Sometimes women ask me "lf I tell him what 1 want to hear, and he starts saying it, how do I know he is not just saying it? I'm afraid he may not really mean it."
This is an important question. If a man doesn't love a woman he will not even bother to give her what she needs. If he even attempts to give a response similar to her request, then most likely he is really trying to respond.
If he doesn't sound fully sincere it's because he is learning something new. Learning a new way of responding is awkward. To him it may feel weak. This is a critical time. He needs lots of appreciation and encouragement. He needs feedback telling him he's on the right track.
If his attempts to support her seem somewhat insincere, it is usually because he is afraid his efforts will not work. If a woman appreciates his attempt, the next time he will feel more secure and thus be
able to be more sincere. A man is not a fool. When he feels that a woman is receptive to him and that he can respond in a way that makes a positive difference, he will do it. It just takes time.
Women as well can learn a lot about men and what they need by hearing a man's Response Letter. A woman is generally perplexed by a man's reactions to her. She has no idea why he rejects her attempts to support him. She misunderstands what he needs. Sometimes she resists him because she thinks he wants her to give up herself. In most cases, however, he really wants her to trust, appreciate, and accept him.
To receive support we not only have to teach our partners what we need but we also have to be willing to be supported. Response Letters ensure that a person is open to being supported. Otherwise communication cannot work. To share hurt feelings with an attitude that says "Nothing you say can make me feel better" is not only counterproductive but also hurtful to your partner. It is better not to talk at these times.
Here is an example of a Love Letter and its Response Letter. Notice that the response Is still under the P.S., but it's a bit longer and more detailed than those above.
A Love Letter and Response Letter About His Resistance
When Theresa asks her husband, Paul, for support, he resists her and appears burdened by her requests.
1. Anger.. 1 am angry that you resist me. I am angry that you do not offer to help me. I am angry that 1 always have to ask. I do so much for you. I need your help.
2. Sadness: I am sad that you don't want to help ine. I am sad because 1 feel so alone. I want to do more things together. I miss your support.
3. Fear 1 am afraid to ask for your help. I am afraid of your anger. I am afraid you will say no and then I will be hurt.
4. Regret: I am sorry that I resent you so much. I am sorry that I nag you and criticize you. 1 am sorry I don't appreciate you more. 1 am sorry I give too much and then demand you do the same.
S. Love. I love you. I understand you are doing your best. I know you do care about me. I want to ask you in more loving ways. You are such a loving father to our children.
I love you, Theresa
PS. The response I would like to hear is:
Thank you for loving me so much. Thank you for sharing your feelings. I understand that it hurts you when I act as if your requests are too demanding. I understand that it hurts when I resist you. I am sorry that I don't offer to help you more often. You deserve my support and I want to support you more. I do love you and I feel so happy that you are my wife.
I love you, Paul
STEP 3.. SHARING YOUR LOVE LETTER AND RESPONSE
Sharing your letters is important for the following reasons:
• It gives your partner an opportunity to support you.
• It allows you to get the understanding you need.
• It gives your partner necessary feedback in a loving and respectful way.
• It motivates change in a relationship.
• It creates intimacy and passion.
• It teaches your partner what is important to you and how successfully to support you.
• It helps couples to start talking again when communication breaks down.
• It teaches us how to hear negative feelings in a safe way.
There are five ways to share your letters outlined below. In this case, it is assumed that she wrote the letter, but these methods work just as well if he wrote the letter.
1. He reads her Love Letter and Response Letter out loud while she is present. Then he holds her hands and gives his own loving response with a greater awareness of what she needs to hear.
2. She reads her Love Letter and Response Letter out loud while he is listening. Then he holds her hands and gives his own loving response with a greater awareness of what she needs to hear.
3. First he reads ber Response Letter out loud to ber.
Then lie reads her Love Letter out loud. It is much easier for a man to hear negative feelings when he already knows how to respond to those feelings. By letting a man know what is required of him, he doesn't panic as much when he is hearing negative feelings. After he reads her Love Letter he then holds her hands and gives his own loving response with a greater awareness of what she needs to hear.
4. Firs.. she reads ber Response Letter to him. Then she reads her Love Letter out loud. Finally he holds her
hands and gives her a loving response with a greater awareness of what she needs.
5. She gives ber letters to him and he reads them privately within twentyfour hours. After he has read the letters, he thanks her for writing them and holds her hands and gives her a loving response with a greater awareness of what she needs.
What to Do lf Your Partner Col Respond Lovingly
Based on their past experiences some men and women have great difficulty hearing Love Letters. In this case they should not be expected to read one. But even when your partner chooses to hear a letter, sometimes they are unable to respond right away in a loving manner. Let's take Paul and Theresa as an example.
If Paul is not feeling more loving after he has heard his partner's letters, then it is because he can't respond with love at that time. But after time his feelings will change.
When reading the letters, he may feel attacked by the anger and hurt and become defensive. At such times he needs to take a timeout to reflect on what was said.
Sometimes when a person hears a Love Letter they only hear the anger and it will take a while before they can hear the love. It helps if, after a bit, he rereads the letter, especially the regret and love sections. Sometimes before I read a Love Letter from my wife, I read the love section first and then 1 read the full letter.
If a man is upset after reading a Love Letter, he could also respond with his own Love Letter, which would allow him to process the negative feelings that came up when he read her Love Letter. Sometimes I don't know what is bothering me until my wife shares a Love Letter with me, and then suddenly 1 have something to write about. By writing my letter I am able to find again my loving feelings and reread her letter and hear the love behind her hurt.
If a man cannot immediately respond with love, he needs to know that it's OK and not be punished. His partner needs to under
stand and accept his need to think about things for a while. Perhaps, to support his partner, he can say something like "Thank you for writing this letter. I need some time to think about it and then we can talk about It." It is important that he not express critical feelings about the letter. Sharing letters needs to be a safe time.
All of the above suggestions for sharing Love Letters also apply when a woman has difficulty responding to a man's letter in a loving way. 1 generally recommend that couples read out loud the letters they have written. It is helpful to read your partner's letter out loud because it helps them feel heard. Experiment with both, and see what fits you.
MAKING IT SAFE FOR LOVE LETTERS
Sharing Love Letters can be scary. The person writing their true feelings will feel vulnerable. If their partner rejects them it can be very painful. The purpose of sharing the letter is to open up feelings so that partners can become closer. It works well as long as the process is done in safety. The person receiving the Love Letter needs to be particularly respectful of the writer's expression. If they cannot give true, respectful support, then they shouldn't agree to listen until they can.
Sharing letters needs to be done with the correct intention. Sharing a letter needs to be done in the spirit of the following two statements of intent:
Statement of Intent for Writing and Sharing a Love Letter
I have written this letter in order to find my positive feelings and to give you the love you deserve. As part of that process 1 am sharing with you my negative feelings, which are holding me back.
Your understanding will help me to open up and let go of my negative feelings. 1 trust that you do care and that you wig respond to my feelings m the best way you can.
1 appreciate your willingness to listen and support me.
In addition 1 hope that this letter will assist you in understanding my wants, needs, and wishes.
The partner who is hearing the letter needs to listen in the spirit of the following statement of intent.
Statement of Intent for Hearing a Love Letter
1 promise to do my best to understand the validity of your feelings, to accept our differences, to respect your needs as 1 do my own, and to appreciate that you are doing your best to communicate your feelings and love.
1 promise to listen and not correct or deny your feelings. 1 promise to accept you and not try to change you.
1 am willing to listen to your feelings because I do care and 1 trust that we can work this out.
The first few times you practice the Love Letter Technique it will be much safer if you actually read these statements out loud. These statements of intent will help you remember to respect your partner's feelings and respond in a loving, safe way.
MINI LOVE LETTERS
If you are upset and you don't have twenty minutes to write a Love Letter, you can try writing a mini Love Letter. It only takes three to five minutes and can really help. Here are some examples:
1. 1 am so angry that you are late!
2. 1 am sad that you have forgotten me.
3. 1 am afraid you don't really care about me.
4. 1 am sorry that I am so unforgiving.
5. 1 love you and 1 forgive you for being late. 1 know you really love me. Thank you for trying.
1. 1 am angry that you are so tired. 1 am angry that you I just watch TV.
2. 1 am sad that you don't want to talk to me.
3. 1 am afraid that we are growing apart. I am afraid of making you angry.
4. 1 am sorry that I rejected you at dinner. I am sorry I blame you for our problems.
5. 1 miss your love. Would you schedule an hour with me tonight or sometime soon just for me to share with you what's going on in my life?
P.S. What 1 would like to hear from you is:
Thank you for writing me about your feelings. I understand that you miss me. Let's schedule special time tonight between eight and nine.
WHEN TO WRITE LOVE LETTERS
The time to write a Love Letter is whenever you are upset and you want to feel better. Here are some common ways Love Letters can be written:
1. Love Letter to an intimate partner.
2. Love Letter to a friend, child, or family member.
3. Love Letter to business associate or client. Instead of saying "I love you" at the end you may choose to use "I appreciate" and "I respect." In most cases 1 don't recommend sharing it.
4. Love Letter to yourself
5. Love Letter to God or Higher Power. Share your upset feelings about your life with God and ask for support.
6. Role reversal Love Letter. If it is hard to forgive someone, pretend that you are them for a few minutes and write a Love Letter from them to you. You will be amazed at how quickly you become more forgiving.
7. Monster Love Letter. If you are really upset and your feelings are mean and judgmental, vent them in a letter. Then bum the letter. Do not expect your partner to read it unless you both can handle negative feelings and are willing to do so. In that case even monster letters can be very helpful.
8. Displacement Love Utter. When present events upset you and remind you of unresolved feelings from childhood, imagine you can go back in time and write a letter to one of your parents, sharing your feelings and asking for their support.
WHY WE NEED TO WRITE LOVE LETTERS
As we have explored throughout this book, it is vastly important for
women to share their feelings and feel cared for, understood, and
respected. It is equally important for men to feel appreciated, accepted, and trusted. The biggest problem in relationships occurs when a woman shares her upset feelings and, as a result, a man feels unloved.
To him, her negative feelings may sound critical, blaming, demanding, and resentful. When he rejects her feelings, she then feels unloved. The success of a relationship is solely dependent on two factors: a man's ability to listen lovingly and respectfully to a woman's feelings, and a woman's ability to share her feelings in a loving and respectful way.
A relationship requires that partners communicate their changing feelings and needs. To expect perfect communication is certainly too idealistic. Fortunately, between here and perfection there is a lot of room for growth.
To expect communication always to be easy is unrealistic. Some feelings are very difficult to communicate without hurting the listener. Couples who have wonderful and loving relationships will sometimes agonize over how to communicate in a way that works for both people. It is difficult truly to understand another person's point of view, especially when he or she is not saying what you want to hear. It is also hard to be respectful of another when your own feelings have been hurt.
Many couples mistakenly think that their inability to communicate successfully and lovingly means they don't love each other enough. Certainly love has a lot to do with it, but communication skill is a much more important ingredient. Fortunately, it's a learnable skill.
Now We Learn to Communicate
Successful communication would be second nature if we grew up in families that were already capable of honest and loving communication. But in previous generations, so-called loving communication
generally meant avoiding negative feelings. It was often as if negative feelings were a shameful sickness and something to be locked away in the closet.
In less "civilized" families what was considered loving communication might include acting out or rationalizing negative feelings through physical punishment, yelling, spanking, whipping, and all kinds of verbal abuse-all 'm the name of trying to help the children learn right from wrong.
Had our parents learned to communicate lovingly, without suppressing negative feelings, we as children would have been safe to discover and explore our own negative reactions and feelings through trial and error. Through positive role models we would have learned successfully how to communicate-especially our difficult feelings. As a result of eighteen years of trial and error in expressing our feelings, we would have gradually learned to express our feelings respectfully and appropriately. If this had been the case, we would not need the Love Letter Technique.
lf Our Post Wore Different
Had our past been different, we would have watched our father successfully and lovingly listen to our mother expand and express her frustrations and disappointments. Daily we would have experienced our father giving our mother the loving caring and understanding that she needed from her loving husband.
We would have watched our mother trusting our father and sharing her feelings openly, without disapproving or blaming hirn. We would have experienced how a person could be upset without pushing someone away with mistrust, emotional manipulation, avoidance, disapproval, condescension, or coldness.
Throughout our eighteen years of growing up we would gradually be able to master our own emotions just as we have mastered walking or math. It would be a learned skill, like walking, jumping, singing, reading, and balancing a checkbook.
But it didn't happen that way for most of us. Instead we spent
eighteen years learning unsuccessful communication skills. Because we lack education in how to communicate feelings, it is a difficult and seemingly insurmountable task to communicate lovingly when we are having negative feelings.
To come to understand how difficult this is, consider your answers to these following questions:
1. When you are feeling angry or resentful, how do you express love if, while you were growing up, your parents either argued or conspired to avoid arguing?
2. How do you get your kids to listen to you without yelling or punishing them if your parents yelled and punished you to maintain control?
3. How do you ask for more support if, even as a child, you felt repeatedly neglected and disappointed?
4. How do you open up and share your feelings if you are afraid of being rejected?
5. How do you talk to your partner if your feelings say "I hate you"?
6. How do you say "I am sorry" if, as a child, you were punished for making mistakes?
7. How can you admit your mistakes if you are afraid of punishment and rejection?
8. How can you show your feelings if, as a child, you were repeatedly rejected or judged for ben upset and crying?
9. How are you supposed to ask for what you want if, as a child, you were repeatedly made to feel wrong for wanting more?
10. How are you even *Supposed to know what you are feeling if your parents didn't have the time, patience, or awareness to ask you how you were feeling or what was bothering you?
11. How can you accept your partner's imperfections if, as a child, you felt you had to be perfect to be worthy of love?
12. How can you listen to your partner's painful feelings If no one listened to yours?
13. How can you forgive if you were not forgiven?
14. How are you supposed to cry and heal your pain and grief if, as a child, you were repeatedly told
"Don't cry" or "When are you going to grow up?" or "Only babies cry"?
15. How can you bear your partner's disappointment if, as a child, you were made to feel responsi ble for our mother's pain long before you could understand that you were not responsible?
16. How can you hear your partner's anger if, as a child, your mother or father took their frustrations out on you through yelling and being demanding?
17. How do you open up and trust your partner if the first people you trusted with your innocence betrayed you in some way?
18. How are you supposed to communicate your feelings lovingly and respectfully if you haven't had eighteen years of practice without the threat of being rejected and abandoned?
The answer to all these eighteen questions Is the same it is possible to learn loving communication, but we need to work at it. We have to make up for the eighteen years of neglect. No matter how perfect our parents were, nobody is really perfect. If you have problems communicating, it is neither a curse nor all your partner's fault. It is simply a lack of having the correct training and the safety to practice.
In reading the above questions, you may have had some feelings come up. Don't waste this special opportunity to heal yourself. Take twenty minutes right now and write one of your parents a Love Letter. Simply get a pen and some paper and begin expressing your feelings, using the Love Letter format. Try it now, and you will be amazed at the outcome.
TELLING THE COMPLETE TRUTH
Love Letters work because they assist you in telling the complete truth. Merely to explore a part of your feelings does not bring about the desired healing. For example..
1. Feeling your anger may not help you at all. It may just make you more angry. The more you dwell on just your anger, the more upset you will become.
2. Crying for hours may leave you feeling empty and spent, if you never move past the sadness.
3. To feel only your fears may make you even more fearful.
4. To feel sorry, without moving through it, may just make you feel guilty and ashamed and may even be harmful to your self-esteem.
5. Trying to feel loving all the time will force you to suppress all your negative emotions, and after a few years, you will become numb and unfeeling.
Love Letters work because they guide you In writing out the complete truth about all your feelings. To heal our inner pain, we must feel each of the four primary aspects of emotional pain. They are anger, sadness, fear, and regret.
Why Love Letters Work
BY expressing each of the four levels of emotional pain, our pain is released. Whiting only one or two negative feelings does not work as well. This Is because many of our negative emotional reactions are not real feelings but defense mechanisms we unconsciously use to avoid our true feelings.
1. People who get angry easily generally are trying to hide from their hurt, sadness, fear, or regret. When they feel their more vulnerable feelings, the anger goes away and they become more loving.
2. People who cry easily generally have a hard time getting angry, but when they are helped to express anger they feel much better and more loving.
3. People who are fearful generally need to feel and express their anger; the fear then goes away.
4. People who often feel sorry and guilty generally need to feel and express their hurt and anger before they can feel the self-love they deserve.
5. People who always feel loving but wonder why they are depressed or numb generally need to ask themselves this question: If I were angry and upset about something, what would it be? " and write out the answers. This will help them get in touch with the feelings hidden behind the depression and numbness. Love Letters can be used in this fashion.
Now Feelings Con Hide Other Feelings
Following are some examples of how men and women use their negative emotions to avoid or suppress their true pain. Keep in mind that this process is automatic. We are often not aware that it is happening. Consider for a moment these questions:
• Do you ever smile when you are really angry?
• Have you acted angry when deep inside you were afraid?
• Do you laugh and make jokes when you are really sad and hurt?
• Have you been quick to blame others when you felt guilty or afraid?
The following chart shows how men and women commonly deny their true feelings. Certainly not all men will fit the male description just as not all women will fit the female description. The chart gives us a way to understand how we may remain strangers to our real feelings.
WAYS WE COVER UP OUR REAL FEELINGS
Now ~ We their in (This ne- How women hide their pain
cess is ~ unconscious) process is ~ unconscious)
1. Men may use anger as a way of 1. Women may use concern and
avoiding the painful feelings of sad- worry as a way of avoiding the
ness, hurt, sorrow, guilt, and fear. painful feelings of anger, guilt,
fear, and disappointment.
2. Men may use indifference and dis- 2. Women may fall into confusion
couragement as a way of avoiding as a way of avoiding anger, irrita
the painful feelings of anger. tion, and frustration.
3. Men may use feeling offended 3. Women may use feeling bad as
as a way of avoiding feeling hurt. a way of avoiding embarrassment,
anger, sadness, and regret.
4. Men may use anger and 4. Women may use fear and uncer
righteousness as a way to avoid tainty as a way of avoiding anger,
feeling afraid or uncertain. hurt, and sadness.
5. Men may feel ashamed to avoid 5. Women may use grieving to
anger and grieving. avoid feeling angry and afraid.
New men hide -1h* p*- (This PLC- How women hide their 2* (This
cess is generally unconscious) process is generally
6. Men may use peace and calm as 6. Women may use hope as a way
a way to avoid anger, fear, disap- to avoid anger, sadness, grief, and
pointment, discouragement, and sorrow.
Men may use confidence to 7. Women may use happiness and
avoid feeling inadequate. gratitude to avoid feeling sadness
8. Men may use aggression to 8. Women may use love and for
avoid feeling afraid. giveness as a way to avoid feeling
hurt and angry.
HEALING NEGATIVE FEELINGS
Understanding and accepting another's nega ve f n are t
ti eel, difficul if Your own negative feelings have not been heard and supported. The more we are able to heal our own unresolved feelings from childhood the easier it is responsibly to share our feelings and to listen to our partner's feelings without being hurt, impatient, frustrated, or offended.
The more resistance you have to feeling your inner pain, the more resistance you will have to listening to the feelings of others. If you feel impatient and intolerant when others express their childlike feelings, then this is an indicator of how you treat yourself.
To retrain ourselves we must reparent ourselves. We must acknowledge that there is an emotional person inside us who gets upset even when our rational adult mind says there is no reason to be upset. We must isolate that emotional part of our self and become a loving parent to It. We need to ask ourselves "What's the matter? Are you hurt? What are you feeling? What happened to upset you? What are you angry about? What makes you sad? What are you afraid of? What do you want?"
When we listen to our feelings with compassion, our negative
feelings quite miraculously are healed, and we are able to respond to situations in a much more loving and respectful way. By understanding our childlike feelings we automatically open a door for loving feelings to permeate what we say.
If as children our inner emotions had been repeatedly heard and validated in a loving way, then as adults we wouldn't get stuck in negative emotions. But most of us weren't supported this way as children, so we have to do it for ourselves.
Now Your Post Affects You Today
Certainly you've had the experience of feeling gripped by negative emotions.These are some common ways our unresolved emotions from childhood may affect us today as we encounter the stresses of being adults:
1. When something has been frustrating, we remain stuck feeling angry and annoyed, even when our adult self says we should feel calm, loving, and peaceful.
2. When something has been disappointing, we remain stuck feeling sad and hurt, even when our adult self says we should feel enthusiastic, happy, and hopeful.
3. When something has been upsetting, we remain stuck feeling afraid and worried, even when our adult self says we should feel assured, confident, and grateful.
4. When something has been embarrassing, we remain stuck feeling sorry and ashamed, even when out adult self says we should feel secure, good, and wonderful.
Silencing Your Feelings Through Addictions
As adults we generally try to control these negative emotions by avoiding them. Our addictions can be used to silence the painful
cries of our feelings and unfulfilled needs. After a glass of wine, the pain is gone for a moment. But it will come back again and again.
Ironically, the very act of avoiding our negative emotions gives them the power to control our lives. By learning to listen to and nurture our inner emotions, they gradually lose their grip.
When you are very upset, it certainly is not possible to communicate as effectively as you want to. At such times the unresolved feelings of your past have come back. It Is as though the child that was never allowed to throw a tantrum now throws one, only to be -exiled once again into the closet.
Our unresolved childhood emotions have the power to control us by gripping our adult awareness and preventing loving commun cation. Until we are able lovingly to listen to these seemingly irrational feelings from our past (which seem to intrude into our life when we most need our sanity), they will obstruct loving communication.
The secret of communicating our difficult feelings lies in having the wisdom and the commitment to express our negative feelings in writing so that we can become aware of our more positive feelings. The more we are able to communicate to our partners with the love they deserve, the better our relationships will be. When you are able to share your upset feelings in a loving way, it becomes much easier for your partner to support you in return.
SECRETS OF SELF-HELP
Writing Love Letters is an excellent self-help tool, but if you don't immediately get in the habit of writing them you may forget to use it. 1 suggest that at least once a week when something is bothering you, sit down and write a Love Letter.
Love Letters are helpful not only when you feel upset with your partner in a relationship but also whenever you are upset. Writing Love Letters help when you are feeling resentful, unhappy, anxious, depressed, annoyed, tired, stuck, or simply stressed. Whenever you want to feel better, write a Love Letter. It may not always completely improve your mood, but it will help move you in the direction you want to go.
In my first book, What You Feel You Can Heal, the importance of exploring feelings and writing Love Letters is more fully discussed. In addition, in my tape series, Healing the Heart, 1 share healing visualizations and exercises based on the Love Letter Technique for overcoming anxiety, releasing resentment, and finding forgiveness, loving your inner child, and healing past emotional wounds.
In addition, many more books and workbooks have been written on this subject by other authors. Reading these books is important to help you get in touch with your inner feelings and heal them. But remember, unless you are letting that emotional part of you speak out and be heard, it cannot be healed. Books can inspire you to love yourself more, but by listening to, writing out, or verbally expressing your feelings you are actually doing it.
As you practice the Love Letter Technique you will begin to experience the part of you that needs love the most. By listening to your feelings and exploring your emotions, you will be helping this part of you to grow and develop.
As your emotional self gets the love and understanding it needs, You will automatically begin to communicate better. You will become capable of responding to situations in a more loving manner. Even though we have all been programmed to hide our feelings
and react defensively and not lovingly, we can retrain ourselves. There is great hope.
To retrain yourself you need to listen to and understand the unresolved feelings that have never had a chance to be healed. This part of you needs to be felt, heard, and understood and then it is healed.
Practicing the Love Letter Technique is a safe way to express
unresolved feelings, negative emotions, and wants without being
judged or rejected. By listening to our feelings we are in effect wisely
treating our emotional side like a little child crying in a loving par
ent 9 s arms. By exploring the complete truth of our feelings we are
giving ourselves full permission to have these feelings. Through
treating this childlike part of us with respect and love, the unre
solved emotional wounds of our past can be gradually healed.
Many people grow up too quickly because they reject and suppress their feelings. Their unresolved emotional pain is waiting inside to come out to be loved and healed. Although they may attempt to suppress these feelings, the pain and unhappiness continue to affect them.
Most physical diseases are now widely accepted as being directly related to our unresolved emotional pain. Suppressed emotional pain generally becomes physical pain or sickness and can cause premature death. In addition, most of our destructive compulsions, obsessions and addictions are expressions of our inner emotional wounds.
A man's common obsession with success is his desperate attempt to win love in hopes of reducing his inner emotional pain and turmoil. A woman's common obsession with being perfect is her desperate attempt to be worthy of love and reduce her emotional pain. Anything done to excess can become a means to numb the pain of our unresolved past.
Our society is filled with distractions to assist us in avoiding our pain. Love Letters, however, assist you in looking at your pain, feeling it and then healing it. Every time you write a Love Letter you are giving your inner emotional and wounded self the love, understanding, and attention it needs to feel better.
p f Privacy
Sometimes, by privately writing out your feelings, you will discover
deeper levels of feelings that you could not feel with another person
present. Complete privacy creates the safety to feel more deeply. Even
If you are in a relationship and you feel you can talk about anything, 1
l ri iti
still recommend p wri ng down your feelings sometimes. Writing Love Letters in private is also healthy because it provides a time for you to give to yourself without depending on anyone else.
1 recommend keeping a journal of your Love Letters or keeping them together in a file. To make writing Love Letters easier, you may wish to refer to the sample Love Letter format given earlier in this chapter. This Love Letter format can assist you in remembering the different stages of a Love Letter and offer some lead-in phrases when you may be stuck.
If you have a personal computer then type in the Love Letter format and use it over and over again. Simply open to that file whenever you want to write a Love Letter, and when you are finished save it by the date. Print it out if you wish to share it with someone.
In addition to writing letters, 1 suggest that you keep a private file for your letters. Occasionally reread these letters when you are not upset because that is when you can review your feelings with a greater objectivity. This objectivity will help you to express upset feelings at a later time in a more respectful way. Also if you write a Love Letter and you are still upset, by rereading the letter you may begin to feel better.
To assist people in writing Love Letters and exploring and expressing feelings In a private way, 1 developed a computer program called Private Session. In a personal way, the computer uses pictures, graphics, questions, and various Love Letter formats to assist you in getting in touch with your feelings. It even suggests lead-in phrases to help you draw up and express particular emotions. In addition it privately stores your letters and brings them up at times when reading them might help you more fully to express your feelings.
Using your computer to assist you in expressing your feelings can
help overcome the usual resistance that people have to writing Love Letters. Men, who are usually more resistant to this process, are more motivated to do it if they can sit privately in front of their computer.
The Power of Intimacy
Privately writing Love Letters is very healing in itself, but it does not replace our need to be heard and understood by others. When you write a Love Letter you are loving yourself, but when you share a letter you are receiving love. To grow in our ability to love ourselves we need to receive love as well. Sharing the truth opens the door of intimacy through which love can enter.
To receive more love we need to have people in our life with whom we can openly and safely share our feelings It is very powerful to have some select people in your life with whom you can share
your every feeling and trust that they will still love you and not hurt you with criticism, judgment, or rejection.
When you can share who you are and how you feel, then you can fully receive love. If you have this love, it is easier to release negative emotional symptoms like resentment, anger, fear, and so forth. This does not mean that you need to share everything you feel and discover in private. But if there are feelings that you are afraid to share, then gradually these fears need to be healed.
A loving therapist or close friend can be a tremendous source of love and healing if you can share your inner and deepest feelings. If you don't have a therapist, then having a friend read your letters from time to time is very helpful. Writing in private will make you feel better; but occasionally sharing your Love Letters with another person who cares and can be understanding is essential.
The Power of the Group
The power of group support is something that cannot be described but has to be experienced. A loving and supportive group can do wonders to help us more easily get in touch with our deeper feelings. To share your feelings with a group means there are more people available to give you love. The potential for growth is magnified by the size of the group. Even if you do not speak out in a group, by listening to others speak openly and honestly about their feelings, your awareness and insight expand.
When I lead group seminars around the country 1 repeatedly experience deeper parts of myself that need to be heard and understood. When someone stands up and shares their feelings, suddenly I begin to remember something or feel something myself. I gain valuable new insights about myself and others. At the end of each seminar 1 generally feel much lighter and more loving.
Everywhere small support groups on almost every topic meet each week to give and receive this support. Group support is especially helpful if as children we did not feel safe to express ourselves in groups or in our family. While any positive group activity is empowering, speaking or listening in a loving and supportive group can be personally healing.
1 meet regularly with a small men's support group, and my wife, Bonnie , meets regularly with her women's support group. Getting this outside support greatly enhances our relationship. It frees us from looking to each other as the sole source of support. In addition, by listening to others share their successes and failures our own problems tend to shrink.
Taking rime to Listen
Whether you are privately writing down your thoughts and feelings on your computer or sharing them in therapy, in your relationships, or in a support group, you are taking an important step for yourself. When you take the time to listen to your feelings you are in effect
saying to the little feeling person inside "You matter. You deserve to be heard and 1 care enough to listen."
1 hope you will use this Love Letter Technique because 1 have witnessed it transform the lives of thousands of people, including my own. As you write more Love Letters it becomes easier and works better. It takes practice, but it is worth it.
How to Ask for
Support and Get It
If you are not getting the support you want in your relationships a significant reason may be that you do not ask enough or you may ask in a way that doesn't work. Asking for love and support is essential to the success of any relationship. If you want to G-E-T then you have to A-S-K.
Both men and women have difficulty asking for support. Women, however, tend to find it much more frustrating and disappointing to ask for support than men do. For this reason, I will be addressing this chapter to women. Of course, men will deepen their understanding of women if they too read this chapter.
WHY WOMEN DON'T ASK
Women make the mistake of thinking they don't have to ask for support. Because they intuitively feet the needs of others and give whatever they can, they mistakenly expect men to do the same. When a woman is in love, she instinctively offers her love. With
great delight and enthusiasm, she looks for ways to offer her supPort. The more she loves someone, the more motivated she is to
offer her love. Back on Venus, everyone automatically gives support, so there was no reason to ask for it. In fact, not needing to ask is one of the ways they show their love for one another. On Venus their motto is "Love is never having to ask!"
Because this is her reference point, she assumes that if her partner loves her, he will offer his support and she won't have to ask. She may even purposefully not ask as a test to see if he really loves her. To pass the test, she requires that he anticipate her needs and offer his unsolicited support!
This approach to relationships with men doesn't work. Men are from Mars, and on Mars If you want support you simply have to ask for it. Men are not instinctively motivated to offer their support; they need to be asked. This can be very confusing because if you ask a man for support in the wrong way he gets turned off, and if you don't ask at all you'll get little or none.
In the beginning of a relationship, if a woman doesn't get the support she wants, she then assumes that he is not giving because he has nothing more to give. She patiently and lovingly continues to give. assuming that sooner or later he'll catch up. He assumes, however, he is giving enough, because she continues giving to him.
He doesn't realize she is expecting him to give back. He thinks that if she needed or wanted more she would stop giving. But since she is from Venus, she not only wants more but also expects him to offer his support without being asked. But he is waiting for her to start asking for support if she wants it. If she is not asking for support he assumes he is giving enough.
Eventually, she may ask for his support, but by this time she has given so much more and feels so much resentment that her request is really a demand. Some women will resent a man simply because they have to ask for his support. Then, when they do ask, even if he says yes and gives her some support, she will still resent that she had
to ask. She feels "If 1 have to ask, it doesn't count."
Men do not respond well to demands and resentment. Even if a man is willing to give support, her resentment or demands will lead him to say no. Demands are. a complete turnoff. Her chances of getting, his support are dramatically reduced when a request becomes a demand. In some cases he will even give less for a while if he senses that she is demanding more.
This pattern makes relationships with men very difficult for the unaware women. Though this problem may feel insurmountable, it can be solved. By remembering that men are from Mars you can learn new ways to ask for what you want-ways that work.
In my seminars 1 have trained thousands of women in the art of asking, and they repeatedly have had immediate success. In this chapter we will explore the three steps involved in asking for and getting what you want. They are: (1) Practice asking correctly for what you're already getting; (2) Practice asking for more, even when you know he will say no, and accept his no; (3) Practice assertive asking.
STEP 1: ASKING CORRECTLY FOR
WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY GETTING
The first step In learning how to get more In your relationships Is to practice asking for what you are already getting. Become aware of what your partner is already. doing for you. Especially the little things, like carrying boxes, fixing things, cleaning up, making calls, and other little chores.
The important part of this stage is to begin asking him to do the little things he already does and not to take him for granted. Then when he does those things give him a lot of appreciation. Temporarily give up expecting him to offer his support unsolicited.
In step 1, it is important not to ask for more than what he is
used to giving. Focus on asking him to do little things that he normally does. Allow him to become used to hearing you ask for things in a nondemanding tone.
When he hears a demanding tone, no matter how nicely you phrase your request, all he hears is that he is not giving enough. This makes him feel unloved and unappreciated. His tendency is then to give less until you appreciate what he is already giving.
He may be conditioned by you (or his mother) immediately to say no to your requests. In step 1 you will be reconditioning him to respond positively to your requests. When a man gradually realizes that he is appreciated and not taken for granted and that he pleases you, he will want to respond positively to your requests when he can. Then he will begin automatically offering his support. But this advanced stage shouldn't be expected in the beginning.
But there's another reason to start by asking him for what he's already giving. You need to be sure you're asking in a way he can bear you and respond. That's what I mean when 1 say "asking correctly."
rips for Motivating a MM
There are five secrets of how to correctly ask a Martian for support. If they are not observed, he may be easily turned off. They are: appropriate timing, nondemanding attitude, be brief, be direct, and use correct wording.
Let's look at each more closely:
1. Appropriate Timing. Be careful not to ask him to do something that he is obviously just planning to do. For example, if
he Is about to empty the trash, don't say "Could you empty the trash?" He will feel you are telling him what to do. Timing is crucial. Also if he is fully focused on something don't expect him immediately to respond to your request.
2. Nondemanding Attitude. Remember, a request is not a demand. If you have a resentful or demanding attitude, no matter how carefully you choose your words, he will feel unappreciated for what he has already given and probably say no.
3. Be Brief Avoid giving him a fist of reasons why he should help you. Assume that lie doesn't have to be convinced. The longer you explain yourself the more he will resist, Long explanations validating your request make him feel as though you don't trust him to support you. He will start to feel manipulated instead of free to offer his support.
just as a woman who is upset doesn't want to hear a list of reasons and explanations about why she shouldn't be upset, a man doesn't want to hear a list of reasons and explanations about why he should fulfill her request.
Women mistakenly give a list of reasons to justify their needs. They think it will help him see that her request is valid and therefore motivate him. What a man hears is "This is why you have to do it." The longer the list, the more he may resist supporting you. If he asks you "why?" then you can give your reasons, but then again, be cautiously brief. Practice trusting that he will do it, if he can. Be as brief as possible.
4. Be Direct. Women often think they are asking for support when they are not. When she needs support, a woman may present the problem but not directly ask for his support. She expects him to offer his support and neglects directly to ask for it.
An indirect request implies the request but does not directly say it These indirect requests make a man feel taken for granted and unappreciated. Occasionally using indirect statements is certainly OK, but when they are repeatedly used, a man becomes resistant to giving his support. He may not even know why he is so resistant. The following statements are all examples of indirect requests and how a man might respond to them:
WHAT HE MAY HEAR WHEN SHE 15 NONDIRECT
What She should what she Should not -m What he how$
(brief ;Q direct) (indirect) she Is indirect
"Would you pick up "The kids need to be "If you can pick them
the kids?" picked up and I can't do up you should, other
it." wise 1 will feel very
resent you" (demand).
"Would you bring in "The groceries are in "It's your job to bring
the groceries?" the car." them in, I went shop
"Would you empty the "I can't fit anything else "You haven't m~
trash ? in the trash can." the wash. You shouldn't
wait so long" (criticism).
"Would you clean up -The backyard is really "You didn't clean up
the backyard?" a mess." the yard again. You
should be more re
sponsible, I shouldn't
have to remind you"
"Would you bring in "The mail hasn't been "You forgot to bring in
the mad?" brought in." the mail. You should re
What she should s
My What she should not My What he hors
brief and direct (inked) she is indirect
,,Would you take us "I have no time to "I have done so much,
out to eat tonight?" make dinner tonight. the least you could do
is take us out tonight"
"Would you take me "We haven't gone out "You are neglecting me.
out this week?" in weeks." I'm not getting what I
need. You should take
me out more often"
"Would you schedule "We need to talk." "It is your fault we
some time to talk with don't talk enough.
me?" You should talk with
me more" (blame).
5. Use Correct Wording. One of the most common mistakes in asking for support is the use of could and can In place of would and will. "Could you empty the trash?" is merely a question gathering information. "Would you empty the trash?" is a request.
Women often use "could you?" indirectly to imply "would you?" As 1 mentioned before, Indirect requests are a turnoff. When used occasionally they certainly may go unnoticed, but persistently using can and could begins to irritate men.
When 1 suggest to women that they begin asking for support, sometimes they panic because their partners have already made comments many times such as:
• "Don't nag me."
•---Don't ask me to do things all the time."
• "Stop telling me what to do."
" 1 already know what to do."
"You don't have to tell me that."
In spite of how it sounds to a woman, when a man makes this kind of comment, what he really means is 1. 1 don't like the wa y You ask!" If a woman doesn't understand how certain language' 'can
,tr affect men, she will get even more snarled. She becomes afraid to ask and starts saying "Could you..." because she thinks she Is being more polite. Though this works well on Venus, it doesn't work at all on Mars.
On Mars it would he an Insult to ask a man "Can you empty the trash?" Of course he can empty the trash! The question is not can he empty the trash but will he empty the trash. After he has been insulted, he may say no just because you have irritated him.
What Men Want to Be Asked
When 1 explain this distinction between the c words and the w words in my seminars, women tend to think 1 am making a big deal over nothing. To women there is not much difference-in fact, "could you?" may even seem more polite than "would you?" But to many men it is a big difference. Because this distinction is so important, I'm including comments by seventeen different men who attended my seminars.
1. When 1 am asked "Could you clean up the backyard" 1 really take it literally. 1 say, "I could do it, sure it's possible." But 1 am not saying "I will do it," and 1 certainly don't feel like 1 am making a promise to do it. On the other hand, when 1 am asked " Would you clean up the backyard" 1 begin to make a decision, and 1 am willing to be supportive. If 1 say yes, the chances of my remembering to do it are much greater because 1 have made a promise.
2. When she says "I need your help. Could you please help?" it sounds critical, like somehow 1 have already failed her. It doesn't feel like an invitation to be the
good guy 1 want to be and support her. On the other hand, "I need you help. Would you please carry this?" sounds like a request and an opportunity to be the good guy. 1 want to say yes.
3. When my wife says "(,,in you change Christopher's diaper?" 1 think inside, Sure 1 can change it. 1 am capable, and a diaper is a simple thing to change. But then if 1 don't feel like doing It 1 might make sonic excuse. Now, if she asked "Would you change Christopher's diaper?" 1 would say -Yeah, sure," and do it. Inside 1 would feel, 1 like to participate and 1 enjoy helping raise our children. 1 want to help!
4. When 1 am asked---Wouldyou help ine please?" it gives me an opportunity to help, and 1 am more than willing to support her, but when 1 hear "Could you help me please?'' I feel backed up against the wall, as if 1 have no choice. lf 1 have the ability to help then 1 am expected to help! l don't feel appreciated.
5. 1 resent being asked "could you." 1 feel like 1 have no choice but to say yes. If 1 say. no she will be upset with me. It is not a request but a demand.
6. 1 keep myself busk, or at least pretend to be busy so that the woman 1 work with doesn't ask me the "could you" question. With "would you" 1 feel 1 have a choice, and 1 want to help.
7. 1 A 1
. Just this last week in), wife asked ine, "Could you plant the flowers today?" and without hesitation 1 said yes. Then when slit: came home she asked, " Did you plant the flower?" 1 said no. She said, "Could you do it tomor row ~ " and again, without hesitation, 1 Said
yes. This happened every day this week, and the flowers are still not planted. 1 think if she had asked me "Would you plant the flowers tomorrow?" 1 would have thought about it, and if I had said yes I would have done it.
8. When 1 say "Yes, 1 could do that" 1 am not committing myself to doing it. I am just saying that I could do it. 1 have not promised to do it. If she gets upset with me 1 feel like she doesn't have a right. If 1 say 1 will do it, then 1 can understand why she is upset if 1 don't do it.
9. 1 grew up with five sisters, and now 1 am married and have three daughters. When my wife says "Can you bring out the trash?" 1 just don't answer. Then she asks "why?" and I don't even know. Now 1 realize why. 1 feel controlled. 1 can respond to "would you?"
10. When 1 hear a "could you" I'll immediately say yes, and then over the next ten minutes 1 will realize why I'm not going to do it and then ignore the question. But when I hear a "will you" a part of me comes up saying "Yes, I want to be of service," and then even if objections come up later in my mind, 1 will still fulfill her request because 1 have given my word.
11. 1 will say yes to a "can you," but inside 1 resent her. 1 fee[ that if I say no she will throw a fit. 1 feel manipulated. When she asks "would you," I feet free to say yes or no. It is then my choice, and then I want to say yes.
12. When a woman asks me "Would you do this?" 1 feel assured inside that 1 am going to get a point for this. 1 feel appreciated and happy to give.
13. When 1 hear a "would you" 1 feel 1 am being trusted to serve. But when 1 hear a "can you" or "could you" 1 hear a question behind the question. She is asking me if I can empty the trash when it is obvious that 1 could. But behind her question is the request,
which she doesn't trust me enough to directly ask.
14. When a woman asks "would you" or "will you" 1 feel her vulnerability. 1 am much more sensitive to her and her needs; 1 definitely don't want to reject her.
When she says "could you" 1 am much more apt to say no because 1 know it is not a rejection of her. It is simply an impersonal statement saying 1 can't do it.
She won't take it personally if 1 say no to a "Could you do this?"
15. For me, , would you" makes it personal, and 1 want to give, but "could you" makes it impersonal, and 1 will give if it is convenient or if 1 don't have anything else to do.
16. When a woman says "Could you please help me?" 1 can feel her resentment and 1 will resist her, but if she says "Would you please help me" 1 can't hear any
resentment, even if there is some. 1 am willing to say yes.
17. When a woman says "Could you do this for me?" 1 get kind of honest and say "I'd rather not." The lazy part of me comes out. But when 1 hear a "Would you please?" I become creative and start thinking of ways to help.
One way women are sure to relate to the significant difference between would and could is to reflect for a moment on this romantic scene. Imagine a man proposing marriage to a woman. His heart
is full, like the moon shining above. Kneeling before her, he reaches out to hold her hands. Then he gazes up into her eyes and gently says, "Could you marry me?"
Immediately the romance is gone. Using the c word he appears weak and unworthy. In that moment, he reeks of insecurity and low self-esteem. If instead he said "Would you marry me?" then both his strength and vulnerability are present. That is the way to propose.
Similarly, a man requires that a woman propose her requests in this manner. Use the w words. The c words sound too untrusting, indirect, weak, and manipulative.
When she says "Could you empty the trash?" the message he receives is "If you can empty it then you should do it. 1 would do it for you!" From his point of view he feels it is obvious that he can do it. In neglecting to ask for his support he feels she is manipulating him or taking him for granted. He doesn't feel misted to be there for her if he can.
1 remember one woman in a seminar explaining the difference in Venusian terms. She said, "At first 1 couldn't feel the difference between these two ways of asking. But then 1 turned it around. It feels very different to me when he says 'No, 1 can't do it' versus 'No, I will not do it.' The 'I will not do it' is a personal rejection. If he says 'I can't do it' then it is no reflection on me, it is Just that he can't do it.-
Common mistakes in Asking
The hardest part of learning to ask is remembering how to do it. Try using the w words whenever possible. It will take a lot of practice.
To ask a man for support:
1. Be direct.
2. Be brief.
3. Use "would you" or "will you" phrases.
It's best not to be too indirect, too lengthy, or to employ phrases such as "could you" or "can you." Let's look at some examples.
Dew Don't Say
---Wouldyou empty the trash?" "This kitchen is a mess; it really
stinks. 1 can't fit anything else into
the trash bag. It needs to be emp
tied. Could you do it?"
(This is too long and uses could.)
"Would you help me move this "I can't move this table. I need to
table?" rearrange it before our party
tonight. Could you please help?"
(This is too long and uses could.)
"Would you please put this away "I can't put all of this away."
for me?" (This is an indirect message.)
"Would you bring the groceries in 111 have four bags of groceries left
from the car?" in the car. And 1 need that food to
make dinner. Could you bring
(This is too long, indirect, and uses
"Would you pick up a bottle of "You'll be going by the store.
milk on your way home?" Lauren needs a bottle of milk. 1
just can't go out again. 1 am so
tired. Today was a bad day. Could
you get it?"
(This is too long. indirect, and uses
-Wouldyou pick up Julie from ---Julieneeds a ride home and 1
school?" can't pick her up. Do you have
time? Do You think you could pick
(This is too long, indirect, and uses
PR -m Don't say
"Would you take Zoey to the vet "It's time for Zoey to get her shots.
today?" Would you like to take her to the
(This is too indirect.)
"Would you take us out to dinner "I am too tired to make dinner.
tonight?" We haven't gone out in a long
time. Do you want to go out;"
(This is too lengthy and indirect.)
"Would you zip me up?" "I need your help. Could you zip
(This is indirect and uses could.
,Would you build a fire for us "It's really cold. Are you going to
tonight?" build a fire?"
(This is too indirect.)
"Would you take me to a movie "Do you want to go to a movie
this week?" this week?"
(This is too indirect.)
"Would you help Lauren put on "Lauren still hasn't put on her
her shoes?" shoes! We are late. 1 can't do this
by myself! Could you help?"
(This is too long, indirect, and uses
"Would you sit down with me "I have no idea of what's going on.
now or sometime tonight and talk We haven't talked and 1 need to
about our schedule?" know what you are doing.
3 .. (This is too long and 'Indirect.)
As you have probably noticed by now, what You think has been asking is not asking to Martians-they hear something else. It takes a conscious effort to make these little but significant changes in the way you ask for support. 1 suggest practicing at least three months correcting the way you ask for things before moving on to step two. other request statements that work are "Would you please ... ?" and "Would you mind ... ?"
Start out in step 1 by being aware of how many times you don't ask for support. Become aware of how you do ask when you do. With this increased awareness, then practice asking for what he 'S already giving you. Remember to be brief and direct. Then give him lots of appreciation and thanks.
Common ~dons About Asking for Support
This first step can be difficult. Here are some common questions, which give clues to both the objections and the resistance that women may have.
1. Question. A woman might feel, Why should 1 have to ask him when I don't require him to ask me?
Answer: Remember, men are from Mars; they are different. By accepting and working with his differences you will get what you need. If, instead, you try to change him he will stubbornly resist. Although asking for what you want is not second nature to Venusians, you can do it without giving up who you are. When he feels loved and appreciated he will gradually become more willing to offer his support without being asked. That is a later stage.
2. Question. A woman may feel, Why should 1 appreciate what he does when 1 am doing more?
Answer: Martians give less when they do not feel appreciated. If you want him to give more, then what he needs is more appreciation. Men are motivated by appreciation. If you are giving more it may, of course, be hard to appreciate him. Gracefully begin to give
less so that you can appreciate him more By making this change, not only are you supporting him in feeling loved, but you will also get the support you need and deserve.
3. Question. A woman may feel, If 1 have to ask him for support, he may think he is doing me a favor.
Answer: This is how he should feel. A gift of love Is a favor. When a man feels he is doing you a favor, lie is then giving from his heart. Remember, he's a Martian and doesn't keep score the way you do. If he feels that you are telling him he is obligated to give, his heart closes and he gives less.
4. Question. A woman may feel, If he loves me he should just offer his support, 1 shouldn't have to ask.
Answer: Remember men are from Mars; they are different. Men wait to be asked. Instead of thinking, If he loves me he will offer his support, consider this thought, If he were a Venusian he would offer his support, but he's not, he's a Martian. By accepting this difference, he will be much more willing to support you, and gradually he will begin to offer his support.
5. Question. A woman may feel, If 1 have to ask for things he will think 1 am not giving as much as he is. 1 am afraid-he may feel like he doesn't have to give me more!
Answer: A man is more generous when he feels as though he doesn't have to give. In addition, when a man hears a woman asking for support (in a respectful way), whit he also hears is that she feels entitled to that support. He does not assume she has given less. Quite the contrary, he assumes she must be giving more or at least as much as he is, and that is why she feels good about asking.
6. Question. A woman may feel, When 1 ask for support, 1 am afraid to be brief. 1 want to explain why 1 need his help. 1 don't want to appear demanding.
Answer: When a man hears a request from his partner, he trusts
she has good reasons for asking. If she gives him a lot of reasons why he should fulfill her request, he feels as though he can't say no, and if he can't say no then he feels manipulated or taken for granted. Let him give you a gift Instead of taking his support for granted.
If he needs to understand more he will ask why. Then it is OK to give reasons. Even when he asks, be careful not to be too lengthy. Give one, or at most, two reasons. If he still needs more information, he'll let you know.
STEP 2: PRACTICE ASKING FOR MORE
(EVEN WHEN YOU KNOW HE MAY SAY NO)
Before attempting to ask a man for more, make sure he feels appreciated for what he is already giving. By continuing to ask for his support without expecting him to do more than he has been doing he will feel not only appreciated but also accepted.
When he is used to hearing you ask for his support without wanting more, he feels loved in your presence. He feels he doesn't have to change to get your love. At this point he will be willing to change and stretch his ability to support you. At this point you can risk asking for more without giving him the message that he is not good enough.
The second step of this process is to let him realize that he can say no and still receive your love. When he feels that he can say no when you ask for more, he will feel free to say yes or no. Keep in mind that men are much more willing to say yes if they have the freedom to say no.
It's important that women learn both how to ask and how to accept no for an answer. Women usually intuitively feet what their partner's response will be even before they ask. If they sense that he will resist their request, they won't even bother asking. Instead, they
will feel rejected. He, of course, will have no idea what happened--all this has gone on in her head.
In step 2, practice asking for support in all those situations where you would want to ask but don't because you feel his resistance. Go ahead and ask for support even if you sense his resistance; even if you know he will say no.
For example, a wife might say to her husband, who is focused on watching the news, "Would you go to the grocery store and pick up some salmon for dinner?" When she asks this question, she is already prepared for him to say no. He is probably completely surprised because she has never interrupted him with a request like this before. He will probably make some excuse like "I am right in the middle of watching the news. Can't you do it?"
She may feel like saying "Sure I could do it. But I am always doing everything around here. 1 don't like being your servant. 1 want some help!"
When you ask and sense you will get a rejection, prepare yourself for the no and have a ready answer like "OK." If you want to be really Martian in your response, you could say "no problem"-that would be music to his ears. A simple "OK" is fine, however.
It is important to ask and then act as if it is perfectly OK for him to say no. Remember, you're making it safe for him to refuse. Use this approach only for situations that are really OK if he says no. Pick situations where you would appreciate his support but rarely ask for it. Make sure you will feel comfortable if he says no.
These are some examples of what I mean:
Men to ask What to M
He is working on something and You say "Would you pick up Julie,
you want him to pick up the kids. she just called?"
Normally you wouldn't bother If he says no, then graciously and
him, and so you do it yourself. simply say "OK."
When to ask What to My
He normally comes home and You say "Would you help me cut
expects you to make dinner. You the potatoes?" or "Would you
want him to make dinner, but you make dinner tonight?"
never ask. You sense he resists If he says no, then graciously and
cooking. simply say "OK."
He normally watches TV after din- You say "Would you help me with
ner while you wash the dishes. the dishes tonight?" or "Would
You want him to wash them, or at you bring in the plates?" or wait
least help, but you never ask. You for an easy night and say "Would
sense he hates doing dishes. May- you do the dishes tonight?"
be you don't mind it as much as he If he says no then graciously and
does, so you go ahead and do it. simply say "OK. "
He wants to go to a movie and You say "Would you take me
you want to go dancing. Normally dancing tonight? 1 love to dance
you sense his desire to see the with you."
movie and you don't bother asking If he says no, then graciously and
to go dancing. simply say "OK."
You are both tired and ready to go You say "Would you take the
to bed. The trash is collected the trash out?"
next morning. You sense how If he says no, then graciously and
tired he is, so you don't ask him to simply say "OK."
bring the trash out.
He is very busy and preoccupied You say "Would you spend some
with an important project. You time with me?"
don't want to distract him because If he says no, then graciously and
you sense how focused he is, but simply say "OK."
you also want to talk with him.
Normally you would sense his
resistance and not ask for some time.
When to ed What to -M
He is focused and busy, but you You say "Would you give me a
need to pick up your car, which ride today to pick up my car? It's
has been in the shop. Normally being repaired."
you anticipate how difficult it If he says no, then graciously
will be for him to rearrange his simply say "OK."
schedule and you don't ask him
for a ride.
In each of the above examples, be prepared for him to say no and practice being accepting and trusting. Accept his no and trust that he would offer support if he could. Each time you ask a man for support and he isn't made wrong for saying no, he gives you between five and ten points. Next time you ask he will be more responsive to your request. In a sense, by asking for his support in a loving way, you are helping him stretch his ability to give more.
1 first learned this from a woman employee years ago. We were working on a nonprofit project and needed volunteers. She was about to call Tom, who was a friend of mine. I told her not to bother because 1 already knew he would not be able to help this tune. She said she would call anyway. I asked her why, and she said, "When 1 call 1 will ask for his support, and when he says no 1 will be very gracious and understanding. Then next time, when I call for a future project, he will be more willing to say yes. He will have a positive memory of me." She was right.
When you ask a man for support and you do not reject him for saying no, he will remember that, and next time he will be much more willing to give. On the other hand, if you quietly sacrifice your needs and don't ask, he won't have any idea how many times he is needed. How could he know if you don't ask?
As you gently continue to ask for more, occasionally your partner will be able to stretch his comfort zone and say yes. At this point it has become safe to ask for more. This is one way healthy relationships are built.
A relationship is healthy when both partners have permission to ask for what they want and need, and they both have permission to say no if they choose.
For example, 1 remember standing in the kitchen with a family friend one day when our daughter Lauren was five years old. She asked me to lift her up and do tricks, and I said, "No, 1 can't today. I am real tired."
She persisted, asking playfully, "Please, Daddy, please, Daddy, just one flip."
The friend said, "Now, Lauren, your father is tired. He has worked hard today. You shouldn't ask."
Lauren. immediately responded by saying, "I am just asking!"
"But you know your father loves you," my friend said. "He can't say no to you."
(The truth is, if he can't say no, that's his problem, not hers.)
Immediately my wife and all three daughters said, "Oh yes he can!"
I was proud of my family. It has taken a lot of work, but gradually we have learned to ask for support and also to accept no.
STEP 3: PRACTICE ASSERTIVE ASKING
Once you have practiced step 2 and you can graciously accept a no, you are ready for step 3. In this step you assert your full power to get what you want. You ask for his support, and if he starts making excuses and resists your request, you don't say "OK" as in step 2. Instead you practice making it OK that he resists but continue waiting for him to say yes.
Let's say he is on his way to bed, and you ask him. "Would you
reply with "I made you dinner, I washed the dishes, I got the kids ready for bed, and all you did was plant yourself on this couch! 1 don't ask for much, but at least you could help now. 1 am *so exhausted. I feel like 1 do everything around here."
The argument starts. On the other hand, if you know that grumbles are just grumbles and are often his way of starting to say yes, your response will be silence. Your silence is a signal that you trust that he Is stretching Inside and about to say yes.
Stretching is another way to understand a man's resistance to your requests. Whenever you ask for more, he has to stretch himself. If he is not in shape, he can't do it. That is why you have to prepare a man for step 3 by moving through steps 1 and 2.
In addition, you know that it is more difficult to stretch in the morning. Later in the day you can stretch much farther and easier. When a man grumbles, just imagine that he is stretching in the morning. Once he has finished stretching he will feel great. He lust needs to grumble first.
Programming a Man to Say Yes
I first became conscious of this process when my wife asked me to buy some milk at the store when 1 was on my way to bed. 1 remember grumbling out loud. Instead of arguing with me, she just listened, assuming that eventually 1 would do it. Then finally 1 made a few banging noises on my way out, got in my car, and went to the store.
Then something happened, something that happens to all men, something that women don't know about. As 1 now moved closer to my new goal, the milk, my grumbles went away. 1 started feeling my love for my wife and my willingness to support. 1 started feeling like the good guy. Believe me, 1 liked that feeling.
By the time I was in the store, I was happy to be getting the milk. When my hand reached the bottle, 1 had achieved my new goal. Achievement always makes men feel good. 1 playfully picked up the bottle In my right hand and turned around with a look of pride that said "Hey. look at me. I'm getting the milk for my wife. 1
go to the store and get some milk." In his response, he says "Oh, I'm really tired, I want to go to bed."
Instead of immediately letting him off the hook by saying "OK," say nothing. Stand there and accept that he is resisting your request. By not resisting his resistance there is a much greater chance he will say yes.
The art of assertive asking is to remain silent after you have made a request. After you have asked, expect him to moan, groan, scowl, growl, mumble, and grumble. 1 call the resistance men have to responding to requests the grumbles. The more focused a man is at the time, the more he will grumble. His grumbles have nothing to do with his willingness to support; they are a symptom of how focused he is at the time when asked.
A woman will generally misinterpret a man's grumbles. She mistakenly assumes that he is unwilling to fulfill her request. This is not the case. His grumbles are a sign that he is in the process of considering her request. If he was not considering her request then he would very calmly say no. When a man grumbles it is a good sign---he is trying to consider your request versus his needs.
He will go through internal resistance at shifting his direction from what he's focusing on to your request. Like opening a door with rusty hinges, the man will make unusual noises. By ignoring his grumbles they quickly go away.
Often when a man grumbles he is in the process of saying yes to your request. Because most women misunderstand this reaction, they either avoid asking him for support or they take it personally and reject him in return.
In our example, where he is headed for bed and you ask him to 90 to the store for milk, he is likely to grumble.
.I'm tired," he says with an annoyed look. "I want to go to bed."
If you misunderstand his response as a rejection, you might
• "I don't ask you for much."
• "It will only take you fifteen minutes.,,
• "I feel disappointed. This really hurts my feelings.
• "You mean you won't do this for me."
• "Why can't you do it?"
Etc., etc., etc. You get the idea. When he grumbles, she feels the urge to defend her request and mistakenly breaks her silence. She argues with her partner in an attempt to convince him that he should do it. Whether he does it or not, he will be more resistant next time she asks for his support.
To give him a chance to fulfill your requests, ask and pause. Let him grumble and say things. just listen. Eventually he will say yes. Don't mistakenly believe that he will hold this against you. He can't and won't hold it against you as long as you don't insist or argue with him. Even if he walks off grumbling, he will let go of it, if both of you feel it Is his choice to do or not to do it.
Sometimes, however, he may not say yes. Or he may try to argue his way out by asking you some questions. Be careful. During your pause he may ask questions like:
* "Why can't you do it?"
* "I really don't have time. Would you do it?"
* "I am busy, 1 don't have time. What are you doing?"
Sometimes these are just rhetorical questions. So you can remain quiet. Don't speak unless it is clear that he is really looking for an answer. If he wants an answer, give him one, but be very brief, and then ask again. Assertive asking means asking with a sense of confidence and trust that he will support you if he can.
If he questions you or says no, then respond with a brief answer giv
am one of those great generous guys. What a guy."
When 1 returned with the milk, she was happy to see me. She gave me a big hug and said, "Thank you so much. I'm so glad 1 didn't have to get dressed."
If she had ignored me, 1 probably would have resented her. Next time she asked me to buy the milk I would have probably grumbled even more. But she didn't ignore me, she gave me lots of love.
I watched my reaction and heard myself think, What a wonderful wife 1 have. Even after 1 was so resistant and grumbly she is still appreciating me.
The next time she asked me to buy the milk, 1 grumbled less. When I returned she was again appreciative. The third time, automatically 1 said, "Sure."
Then a week later, 1 noticed that she was low on milk. 1 offered to get it. She said she was already going to the store. To my surprise a part of me was disappointed! 1 wanted to get the milk. Her love had programmed me to say yes. Even to this day whenever she asks me to go to the store and get milk a part of me happily says yes.
I personally experienced this inner transformation. Her acceptance of my grumbles and appreciation of me when I returned healed my resistance. From that time on, as she practiced assertive asking, it was much easier for me to respond to her requests.
be Pregnant Pause
One of the key elements of assertive asking is to remain silent after you have asked for support. Allow your partner to work through their resistance. Be careful not to disapprove of his grumbles. As long as you pause and remain silent, you have the possibility of getring his support. If you break the silence you lose your power.
Women unknowingly break the silence and lose their power by making comments like:
* "Oh, forget it."
* "I can't believe you are saying no. 1 do so much for you."
ing the message that your need is just as great as his. Then ask again.
Here are some examples:
What !!! $m$ in re~ Now she can respond with
LO ber request assertive asking
"I don't have time. Can't you do it?" "I'm also rushed. Would you
please do it?"
Then remain silent again.
"No, 1 don't want to do that." "I would really appreciate it. Will
you please do it for me?"
Then remain silent again.
"I'm busy, what are you doing?" "I'm busy too. Will you please do
Then remain silent again.
"No, 1 don't feel like It." "I don't feel like it either. Would
you please do it?"
Then remain silent again.
Notice that she is not trying to convince him but Is simply, matching his resistance. If he is tired, don't try to prove tha t you are more tired and therefore he should help you. Or if he thinks he Is too busy don't try to convince him that you are more busy. Avoid giving him reasons why he should do it. Remember, you are just asking and not demanding.
If he continues to resist then. practice step two and graciously accept his rejection. This is not the time to share how disappointed you are. Be assured that if you can let go at this time, he will remember how loving you were and be more willing to support you next time.
As you progress you will experience greater success 'm asking for and getting his support. Even if you are practicing the pregnant pause of step three, it is still necessary to continue practicing steps one and two. It is always important that you continue to ask correctly for the little things as well as graciously accept his rejections.
WHY MEN ARE SO SENSITIVE
You may be asking yourself why men are so sensitive about being asked for support. It is not because men are lazy but because men have so much need to feel accepted. Any request to be more or to give more might instead give the message that he is not accepted just the way he is.
just as a woman is more sensitive about being heard and feeling understood when she is sharing her feelings, a man is more sensitive about being accepted just the way he is. Any attempt to improve him makes him feel as though you are trying to change him because he is not good enough.
On Mars, the motto is "Don't fix it unless it is broken." When a man feels a woman wanting more, and that she is trying to change him, he receives the message that she feels he is broken; naturally he doesn't feel loved just the way he is.
By learning the art of asking for support, your relationships Will gradually become greatly enriched. As you are able to receive more of the love and support you need, your partner will also naturally be quite happy. Men are happiest when they feel they have succeeded in fulfilling the people they care about. By learning to ask correctly for support you not only help your man feel more loved but also ensure you'll get the love you need and deserve.
In the next chapter we will explore the secret of keeping the magic of love alive.
Keeping the Magic
of Love Alive
One of the paradoxes of loving relationships is that when things are going well and we are feeling loved, we may suddenly find ourselves emotionally distancing our partners or reacting to them in unloving ways. Maybe you can relate to some of these examples:
1. You may be feeling a lot of love for your partner, and then, the next morning, you wake up and are an noyed and resentful of him or her.
2. You are loving, patient, and accepting, and then, the next day, you become demanding or dissatisfied.
3. You can't imagine not loving your partner, and then, the next day, you have an argument and suddenly begin thinking about divorce.
4. Your partner does something loving for you, and you feel resentful for the times in the past when he or she ignored you.
5. You are attracted to your partner, and then suddenly you feel numb in his or her presence.
6. You are happy with Your partner and then suddenly feel insecure about the relationship or powerless to get what you need.
7. You feel confident and assured that your partner loves you and suddenly you feel desperate and needy.
8. You are generous with your love, and then suddenly you become withholding, judgmental, critical, angry, or controlling.
9. You are attracted to your partner, and then when he or she makes a commitment you lose your attraction or you find others more attractive.
10. You want to have sex with your partner, but when he or she wants it, you don't want it.
11. You feel good about yourself and your life and then, suddenly, you begin feeling unworthy, abandoned, and inadequate.
12. You have a wonderful day and look forward to seeing your partner, but when you see him or her, something that your partner says makes you feel disappointed, depressed, repelled, tired, or emotionally distant.
Maybe you have noticed your partner going through some of these changes as well. Take a moment to reread the above list, thinking about how your partner may suddenly lose his or her ability to give you the love you deserve. Probably you have experienced his or ber sudden shifts at times. It is very common for two people who are
madly in love one day to hate each other or fight the very next day.
These sudden shifts are confusing. Yet they are common. If we don't understand why they happen we may think we are going crazy, or we may mistakenly conclude that our love has died. Fortunately there is an explanation.
Love brings up our unresolved feelings. One day we are feeling loved, and the next day we are suddenly afraid to trust love. The painful memories of being rejected begin to surface when we are faced with trusting and accepting our partner's love.
Whenever we are loving ourselves more or being loved by others, repressed feelings tend to come up and temporarily overshadow our loving awareness. They come up to be healed and released. We may suddenly become irritable, defensive, critical, resentful, demanding, numb, or angry.
Feelings that we could not express in our past suddenly flood our consciousness when we are safe to feel. Love thaws out our repressed feelings, and gradually these unresolved feelings begin to surface into our relationship.
It is as though your unresolved feelings wait until you are feeling loved, and then they come up to be healed. We are all walking around with a bundle of unresolved feelings, the wounds from our past, that he dormant within us until the time comes when we feel loved. Then, when we feel safe to be ourselves, our hurt feelings come up.
If we can successfully deal with those feelings, then we feel much better and enliven more of our creative, loving potential. If, however, we get into a fight and blame our partner instead of healing our past, we just get upset and then suppress the feelings again.
Now Repressed Feelings (me Up
The problem is that repressed feelings don't come up saying "FL, I am your unresolved feelings from the past." If your feelings of abandonment or rejection from childhood start coming up, then you will feel you are being abandoned or rejected by your partner. The pain
of the past is projected onto the present. Things that normally would not be a big deal hurt a lot.
For years we have suppressed our painful feelings. Then one day we fall in love, and love makes us feel safe enough to open up and become aware of our feelings. Love opens us up and we start to feel our pain.
Why Coupies May Fight During Good rimes
Our past feelings suddenly come up not just when we fall in love but at other times when we are feeling really good, happy, or loving. At these positive times, couples may unexplainably fight when it seems as though they should be happy.
For example, couples may fight when they move into a new home, redecorate, attend a graduation, a religious celebration, or a wedding, receive presents, go on a vacation or car ride, finish a project, celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving, decide to change a negative habit, buy a new car, make a positive career change, win a lottery, make a lot of money, decide to spend a lot of money, or have great love making.
At all of these special occasions one or both partners may suddenly experience unexplained moods and reactions; the upset tends to be either before, during, or right after the occasion. It may be very insightful to review the above list of special occasions and reflect or. how your parents might have experienced these occasions as well as reflect on how you have experienced these occasions in your relationships.
THE 90/10 PRINCIPLE
By understanding how past unresolved feelings periodically surface, it is easy to understand why we can become so easily hurt by our partners. When we are upset, about 90 percent of the upset is related to our past and has nothing to do with what we think is upsetting us. Generally only about 10 percent of our upset is appropriate to the present experience.
Let's look at an example. If our partner seems a little critical of
us, it may hurt our feelings a little. But because we are adults we are capable of understanding that they don't mean to be critical or maybe we see that they had a bad day. This understanding prevents their criticism from being too hurtful. We don't take it personally.
But on another day their criticism is very painful. On this other day our wounded feelings from the past are on their way up. As a result we are more vulnerable to our partner's criticism. It hurts a lot because as a child we were criticized severely. Our partner's criticism hurts more because it triggers our past hurt as well.
As a child we were not able to understand that we were innocent and that our parents' negativity was their problem. In childhood we take all criticism, rejection, and blame personally.
When these unresolved feelings from childhood are coming up, we easily interpret our partner's comments as criticism, rejection, and blame. Having adult discussions at these times is hard. Everything is misunderstood. When our partner seems critical, 10 percent of our reaction relates to their effect on us and 90 percent relates to our past.
Imagine someone poking your arm a little or gently bumping into you. It doesn't hurt a lot. Now imagine you have an open wound or sore and someone starts poking at it or bumps into you. It hurts much more. In the same way, if unresolved feelings are coming up, we will be overly sensitive to the normal pokes and bumps of relating.
In the beginning of a relationship we may not be as sensitive. It takes time for our past feelings to come up. But when they do come up, we react differently to our partners. In most relationships, 90 percent of what is upsetting to us would not be upsetting if our past unresolved feelings were not coming up.
Now We Con Support Each Other
When a man's past comes up, he generally heads for his cave. He is overly sensitive at those times and needs a lot of acceptance. When a woman's past comes up is when her self-esteem crashes. She de
scends into the well of her feelings and needs tender loving care.
This insight helps you to control your feelings when they come up. If you are upset with your partner, before confronting him or her first write out your feelings on paper. Through the process of writing Love Letters your negativity will be automatically released and your past hurt will be healed. Love Letters help center you in present time so that you can respond to your partner in a more trusting, accepting, understanding, and forgiving way.
Understanding the 90/10 principle also helps when your partner is reacting strongly to you. Knowing that he or she is being influenced by the past can help you to be more understanding and supportive.
Never tell your partner, when it appears as though their "stuff" is coming up, that they are overreacting. That just hurts them more. If you poked someone right in the middle of a wound you wouldn't tell them they were overreacting.
Understanding how the feelings of the past come up gives us a greater understanding of why our partners react the way they do. It is part of their healing process. Give them some time to cool off and become centered again. If it is too difficult to listen to their feelings, encourage them to write you a Love Letter before you talk about what was so upsetting.
A Healing Letter
Understanding how your past affects your present reactions helps you heal your feelings. If your partner has upset you in some way, write them a Love Letter, and while you are writing ask yourself how this relates to your past. As you write you may find memories coming up from your past and discover that you are really upset with your own mother or father. At this point continue writing but now address your letter to your parent. Then write a loving Response Letter. Share this letter with your partner.
They will like hearing your letter. It feels great when your partner takes responsibility for the 90 percent of their hurt that comes from the past. Without this understanding of our past we tend to
blame our partners, or at least they feel blamed.
If you want your partner to be more sensitive to your feelings, let them experience the painful feelings of your past. Then they can understand your sensitivities. Love Letters are an excellent opportunity to do this.
YOU ARE NEVER UPSET FOR THE REASON YOU THINK
As you practice writing Love Letters and exploring your feelings you will begin to discover that generally you are upset for different reasons than you first think. By experiencing and feeling the deeper reasons, negativity tends to disappear. just as we suddenly can be gripped by negative emotions we can also suddenly release them. These are a few examples:
1. One morning Jim woke up feeling annoyed with h's partner. Whatever she did disturbed him. As he wrote her a Love Letter he discovered that he was really upset with his mother for being so controlling. These feelings were just coming up, so he wrote a short Love Letter to his mother. To write this letter he imagined he was back when he was feeling controlled. After he wrote the letter suddenly he was no longer upset with his partner.
2. After months of falling in love, Lisa suddenly became critical of her partner. As she wrote a Love Letter she discovered that she was really feeling afraid that she was not good enough for him and afraid he was no longer interested in hen By becoming aware of her deeper fears she started to feel her loving feelings again.
3. After spending a romantic evening together, Bill and jean got in a terrible fight the next day. It started when jean became a little angry with him for forgetting to do
something. Instead of being his usual understanding self, suddenly Bill felt like he wanted a divorce. Later as he wrote a Love Letter he realized he was really afraid of being left or abandoned. He remembered how he felt as a child when his parents fought. He wrote a letter to his parents, and suddenly he felt loving toward his wife again.
4. Susan's husband, Tom, was busy meeting a deadline at work. When he came home Susan felt extremely resentful and angry. One part of her understood the stress he was under, but emotionally she was still angry. While writing him a Love Letter she discovered that she was angry with her father for leaving her alone with her abusive mother. As a child she had felt powerless and abandoned, and these feelings were again coming up to be healed. She wrote a Love Letter to her father and suddenly she was no longer angry with Tom.
5. Rachel was attracted to Phil until he said he loved her and wanted to make a commitment. The next day her mood suddenly changed. She began to have a lot of doubts and her passion disappeared. As she wrote him a Love Letter she discovered that she was angry with her father for being so passive and hurting her mother. After she wrote a Love Letter to her father and released her negative feelings, she suddenly felt attracted again to Phil.
As you begin practicing Love Letters, you may not always experience past memories and feelings. But as you open up and go deeper into your feelings, it will become clearer that when you are really upset it is about something in your past as well.
THE DELAYED REACTION RESPONSE
just as love may bring up our past unresolved feelings, so does getting what you want. I remember when 1 first learned about this. Many years ago 1 had wanted sex from my partner, but she wasn't in the mood. In my mind 1 accepted that. The next day I hinted around, and she still was not interested. This pattern continued every day.
By the end of two weeks I was beginning to feel resentful. But at that time in my life I didn't know how to communicate feelings. Instead of talking about my feelings and my frustration 1 just kept pretending as if everything were OK. 1 was stuffing my negative feelings and trying to be loving. For two weeks my resentment continued to build.
I did everything 1 knew to please her and make her happy, while inside I was resenting her rejection of me. At the end of two weeks I went out and bought her a pretty nightgown. 1 brought it home and that evening 1 gave it to her. She opened the box and was happily surprised. I asked her to try it on. She said she wasn't in the mood.
At this point I gave up. I just forgot about sex. 1 buried myself in work and gave up my desire for sex. In my mind I made it OK by suppressing my feelings of resentment. About two weeks later, however, when I came home from work, she had prepared a romantic meal and was wearing the nightgown 1 had bought her two weeks before. The lights were low and soft music was on in the background.
You can imagine my reaction. All of a sudden I felt a surge of resentment. Inside I felt "Now you suffer for four weeks." All of the resentment that 1 had suppressed for the last four weeks suddenly was coming up. After talking about these feelings I realized that her willingness to give me what I wanted released my old resentments.
When Couples Suddenly Fed Their Resentment
1 began to see this pattern in many other situations. In my counseling practice, 1 also observed this phenomenon. When one partner was finally willing to make a change for the better, the other would become suddenly indifferent and unappreciative.
As soon as Bill was willing to give Mary what she had been asking for, she would have a resentful reaction like "Well, it is too late" or "So what."
Repeatedly I have counseled couples who have been married for over twenty years. Their children have grown up and left home. Suddenly the woman wants a divorce. The man wakes up and realizes that he wants to change and get help. As he starts to make changes and give her the love she has been wanting for twenty years, she reacts with cold resentment.
It is as though she wants him to suffer for twenty years just as
she did. Fortunately that is not the case. As they continue to share
feelings and he hears and und erstands how she has been neglected,
she gradually becomes mor his changes. This can also
e receptive to go the other way; a man wants to leave and the woman becomes willing to change, but he resists.
The Crisis of Rising Expectations
Another example of the delayed reaction occurs on a social level. In sociology it is called the crisis of rising expectations. It occurred 'm the sixties during the johnson administration. For the first time minorities were given more rights than ever before. As a result there were explosions of anger, rioting, and violence. All of the pent-up racial feelings were suddenly released.
This is another example of repressed feelings surfacing. When the minorities felt more supported they felt an upsurge of resentful and angry feelings. The unresolved feelings of the past started coming up. A similar reaction is occurring now in countries where people are finally gaining their freedom from abusive government leaders.
WHY HEALTHY PEOPLE MAY NEED COUNSELING
As you grow more intimate in your relationships, love increases. As a result, deeper, more painful feelings will come up that need to be healeddeep feelings like shame and fear. Because we generally do
not know how to deal with these painful feelings, we become stuck.
To heal them we need to share them, but we are too afraid or ashamed to reveal what we are feeling. At such times we may become depressed, anxious, bored, resentful, or simply exhausted for no apparent reason at all. These are all symptoms of our "stuff" coming up and being blocked.
Instinctively you will want to either run away from love or increase your addictions. This is the time to work on your feelings and not run away. When deep feelings come up you would be very wise to get the help of a therapist.
When deep feelings come up, we project our feelings onto our partner. If we did not feel safe to express our feelings to our parents or a past partner, all of a sudden we cannot get in touch with our feelings in the presence of our present partner. At this point, no matter how supportive your partner is, when you are with your partner you will not feel safe. Feelings will be blocked.
It is a paradox: because you feel safe with your partner, your deepest fears have a chance to surface. When they surface you become afraid and are unable to share what you feel. Your fear may even make you numb. When this happens the feelings that are coming up get stuck.
This is when having a counselor or therapist is tremendously helpful. When you are with someone you are not projecting your fears on, you can process the feelings that are coming up. But if you are only with your partner, you may feel numb.
This is why people with even very loving relationships may inevitably need the help of a therapist. Sharing in support groups also has this liberating effect. Being with others whom we don't know intimately but who are supportive creates an opening for our wounded feelings to be shared.
When our unresolved feelings are being projected on our inti
mate partner, he or she is powerless to help us. All our partner can do is encourage us to get support. Understanding how our past continues to affect our relationships frees us to accept the ebb and flow of love. We begin to trust love and its healing process. To keep the magic of love alive we must be flexible and adapt to the ongoing changing seasons of love.
THE SEASONS OF LOVE
A relationship is like a garden. If it is to thrive it must be watered
regularly. Special care must he given, taking into account the sea
sons as well as any unpredictable weather. New seeds must be sown
and weeds must be pulled. Similarly; to keep t he magic of love alive
we must understand its seasons and nurture love's special needs.
The Springtime of Love
Failing in love is like springtime. We feel as though we will be happy forever. We cannot imagine not loving our partner. It is a time of innocence. Love seems eternal. It is a magical time when everything seems perfect and works effortlessly. Our partner seems to be the perfect fit. We effortlessly dance together in harmony and rejoice in our good fortune.
The Summer of Love
Throughout the summer of our love we realize our partner is not as perfect as we thought, and we have to work on our relationship. Not only is our partner from another planet, but he or she is also a human who makes mistakes and is flawed in certain ways.
Frustration and disappointment arise; weeds need to be uprooted and plants need extra watering under the hot sun. It is no longer easy to give love and get the love we need. We discover that we are not always happy, and we do not always feel loving. It is not our picture of love.
Many couples at this point become disillusioned. They do not want to work on a relationship. They unrealistically expect It to be spring all the time. They blame their partners and give up. They do not realize that love is not always easy; sometimes it requires hard work under a hot sun. In the summer season of love, we need to nurture our partner's needs as well as ask for and get the love we need. It doesn't happen automatically.
The Autumn of Love
As a result of tending the garden during the summer, we get to harvest the results of our hard work. Fall has come. It is a golden time-rich and fulfilling. We experience a more mature love that accepts and understands our partner's imperfections as well as our own. It is a time of thanksgiving and sharing. Having worked hard during summer we can relax and enjoy the love we have created.
The Winter of Love
Then the weather changes again, and winter comes. During the cold, barren months of winter, all of nature pulls back within itself. It is a time of rest, reflection, and renewal. This is a time in relationships when we experience our own unresolved pain or our shadow self. It is when our lid comes off and our painful feelings emerge. It is a time of solitary growth when we need to look more to ourselves than to our partners for love and fulfillment. It is a time of healing. This is the time when men hibernate in their caves and women sink to the bottom of their wells.
After loving and healing ourselves through the dark winter of love, then spring inevitably returns. Once again we are blessed with the feelings of hope, love, and an abundance of possibilities. Based on the inner healing and soul searching of our wintery journey, we are then able to open our hearts and feel the springtime of love.
After studying this guide for im' proving communication and getting what you want in your relationships, you are well prepared for having successful relationships. You have good reason to feel hopeful for yourself. You will weather well through the seasons of love.
1 have witnessed thousands of couples transform their relationships-some literally overnight. They come on Saturday of my weekend relationship seminar and by dinnertime on Sunday they are ill love again. By applying the insights you have gained through reading this book and by remembering that men are from Mars and women are from Venus you will experience the same success.
But 1 caution you to remember that love is seasonal. In spring It is easy, but in summer it is hard work. In autumn you may feel very generous and fulfilled, but in winter you will feel empty. The information you need to get through summer and work on your relationship is easily forgotten. The love you feel in fall is easily lost In winter.
In the summer of love, when things get difficult and you are not getting the love you need, quite suddenly you may forget everything you have learned in this book. In an instant it is all gone. You may begin to blame your partner and forget how to nurture their needs.
When the emptiness of winter sets in, you may feel hopeless. You may blame yourself and forget how to love and nurture yourself. You may doubt yourself and your partner. You may become cynical and feel like giving up. This is all a part of the cycle. It is always darkest before the dawn.
To be successful in our relationships we must accept and understand the different seasons of love. Sometimes love flows easily and automatically; at other times it requires effort. Sometimes our hearts are full and at other times we are empty. We must not expect our partners to always be loving or even to remember how to be loving. We must also give ourselves this gift of understanding and not expect to remember everything we have learned about being loving.
The process of learning requires not only hearing and applying but also forgetting and then remembering again. Throughout this
book you have learned things that your parents could not teach you. They did not know. But now that you know, please be realistic. Give yourself permission to keep making mistakes. Many of the new insights you have gained will be forgotten for a time.
Education theory states that to learn something new we need to hear it two hundred times. We cannot expect ourselves (or our partners) to remember all of the new insights in this book. We must be patient and appreciative of their every little step. It takes time to work with these ideas and integrate them into your life.
Not only do we need to hear it two hundred times but we also need to unlearn what we have learned in the past. We are not innocent children learning how to have successful relationships. We have been programmed by our parents, by the culture we have grown up in, and by our own painful past experiences. Integrating this new wisdom of having loving relationships is a new challenge. You are a pioneer. You are traveling in new territory. Expect to be lost sometimes. Expect your partner to he lost. Use this guide as a map to lead you through uncharted lands again and again.
Next time you are frustrated with the opposite sex, remember men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Even if you don't remember anything else from this book, remembering that we are supposed to be different will help you to be more loving. By gradually releasing your judgments and blame and persistently asking for W at you want, you can create the loving relationships you want, need, and deserve.
You have a lot to look forward to. May you continue to grow in love and light. Thank you for letting me make a difference in your fife.