June 18, 2020

Addressing the Third

Our world seems to feel a little smaller every day.  There is over crowding is most cities, right now we are all stuck at home feeling as though there is not enough room in our four walls, the media is constant, we live in a ‘global community’ and have access to people all over the world via the internet.  

With all this access and connection, we are aware of how small we are.  Thirty years ago, you could have known most of the people in your community.  This seems tremendously more difficult now for so many reasons and it makes us feel small, anxious and separate.  

Perel writes:

“In a culture where everything is disposable and downsizing confirms just how replaceable we really are, our need to feel secure in our primary relationship is all the greater.  The small we feel in the world, the more we need to shine in the eyes of our partner.  We want to know that we matter, and that, for at least one person, we are irreplaceable.”  

"Mating In Captivity"

But how to do you keep up with the demands of your job, the house, your dog, the kids, the kid’s schools, your parents AND your partner?  (Note: self-care didn’t even make it to that list.)

Enter the third…

Dr. Murray Bowen was the first to write about “triangulation.”  Basically, it means that there is a lot of pressure and anxiety in a relationship with two people and sometimes the couple use a third to decrease this anxiety (hence the triangle).  This third could be work, kids, an affair and addiction or a host of other things to reduce stress.  Whatever the third is, it allows us to avoid the parts of the relationship that feel too difficult or scary to address and we can focus on this other thing/issue.

Talking about it is difficult and scary!! The average American couple waits six years into a crisis two seek out professional help. No wonder we have such a high rate of divorce. We want love, intimacy, connection, romance and sex... And we want it without ever having to talk to each other about what we need and what scares us.

Being vulnerable is hard. But isn't that what is supposed to be the best part of a committed relationship? That we can be vulnerable and be who we truly are, flaws and all and still be loved? If you aren't working at the vulnerability and you are avoiding uncomfortable topics, your relationship is at risk. Name one thing in your life that ever improved when you just ignored it?

I hate the expression, 'time heals all wounds.' That's bulls&*%! When things go unaddressed and unattended, those wounds don't heal, they fester. They become the valley between you. And you can't put all the blame on your partner's shoulders, by saying they haven't brought it up either. That's cheating.

Look, you're always going to be busy. 2020 has proven that there will always be something to drain you (even when you are at home feeling trapped). You cannot change what you don't acknowledge. Make time for the things that are important to you. If your relationship matters, let's make some time to talk about things you have been avoiding.

As always, I’m here.  If you are ready to work on having the life you want, call me and let’s get started!

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