By Rori Raye
The first four years of my now glorious 18-year marriage followed the same, not glorious, hugely painful pattern all my other relationships had. All the passion turned to tension and all the fun turned to bickering and then he withdrew. He went cold and got angry.
Suddenly, I realized I didn’t feel all that warmly towards him either. He thought I was being controlling, and I thought he wasn’t cutting it. We were both right.
Overfunctioning is doing too much. It’s doing more than your share, stepping in to help, stepping up to the rescue. It’s offering before being asked, giving instead of giving back. It’s trying to manage your life and get things done by playing all the parts in the relationship — both your part and his.
Overfunctioning is a deeply unsatisfying thing. Trying to play your man’s part in the relationship as well as yours (like I did) creates tension and conflict — and even if you could succeed at it, you wouldn’t like the results.
If you turn your man into a puppet you can manipulate, you’re not going to like him very much. You’ll have clean dishes and no garbage, and a Saturday night date at the restaurant and movie of your choice, but look — your man will be a puppet! Not much fun there.
So — do you deserve a red-blooded, real, strong-minded, secure, responsible, respectable, thoughtful, and caring man? Or do you only deserve a shadow of yourself?
Can you allow yourself to be loved by a man who can really love? Or can you only sign up with a man who makes it one-third the way to you and then expects you to pick up the slack?
By always picking up the slack — and I know it always seems like what needs doing is urgent and important — what you get by doing it all yourself is mostly your own feeling of resentment.
You don’t get the appreciation we all crave — you get coldness, anger, and withdrawal. It seems so unfair to put ourselves out, to be helpful, and then get what feels like a slap in the face. And yet, what we’re really getting is the safe place (unpleasant as it is) of avoiding finding out what our men are really made of.
By always cutting to the chase and doing everything ourselves — or directing how it’s done — we put up a wall between ourselves and our men that keeps us from getting what we all say we really want: The Big Ticket Items — Love, Affection, Romance, Trust, Harmony, Peace, the ability to Negotiate anything. (And I mean anything.)
By always stepping in, we guarantee that our lives with our men will always be about the small stuff — the nuts and bolts of life, and not the deep, soul-satisfying stuff that we come together in relationships and marriage to get. If what we want is soul connection, we have to stop Overfunctioning.
Since childhood, we’ve been labelled, taught, tricked, bribed and prodded, been threatened by all forms of authority, told what’s true and what isn’t, and disrespected for everything from our feelings to our thoughts.
Our relationships have been more about pleasing others than pleasing ourselves. More about struggling and using our wits to get what we need and what we think we want than discovering what it is we really want.
Many of us don’t even really believe we deserve a great relationship. Well, we do. We all do. And we don’t need to do anything to deserve it. We just deserve it. No earning required.
If we can stop doing so much and stop resenting doing so much, our relationship will get better instead of falling apart. Try it. What if you really didn’t have to watch how things are going, didn’t have to ask for everything you want, stopped overseeing the doing of things that are important to you even though you’ve already agreed that it’s his job, and could just relax and be?
It’s a little scary. Each of us has learned ways to keep the pain away. And those things we do and say that help keeps pain away also shut out love. As soon as we stop doing those things, and love comes in, sometimes we begin to feel things we’ve been avoiding feeling for a very long time.
For some of us, feeling loved is mixed up with feeling pain. We feel scared to be vulnerable. Sometimes it takes a while to begin to trust ourselves and our boundaries enough to really allow ourselves to be vulnerable — and enjoy both being vulnerable and experiencing the miraculous effect our vulnerability has on our men.
So take it slow. Baby steps is the way to go. Make a list of all the things you do in the household, on a date, and in a relationship, and pick three things that seem easy to let go of. And then stop doing them. Just stop.
It might get a little messy. At first he may get a bit bent out of shape that you’re not on him, at him, throwing love and attention at him or doing for him all the time — but secretly, he’ll start feeling seriously better about your relationship. And you’ll feel seriously better, too, when he starts giving you (without you’re even asking) what you really want — attention, affection, sweetness, the doing of household chores.
Remember, it’s about the Big Ticket items. Affection. Great sex. Harmony. Being able to negotiate. Fun. Peace. Trust. Emotional safety.
Keep your eye on the prize: Stop giving all your energy to managing your man and everything in your daily lives, and start using it to love yourself first.
In her packed Los Angeles workshops, relationship coach, author, speaker and seminar leader Rori Gwynne teaches women the completely original, controversial, simple-to-do techniques for communication, confidence, and connecting with men that she used to turn her own now-glorious eighteen-year marriage around. Visit Rori at http://www.CoachRori.com to get free Tip Sheets, to sign up for the free, powerful CoachRori Newsletter, and to see how Rori can help you Turn the Relationship You Have Into the Relationship You Want.
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