uealse Divorce - Dr. Dina Evan's Columns

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Love Them or Leave Them?

What do you do when the person you love the most in your life refuses to grow? This is a question I hear in my practice every day, and the answers are as varied and individual, as are the people who ask the question. He refuses to stop demanding sex. She refuses to stop spending money. He won’t connect with me emotionally. She won’t tell me the truth. He’s having cyber-sex. She won’t stop flirting. He won’t stop hanging out at the topless bars with his buddies. He won’t stop drinking. She won’t stop berating me to her friends and family. The list goes on forever and at times I feel I as if I need a life raft in my office so I don’t drown in the myriad of mostly legitimate complaints I hear.

Clearly, being in a relationship with someone who refuses to grow is incredibly painful. However, in all fairness, didn’t we vote to be with that unconscious person because we were also unconscious at the time the relationship started? Didn’t we stay in that relationship, perhaps for years, because we thought that was what we wanted as well? Often one person in the relationship suddenly goes to therapy, reads a book or gets hit by a bolt of awareness and wakes up after being married 5-30 years. Now suddenly in a matter of weeks or months the still unconscious partner is required to get up to speed and begin acting in conscious ways without having had the training or the tools to do so. The contact that was heretofore agreed upon by both parties sudden gets changed unilaterally and the threat of divorce or abandonment is added to the mix and the anxiety.

Partner A says If you don’t change I am leaving. Partner B says What’s wrong with what we have been doing all these years? I have been happy. Partner A says, It doesn’t work for me anymore and I am not happy. Partner B says, I don’t get it. When did you get the right to tear our lives up and change everything? And so it goes. Partner A may be as right as partner B but they are now in separate corners and not speaking to each other because change is not being facilitated in a loving way. There has been no time for a learning curve. Both people are entrenched in their own positions of power or powerlessness.

There is a revolution or evolution going on in the area of relationships and when all the dust has settled I believe we will be better off for it. However, I am concerned about the number of relationships that are breaking up in the meantime because of this hostility, lack of patience and understanding. Many therapists may be adding to the problem in this age of independence by encouraging men and women who are waking up to leave their partners if change is not immediate. No one should stay in an abusive relationship especially if the other partner refuses to change but we also need to understand that for change to be meaningful, we have to give time for understanding and integration. Change never authentically occurs on demand.

Some questions you might want to ask yourself are, Have I stopped seeing all the good things about my mate because I am now focused only on his or her limitations? Have I given ample time for my partner to gain understanding and new tools? Have I created an environment that is not supportive to my partner changing because of my belittling, accusations or constant negations? Have I truly owned my own unconscious behavior and contribution to the current state of our relationship? Am I delivering the news of this change in contract in a way that is not threatening and allows for loving support? Have I really faced the reality and effect of a breakup? Is there enough good, enough history and enough love here to make it worthwhile to work on this relationship?

In addition, since we are just on the edge of this revolution and many people are just beginning to get conscious you also may want to ask yourself if you are really ready to be alone. It may take you a while to find someone new who has the same level of awareness you have achieved – if you can find them at all. I believe that we create exactly the right lessons we need for where we are on our spiritual paths. So when asking your self the question – is it time to leave ‘em or time to love ‘em… take a minute to look at the whole picture. Toughing out the rough times in a relationship may get you to the exact kind of long term commitment you desire and deserve.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.

Are you Coming or Going?

Ready for a fresh start, a new outlook, a different relationship? Have you been been ready for a long time and are too afraid to leave or make a change?

Have you noticed when you’re really finished with something it is not hard to leave it? Look back at your life at the times when you really hit your limit. Even though leaving may have meant a hardship in some way, when you were really emotionally and spiritually finished, there was more impetus and energy on going than staying , right? That is because when you have made a firm decision on the inside, the outside will always follow. However, when you are undecided on the inside, you won’t be able to walk out of the situation or the door. Often the reason you are undecided is because you still have work to do.

Relationships are like high school or college classes. If you don’t get the point, you don’t get to graduate. If you leave your relationship before getting the point, you have to repeat the class in your next relationship. It is almost as if the Universe says, “Okay, I see you still don’t understand about being co-dependent so I’ll just find you someone just like your last partner and we’ll try this issue one more time.” The Universe, bless it’s heart, is generous in that way.

There is only one hard fast rule about leaving relationships that I ever espouse. That one is, if you are abusing or being abused in anyway and you or your partner will not seek immediate therapeutic intervention or help…leave. The only way to stop the cycle of abuse in families is to leave the situation until therapy has an opportunity to change the negative dynamic between you and your partner.

My only other strong assumption about relationships in general is that I think the one you are in is usually the perfect place for you to be no matter how bad it might look to you. Amazing though it may seem, I always bet the couples who come into my office fighting like cats and dogs are the ones that will make it. There is energy and aliveness in those relationships. No one has checked out or abandoned the process. The people in them simply do not have the tools they need to make it work.

We choose certain kinds of people because we need to learn certain things about ourselves. Relationships are always mostly about you. That’s why you get to be in charge of your own curriculum. You can learn the lessons you need in this relationship or move on and learn them in a different one. My suggestion is that you learn the lesson you need first, then if you decide to leave you are not running away from your issue. If you get the lesson and then decide to leave it is probably because you are taking care of your self in a positive way.

“I don’t even know what the lesson is,” I hear you saying impatiently. Well, let’s see if we can give you some tools that will help you see more clearly. Let’s look at your situation in a metaphorical way. Very often your partner is a mirror or metaphor for what you need to learn about yourself. For instance, if your partner lies to you, there may be a way that you are lying to others or yourself. Perhaps you lie to yourself about what you really need and want in a relationship. Perhaps you lie to yourself or others about what is really important to you, or how his or her actions hurt you. Maybe you even lie to yourself about what you are feeling.

If you have a partner that abandons you, he or she may be reflecting back to you the ways in which you abandon yourself. Maybe you do that by denying your feelings, giving up your perspective even when you feel you are right . Maybe you are the kind of person who always takes care of everyone else’s needs but not your own. Maybe you abandon your right to privacy, respect or space.

If you have a partner that cheats on you, ask yourself if there are ways in which you cheat on yourself by not listening to your intuition. Do you discount your concerns or are you willing to settle for less than you deserve.

Is your partner abusive? In what ways do you abuse your self or others? Do you abuse yourself by choosing to stay in an abusive situation in which your inner child gets abused again and again? Do you abuse yourself by denying your pain, anguish and terror? Do you abuse yourself by not listening to the part of you that deserves better treatment?

As you search for the problem, let your mind expand a bit to include your past and be creative. Sometimes the answer may seem allusive but it’s there. No doubt there is a pattern in your relationships in which the same sets of problems seem to occur repeatedly. Maybe they wear different names and faces but the issues are similar. Those patterns are probably a very close replica of the same childhood issues you dealt with at home. Try to see what the pattern is and then you will have the answer to where your work lies. If you still can’t get the answer, process the question with a trusted friend who may be able to offer a more objective perspective. Don’t give up!

If you can step back from the situation a bit, you may begin to understand that having difficulties in your relationship is really an opportunity for growth and..that person you are always mad at…may be your best teacher whether you choose to stay or choose to leave.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.