Dr. William Glasser first came to notice in the 1960’s due to his work at the Ventura School for Girls and the backwards of the V.A. Hospital in Los Angeles. I heard of Dr. Glasser in the late 60’s but it was 1978 before I took my first Basic Intensive Training. To learn more about this remarkable man’s life, I encourage you to read “Champion of Choice” by Jim Roy.
Dr. Glasser talked and wrote about the importance of loving relationships in our lives. He also talked and wrote about the reality that the only person whose behavior we have control over is our own.
It is a myth to think that we really can “make” someone do something. There are people every day who literally die for their beliefs and that has been true throughout history. It is at times convenient to say “I couldn’t help it” or “S/he made me”. When I hear those words, I know that isn’t actually true. (Click here for my post on external control).
The truth is more along the line of “I didn’t know how to say “no” because s/he is bigger than I am (or has more power as in could fire me, etc.) or it is easier to go along than to stand up for my beliefs or s/he might not like me anymore (in some circumstances we call that peer pressure).
Looking at your most important relationships and using a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being high/good and 1 low/bad, how congruent are the words and actions of the people you love towards you?
If there is a high degree of congruence, you are most likely very happy in this relationship. However, in general the more in-congruence, the increase is in unhappiness.
Rule of Thumb: if you like what's going on, keep doing what you're doing.
Problems occur when there is more in-congruence than we want. For example: you are a new parent and getting ready to go out for the evening. Your baby spits up on your shirt/blouse as you lean over to kiss her goodbye. Being covered in baby puke is seldom seen as a positive. However, most adults do not believe some action needs to be taken (other than changing clothes).
Another example: in your family the roles of husband and wife were clearly delineated. You and your new spouse talked about wanting more of a partnership, a sharing of household tasks. Months into your new arraignment, you realize you are the only one taking the garbage out. The next time the garbage needs to go out you say "It's your turn." If you're succinct that's all you say. If you want to make a point, you remind your spouse that since you moved into this place, they have never taken the garbage out.
Yes, even something this small and insignificant in the relative scheme of things can create bigger problems. If in your family, you saw that taking the garbage out was a sign of caring for the other spouse, you may not even realize that was your perception until you are the only one taking it out.
Baby spitting up? That's what babies do.
Do we like it? Not particularly but that's what babies do.
Leaving me to take the garbage out? That's a sign I'm disrespected or maybe not loved as much or?
Looking at your most important relationships and using a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being high/good and 1 low/bad, how congruent are Your Words and Actions towards the people in your life you love?
In general we find it easier to look at someone else's behavior than our own. To create a high level of connectedness which can also be seen as unconditional love or unconditional acceptance, we must look at our part in the relationship.
How I communicate my perception of the whole "who takes the garbage out" situation matters. Even the succinct "It's your turn" if said in a negative tone (critical, sarcastic, nagging, etc.) creates repercussions we may not want. If we add the history of who has and hasn't taken the garbage out, we are upping the ante and increasing the odds of distance between ourselves and our spouses.
Here we are, six months into the marriage, we are the only ones who are taking the garbage out and we thought we had an agreement of sharing household tasks. It doesn't feel like we are doing any sharing of this one.
A. Why is it important that your spouse also take out the garbage? What is "the other" meaning of that task to you? (See above for one example).
B. How and when do you bring the topic up if, after you've answered "A", you still this task handled differently? (Hint: neutral is best. One tactic that backfires in the long, if not the short run, is to bargain for control. "I'll fix your favorite dessert if you will..."
C. In any relationship, establishing boundaries in communication is important. Basics are no threats, swearing, name-calling, etc.
After dinner while you are both clearing the table and cleaning up the kitchen?
During a commercial in a television movie or sporting event?
While getting ready for bed? or getting ready in the morning?
What do you say to start the conversation?
Sweetie, do you realize you never take the garbage out?
Remember before we got married we talked about sharing household tasks? How do you think that's going?
The other day I realized a holdover from my family I'd like to share with you. My dad always took the garbage out and my mom always thanked him and gave him a hug and a kiss when he came back in.
Or maybe: In my family we always knew we were in trouble when we had to take the garbage out.
The purpose of this post is not to tell you what to do or even how to do it but to present some ideas that will provide a framework for you to think about the level of connectedness or disconnectedness in your relationships.
Next week we’ll explore ways to increase connectedness.
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© 2016 Judith Ashley