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Growing in love

Friday, November 3, 2006

posted by Andrew

Looking around at car lots a couple of weeks ago, my partner and I were deciding whether or not to update our car. While for most people it would seem like a relatively simple procedure, I was met my mixed feelings as we looked across the rows of shiny cars, all begging to be taken for a test-drive and taken home.

We both looked closer at a shiny red BMW. To me, it stood out from the silver BMWs in the row alongside it and I pictured my partner and I driving around in the summer, sunroof open and a favorite CD playing. I have a red two-seater convertible I drive during the week, and our four door sedan for weekends together with the dog didn’t seem nearly as exciting, which prompted us to go car shopping.

My partner has a four door sedan, a sensible car, peppy and good looking, but not exciting in the same way that my convertible is. So looking for something new was going to need to be a compromise. Something that was exciting like my car, but also had room in which to grow. The BMW seemed to fit that criteria, but after driving it I still wasn’t sure…

Are we the same in our relationships? Does the person we think we want remain the ideal person once we have them? Are we happy with what we got, or are we always looking to trade up to the next model?

I guess we build illusions in our minds of what we picture the perfect relationship to be, and when this becomes a reality, we freak out and reasess what it is we want. Once we have what we want, are we fulfilled? Or are we still looking for ways that it could be better?

I thought the BMW would be perfect, but once I drove it and had the opportunity to purchase it, I wondered if I really did want it. The moment of indecision I experienced troubled me. It troubled me because I didn’t have the emotional investment in the new car like I did the old. To make it the perfect car I would have to invest in it and make it mine.

Are we the same with our marriages?

I get emails from clients all the time looking for marriage counseling and marriage help telling me that their partners are perfect, but they are not "in love" with them. I guess they assumed that once they got the perfect person that their problems would be over. Real love, the kind of love that exists in real marriages, is not that simple. It takes effort and a willingness to grow.

The point I am making here is that it takes more than the perfect person to create a good relationship. Even if you have a person who possesses all the qualities that you have ever looked for in a husband or wife, making a marriage work still involves effort. Every day of your married life you are called to grow in your love for one another, and to grow in your understanding of what this love is.

The love you feel for your partner in the first year of marriage will be a different kind of love to the love that you feel on your 25th wedding anniversary. And this will be different again to the love you feel for each other on your 40th wedding anniversary.

Your marriage is a journey of love, and on this journey you are called to find new ways of loving and expressing this love for your partner. The bumps you face along the road are reminders to the both of you that changes need to be made. Nothing remains static, and this includes your marriage. Just like changing cars, loving the person you are with involves you investing in them and the relationship. They may still be the perfect person, but in order to have the perfect relationship, you have to always put the effort in. Marriage problems surface when you resist change and refuse to grow in your love for one another. Love is a constantly evolving process, and successful marriages are ones that are always growing in understanding, never staying still.

Are you commited to growing in love together? There is no such thing as a free ride. 

Emotions and Response

Monday, August 14, 2006

posted by Andrew

It’s something we all do but at the same time will never understand.

In times of stress and frustration, there is often the temptation to lash out and unleash your feelings of despair and hopelessness. Most of the time the people who bear the brunt of our feelings are our partners. It often has very little to do with them, or if it does, in many cases it is only an indirect contribution to an already established mood.

So following this line of thought, we often end up hurting the ones we really love the most. At the time we do all we can to hush these thoughts and cover our guilt up by saying they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or that we didn’t mean to explode, but it just happened.

In doing this, however, we forget how our comments can be received, and forget that in the midst of our temper we may have injured the feelings of those that are close to us.

What lessons can we learn from this?

I wish we could be happy, smiley people all the time, but human nature dictates that every once in a while we are all going to have a really bad day and a foul mood to accompany it. That’s not rocket science, its just life. But how we choose to express our emotions can define whether we have a good relationship, or one that is frought with angst and hurt feelings.

I admit I am just as guilty, and at times can let my emotions rule me. But the lesson I can learn from this is to make the communication process much more open and transparent, so when I am in a bad mood I am able to communicate this to my partner without making them feel bad too. That way I can have my bad mood and get over it without there having to be casualties.

Be honest about your mood. If you are feeling jealous or angry, say the words and identify the mood.

Communicate your mood to others if they are around you so you can be left alone to calm down and process your emotions.

Tell your loved one that the mood is what is causing you to feel this way, not necessarily them, even though it may feel like it at times. Situations cause your mood, but you control your response.

So thats the key. While we may feel dictated by our moods sometimes, we are ultimately still in control of our response. Learning how to choose an appropriate response is what makes us better people.

STOP!

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