Relationship S.O.S.
The #1 Secret of Success Is Perception
By Dr. Maryel McKinley



Perception has everything to do with maintaining a good relationship. Think about when you first met, how excited you were, how it felt like you were both floating on a pink cloud off to “never-never land”; it felt like you would stay on this cloud forever. And then, you have your first fight, or your first difference of opinion.

Suddenly, everything about your mate seems to irritate you. The color of her eye-makeup, the way he leaves the toilet seat up, the fact that the toothpaste cap never seems to find its way back to the tube, yet neither one of you is the culprit!

Do not worry! This is natural. Our perception of the way we see things is one of the most powerful gifts The Creator has given us. We were endowed with free will and deciding how we will perceive any given situation is the solution to many of our problems, marital and otherwise.

When we start to focus on little annoyances, we may be avoiding what we are really feeling. With newlyweds this can manifest as fear of intimacy. Yes, even married couples experience fear of intimacy. One of my colleagues, Dr. Joan McNeill, author of “What Did I Do To Deserve This?” has a special acronym for the word intimacy. She says it means: “Into Me You See”. As fallible human beings we all experience fear of the possibility that our partner might one day realize we are not “perfect”. So, we will defend against this insecurity by projecting onto our mate and pointing out the slightest imperfections as though they are the end of the world!

Again, these are normal fears and behaviors. But the good news is that we don’t have to subscribe to them anymore if we are aware. So the first step to changing our perception is being aware of what it is we are truly perceiving. Utilize these times of annoyance as red-flag type opportunities to step back and say, “OK, what am I really annoyed at here? Am I really afraid she will see my imperfections and in turn abandon me? Or am I avoiding another internal conflict that I would rather not face by creating little arguments with my mate? What’s really going on here?”

Fear of intimacy can manifest internally as fear of facing our true feelings, or fear of processing an insecurity or hurt from the past. Maybe we are still carrying an old wound from an adolescent love that needs to be resolved.

Remember not to judge yourself, be easy on yourself and be grateful and excited that this is a chance to grow and display the dignity and integrity you and your mate deserve. Never use these observances to verbally beat up yourself or your mate. Kindness, love and tolerance is the key, and respect for ourselves and others is what will ultimately keep your perception in line with your highest ideals.

We are powerless over people, places and situations, but we are not powerless over how we will choose to react or take action in any given moment. This is true empowerment.

All the great sages and mystics taught that ultimately happiness comes from within, and perception gives us the ability to recognize happiness. John Notary, a very wise friend of mine who is living a happy and fulfilled life with the AIDS virus, reminds us: “Happy people are grateful people. If you think your life stinks, it does! He also says, “It’s not the deck you’re dealt in life that matters, but how you play it!”

Whether we wear rose-colored glasses or those tinged with gray, we are viewing the world every day according to our past experiences. Wouldn’t it be nice to choose to see the truth of the moment, rather than constantly reacting to old tapes that have been playing in our heads for years?

It is so important to prevent negative “patterns” from being formed early on in your marriage. In fact, this is one of the main reasons Dr. Kimber and I strongly suggest premarital counseling, so the couple can enter the marriage free from any misconceptions, false expectations, and to undo any harmful patterns that might have already started.

When I interviewed Caroline Myss in the January 2000 cover story for Awareness Magazine, she told me she stresses that choice is our greatest power. Why? “It is an even greater power than love, because you must first choose to be a loving person.”

In Dr. Myss’s newest bestseller “Sacred Contracts” she says “Take the simple matter of someone apologizing to you for having spoken thoughtlessly or hurtfully. In that one instant, the power of transformation rests entirely with you. You can transcend the density of your anger and choose to forgive, transmuting that instance into an exchange that restores energy to both of you. Or, you can repress your Divine nature and cause that potential opportunity for healing to become a contaminated energy transaction.”

Do you see how powerful perception can be? It can change your life — “for better or for worse, and in sickness or in health.” That’s how we stay happily together, one day at a time!

Dr. Maryel McKinley is a relationship therapist and certified addictions treatment specialist. She also offers clinical hypnotherapy in her practice, which includes motivational success, non-smoking, trauma issues and sports improvement. As an ordained minister she would love to perform your wedding ceremony. For information and free copy of your wedding planning book and a free pre-marital consultation, call Elegant Weddings at (818) 593-2007 . To contact her personally go to  or (949) 522-0037.

Return to the July/August Index page