Monday, October 29, 2007

Take Time to Enjoy!

Okay, so now you have had the discussion, and guess what, he feels the same as you do, or at least he is on his way to feeling as you do. What now? First of all, take some time to enjoy where you are. When you started this whole adventure you were not sure how to love yourself, let alone love someone else. Now, you have gone through a huge transformation. Let's look again at the steps along the way.

  1. You worked on yourself to figure out why you chose the kind of partners that you had in the past.
  2. You really began to look at who you were, and spent some time loving yourself completely.
  3. You made lists of what you wanted in a mate, and you sorted that list into what was really important for you to be in a relationship with someone.
  4. You made yourself as authentic, open, and available as possible.
  5. You let your friends, relatives, and co-workers know that you were single and looking for dating opportunities.
  6. You got out there, and tried dating, and didn't write off the types of men you had in the past, and you had some fun while you were at it.
  7. When you met someone you were interested in, you made sure that they had many of the qualities you were looking for, and if they had a lot of qualities you didn't want, you let them go.
  8. You stayed authentic to who you are throughout all of this, and you allowed some mystery in your romantic life.
  9. You gave it time to let the relationship unfold, rather than forcing it into your time schedule or agenda.
  10. You decided when the time was right to move forward in the relationship, and you allowed your partner into you heart, and let him know where you wanted to go.
  11. You prepared yourself for the outcome of this discussion, by being ready to accept his hopes for the relationship, and know that you would be strong no matter what the outcome.

And now you are ready to more forward and begin the relationship of your life. What next? The next step is called "acting as if", and this step is used to attract and build what you want.

First however, I want you to take this next week to reflect back on how far you have come, and enjoy it all. This is your chance!


Monday, October 22, 2007

The Discussion

I don't know about you but I grew up in a dysfunctional family. I have a feeling I am not the only one! As a result of this I have a hard time bringing up topics with people I care about that might be met with any kind of strong emotional response. In my last post I wrote about talking with your partner. In this post I want to give you an idea of a sample script for this discussion. This script is a good tool to use whenever you are getting ready to talk with anyone about a subject that can be scary or when you are bringing up an emotional or difficult issue.

The first thing to do when you need to talk with your partner, is spend some time really considering what you want out of the discussion. In letting your partner know about your End Game, you should already be fairly clear about what that is for you. The second step in the process is to find a time to talk, and to ask your partner to be a part of the process. This can be difficult, as just about every man I know, wants to run when they hear the words, "I think we need to talk". What I did, was wait until we were alone together in a comfortable place, and I knew we had time to discuss things. Then I said to my partner, "I'd really like to share some ideas with you, is this a good time to talk?" This phrase is a little less likely to provoke flight than the first one. Secondly, if they say that it is not a good time to talk, you can say, "I understand, when would be a good time?" Once you have agreed upon a time, than let the subject go until then.

When presenting something like an end game, I like to start the discussion by letting my partner know how important they are to me, and that my goal is to see our relationship grow over time. You can say something like this, "I want you to know that our relationship is very important to me, and I love you more all the time. I'm really interested in hearing your goals, plans, and hopes for this relationship." Use your own words, not mine, but something to let them know that you aren't wanting to point out where things aren't right, and that you really want to hear what they have to say. Sometimes it is hard to get your partner to talk much about his ideas. A phrase that I found that works is "Tell me more". If you are genuinely interested in what they have to say, they will be more willing to talk.

As I mentioned in a previous post, when I had this discussion with my now husband, he was clear that he wanted us to at least merge households, but the "M" word did not come up. This was where I needed to step out of my comfort zone and be clear about what I wanted. This is much easier when you have spent the time really working on yourself to be sure of your needs. When their idea of the future is different than yours a good way to begin talking is something like, "I too, would really like us to be able to come home to each other every day, but my idea involved a larger committment than moving in together, can we explore that idea?" or "It makes me happy that you want to get married and have kids, I am not sure that is where I am yet, can we discuss interim ideas?" Whatever their response, you will get farther by acknowledging their hopes and dreams, and then suggesting more exploration of the possibilities than just going straight into any "my way or the highway" discussions.

You and your partner may have a clear understanding of where your relationship is heading after that first discussion, and you may not, until much later on. Whatever the outcome, it is important that you keep being open and willing to see what the universe brings. Sometimes, we think we know exactly what we want and by being open and willing to share with someone, we end up with something far different and much better.

Take care,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Way Forward

Once you are clear on your End Game, it is important to share it with your partner. Again, I am assuming that this is a relationship that has been building for some time, and not brand new. Even if you know before you ever date someone that your long term goal is marriage and children, it is not a good idea to bring this up on the first date!! Or second or even the tenth. Building a relationship takes time and needs to be somewhat free flowing. Otherwise you may find that the relationship becomes derailed by expectations about where it is going.

However, once you have a built a relationship and figured out your End Game, it is good to discuss this with your partner. I know this can feel risky, and is often difficult to bring up. So there is another step before the discussion. This step is being ready for what your partners End Game might be. Sometimes you already have a good idea from talking and getting to know each other what your goals in life are. Still you might want a committed long term relationship and he may want to continue a more open relationship, or maybe just the opposite. One of the things I found helpful was to consider what I would do if my choices for the future were completely different than my partner's. I was clear that when we talked, I wasn't at the point where I wanted to make any sort of ultimatum.

In fact, let's talk for a minute about ultimatums. When I was struggling in a previous relationship a wonderful woman I knew, who had been married for over twenty years told me to never make ultimatums in relationships unless I was absolutely prepared to follow through with the consequences. This was great advice. I told my partner at the time, that I wasn't going to make an ultimatum to him, unless I absolutely was sure I meant it. And considering where the relationship was headed (straight down the toilet!), he knew I was talking about splitting up. He agreed that if and when I came to the decision, he would willingly leave because he knew I meant it. This was a lot better way to do things, then when I would get frustrated and ask him to leave and then give in and take him back later!!

So when I was ready to present my End Game to my partner, I really thought long and hard about what I wanted, and what I would do if his future was compatible with mine, and what I would do if it was not. When I did discuss the future with him, I was clear about what I wanted, and I was also clear that if he wasn't thinking along the same lines, that I would be just fine. I also let him know that I was still wanting to continue our relationship as it was, until such a time as we decided either together or individually that it was no longer working for us. Quiet authority works better than ultimatums anytime!

Next time I will talk about how to script this discussion for those of you who have never done anything like this. It can help to have a clear plan before this big step.


Monday, October 8, 2007

The End Game

Once you have met someone who you are attracted to, and want to have a long term relationship with, it is good to consider what your End Game is. What I mean by this is what are your hopes and goals for the future. Not everyone wants to end up married, or monogamous for that matter. Look at the relationship of Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, they have chosen as their End Game to be who they are as individuals and not get married, but to enjoy each other as long as they want.

For me, the End Game I wanted was marriage. I wanted the security, monogamy, and commitment of matrimony. When I started getting to this point in my relationship, I wanted to be clear of what I wanted. My past history had shown me that if I wasn't clear, I might not get anything near what I wanted. (I also want to say that I had been married in the past, but to people who were definitely did not have what I wanted in a relationship, so once I found someone with the right qualities, I knew I would do whatever I could to make it work.)

I had been in a couple of long term (if you consider four or five years long) relationships prior to meeting my husband. In both of these relationships, I had gone into them without considering the End Game. I dated for a period of time, then we moved in together, and then after around four years we split up. One of the things I found was that it was easy for us to split up when we weren't married, and that marriage was hard to commit to when you had every thing but the marriage certificate already.

When I started looking at the End Game this time, I knew that I did not want to live with my partner without the commitment of marriage. I did not want to break up with him, if he wasn't ready for that commitment yet, but we would need to keep our home lives separate, and keep dating, until we either decided to make that commitment, or decided to move on. When we had been dating for a couple of years, and skirted the issue of where the relationship was going a few times, I decided it was time to let my partner know what my hopes for the future were. Now, I know that many women feel that this is up to the man to do, but many men and especially nice guys often need the subject broached for them.

So I asked him is we could talk about our future, and he brought up the need for us to live in the same place. At that point, as difficult as it was I let him know where I stood. I let him know I loved him and wanted to be with him, but did not want to live with him without the commitment of marriage. Thankfully, my partner was happy that I wanted that kind of commitment, and we got engaged about four months later.

So your assignment this week is to consider your End Game. Is marriage what you want, or would you prefer something more free flowing? Do you see yourselves living in the same house or staying in separate residences? Are there children in your future, or are you happier with your Labrador retriever? What does your relationship look like in five years, ten years, twenty years? Begin taking a few minutes a day to visualize the possibilities until you have an idea of where you want to go, and next time we will talk about making it happen.