Sunday, March 28, 2010

$9 Million Awarded to Betrayed Partner From Paramour

Is it an effective remedy to award monetary damages from the paramour to the betrayed partner?

People betray others in relationships. This is a fact that is not new to mankind. Betrayal is not limited to adultery... there are plenty of ways to betray one's partner. This particular monetary award is about adultery.

When we seek out counseling we almost never talk about our own involvement in the betrayal. We are obsessed with blame and anguish. It is expected and understandable... we are suffering with extreme levels of pain and loss.

As time passes and the hurt begins to heal, our ability to see our own piece in the puzzle, no matter how tiny, begins to clarify. It is at this point that we start to have the ability to let go of the pain and loss and true healing can begin.

What happens when we never let go of the pain and loss? We stay angry. Over time that anger hardens into bitterness and resentment. Bitter resentful people don't move on from living in the past. We don't enjoy the present because we are too busy embracing our righteous path of constantly remembering how we were wronged.

One who pursues this type of monetary reward is still living with their focus in the past. There may be a real need for funds... that is not the issue. There are many ways to get the funds that have been awarded and not paid via family court routes. This award is about punishment and retribution.

My question is... when this case is over and the betrayed partner has collected whatever they get of the $9 Million...
Will they then live in the present?
Will they then feel happy?
Will they then be a whole person?

I think not... they will still feel the bitterness and resentment that they have chosen to focus on for so long... because money can't fix that.

Money is a tool. It can be used for constructive or destructive purposes.
It has no intrinsic value of it's own.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Kind of Relationship Do I Have?

What kind of relationship do I have? There are different types of attachments that partners tend toward in relationships.

Dependent: partners may become enmeshed within the relationship and with one another, losing their individuality in the process and making their lives smaller. Dependent partners bring little new life to the relationship and may gradually become like a sponge, absorbing energy and vitality from the relationship and giving little in return. Dependent partners may be frightened of individual growth and may try to prevent it within themselves and their partner, thereby suffocating both their partner and the relationship in the process.

Independent: partners may not form attachments properly in independent relationships... they may live separate lives focused mainly on their own pursuits, interests and achievements. The relationship may be for status, financial reasons, or to have the correct partner for social functions. Rarely is there a significant amount of emotional intimacy between the two. The relationship may not foster attachment and may dissolve if one of the partners becomes emotionally involved with another party.

Codependent: the partnership may be unbalanced... with one of the partners needs dominating the relationship and the other partner functioning as one who services the needs of the other. Often times the partner who services feels used and alone, frequently complaining of being ignored, unheard and not validated. The partner being serviced may be completely unaware that there is any problem, as they may tend to be self absorbed. These relationships may eventually become hotbeds of anger and frustration. Partners may burn out due to excessive care taking or a build up of resentment and bitterness.

Interdependent: partners are committed to one another, yet are each others cheerleaders for individual growth and exploration. Individuation is not seen as a threat, but as an expression of growth necessary for both the individuals and the partnership to remain healthy and balanced. Each of the partners brings their individual growth back to the partnership, enriching it in the process. These partnerships may be quite long lasting and healthy, as the partners are encouraged to pursue their own interests and lives adding to the value of the relationship.

What type of relationship do you have?

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's Okay for Me to Have Needs Too?

My partner seems to forget special occasions... I feel badly yet I don't say anything about it. Should I mention it... or is it unimportant? I feel appreciated and loved all the rest of the days... am I being petty? What should I do?

We can be applauded for handling forgetfulness in a classy way. We save our partner from feeling shamed by not making a fuss when an occasion is accidentally forgotten. It is all right to forget occasionally. However, if forgetting becomes a pattern in a relationship, there is generally more going on than just an accidental lapse with regard to a date or event.

It is not uncommon to have a partner who forgets occasions. We all get the same excuses... I forgot... I didn't have time... I was busy with xyz... The truth is that we all have the same twenty four hours each day. What we do with that time is a display of what we value.

We may go through many, many occasions with us being the one to let it go until we realize that we also have needs and that it's okay to ask to have those needs met. Yes, our partner is wonderful and shows love every day in many different ways. If this one way is important to us - and it may be - then why should we discount ourselves? Our partner enjoys receiving recognition on important occasions... why not us too?

After a pattern of forgetting develops, we can have a chat with our partner. We can share that we would prefer a blank card with a picture that means something to us both... something from the heart written inside... rather than an elaborate gift. Remembrances don't have to be expensive or complex... they allow us to feel valued on days that are special to us.

Sharing how important this is to us and being vulnerable, we allow our partner to feel safe enough to share whatever the underlying issue may be. After listening and empathizing, we reassure our partner... whatever efforts they can make... whatever is on their heart... they can feel comfortable acknowledging occasions... knowing that their efforts will be appreciated.

It can work out well for both parties. We can learn to communicate our needs and in the process both we and our partner get validated. When a partner is reluctant to do something simple - like acknowledging an occasion - there is usually a deeper issue at the heart of the resistance. Eventually as partners feel safe with one another, they will share their fears and reluctance, thereby overcoming the obstacles keeping them from intimacy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why Don't I Feel For My Partner Any Longer?

What happened to the feelings we used to have for one another in our relationship? Where did they go? Can we get back to a place where we can feel that way again?

We must try to understand that our feelings didn't just vanish overnight. They faded away a little at a time over the years as we and our partner built walls not bridges, with the communications we shared. Those walls are made of bricks crafted of disappointment, bitterness, resentments, hurts, loss, pain, rejection and uncertainty.

Since it took years to create those walls we cannot expect them to come down quickly. The mortar that holds those bricks together is formed from defense mechanisms that each of us have learned during our time together to protect ourselves from further pain and loss.

The reason we don't "feel anything" for our partner right now, is because we have experienced so much pain, loss and disappointment... that our defense mechanisms have sprung up to protect us... in this way we don't feel anything at all... we're numb.

It's easier to be numb than to feel pain. But remember, numb means we don't feel joy (or love) either. In order to begin to "feel" for our partner again, we are going to have to experience the backlog of frozen feelings that we have been avoiding through being numb. Once we have cleared through all that frozen pain, loss, disappointment and whatever else is in there... quite a lot of work... we will begin to experience our emotions once again.

This is not a task for the faint hearted. Facing all the "stuff" that we have denied and allowed our defenses to freeze will be a courageous experience like none other we have undertaken in our adult life.

BUT... it is a journey worth every ounce of effort. It will bring us to a place of peace unlike anything we have ever experienced. Good luck to each of us as we embark on our journey... and all our hopes that we find ourselves through this process of recovery.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Do Selfish People Ever Feel Remorse?

Do selfish people ever really feel remorse? Do they ever realize all the pain and heartache they have caused with their choices?

By definition of the term... selfish person... no... because truly selfish people only think about themselves and not others. But in real life people aren't dictionary definitions. We aren't black and white, but shades of grey.

The underlying question is... does this person think only about themselves and their needs and wants all the time?

In reality we all may go through a period of selfishness... or a time when our actions appear selfish. If we are making excuses, then we are already feeling remorse, as evidenced by the great amount of energy expended in rationalizing our behaviors. We may or may not be willing to talk about our feelings of remorse, but that doesn't mean we don't have them. We may instead focus on denial (of our remorseful feelings) or blame (it's all your fault that this happened and now we feel badly because of you).

Another way to consider it might be... remorse may not necessarily be a feeling with regard to another person, but a feeling regarding an action performed. We may think about ourselves and our needs and wants, but not think highly of ourselves with regard to the choices we have made.

No matter who we are, eventually we reaches a point where our selfish actions overcome any lack of conscience or rationalization mustered. Something happens that will be the straw... that will hit like a bomb shell... and suddenly we are exposed to the truth. It is a moment of great pain. Some folks retreat into denial and blame at that time... some begin to process their actions and make amends. Each person is unique and their reactions and feelings are unique as well.

Yet it can be the beginning of personal growth. We finally see ourselves as we are, not as we wish to be. The blanket of denial is thrown off and we can no longer pretend. The pain may be acute... but the end result is that we become a more aware, balanced person. Capable of forgiveness, compassion and accountability... and isn't that the most important piece of all?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Can I Forgive Myself?

Why is it so much harder to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others? That is because we hold ourselves to a much higher standard than we do other people. Take a moment when all is quiet and listen to our self talk... all the shoulds, the nevers and the always... we wouldn't talk like that to our children, our parents or our friends... but we all talk that way to ourselves.

The hardest part about forgiving ourselves is accepting that we are just like everyone else... we make mistakes, we screw up, we do stupid things that we regret. But because we hold ourselves to a higher standard in our minds, we somehow believe that we are capable of more... and we expect more of ourselves. So when we don't perform up to our own expectations we tend to crucify ourselves.

The hardest part about life is accepting reality when we don't like it. This is a part of reality we definately don't like... we aren't perfect, we never will be... we aren't supposed to be... that keeps us humble. When we accept that we are as flawed as others, and we bring that truth into our inner selves as a part of us... then we can begin to forgive ourselves.

Our kids may have been hurt by what they experienced as we made mistakes... mine certainly was... but he learned valuable lessons from me in the process... no one is perfect... not me, not his Dad and not him. He can accept that failure is a part of life and that when we get knocked down we get up and try again. That is an invaluable lesson... painful? Yes. But invaluable.

Our kids will learn that parents are human, they make mistakes and in the process there is pain. But, they will be able to accept that failure is an integral part of life to be expected and overcome with effort. They will see our efforts at rebuilding ourselves and their lives as a positive result.

Making mistakes and learning to forgive ourselves is all a part of being human... and isn't that the whole point?