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by Nathan Chua
I am not one to say that I have easy answers to all of life’s problems. I hope the title does not mislead you into thinking that there are only two things that you need, to have a better relationship. Please note these are essential, but not the sole needs of every couple, who would each have their own set of unique circumstances affecting them. At times, their struggles concern other matters such as responsibility, physical intimacy, child-rearing, money management or trust. For this blog post however, I will focus on two deficits that I find common among couples that I meet. Let’s call them the Two C’s of Loving Relationships.
First C is for Connection.
In a blaming and shaming culture, it is easy to fall into adopting a false stance, or a false self. We essentially try to hide who we are, in the face of the shame that we experienced, most often early in life. To minimize emotional pain, we dig deep into our comfort zones, where the need to express some of our more vulnerable emotions, is held in abeyance. We therefore lose that inherent ability to show our emotions as they truly are.
This inability to show authentic emotions is connected to how couples feel toward each other. Couples only see the angry side of each other. I often wonder how a weeping and distressed individual that I see in my office, could be treated so harshly by the other. It is rather simply because this helpless and vulnerable state, is not what is normally displayed at home. Home has become unsafe. The relationship is no longer as real as it had been when it was just beginning. The result is each partner just expecting the worse out of the other, as they only see their angry and resentful selves, with no reason to believe that change can come anytime soon. Connection is lost and will be hard to come by if vulnerable emotions are kept hidden.
Second C is for Compassion.
This should not be confused with guilt or pity. Compassion is a genuine concern for the welfare of the other. Caring enough for your partner, that the last thing you’d like to see, is witnessing him or her in deep pain and sorrow. Guilt on the other hand, is a focus on the self and not on the other, while pity is too distant, and denigrates the dignity of the other. Without compassion for the offended person, it will be hard to connect and heal the inevitable emotional wounds, that are bound to be inflicted in all close relationships. Compassion is the fuel that feeds forgiveness, and the glue that connects our souls.
This presentation contains images that were used under a Creative Commons License. Click here to see the full list of images and attributions: https://app.contentsamurai.com/cc/56583
by Nathan Chua
We often hear from different sources how cases of infidelity have risen in recent times. In the Philippines, there is the added pressure for couples living in distant locations around the world. Millions of Filipino families fight loneliness and leave loved ones behind for contractual work overseas.
To start off, it is critical to know the motivations behind indiscretions that can happen without warning. In my experience, affairs are not consciously pursued by the erring party. Often, people just find themselves caught up in situations when their commitments to their partners are at a low point, while they happen to meet someone interesting, or more often, someone interested.
The manner of discovery can also play a role. In our technological world, it is much easier for people to get firsthand accounts of flirtatious exchanges through any of the various social media networks. They witness the whole affair from its inception, which could have been unlikely if the technology were not available.
An affair or affairs will alter the roles that each party plays in the relationship. Upon discovery or confession, the offended party will naturally feel a mix of emotions. There will be anger, hurt, betrayal and suspicion. The erring party on the other hand, will primarily experience guilt and shame. The couple then assumes roles of one being an inquisitor, and the other, a defender.
The frequent result is a chase. The hurt party will be out for revenge and begin wanting to ask a barrage of questions to appease agitated and painful feelings. In other words, the offended party is on the attack mode. The transgressor however, would want nothing less than to put it all behind them. There’s confusion as to why one sincere and heartfelt apology does not seem enough. The transgressor will be in escape mode.
There goes the dance of a relationship in terrible distress at the moment that the affair is unraveled. They never seem to meet some place where they can discuss matters rationally and without major altercations. The affair is now taking its toll on the relationship, making it feel like the couple is slowly drifting towards indifference, and ultimately an end.
The key here is knowing the true needs of each one in the aftermath of an affair. The aggrieved party needs above all else, reassurance that the whole misstep is temporary, and would not linger any longer. What they crave for are words of assurance and empathy towards their searing pain.
For the offending party, however, his or her needs may have to be put on hold. With intervention and a display of genuine contriteness, he or she may eventually get the chance to air grievances which could have contributed to the misstep.
In the immediate aftermath of the discovery, there is an imbalance in the relationship. The aggrieved party would tend to take moral ascendancy. There is a one up one down relationship. The goal of therapy is to get them back to a relationship where they see themselves on equal footing. For a relationship that has lasted for so long, is still certainly worth another try.