Can this relationship be saved?

 

Tim and Tara were in their 40s. They both had two children from previous marriages. And they were having a tremendous amount of conflict in their relationship. When I first started working with Tim, he was very anxious, losing weight, couldn't really concentrate, and was desperate to figure out what was either wrong in the relationship or whether or not he should walk away. 

Situations like Tim and Tara's fit a lot of people. It's very painful and difficult when your relationships are in turmoil.  You just feel desperate to get the other person to respond to your needs. You worry about losing the relationship and starting all over. For Tim, this was particularly difficult because of his past relationship traumas and his situation with his ex-wife, who had always been disengaged and disconnected from him. Additionally, there had been some repeated disloyalty.

As with most relationships, we are excited at the beginning about being with somebody and feeling wanted, loved, valued, and needed. Then there's this point where we really hit the reality of real life with a real person and we have to discover if we're going to do real love together or not.

My name is Alisa Goodwin Snell from the Lasting Love Podcast. I was a Marriage and Family Therapist for 17 years. I wrote books for singles in the middle of the time I was a Marriage and Family Therapist. Then I made the transition to just doing dating and relationship strategies and coaching. I created all of the videos, audios, books, and materials that are part of the Lasting Love Academy courses. Check out the LastingLoveAcademy.com, where you can take advantage of my 30 years of expertise and extensive Lasting Love Academy for as little as $27 a month. It just depends on the results you want to get. So welcome to the Lasting Love Podcast, where we feature real life, real people, and real love. 

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(Full transcription below)

(podcast transcription)
Tim and Tara were both in their 40s. They had two children from previous marriages each. And they were having a tremendous amount of conflict in their relationship. When I first started working with Tim, he was very anxious, losing weight, couldn't really concentrate, and was just desperate to figure out what was either wrong in the relationship or whether or not he should walk away or how to reach Tara. My name is Alisa Goodwin Snell, with the Lasting Love Podcast, where we focus on real life, real people, and real love. 

Situations like Tim and Tara's can fit for a lot of people. It's very painful and difficult when your relationships are in turmoil.  You just feel desperate to try to get the other person to respond to your needs. You worry about losing the relationship and starting all over. For Tim, this was particularly difficult because of his past relationship traumas and his situation with his ex-wife, who had always been fairly disengaged and disconnected from him. There had been some repeated disloyalty. So when he was in his relationship with Tara, he had developed a strong bond and attachment. 

As with most relationships, we are excited at the beginning about being with somebody and feeling wanted, loved, valued, and needed. Then there's this point where we really do hit the reality of real life, with a real person, and we have to discover if we're going to do real love together or not. So when I first met with Tim, my primary focus and concern was about getting his story, both his personal background and story, and her story and experience, as well and the interaction that they were having. 

For those of you who want to learn more about me, go to LastingLoveAcademy.com.  I spent 17 years as a Marriage and Family Therapist and began writing books for singles. That eventually translated into me transitioning from doing marriage counseling to just doing dating and relationships, strategies, and coaching. As a dating and relationship strategist, I'm primarily focused on skill development and helping people to understand how to be successful in dating and relationships and really understand the concepts and techniques that support lasting love. So when I met with Tim, I did not want to make the very common mistake of jumping in immediately and making her the bad guy. But I wanted to instead respect all of the energy, emotion, and investment both of them have put into the relationship and look for windows of opportunity to help them bridge the gap. Now, that's really difficult to do if I don't know her story, and I don't have access to her. So when I met with him for the first time, I went through his history, his pain, his attachment patterns, his family experiences. And understanding those experiences helped me to better understand his anxious attachment pattern in his relationships. He tended to be the one who would be over-responsible in a relationship, the peacemaker, the one who would try to fill in the gaps of what other people weren't doing by doing more to help compensate and to make everything work. As a result, unfortunately, that did make him more vulnerable to people who were irresponsible. But it is not enough for me to just identify what he's doing wrong and his patterns. Most importantly, I want to give her an opportunity to have a warm, clear, and direct message that helps both of them to succeed. When looking at his patterns of interaction, he, unfortunately, did not express his feelings and needs enough for me to feel confident that she had a clear idea of what it was he was needing from her. 

They were in a lot of conflicts. Things were quite painful for both of them. But the first thing that I needed to do was help him to get to a more secure place. Then I could engage her so that I could understand where she's coming from and hopefully bridge the gap between their fears and how their fears were affecting each other. I could then help them to act in a secure way with each other. 

But isn't that the big question? Like how do you interact with your partner when you're stressed, frustrated, afraid, and feel neglected, hurt, or angry? How do you act and interact with your partner in a way that shows more security and confidence in yourself? He really needed this because he was coming from such a fearful place, and he was acting needy. He felt like he was acting needy. And he felt like it wasn't very attractive. He wasn't eating well. He wasn't taking good care of himself. He really felt like he was falling apart. So there's a couple of things that I wanted to set in place for him. 

First and foremost, I wanted to know if there was an underlying anxiety issue. Again, because I'm not doing marriage and family therapy, I'm not doing mental health counseling, it's for the purpose of education and so that I have a full picture and know if I also need to refer him to a doctor or a counselor to address those issues. It was very obvious that he had an ongoing pattern of anxiety, which was part of what was contributing to this anxious attachment that he was experiencing in his relationships. 

So with that in mind, I could help get him established in having more of a faith-based view of himself. While he was learning to get more control over his anxiety. One of the first things I had him do was go to the Lasting Love Academy. Now, the good news with this is those of you who are listening and want to follow some of the same steps that he is taking. It's all within your reach. The Lasting Love Academy has online courses, with over 30 hours of audios,  videos,  articles, workbooks, and books that you can dive in and get started today and do some of the same things that I was having him do. And these programs can be as cost-effective as $27 a month. So check out our programs at the LastingLoveAcademy.com. 

So one of the first things that I had him do was go to the become Secure Content in the Lasting Love Academy, as a member, and begin to do chapter three, where he would focus in the workbook on identifying his fears and the truth that would help set him free. Some of those fears were a fear of rejection, of not being good enough, that people don't value him enough to invest in him and his feelings and needs. I identified some specific truths for him that I wanted him to repeat to himself. I also wanted him to start learning more about the Anxious and the Avoidant Attachment pattern, which is also in the Become Secure content, and to focus on what secure behaviors look like and to understand how he was acting in an anxious way. One of the core things that I had him focus on was this idea of, "She is not your only chance for happiness,"  "the kind of woman he was looking for would have empathy, self control, and personal responsibility," "they would be available and responsive and emotionally engaged with him," "he can be with somebody who offers those behaviors," and  "if she has those behaviors, she will respond well to him." 

So I had him go home and listen to these audios and work on the materials to get him in a better frame of mind. There was no way when he walked out the door that he was already in a better frame of mind. He needs to do more of the self-soothing and self-healing work that is in those materials to get in a better place. One of the most important things I wanted him to also do for my benefit was a worksheet that is focused on signs that your partner has empathy, self-control, and personal responsibility, and signs that they don't. I did not want to help him to get deeper into a relationship if there was not sufficient empathy, self-control, and personal responsibility. So the next week, he came back, and we went through the things that he had been learning, and he was in a much better place. He was calmer. He felt more secure. He felt more empowered. He felt like he was able to set a few more mental boundaries in place, and he could see his worth. He could see his value, what he had to offer, and that he would be okay. Depending on her choice, he would be okay. He felt like he had taken some of his power back, which is exactly where I wanted him to be. 

But now I needed to know how safe was he. So we went through those handouts on empathy, self-control, and personal responsibility. And it wasn't really clear to me that she was the bad guy. It wasn't clear that she was lacking in empathy, and he couldn't reach her. But it was clear that he needed to communicate his feelings and needs more. The problem that I found is, and this is really common with couples, my fears are interacting with your fears, and your fears are interacting with my fears. So we're not even hearing each other and each other's needs clearly.

Let me give you an example. If I have a fear of being controlled, and you have a fear of being mistreated, you may make a request of me, and it makes me feel controlled. And then I get frustrated because I fear being controlled. So I put up this wall, and I get defensive, and I get frustrated. And then when you see me put up this wall and you get defensive and frustrated. You think I don't care about your feelings and needs, and so you feel mistrust for me and that I don't care about your feelings and needs. So you start giving me more ultimatums that say, "Well, if you're going to treat me this way, I'm done. And then I feel like you're controlling, and you're not willing to find a solution that works for me, and we just keep missing each other.  

I was finding that this was possibly the case with this couple, with Tim and Tara, that there could be a lot of fears going on. Also, I was concerned that if I'm coaching him, but I'm not coaching her, she may feel like she's at a real disadvantage. I needed to hear her story, and I needed to know where she was coming from. So I invited her, and she was more than glad to come in, and I got to know her and her history. It became obvious to me very early on that she was very afraid of making mistakes in her parenting with her kids. She was really afraid of involving him in a way that was going to confuse her kids before they were really ready for it. And so she kept putting this wall up. And that was the reason why his needs weren't being met. It was coming from a place of fear about what was best for her kids, which reinforced for him, the fear that she's not listening to me and my feelings and needs. 

So as you're listening to this, you may be trying to relate it to you and some of the conflict you've had with people in your life. And you may be wondering, how is it that your fears complicated and their fears complicated, both of you from understanding each other? My hope is that as you continue to listen to these podcasts, you'll get a better sense of how to take responsibility for your part in the challenge, and how to help self-soothe and self-heal on your end; so that when you're coming into the situation, you can see their fears more clearly. You can communicate more effectively, what your needs are, and build that bridge. The challenges, and this was one of the things that I experienced live when interacting with them, is oftentimes they got hijacked chemically and emotionally hijacked by that limbic system of their brain where they're dealing with those fight and flight emotions. Those anxieties and chemicals make it feel very unsafe when they're interacting with someone else. They would get hijacked by these chemicals and emotions. They get so elevated and upset in the way that they were interacting with each other. They weren't hearing each other. They were just reacting to each other. 

So one of the first things I did when bringing them together and trying to help reach each other because this wasn't just about mediating. This was about reaching an understanding and empathizing with each other. One of the first things I did was help them to recognize when their heart rate was being elevated, when their blood pressure was being elevated, when they were getting too flooded to process and deal with the other person's feelings or thoughts, where they were cutting the other person off. 

This is a conversation we are going to be following up in other podcasts on and talking more about how do you do this self-healing for them. I could not do much work with them in getting in a different place when they were so hijacked with these negative emotions and fears. So I began talking with them about conflict-resolution,  the idea of empathizing, and their fears. But primarily, I wanted them to put positives in the relationship. 

We all, as a part of real life, real people, and real love, are going to have negatives in our lives and in our relationships. That is not the problem. And it's unavoidable. What is the problem is that we're not putting positives in and the negatives in their relationship we're totally overcoming the positives in their relationship. And they had control over putting positives in. So I asked them first to recognize how they're getting elevated, and what's their own individual responsibility, and helping them to calm down, so that they could use the frontal lobes of their brain to process what they're thinking, what they're feeling, and what they're hearing from their partner rather than being in this fear-based, anxious, overwhelmed place.  

I asked them to create a fun bucket list of things that they want to do. They do not need to focus on and solve the problems to have fun together. As a matter of fact, having fun together is one of the best ways that they can solve problems. Because a lot of times, when we put positives into a relationship, some of the more insignificant issues just go away. We're more patient with each other. We see the best in the other person. We're having fun. We're laughing. We are forgiving. We're healing. We're calming down. We start trusting the other person more. So putting positives in, and I mean five times more positives than the negatives, is the most effective, powerful cure, prevention, and healing thing they can do for their relationship. 

I really did not want to start diving into the problems and conflicts they were having until they had more fun in their relationship. Their conflict resolution was really quite bad. This was the reason why they contacted me in the beginning, was because their conflict was so bad. There's always hope. I was very optimistic that they would be able to get in a better place. I do want you to know that they were not extremely inappropriate in their conflict, but they were very elevated and in distress about their conflict. 

So tune in next week for more real life, real people, and real love stories. We will continue to go through this journey with them together, as you learn along with them the secrets to lasting love and how they create a lasting love relationship. Lasting love is really a paradigm shift. It's changing the way we think and interact with each other with a larger view in mind of what it really takes to create lasting love. Oftentimes, we're so close to the problem and so close to an issue that we don't do the foundational and most important things that are going to have the longest benefit. 

So please join me next week as we continue creating a lasting love model and a lasting love map for them to follow as they both solve the conflict issues that they're having, but also as they create a lifetime of love together. What helps them to be successful, and how can they repeat that over and over and over again? 

I know all of you that are listening, the reason you're listening is that you do want to believe that lasting love is possible, and you want the healing and connection that you've lost with other people at times. It's painful when we lose attachment, and you want to be able to see that you can succeed at lasting love. 

This is Alisa Goodwin Snell. You can take advantage of my 30 years of expertise and extensive Lasting Love Academy for as little as $27 a month. It just depends on the results you want to achieve. The Lasting Love Academy includes audios, videos, articles, books, and workbooks that will be sent to you, as well as one year of weekly podcasts that are exclusive to Lasting Love Academy members and help you to personalize the concepts of the Lasting Love Academy. And depending on the program you choose, you get access to me with Question and Answers Zoom conferences once to twice a month. 

Lasting love is within your reach. You just need the knowledge, power, and support you need to succeed. So check out our programs at the LastingLoveAcademy.com. We also offer an extensive needs assessment and lasting love action plan to help identify the barriers that are in your way so that you can overcome those challenges. We personalize your Lasting Love Journey and experience with extensive Strategy Sessions, giving you the feedback and support you need to get the results you're looking for. So check out our monthly memberships at the LastingLoveAcademy.com. We are here to help you, and we look forward to meeting your needs. You can learn how to succeed at lasting love at the LastingLoveAcademy.com 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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