Excerpt from the upcoming book
Working on Your Relationship Doesn’t Work
A Transformational Approach to Creating Magical Relationships
By Ariel and Shya Kane
Have you ever found yourself in one of those moods where no matter what your partner says or does, it is all fodder for the fight? Where you are angry, disturbed, and nothing he or she says or does is ‘right’ or good enough to relieve your sense of aggravation?
We recently met a couple involved in one of these altered states of consciousness. They came to speak to us about their relationship and how, no matter what they did, it always ended in an upset and distress and their fight never seemed to completely resolve. Oh sure, it abated from time to time, but the embers of disagreement were always just below a thin skin, ready to erupt at any time.
The funny thing about it was, they were both right, from their individual points of view. From his point of view, “She would always…” and from her point of view, he was wrong and all of her friends agreed with her take of the situation. This couple had a list of grievances, which dated back to early in their relationship. These were past events over which the two of them continued to disagree.
Hal and Mary had in their relationship fundamental behavior patterns that we have seen in other intimate relationships where nothing seems to resolve. No matter how much they had tried to change or fix the situation, it continued to stay the same or got worse. So they came to us, looking at whether or not they should face that they had a 16-month-old child together. By now, the sense of intimacy between the two of them had completely eroded and while they were very devoted to their daughter, she had become the focal point for many of their fights.
The real problem was that Mary and Hal, for all of their strife, were obviously still in love with each other. They just couldn’t find a way to sidestep the old grievances that kept resurfacing, incendiary mechanical behaviors that set them battling against their will.
Our usual approach is to find out where it all started and what happened that initiated the fight but, when asked what caused this behavior in the first place, both Hal and Mary each had their reasons for what the other did or didn’t do that created the situation and both of them were ‘right’ from their points of view. Apparently, we had a stalemate or deadlock.
No matter what we came up with, each person felt justified in their experience that the other was the cause of their stress, upset and dissatisfaction. This is normal for most relationships that are in trouble.
In situations like the one with Hal and Mary, where they have been together several years, the starting point of the disagreement is obscured forever. So what do you do to alleviate the pain when you are locked in a habituated way of relating that seems to have no beginning and no end and keeps accelerating in its frequency, intensity and duration?
At some point, the reasons why you are upset become irrelevant because everything becomes grounds for the disturbance. It has been unresolved for so long that there is no way to go back and fix all of the grievances and transgressions.
So what do you do then? You can leave each other, which is the end result that a lot of loving relationships devolve into…it’s called divorce. You can punish each other perpetually and live a life of complaint and pain. Or, you can start over.
Here is how we have done it. There have been times in our relationship when we have found ourselves fighting and we could not find a way out of the disagreement in which we were locked. Finally, we came up with a device that allowed us to stop fighting. This is what happened.
One day, we were driving into New York City and for whatever the reason, we were deeply engaged in disagreeing with each other. It escalated and was like a sore tooth that you worry with your tongue; we couldn’t seem to leave it alone. Our silences were noisy, very noisy. And, each of us was certain we were right in our own point of view and that the other was simply wrong. We each felt picked on and misunderstood. It didn’t feel good to be this way but there didn’t seem to be a way to resolve the conflict.
Finally, we came up with the idea of starting over. We picked out an overpass ahead on the highway and said, “When we go under that overpass, it is over.” This meant that as soon as our car passed that spot we were going to operate as if this disagreeable conversation had never taken place. So on we drove. It took discipline at first to resist the temptation of thinking about the altercation that had just happened but we kept bringing our thoughts and conversation to current things such as what we could see out of the window and our plans for the day rather than rehashing the past.
We can’t remember now what our fight was about. It seemed so important at the time, but now the details have faded into obscurity. We knew the fight could fade away for Hal and Mary, too, if given a chance and so we suggested to them starting over. We warned them it would be challenging to not keep habitually going back to past gripes but they grew excited and intrigued at the idea.
That night, Hal and Mary had a date. They had not been on a real, live date since before their child was born.
Ariel and Shya Kane lead evening and weekend groups in Manhattan dedicated to supporting people in living in the moment and having extraordinary, fulfilling lives. They will be leading an Instantaneous Transformation weekend workshop in the Los Angeles area May 21-23.
The Kanes are internationally-acclaimed seminar leaders and business consultants whose revolutionary technology, Instantaneous Transformation, has helped thousands of individuals and companies worldwide.
The Kanes’ best-selling book, “Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work,” and their newest book, “Working on Your Relationship Doesn’t Work,” are available at local and online bookstores, on the Kanes’ website, or by calling toll-free (800)431-1579. For more information, call (908) 479-6034, or visit: www.ask-inc.com.
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