Happy Holidays

This will just be a brief post to wish all my readers the happiest of holidays.

I realize that this time of year can be difficult, especially if you are dealing with a marriage in some state of crisis, but it is totally survivable. I’ve been through it before, last year at this time. I find that two things help.

First, attitude determines everything. In reality, the holidays are days just like any others, it’s just that we attach special significance to them because they are times of family gatherings, celebrations, and giving. However, there are many other times of year that are not holidays in which families gather, celebrate, and give. These holidays of course also have religious significance to some, and this is something that you should absolutely acknowledge. Nevertheless, there are many other religious holidays throughout the year which have equal, if not greater significance than the holidays that are currently upon us.

Religious significance notwithstanding, there is a strong cultural element to these holidays, and that can weigh even more severely. The reminders are everywhere: festive decorations, light displays, shop offerings, and so on. Having spent a number of Christmas holidays in Japan, I have a slightly different perspective. In that country, Christmas is just another day, and not in any way the major holiday that it is here. And, there are some rather odd things attached to that holiday over there, like for example the ubiquitous holiday songs of choice, which for some reason favor Mariah Carey and Wham! (I always favored Yamashita Tatsurou’s offering, cheesy though it might be.)

Second, if you can do it, surround yourself with friends and family. They will help you get through it. (Just don’t blab about your marriage, as that won’t be helpful.)

Guess that’s about it. I’m with the family for the holidays.

Since it is Christmas Eve, and the risk of being cheesy (and also at the risk of getting some odd search engine hits — I still get several hits per month for the keywords “chicken house of poo,” since I embedded a Tony Bourdain video here some months ago) I’m posting the Yamashita Tastsurou video (“Christmas Eve”) below.

Necessity, the Mother of Invention

Tomorrow is my wife’s birthday.

Since her most recent bout of stonewalling began last month, it has been very hard to get through any kind of communication with her. I feel that this withdrawal is deliberate: an attempt to try to make it through the holidays with her inappropriate relationship unscathed. It’s quite likely, for a lot of reasons, actually, that things have already begun to unravel, and it’s now just a matter of time. Not that it hasn’t always been, but it seems to me to be now more so than ever.

Her withdrawal has made giving very difficult. At this point, she seems to have positioned herself to avoid me through the new year. So, I had to wrangle up a gift that would be deliverable from anywhere, to anywhere. Here’s what I did.

I poked around fiverr.com a bit, and found a seller in Italy who would place a padlock (a “love lock”) on a pier at Lake Como, in northern Italy. I contacted the seller, and she agreed to also provide a video with a short message. I pretty much bought all the bells and whistles on this “gig,” and the seller was an absolute pleasure to work with. I even asked if she could send me a Google Map link to the location of the lock, and she furnished this as well; I hope to take my wife there some time in the not-too-distant future, so she can see it in person.

The photo came in first, and the the video. At nearly 80MB, most email servers would probably choke on it, so I made a quick website on which I placed all of these goodies. She’ll get the link tomorrow.

How Neediness and Emotional Insecurity Destroy Relationships

Today’s guest blog post comes from the staff at Hypnosis Downloads

“Please, clouds, don’t rain!” Not going to work, is it?

And neither will trying to reassure someone who just can’t be reassured. They will go on fretting, no matter how you plead.

Chronic insecurity in your relationship is a major problem. Why? Because relationships really, deeply matter. Your health, your wellbeing, your happiness are affected by your relationships more than any other factor. And your most intimate relationships have the biggest effect of all.

It’s not just the insecure person who suffers

Feeling insecure in a relationship is horrible for the one who is feeling the insecurity. The burden – of fear and obsessive thoughts, of feeling powerless, of awful awareness that all this insecurity may actually itself be destroying what you treasure most – can feel pretty unbearable.

But it’s also tough for the person on the receiving end of all that insecurity. The truth is that being involved with a really insecure person can be hell.

This article highlighted what a common problem insecurity is

I wrote an article a while back on overcoming insecurity in relationships and was inundated with feedback from all over the world. The scores of comments on the article itself were just the tip of the iceberg. My inbox overflowed with hundreds more private emails from people wracked by feelings of relationship insecurity.

That article, which explores the reasons for insecurity and offers practical tips to help overcome it, eventually became the springboard for the development of the new 10 steps to overcoming insecurity in relationships course. My article was mainly addressed to those who are themselves feeling insecure in a relationship; but I also got – and still get – hundreds of emails from people who have extremely insecure partners. A common recurring theme of these accounts is how isolating it can feel to find yourself in a relationship with someone who is deeply insecure. And this is one major reason why extreme insecurity can be so damaging.

Why reassuring your insecure partner is almost a lie

Because ‘reassurance’ is what insecure people want most, and anyone can say reassuring things, it’s all too easy for partners (and friends) to offer reassurances that everything is “really okay” in the relationship even when it isn’t.This is a kind of denial. And – ironically – the reasons it might not be okay are often the product of the insecurity itself.

Sometimes the only genuine problem in a relationship is the emotional insecurity of one partner and the effect that has on the relationship as a whole. But it’s easy to fall into a pattern of always pretending everything is fine, even when the insecurity becomes really damaging. Such pretense becomes isolating and can drive partners further apart. This is how insecurity can damage or even destroy the relationship.

Relationships thrive on intimacy, and intimacy stems from feeling you can safely be yourself with your partner. So what does it feel like to be in a relationship with a very insecure partner?

Worrying about relationship breakup creates it

Insecurity stemming from a fear of losing intimacy can actually bring on that loss of intimacy. Jake, a former client, described it like this:

“I actually feel totally disconnected from Sara now. She doubts my every word, doesn’t believe me when I say I’ve been working, and constantly misinterprets what I say. It’s driving me nuts! And the angrier I get, the more insecure she gets. I can’t win! I’ve tried being sympathetic, but now everything has to be on her terms, I have to ask myself all the time – is this going to upset her or not?”

Jake told me how he had started to feel very lonely in his relationship, like he had no one to talk to, because “Talking to Sara is like walking on egg shells – will I say the wrong thing? Will she take it the wrong way?”

He, like many who are close to someone so insecure, found himself getting more and more emotionally distant from Sara. He felt less able to speak to her about how he felt, and less able to relax around her. Loneliness isn’t about being alone so much as feeling alone with others – because you feel misunderstood by them – and that’s how Jake now felt with Sara. He’d begun to feel trapped, finding it hard to be around her but also hard not to be around her, because he knew how painful it was for her to be wondering where he was or whom he was with.

The painful truth is that insecurity can lead to the death of intimacy in a relationship – the fear of losing something can actually bring about that loss. Trying to force intimacy or love – demanding to know how someone feels, what they are thinking, who they’ve been talking to, what they are doing – can just drive them further from you.

So what should you do if you are in a relationship with a really insecure person?

How to tell if you have a truly insecure partner

It’s vital to figure out whether the person you are with isgenuinely excessively insecure. Some jealousy and insecurity is actually normal in most relationships from time to time – especially in the early stages. Insecure people are often insecure about their insecurity, because they instinctively know how damaging it can be. But if insecurity is a constant and central feature of the relationship then, yes, it is a problem and a potential cause of breakdown. Of course you can reassure your partner, reason with them, and be gentle and loving toward them, but it’s important not to make too many adaptations for them. This was the mistake Jake made. He had completely stopped spending any time with his friends without Sara. He rang her on the hour, every hour, when he had to work late. He told her he loved her so many times a day that it was more like a chore rather than a genuine expression of how he felt. And after a while the relationship no longer felt real to him.

If the relationship becomes all about reassuring and not upsetting the insecure partner, you and your needs get sidelined to the point that the relationship can start to feel meaningless for you. Jake and Sara’s relationship only improved once Sara herself addressed her insecurity, and learned to trust and relax more with not “having to know” what Jake was thinking or doing all the time. Her self esteem improved and, in turn, he then felt more valued, and no longer trapped or forced to behave in prescribed ways. At last he was being listened to and respected again.

If your insecure partner has enough insight to know they need to change, then you really can encourage them to make those changes that could make such a difference for both of you. Ultimately, no one should have to be constantly “on call” to their partner, or emotionally isolated by them. Good relationships are reciprocal, not one-sided. They flourish when partners trust each other, accept each other, give each other space, forgive each other for failings – and enjoy each other. You and your partner both deserve that. Read more about 10 Steps to Overcome Insecurity in Relationships by Mark Tyrrell

Notes

  1. See: Wikipedia entry: Exposure therapy
  2. See: Wikipedia entry: Flooding

The Cold Front

Last night I saw my wife again. She had another concert with the group she performed with last time I saw her. I half expected the adulterer to be there, and half expected him not to be there.

When I arrived, the hall was full, but as it was not a traditional concert space, the hall lights were turned on, and I could see every face in the room. I did not see the adulterer. I was honestly a bit disappointed, as it would have been one of those rare opportunities to disrupt that rather diseased dynamic.

My wife played well, as usual. I went up to greet her after the concert wrapped up, and she seemed a bit surprised. She was talking with one of the musicians when I caught her attention. I gave her a quick kiss on the head, and she thanked me for coming; there was a lot of hubbub, and before I knew it, she was talking to another of the musicians. This person had never met me, and did not know I was her husband. I let her talk to him, just waiting a couple of feet away. I heard him ask her if “you guys” have any plans for Christmas; clearly he was referring to the adulterer. My wife spoke to him in very hushed tones, in an attempt to keep me out of earshot. But I heard his response, which made it clear that there were no special plans. There was no opportunity for me to introduce myself to this person.

We turned to leave the hall and she asked me why I had come. I told her it was to see her and to support her. I asked my wife what her plans for the following week were. She said she had none. I mentioned that her birthday was coming up, and that I’d like to spend it with her. She said this was not possible, and I said, “oh, really?” She then said she’d be spending it with “friends.” Typically, this is a code word for the adulterer, in my experience. I then said it could be some other day, and she said, “in fact, I’ll be out of town.” Whatever. So, my response was, “before you leave, or when you get back, let’s get together.” She now changed her tune, and said she would not have any time. All the while, her demeanor was rather cold.

I asked her what she was doing right now, and she said she had to go, motioning to the reception. I suggested we have a drink; she replied that she had to go to the green room to change, and then to leave. I told her that I’d see her soon, and went to give her a hug. She tried to shirk that off, but I still managed. She then walked off. The whole experience was one in which she encircled herself in some sort of emotional wall.

This is not the same person who sent me an email with unsolicited apologies and profusions of appreciation not two weeks prior. That email came quite unexpectedly, as if from nowhere, and seemed to indicate that she was in a rather fragile emotional place. Then I saw her two days later, and her face showed the apparent queasy uneasiness of having been found in a public place with the adulterer (who, as you may recall, turned tail and fled the scene). I can’t help but think that her coldness might be attributable to the blowback that likely resulted after this encounter with me — and the adulterer’s humiliating retreat to the coat racks to look for a jacket he was, in fact, wearing.

So there we are. At least the message was clear from my actions: her husband, unlike the adulterer, does not turn tail and run.

December: the Triple-Whammy Month

December has always been a month of celebrations in my marriage. Since my marital crisis began, it has become a month of tribulations. It’s really a triple-whammy of occasions:

  • Next week is my wife’s birthday.
  • The following week comes Christmas.
  • The very next week comes our anniversary.

We’ve always celebrated these days together. That is, until last year, when the affair took root. She left for two days to spend her birthday with the adulterer. Then she left for a few more, to spend Christmas with him. (I left town to be with family.) Then she abandoned me one more time, to spend the New Year’s holiday with him.

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed. In the interim, I have experienced much personal growth, while my wife’s life has pretty much remained unevolved. Her affair is almost certainly become increasingly unstable, and I do have reason to suspect that things have shifted in the recent past.

Tonight, I have the opportunity to see her again. I do not know if the adulterer will be there, as he was on the last similar occasion. I’d give it 50/50 odds. Whatever happens tonight, I’m almost certain it will be a huge interruption to the fairy tale that has been her life this past year.

What remains to be seen is what might happen during that triple-whammy. I hold out hope, of course, that a sudden and drastic reversal of course could occur before next week. That’s how these breakthroughs tend to occur: very suddenly.

But, in any event, I daresay I am in a much better position, personally and emotionally, to handle the whole triple-whammy than I was a year ago.

What Helps Me To Succeed

If you’re a regular reader, you probably know by now that I have been doing self-hypnosis for a number of months now. There are a couple of websites that I’ve found that purvey hypnosis downloads, but the one that I get most of my sessions from is Hypnosis Downloads in Oban, Scotland. They’ve been around the longest (since 1995, online since 2003) and have the most materials (over 800 downloads).

So why am I telling you this? Because I got a download a bit over a week ago that has been incredibly helpful, and which has the potential to be truly transformative. It’s called “Desire to Succeed,” and I think that the skills it instills are so helpful to anyone in a marital crisis that I feel compelled to share it here. (Well, I can’t share the audio file, but I can share the link to it.)

Here’s why it’s so helpful. If you are trying to reconcile your marriage, you will likely be facing a long and rather protracted journey that places reconciliation as your goal. There will be many obstacles on that journey, and quite a number of forces that might try to derail your progress. Without a strong determination to succeed, this journey could very well be much, much harder.

Honestly, I’ve come to know many people on a similar journey as mine, and I do know from their experiences that the vagaries and vicissitudes of the trajectory toward reconciliation can be truly destabilizing. I have never really had that problem: I’ve been focused on getting to reconciliation virtually since day one, but I know that others have struggled, and some have struggled mightily. Some probably continue to struggle, and others, unfortunately, will struggle in the future.

Truth be told, I struggle myself, but with other issues, the largest of which being regaining my financial footing in the wake of the complications left behind by my wife’s decision to separate. For me, this has been the struggle in which I get derailed: I make progress, but then something happens that sets me back or shakes me up.

That’s why I picked up this download. I figured I might as well give it a shot.

It has been very helpful.

This download is a relatively brief session, clocking in at about 19 minutes. But, there’s an awful lot packed into that nineteen minutes. Aside from the hypnotic induction itself, there is an imaginative rehearsal of the goal having been realized, complete with a visualization of how life will have changed once that goal is completed. In addition, there is a second visualization of that same future time, only with the goal not having been realized due to inaction. This is given as a powerful motivator — the question is “what if I had really worked on this goal?” — and it serves to seed the subconscious with the complete unacceptability of simply maintaining the status quo. Finally, there are a couple of visualizations of oneself being pulled inexorably toward that goal, almost as if it would be easier to get off one’s duff and work on it, rather than to sit around and do nothing.

As I said earlier, I’ve only been working with this session for about 10 days or so, and I’ve already seen much benefit. I’ve really started to grab the bull by the horns and get a variety of things in order that is making managing and planning the finances much, much easier.

I am certain that just about anyone who is dealing with a marital crisis would stand to benefit from this download. Just click the link below to find out more.

Click here to learn more about the “Desire to Succeed” download.

A Metaphor; Or, the Parable of the Rose

Once upon a time, you found a rose bush that produced the most beautiful and rare of flowers. You could always count on that rose bush having one singe rose that always bloomed, vibrant with color, redolent of the most extraordinary fragrances imaginable. You planted that rose bush in a carefully chosen spot, and cared for it with true devotion, day after day. You watered it, nourished it with nutrients to its soil, and protected it from the harsh elements. Day after day, month after month, that most rare of roses bloomed.

Then at some point, life began to divert your attention from that rose bush, bit by bit. There were days you would forget to water it; perhaps you might think, “the rain will take care of it,” and sometimes the rain would. There were weeks that you forgot to add nutrients to the soil. There were months in which you forgot to shelter it from the vicissitudes of the seasons. Yet all the while, that rose still bloomed.

You were distracted, perhaps, so you didn’t notice that the rose had lost a bit of its luster. Some of the petals had frayed or dropped off. The foliage was not as verdant or abundant as it formerly was. But overall, the rose looked healthy, and was a reminder of the wondrous bloom it once was. After all, don’t all things fade with time?

One day, you walked past that rosebush and noticed a weed. It was a truly noxious looking weed, that had entwined itself into the bush, and looked to threaten to choke it off. Perhaps you tried to disentangle that weed, but it wouldn’t come loose. Or perhaps you tried to cut the weed off at its stem, only to watch it regrow. Or perhaps you tried to uproot the weed, only to find that it seemed to be intertwined with the roots somehow, and the rose bush would be uprooted as well.

It could be that you applied toxic chemicals, and this caused the weed to wither, or perhaps even outright to die. I could also be that those chemicals poisoned the rose bush as well, causing it to lose even more of its foliage, and perhaps even to die as well.

It might be that you eventually reached a point, quickly or slowly, at which you decided the only reasonable course of action would be to uproot the bush and the weed, and to banish them from your sight.

But the wise gardener knows why the weed is there in the first place.

The weed was opportunistic, and took root because the conditions were right. The soil had changed in composition such that it favored the needs of the weed. The foliage on the bush had died back enough that the weed could get sufficient light. The soil was dry enough for the weed to grow, for it didn’t need much more than a few drops of water every now and then.

The wise gardener also knows the solution to the problem.

The weed is a temporary phenomenon. It is not a perennial plant like the rose bush. It cannot continue to grow and thrive for years and years. It will be gone with the next season, and can simply be expected to fade away as the natural order of things unfolds. It appears to be so entwined with the rose bush that it could choke it off and kill it, but in reality this is mere appearance.

The solution lies in tending to the rose bush once again. Nourish the soil so that it can regain its foliage. Water its roots so that it can begin to regrow. Shelter it from the harshness of winter to which it is now more susceptible. Do all of these things unfailingly and with patience.

After a season, the miracle of nature can unfold. The rose bush is once again verdant with foliage. Its rose blooms with a renewed vigor and vibrancy that is heretofore unparalleled. Its aroma is redolent of all of the most rare and fragrant flowers known to man.

And that noxious weed is nowhere to be seen. It has no room to grow, and that verdant foliage has blocked out any sunlight it might have gotten. It finds the deeply nutritious soil abhorrent, and it drowns in the abundance of water. It has vanished, according to the order of nature.

This is how a marriage crisis takes root: slowly and surreptitiously, as a result of years of neglect. Yet it can manifest suddenly and noxiously, like a weed that threatens to destroy that most precious rose. It could come as a barrage of arguments that leads to a more serious situation. It could manifest as an affair, or it could come in the form of separation, or the even threat of divorce.

Regardless of how it manifests, the remedy is the same: Be the gardener who tends to the rose bush.