I’ve been divorced for nine decades. And in those years, I’ve spent the past six of these working pretty hard at finding a willing partner and starting the trip from the”hello” date to the first kiss and so forth. I loved being married. I wanted my marriage to continue. Even if things were rough between us, I had been the one on the optimistic side of the counselor’s couch saying things like,”This is a terrific moment for us to reset our expectations about how we will pay for this lifestyle we’re enjoying.” Well, that did not work out so well.
Since my divorce, I’ve attempted to grow as an emotionally intelligent guy. I have worked on myself. And I have gone on lots of dates. (I even wrote a book about it: Single Dad Seeks) And over the past few relationships, I’ve started to discover a balance between what I am willing to put out there of my vulnerability. I also have learned lots of things I’m not ready to take in a partner.
I’ve approached dating as a procedure to identify, qualify, and finally partner with a single girl. The dating part is vital, but dating isn’t the objective. Sex is vital, but gender, also, isn’t the objective. Working to identify and research a combination of those three variables, is how I’m navigating my approach to finding my next long term connection.
It’s very important that my spouse be able to express and experience pleasure at a high level. And I have a lot of it. If my partner is somewhat more demure, a little more introverted, this might become a problem since it was a couple of girlfriends past. But when my pleasure got going she would often withdraw. A number of this was introvert vs extrovert stuff, but some of it was her fear of flying. When you have pleasure and you match your pleasure with somebody else, the sky starts to open up for the two of you. It is like you every magnify each other’s energy and positive outlook.
I’ve had periods of my life where I had been too damn positive. I still need to check with myself every time I say,”It’s fine.” Typically, I’m responding to a disappointment or miss in my connection. When I say,”It’s okay,” I am glossing over my pain, occasionally missing instead of acknowledging the pain. Or does it suck and I am just trying to make light of it? There’s a huge difference.
I must watch for this in spouses also. When they’re too agreeable. When they offer hardly any opinions about where to eat or what movie to see. They may use the joy thing to be passive in the connection. I would like an consciously joyous spouse, not one who just goes together saying everything is terrific. I can feel when things are terrific. And that mutual sense of joy becomes exponential when you’re with someone you care deeply about.
In my early years, I didn’t get sufficient empathetic attention. Chaos reigned in my home, and it was every man for himself. My sister, who had been 10-years old, was my protector during the gunfire, but she too was a kid. We did not learn how to process the anger which was flowing through my dad. We did not have any tools to dispell or release it later. So, guess what? In the beginning, it was somewhat frightening to me, when I’d begin crying with a girlfriend. I was not always certain what was tripping me making me sad. An empathetic listener can feel with you, comfort you, and be with you as you encounter a memory or a present disappointment. And that is all.
The following trick in being a excellent empathetic listener is to be present and provide your loving attention. It’s not recommended to provide suggestions or advice at the moment. Simply be with the man who’s in pain. Hold a secure place for them to express what is happening in their lives or in their recovered memories. And just hold them. Hold the silent space for them and let their ideas to direct what they want next to cure themselves. As partners, we’re not therapists or trainers. And we’re champions. But we must maintain our guidance and our own hurts to ourselves if our spouse is profound in their feelings. (See Brené Brown’s BRAVING)
As we build our relationship together we’re going to hit areas that feel uneasy. We will step on toes, awaken old patterns of distress, and provide our partners a chance to experience pain. That is part of what a holistic and loving relationship is all about: we can comprise both the good and the bad feelings and not be scared of either one.
If we’re the triggered spouse, and we get angry and overwhelmed by some event or any behaviour of our spouse, is it our duty to take possession of our own hyper-emotional state. Even if we can not recognize it in the present time, we can admit that if a enormous rage comes flying from us, it is probably not about the dirty towels on the bathroom floor. The triggered spouse must take charge of their own procedure at this time and ask for a workout. (Yes, the non-triggered spouse can request a time out as well if they’re starting to feel overwhelmed.)
At this time, the triggered and emotionally charged partner should seek out a safe quiet place to allow the feelings to show themselves in a deeper level. Inside we know that it’s not about the towels on the ground. We must stop and listen, research, and feel what is happening in our bodies. It’s in this recovery phase which we can learn so much about ourselves and our past hurts. And from those moments we can see glimpses of where we want to go by releasing and getting free of those unwieldy emotions.
As the last part of the process of retrieval, we will need to request a repair with our spouse. This is the greatest act of great faith and trust in a relationship. The repair is essential for both partners. We will need to reconstruct the bridge which was torched during the moment of fury or despair. We will need to reestablish the goodwill and good intentions of both spouses to remain close and to stay close even when these hard moments occur. This way, we’re hardening our love and build confidence for our future.
With no bright outlook on life, we are not going to get beyond a first date. Empathy comes during the initial date. How can your spouse respond to your divorce or break-up narrative? And in the end, the repair usually does not come until some fracture has occurred. It’s very useful if you have some Brené Brown BRAVING discussions in front of a blow-up, but it only takes one partner to maintain the higher ground. If one spouse remains clear and steady there’s room for another spouse to have a moment.
With these three resources in a relationship, you’ve got a better prospect of building the long term relationship you’re craving. Very good luck. Be brave.