When the Elastic gives...
I am sitting across from a counsellor explaining how at the moment, I see my partner as if he is standing at the other side of the Grand Canyon and I am looking at him through the wrong end of binoculars.
It’s early 2014, and an effort to save our marriage. I continue, using another analogy, describing how I think of the connection between our hearts as a length of elastic. At the beginning of our relationship, that elastic was new and firm, but supple, flexible, stretchy. Throughout our relationship, whenever my partner angered, hurt, or disappointed me, the elastic would stretch. At first, the elastic quickly bounced back to its original length, but, over time, the rebounds slowed and the elastic gradually deteriorated into a stressed, crumbled, brittle rope, ending its life like the sad shapeless, overworn top of old undies.
I recently read Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, and she discusses an extract from an article by John Gottman; a relationships researcher and expert. He describes how trust in relationships is built in very small moments. In every interaction with a partner, there is an opportunity, a choice to connect or disconnect with your partner. He explains this by telling a story about an evening at home, looking forward to getting into bed and reading the end of a book that he really wanted to finish. As he was about to get into bed, he walked past the bathroom and saw the reflection of his wife’s face in the mirror. She looked sad. He now had a choice: sneak away, pretend he hadn’t seen what he had seen, slide into bed and finish the book or go into the bathroom and ask her why she was sad. He chose to make the decision that would build trust, went into the bathroom, took the brush from her hand and asked her what was wrong. It’s so simple. But, it’s a choice.
What happens when we make the choice to not make that decision, to see but not see, to walk away and finish the book we so want to finish? To make the choice to not take the opportunity to build trust? In my mind, it doesn’t leave the relationship the same, it has an equal and opposite effect. I agree with Brene Brown; that choice is a betrayal. It may seem like a small betrayal, but it still is. It erodes the trust level. And here is where the danger lies. The small moments, seemingly small choices that can either build trust or erode it have a massive effect in our relationships. If the choices are mostly to not take the opportunity to build trust; it’s making the decision to not care, to not devote time and effort to the relationship, to disconnect, to disengage, to stretch the elastic, to erode the trust and relationship until you are looking at your partner from across the Grand Canyon.
So where are you in your relationship? Is your elastic getting just a little bit slow to bounce back? Is it getting loose and frayed? If so, you need another analogy – you need hot pizza!! See you at the next Hot Pizza Workshop!
Are you stretching your partners elastic?? If so, remember, it’s the little choices that matter. And you also need one more analogy, you need to give your partner more hot pizza!! See you at the next Hot Pizza workshop!