create a successful one.”
“You’re telling me this little word is the key to a successful, long term relationship…is that what you’re saying, Ken?”
“Yes I am! The word is AND!” I said, in a quiet voice.
“And? What does ‘AND’ have to do with a successful relationship, Ken?”
“Successful relationships have an equal amount of pleasure AND pain in them at all times! They follow the laws of symmetry and synchronicity by providing each person with an equal amount of support and challenge to ensure they learn what they need for their future…it is nature’s way!”
“Really?” she replied.
There was another long pause as she considered this more. Then she said,
“That ‘AND’ word makes me realize I have a lot to learn for my future, so we had better get started right away.” she replied.
“OK, let’s do that!”
“Every human activity and relationship has the same purpose, to enhance our chances of survival and evolution.” – King Ayles, writer
Until Next time…
Now you know, long term stable relationships are characterized by constant and continuous seconds of counterbalancing pleasure and pain. Mixed emotions of support and challenge are the foundation of a healthy relationship. To expect otherwise is to ignore the natural laws which prevail in every aspect of our lives. To expect otherwise, is to try to live a one sided fantasy or one sided nightmare…both are illusions of perception. Nature will not permit that because it could jeopardize your learning and your future.
PLEASE WATCH FOR THE “SPECIAL SAVINGS” ON THE UPCOMING LAUNCH OF OUR NEWEST PROGRAM:
THE SEVEN STEPS TO SUCCESS!
AND, YOUR NEXT OPPORTUNITY TO UNCOVER YOUR PERFECTION IS:
“The Couple Transformation Day”
Saturday, October 28th, 2017
Suite #3 The Pierce Institute Offices
549 North River Road, Charlottetown, PE
Here is your chance to:
- Confirm Your Relationship Commitment!
- Conquer Relationships Challenges!
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- Resolve Parenting Issues!
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Register Today! There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities for your future well being!
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Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
Be well…balanced! Ken
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com