I love you! Now, Change…..
by Darcy Flierl
The question is not what the other person can do differently, but rather, “What can I do differently?” Once the honeymoon phase ends and we begin to fully be ourselves- because let’s face it, we can’t help it- we begin to notice all the annoying habits of our once beloved partner. We begin to ask them: Please don’t do that, please do this, if you don’t mind- when you do this… and do it my way. Many requests are of reasonable measure and couple’s need to work together to find those little compromises. I will use the dishwasher for example. My husband and I moved in together in our late 30’s. When I say late, I mean I was 39 and he was 40. We both had already spent a decade each living with our former spouses and we had lived in many situations in which we loaded dishwashers. He insisted the silverware all be faced up in the rack because he believes it will not be thoroughly cleaned if not. I want to load it all down with handles up, because I don’t want to stab myself while putting everything away. This power struggle went on for our first few weeks living together until we reached THE compromise: Knives down, the rest will be placed up. How did we come to that conclusion? We talked about what we wanted and why it was important and found a solution that honored both partners’ perspectives. Okay, so many issues effecting relationships aren’t as simple as “how to load the dishwasher” but they all can come down to the same process.
Unfortunately, sometimes we find ourselves in a relationship with someone who is…. Unreasonable…inflexible……selfish. It’s no fun to be the individual who is always conceding, compromising, surrendering. The person whom gives up on everything from how to load the dishwasher, to their friends, careers and for many, even their families, is the person who will do anything to avoid conflict. This person loses not just the things they value, but in the most extreme cases, they lose themselves. The Co-Dependent is born. They no longer exist. Their purpose moves beyond avoiding conflict, but their purpose becomes the purpose of their partner. For the person this happens to, they begin to have self-talk that goes like this: How did this happen? Things use to be so good. Isn’t there anything I can do to make them change? Is there anything I can do to make this stop?
As people willing to have relationships, we have an obligation to accept people as they are OR not. We do not have the right to love them, welcome them into our lives, build lives with them and then ask them to be different than how they were when we decided to love them. It is an act of spiritual violence against them and you. If we cannot accept an individual for all they are, the fair choice is to set them free. However, most of us lack the courage to be fair. Instead we say, “I love you, now change”, “become the person I need you to be so I can feel safe, cared for and confident”. If this injustice has been done to you, you may be faced with a bold decision to take responsibility for you own happiness, stand up to conflict, make choices that will displease your partner, love yourself in the face of adversity. Love yourself at all costs. The best case scenario, your partner will see the evil of their ways. They will ask for patience while they work through their emotions, demands, and fears. Sometimes, two people stay together yet live separate. This never seems to allow either individual to find the joy that is available. In many cases, the partner expected to change, starts to demand the other change too. And sometimes, the only road to happiness is traveled separate.
“I can’t do this anymore”, “Enough IS Enough”, “I’ve tried and done everything and nothing works”, are things many couples say after the smallest disagreement and to the big stuff, as well. It’s a natural reaction to have that Fight or Flight reaction when we are in conflict. Just because one feels that way or says those things from time to time, doesn’t mean it’s time to jump ship. If your partner wants you to change, maybe accepting their inability to accept you IS the fair and compassionate thing to do. If you are faced with whether you should stay or whether you should go, here are few questions you might ask yourself to help you make a move in becoming responsible for your own happiness: Are there more bad days than good? Is there emotional, physical or verbal abuse? Is my partners an active addict (the world is full of addicts, the important question is if they using), Are you going to regret leaving? Will you regret staying? Am I honoring my personal values in the relationship? You already know, we can only change ourselves. You can change yourself to save a relationship or you can change the relationship, to be true to yourself.
I wish people were naturally fair. I wish we always operated with a deep level of self awareness and that we didn’t behave in ways that caused conflict in our relationships. The sad truth is I’ve made the choice to leave every adult relationship I’ve ever had because either my partner couldn’t accept me or I couldn’t accept them. Being on our 2nd marriages, My husband and I, operate very different with each other than either of us ever had before. We love with our hearts, minds and eyes, open. We love with care, respect, patience, compromise and acceptance. In just 5 years, some big sacrifices have been made, but they’ve been made by the person making the sacrifice, or compromise, not because it’s been asked of them. When I think of my husband, I think… I Love You, because I Love YOU and because I’m free to be the totally beautiful, imperfect ME.
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Darcy Flierl is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Addictions Professional, and Certified Yoga Teacher currently offering individual and family psychotherapy in Stuart, Florida. She also enjoys teaching in the Human Services Department as an Adjunct Instructor for Indian River State College and is Consultant for Non Profits along the Treasure Coast.
She has held board positions on for a variety of local and statewide agencies from the Department of Juvenile Justice’s State Advisory Group to CHARACTER COUNTS! and others. Darcy has received a variety of awards for her community work such as; Soroptimist’s Rising Star Award, the Community Champion Award from the United Way and for community advocacy from the Tobacco Free Partnership and was a 2013 Nominee as a Woman of Distinction.
Besides working to make Martin County a healthier place, she donates her time doing River Advocacy for the Indian River Lagoon and raising awareness about many issues effecting young people and families. She treasures her time with her husband, and children attending local events and enjoying Martin County’s recreational opportunities.
For more information about Darcy you can visit her website at: http://www.darcyflierl.com