My father use to say these four things all the time. It took me a lot of maturing to understand them. I believe these four ways of operating in the world will be of great value in your relationship. Here they are in order and then I’ll give you my two cents on each. Show up, pay attention, tell the truth and don’t be attached to the outcome.
1. Show up: TV, work, kids, blackberry, email, web surfing… the list of things you can distract yourself with are endless. If you are committed to making your relationship work, then you must stop what you are doing to avoid the relationship and sit down in front of each other and communicate. Remember communication? That’s the thing you did when you were madly, deeply in love with each other.
2. Pay attention: Your partner is sending you signals. They are telling you what they like and dislike. When you first started being together you were hyper sensitive to these signals and adjusted your behavior accordingly. Now that you have been together for a while, your Drunk Monkey begins to sabotage the relationship. Today, pay attention to what signals your partner is sending you. They are probably sending you signals that say “Why don’t you like me any more?”. Consider even though you like them, doesn’t mean they get that. Your current behavior may be sending mixed signals.
3. Tell the truth: Brutal! The Drunk Monkey loves lying and holding back the truth. Psychological warfare is the name of the game in long term relationships. The Drunk Monkey tells you to lie about how you are feeling “I’m fine!”. This is a form of self defense. WHAT THE F*** ARE YOU THINKING! Your partner isn’t even attacking you. PLEASE READ SOME OF MY EARLIER POSTS. Ok enough ranting. The more intimate, bold and loving thing you can do is say how you really feel even if you know your partner will not like it. To bad if they don’t like it. The truth will set you free but first it pisses you off.
4. Don’t be attached to the outcome: Consider your fear of being abandoned is causing your partner to distance themselves form you. Consider your fear of having your feelings hurt is causing your partner to be abusive. Consider your desire to not rock the boat is causing your partner to make waves. Don’t be attached to the outcome of your communications with your partner. It’s going to take a while to get back to intimate, authentic and close. At first you are going to say stuff and they will react which will cause you to react. Notice your reaction and then let it go. Keep being unattached to how the conversations are going.
I’ve got a client who is the president of a major company. He coaches with me and his wife coaches with Roya (another coach on staff here at MFI). He and his wife have been on the verge of divorce for a few months. Roya and I have been working with them on these four steps and the many others I have illustrated in previous posts.
He shows up, pays attention, tells the truth and she still reacts in a way that pisses him off. In other words, he’s still attached to the outcome. He expects that suddenly because he is making an effort she is going to magically let go of all the sh*t she’s been holding him hostage with. So he quits and goes straight back to defensive mode which plummets the relationship back into suffering.
He must maintain a state of detachment. Like a scientist would regarding an experiment. He must admit he no longer understands how to communicate with her. Therefore he must keep trying different things until he discovers the process she now prefers. Being unattached gives you major power because it makes you flexible. Flexibility gives you options and options give you power.