For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation — Rainer Maria Rilke

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How is it that something so intrinsic to our basic nature-loving another person — should be so difficult, so challenging? Given the fact that the sustainability and perpetuation of the species are dependent upon our willingness and ability to love and provide care for one another, it seems reasonable to expect that this process should be effortless and easy.

For many, if not most of us, however, relationships are anything but that. …


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Linda: Corporate marriage syndrome occurs when the company requires allegiance to the corporation over and above the employee’s time and energy devoted to family. Lucia was in one of these marriages for five years, and although she did not know that how she was living at that time had a name, she certainly knew the experience intimately. Corporate marriage syndrome eroded the well-being of her partnership with her husband and fragmented their family. This couple came just a hair away from divorce.

The company head was a demanding taskmaster. In an unwritten code, all of the employees in the department were required to work eighty-hour weeks, which included travel time to commute to major cities around the country. Everyone worked these excessive hours because they all knew that there were numerous candidates waiting in line for their position if they didn’t tow the line. …


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Scene: Harry is in the kitchen fixing himself a drink. Pricilla comes home, kicks off her shoes, plops down on a chair, and says, “Phew; what a day.”

Harry: “You look exhausted.”

Pricilla: “Exhausted is an understatement. I’ve been straight out since 6:30 a.m. when I got an emergency call from my East Coast client.”

Harry: “Wow, let me pour you a drink. We have the whole weekend spread out before us to relax and enjoy.”

Pricilla: “Yeah, I can use one.”

Harry: “What do you mean?”

Pricilla: “I had to postpone the team meeting we were supposed to have today because Fred had a conflict.” …


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Yes, it can be a real problem to be bored with one’s spouse. It’s a frequently voiced complaint that therapists hear from their clients. Fortunately, this condition can usually be easily fixed. Unfortunately, the source of the problem is generally in the last place that you want to look. That would be at yourself. Sometimes the very things that originally attracted us to our partner, those wonderful qualities of predictability or stability, or solidity or dependability or reliability they bring into our fragmented and tumultuous life in time become the source of our greatest irritation. What at one point in a relationship feels like security, at another feels oppressively boring. Your partner probably hasn’t changed, and neither have you. …


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Few people would argue with the idea that honesty is the best policy. Policies, however, are not always adhered to, even those that we believe in and support. Regardless of how much we may desire to live a life of integrity in which we “walk the talk” and live in accordance with our inner principles, it’s likely that there will be times that we miss the mark. Nobody’s perfect. Every relationship needs to have some room for slippage.

Great relationships require a high level of integrity in order to thrive. When a violation of trust occurs, large or small, it’s important to examine the conditions that contributed to the situation and to engage in a healing process that will restore trust and goodwill to the relationship. …


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If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, “If I knew that about him (or her) before we got married, I wouldn’t have been so quick to go ahead with the wedding”, or something to that effect, I wouldn’t necessarily be rich, but you probably get the point.

There are a lot of reasons why we intentionally choose not to ask questions of our prospective life-partner that we would like to have answers to, including fear of being perceived as being intrusive, or pushy, or disrespectful, or demanding, or inappropriate, or just too much.

And yet, engaging in the dialogue that can ensue from these questions can be the very thing that we need to do in order to support the health and vitality of our relationship and to minimize the likelihood of being “broadsided” by some very unsettling revelations further down the road. …


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Emotional intimacy is a foundational aspect of all great relationships. The word “intimacy” refers to the experience of being fully seen and comes from the Latin “intimus” meaning innermost. When we share this experience with another, we feel whole, complete, and at one with the world. Yet we often fear that which we most desire, and in the case of emotional intimacy this is all too often the case. Intimacy requires an unmasking of our public image and a disarming of the defenses that we normally utilize to protect ourselves from the vulnerability that exposes us to the possibility of pain, rejection, or hurt feelings. This desire to experience the feelings of deep connectedness is often the primary motivator for engagement in romantic relationships. …


A Surprising Finding about Romance

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Linda: Sandra Murray, professor at State University of New York in Buffalo, researched the strength of illusion in romantic couples.

Her inventory asked both married and dating couples to rate themselves, their actual partner, and an imaginary partner on both strengths and faults. Then Murray asked friends to provide ratings on the strengths of each member of that couple.

The findings revealed a discrepancy between what was perceived by the friends and what was reported by the romantic partner. The partner was far more likely to define the characteristics as highly positive.

Here are some…


Take it easy. Chill out. Relax. Cool down. Don’t stress out. Lighten up. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s not a big deal.

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When I didn’t keep my word regarding something that I told my wife I would do, I used to say these things when I didn’t want to hear her complaints. …


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Since the perpetuation of the species is the force that drives the longing for connection, it seems that we’d be wired to get along with each other with ease and pleasure, but for seemingly large numbers of us, that doesn’t seem to be the case, especially when it comes to committed partnerships.

The abbreviated answer to this perplexing question requires us to consider the fact that we live in a culture that continually encourages us to fulfill two seemingly contradictory mandates. The first is to accept, honor, and embody your “true self”. This message shows up throughout popular culture in the form of slogans, advertising jingles, song titles, and even army recruitment posters. We are urged to “Be all that you can be!” “Be true to you,” “Love yourself”, “Be authentic” “Be number one in your own life!” …

About

Linda & Charlie Bloom

Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW, married since 1972, are experts in the field of relationships and have published four successful books. bloomwork.com

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