By Lynn Seiser
A Conscious Choice of Love
Jack and Jill, my infamous fictitious couple, has been together for quite a while now. They have had their difficulties. Today they are doing so well they do not have much to talk about; they do, however, have some questions. Hopefully I will have a few answers or at least be able to stimulate their thinking, so they can come up with their own answers. That is really all a counselor does. If you do not know, they can provide some new ideas. If you do know, but do not know you know, they can help you know. Truth is, we all usually do know. Sometimes we just do not like what we know. That would be a different issue, a different column, and a different time.
Jack and Jill did not walk into my office complaining they had too much love in their life. They never complain that their relationship is too good, too loving, too passionate, too supportive. When I ask people what they want out of counseling, they usually say a good relationship. It is what we all want, isn’t it? So why don’t we have it?
One of the first things I asked Jack and Jill was what they really wanted in a relationship and in a mate. They made their list. We divided their list into two groups. The first were the non-negotiable. These qualities had to be there no matter what for the relationship to work. The other group was the negotiable qualities. These would be nice, but not necessary. Next, we made two circles with some overlap. What we wanted to see was that within the overlapped section Jack and Jill agreed on the non-negotiable. Opposites do attract, but they should not necessarily be in these non-negotiable areas. Jack and Jill were lucky when it came right down to it. They matched. They were opposites in many regards, but not in the qualities that were most important to them. They appeared to be a close match.
For others, this is why relationships are a lot of work. I usually demonstrate using two hands. On one hand, put all those non-negotiable qualities. This is what you need to make the relationship work for you. Now, in the other hand put all the qualities the other person naturally has. Now, see how far apart the hands really are. The farther apart, the more work it will take to “make” the other person into what you really want and need. In all honesty, few people can, or are willing to, make major changes in who they are. If it is not a match, it may simply be better to accept it than to make your life and their life a major work in progress that has very little chance at being successful. Love, and life, do not have to be a lot of work, unless of course, you consistently choose what you do not really want. Again, Jack and Jill are a close match. Their hands were not that far apart.
Jack and Jill both admitted they used to play games, especially in the beginning of their relationship. They wore masks. I asked if eventually they took their masks off. They laughed. Yes, eventually the masks came down. The bad part was the possibility that once the masks were off, would the other person still care. For many people, the disappointment sets in. This was not who they thought they had selected. It becomes important not to play games or wear masks. It is like false advertisement. People engage in these false practices because they do not feel they are worthy. They do not believe they will get the love they want by being themselves. Manipulation, control, power, and games all mean a feeling of unworthiness. Jack and Jill both liked the person without the mask better than the one with it. Not everyone is so lucky.
Jill asked why some relationships end no matter what you do. I said it takes two to make a relationship work, but only one to make it fail. Many people hang on to relationships they do not even want. They want them to end the way they want. If they end any other way, they feel compelled to go back and establish the relationship just for a better chance of ending it. Usually the ending gets increasingly dramatic. The higher price we pay for something, the more we try to convince ourselves of its worth. It is hard to admit it was a mistake. It is hard to admit and accept that the other person chose, for whatever reason to leave. People do not stay because we love them. They stay because they love us. Security only comes when you know the other person could walk into a room full of available desirable mates and leave with you. If you are the only one in the room, that is default. Love is a choice.
Jack and Jill chose each other. They choose each other every day because it is a natural match for them. They both win. Do you?
Thanks for listening, for the opportunity, and for sharing the choice of love and healthy relationships on the journey.
Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., is an internationally respected psychotherapist in Seal Beach, CA with more than twenty years of direct clinical experience in recovery counseling for offenders and victims of violence, trauma and abuse. He is known for his work in “holistic” recovery from addictions with an emphasis on “healthy relationships”. Lynn is a consultant, speaker and writer and may be contacted at (562) 799-1371. You may check out his website at www.members.aol.com/SeiserL/index.html
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