Relationships: I’m Open, You’re Closed

09_0025_Layer 76

Rianna and Joel consulted with me because they kept getting stuck in their relationship whenever there was a conflict. It wasn’t the issue itself that kept creating a problem, but how they were dealing with the issue.

Married for 7 years with three children, they loved each other deeply, and were both distressed when they were disconnected due to their inability to work through conflict.

“Rianna,” I said in our conjoint phone session, “I’d like to hear about the issue from your point of view.”

“Whenever we have a difference of opinion about something, I experience Joel getting angry and shutting down. I know I must be doing something to contribute to our communication problems, but I don’t know what I’m doing. I think I’m open and caring and then I feel just awful when he closes and shuts down.

“So you think you are open and he is closed?”

“Yes, that is my experience.”

“Joel, how do you see it?”

“I don’t experience Rianna open at all. It feels like she is trying to control me and just have things her way. She doesn’t listen to me or hear me.”

“Honey,” said Rianna, “I love you so much and I just want what is best for you and for us. I feel so sad when you think I’m trying to control you.”

This was the dynamic that was a problem – happening right here in the moment. Having worked with couples for so many years, I’m very tuned in to intent, and it was clear to me that Rianna’s intent in that moment was to talk Joel out of his feelings. Her intent to control was masked behind her soft voice.

“Joel, how are you feeling right now?”

“Frustrated. Pulled at. Manipulated. I want to shut down. She is not hearing me, not listening to me, but she is ACTING open.”

“Rianna, you said you wanted to know your end of the system between you and Joel. You said you thought you were open in these conflicts, but right now you are not open. Even though your voice is soft and you are telling Joel you love him, you are explaining and defending instead of trying to understand what he is saying to you. This makes him feel pulled on and controlled. See if you can move into your heart, with curiosity about why Joel feels pulled at and controlled by you right now.”

Rianna was silent for a moment. Then, from a truly open place, she said, “I just got it. I’ve been using my soft voice and caring words to convince him, but I haven’t been trying to really understand his point of view about things. Wow, I never saw this before! I think I’ve been doing this our whole marriage!”

“Joel, how are you feeling right now?”

“Relief!”

“Joel, see if you can tune into what you feel inside when Rianna doesn’t hear you and tries to talk you out of your feelings.”

“I feel…I don’t know what the word is. Sad.”

“Do you feel lonely? Does your heart ache?”

“Yes, that’s it!”

“Joel, most of us have never learned to manage these deep core feelings of loneliness and heartache. I’m sure you learned to withdraw early in your life as a way of managing these feelings.”

“Yes. My mom died when I was young and I think that is when I started to shut down.”

“So your challenge is to tune into the loneliness and heartache, and let Rianna know that this is what you are feeling when she tries to talk you out of your feelings. She loves you and wants to know how you feel and what she is doing that causes these feelings. Are you willing to practice speaking up rather than shutting down?”

“Yes. I really want to learn to do that. I don’t feel good when I shut down.”

I could feel Joel and Rianna smiling at each other, relieved to finally articulate the problem between them.

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process – featured on Oprah. Are you are ready to discover real love and intimacy? Click here for a FREE CD/DVD relationship offer, and visit our website at www.innerbonding.com for more articles and help. Phone Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Dr. Margaret Paul is the author/co-author of numerous best-selling books, including: Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You? Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By You?…The Workbook Healing Your Aloneness The Healing Your Aloneness Workbook Inner Bonding Do I Have To Give Up Me to Be Loved By My Kids? Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By God? Margaret holds a Ph.D. in psychology and is a relationship expert, public speaker, seminar leader, consultant, facilitator, and artist. She has appeared on many radio and TV shows, including the Oprah show. She has successfully worked with thousands of individuals, couples and business relationships and taught classes and seminars for over 42 years. Dr. Paul’s books have been distributed around the world and have been translated into many languages. After practicing traditional psychotherapy for 17 years, Margaret was discouraged by the results – both for her clients and herself. She had spent years trying to heal from her own dysfunctional and abusive background, but found herself still suffering with anxiety and relationship problems. She started to seek a process that works fast, deep, creates permanent change, loving relationships, inner peace, and joy. In 1984, she met and became friends with Dr. Erika Chopich, who had half the Inner Bonding® process, and Margaret had the other half! They have been evolving this incredibly powerful healing process for the last 26 years. Margaret works with individuals and couples throughout the world – on the phone, in workshops and 5-Day Intensives, and with members of Inner Bonding Village at http://www.innerbonding.com. She is able to access spiritual Guidance during her sessions, which enables her to work with people wherever they are in the world. Dr. Margaret has just completed a 12 year project call SelfQuest®, which is a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution software program. SelfQuest® is being donated to prisons and schools and sold to individuals, families, and businesses. You can read about SelfQuest® and see a short video of it at http://selfquest.com. In her spare time, Margaret loves to paint, make pottery, take photos, watch birds, read, ride and play with her horses, and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *