Reaching Beyond Yourself

This article is part of the Claudia Confidentially series.

Dear Claudia,

I need you to settle an argument for me. I’m excited about the Conscious Cleanse 14-Day Clean Eating and Yoga Challenge, and about generally getting my body in shape and looking great this summer in a smaller bathing suit. This is what’s motivating me. But my husband believes that I shouldn’t be dreaming about this, and taking one day at a time – he is always one of those people who says if you expect too much out of life, you get disappointed.

He thinks it’s better to be a realist, believe that things may or may not work, and then, if you’re lucky, you will be pleasantly surprised. I disagree. For me, optimism beats "reality" any day. I believe if you have a positive outlook, you will attract more and be happier. I don’t like to think of myself as an unrealistic dreamer – I like to think of myself as someone who has high expectations, optimism, and a good attitude. What’s your take?

::Cheryl

Dear Cheryl,

How painful it is, in marriage, to be on different pages. It must be such a downer for you to have to be confronted with "reality" when you are excited about something. And your husband must get so anxious hearing you dream and fearing the potential for disappointment or worse.

But there is no right or wrong. Some people are motivated by dreams, others by goals. And of course, some people are thwarted by unrealistic dreams and others, by unrealistic dampening of dreams. We all interpret reality differently and see it through the lens of our own personal experience.

There is no right or wrong way of seeing things in marriage – only what works.

Be In Relationship

Where does that leave you and your husband if there is no right or wrong? It leaves you in relationship.

I can’t tell you how hard it is to be in relationship when there is so much difference, though. We all long for our spouse to get on the same page as we are – that is the "one light" of marriage -- when two lights join as one.

We always fight to get the other person on our page. And that’s good. Through that arguing, we can come to understand how the other person sees things and what they need and want to hear.

Just make sure you don’t get stuck there. Couples get stuck in argument because they believe they have to change each other’s mind. You don’t.

Stand in Your Truth

You can stand in your own truth while hearing your husband’s anxiety. But explain to him that it brings you down. If he can know that his realism puts a damper on you, he can dampen his concerns.

And you can allow your husband to stand in his own truth and present a measured picture of your goals, reassuring him that you will be alright.

If you can argue enough to get to the essence of your effect on each other, it should become clearer and clearer how you need to help each other to feel comfortable, safe, inspired, and nurtured.

You will both know when you are standing in your own truth but not insisting on it. You will both feel when compassion wins out over trying to change the other person. And it will feel like love.

See Each Other From a Distance

Working with many couples and having my own marriage, I reflect a lot on why it’s so incredibly hard for us to give up the desire that our spouse will only be a constant source of comfort and pleasure for us.

It’s so hard to remember that marriage is work, and this person we are united with is separate, with their own needs, problems, and blind spots.

But when we do see our spouse from a distance and help them to see us from a distance, ironically that’s when we end up finding the comfort and support we need.

My friend Gabriele Chorney, a wonderful therapist, turned me on to a great little You Tube video this week with Victor Frankl who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning. I offer it to you here, dear readers, to inspire you to reach painfully beyond yourself and into relationship, where great things await you.

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