Friday, February 24, 2012
Why Butterfly's Marriages Work so Well
This week, all my clients seem to be teaching me about what blocks people from letting go of their patterns.
From the outside, it makes no sense that after the second, third, and especially after the thousandth time of yelling at your partner, it still doesn’t make them change, you’d think it would give the yeller pause. But no.
I just started working with a couple whose fights are so mean I wouldn’t stick around for the end of the first one, much less the second one they have on most days!
I offered them an alternative way of expressing their needs, and since they are both quite bright they not only caught on, but amazingly are able to use the skills even during their screaming fights. (I’m not sure I would have the presence of mind to remember something I’d just learned, much less try it under those circumstances, but they are better suited to this nuclear-reactor of a marriage than I am)
As expected, it created a “softer” communication right away, and they reported having days of peace after each session.
So on our third session, after they had this same experience: a couple a days of softness, and then falling back into war, I asked the husband what started it up again?
“I did,” he said, nonchalantly.
“Because in the soft quiet, I began to feel invisible. At least when I scream at her, she notices me.”
Another couple I’m just finishing up with is having a similar problem. When they use the skills, they feel connected and resolved, but there is one area for each of them (what I call their Hidden Needs) in which they would rather fight than use the skills they know would work.
In all of these cases, each person prefers the negative attention they are used to, rather than getting the actual satisfaction (which in both of these marriages is completely available to them with their present-time spouse).
Carolyn Myss, in her book “Why People Don’t Heal” talks about this. Healing isn’t just the end of the uncomfortable problem; it’s an opening to a whole new level of energy. “Things speed up”, she says, “the person gets lighter, faster, feels things more intensely and becomes more responsible for their own lives.”
For a lot of people, it isn’t a given that this is what they want. People are so used to relating to the problem, and to seeing their partner as the one who has to change, that the idea that, even though they know it will make the problem go away, their life will not be the one they know but without the problem. It will be so different they will actually be living a whole new life.
When caterpillars are made this same offer, by and large, they take on their completely new existence as a butterfly.
Many marriages fail, because the Mature Marriage isn’t a caterpillar thing, and only butterflies get to live their lives aloft, sipping the sweet nectar of love.