Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Listening to the Sound of Humility

Tonight I watched our new President as he completed his eight day overseas trip. I listened closely as he spoke to the world, taking responsibility for America's part in the current economic crisis, verbalizing the hope that we Americans have for peace in our lifetimes, reaching out to our allies as an equal participant in world affairs, as a nation willing to listen with respect to differing opinions, stating that our country's goal is now a nuclear free world and that we are not and will not be at war with the Islamic people. The last administration built walls between America and the world with demeaning behaviors and caustic remarks. Our previous government behaved as though America's ideals were important and the rest of the world needed to accede to our lifestyle and values. This is a fallacy that had led us into dangerous pseudo relationships with other nations who looked upon America as a bully.

For the first time in many years I am proud, once again, to have our President represent me to the world. I listen to him speak on a range of issues and am impressed with his intelligence and ability to absorb and process great quantities of complex information. I believe that for the first time in my recent adult life we may have a leader who is actually capable of leading our country in the direction the future demands. One of the most important ideas included in our President's statements during these last eight days was that America is no longer going to behave in the same manner. We recognize that the past administration has strained relationships to the breaking point and we are ready to show our better selves to the world.

In our relationships we each have the opportunity to be the leader. There are times when our particular skills are in demand and we can shine. There are times when our partner's skills are needed and we can sit back and enjoy watching, with pride, their moment in the sun. When we love someone deeply we are as thrilled with their aspirations and accomplishments as we are with our own. Their success is tied to our lives through mutual sharing in our relationship. When they feel joy in their achievements we are able to feel joyous along with them. This support that we give and receive is part of the vital flow that enables our relationship to continue to breathe and live.

Why in some relationships is there a lack of support? What happens when one partner is unable to comfort or encourage the other. When a relationship is one sided in any area the scales tip out of balance. Over time this may cause the partner who is not getting fed to feel unappreciated or used and become hostile and angry.

Deposits are being made into the relationship account by one partner and withdrawals are being made by the other. The account becomes seriously overdrawn. In order to correct the problem, steady deposits will need to be made over a sustained period of time by the overdrawn partner to repay the account. A clear understanding of why the situation occurred and the depth of the remedy necessary to repair the damage is critical to avoid unrealistic expectations about the time needed to heal the damage. In beginning to make new deposits the overdrawn partner may expect their mate to be pleased and forgiving quickly. This may not be possible at first as trust rebuilds slowly. Over time, the overdrawn partner may begin to feel unappreciated for these new efforts and become hostile and angry as well.

Hostility and anger can lead one or both partners to begin to build walls within the relationship. Walls are built of bricks composed of bitterness, sarcasm, demeaning remarks and stony silence. When there is a lack of understanding and ineffective communication the relationship is being drained of life. Breathing slows and death may be near. If both partners are willing, life can be replenished. Making a commitment to understanding the underlying problem and learning the necessary skills to repair the damaged relationship is a tall order. It takes a promise of time, effort, patience and a great deal of work by both parties to salvage a severely damaged partnership. Counseling may be necessary for a relationship on the brink of crumbling. There can be hope for a bright future amidst the chaos and confusion if partners are open minded and teachable.

We use our tools in our daily lives to continue to breathe life into our relationship, make our daily deposits and keep life flowing between partners. A healthy partnership is a gift that can never be taken for granted. It is the goal we all yearn to achieve. When we have done the difficult work to obtain such a grand prize we never forget the mountain we climbed to grab the gold ring. We utilize our tools and make certain that we practice self care in our daily lives to protect our most precious asset. In this way we give ourselves and our partner the gift of support.

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