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Sunday
Nov112012

Settling In and Peeling Away at the Onion

As you settle into couplehood, a dynamic begins to occur as you define who you are as a couple and get to know who you are as individuals. The need for space and autonomy set in—you want to re-establish your individuality and power that was temporarily lost in the excitement of phase one. On the other hand, the need for security and trust increases as you become aware of your deep attachment to your significant other. A dance begins that vacillates between seeking each other and seeking yourself—holding on your connection with each other while maintaining a sense of power and control. How this dance occurs depends on the two individuals involved.

So what does an onion have to do with this? As you begin to experience each other in more intimate and revealing ways, you begin to peel away at the layers—you reveal your respective deepest wounds and insecurities, you feel the impact of each other’s defense mechanisms, and you see each other’s true character in motion. This is the core of phase two. This is where the real work begins. This is when you make choices that will determine the outcome of the relationship, or at the very least, its trajectory.

Let me share an example.

John and Linda have been dating for over a year and have been living together for a few months. They have created a fairly good and solid foundation from which to get to know each other more profoundly. In general, their first year together was good. And while they have had some challenges in negotiating living together, for the most part the issues have been small and manageable. 

If you were to ask John what he thought of Linda 9 months ago, he would describe her as friendly, passionate, and kind—pretty reasonable and someone who did not complain too much. Overall, he felt good around her and felt appreciated and loved.    

If you were to ask Linda what she thought of John 9 months ago, she would describe him as easy-going, very attentive, affectionate, and emotionally available. Overall, she felt good around him and felt supported and loved.

Some time has passed and they have now peeled away some layers. Here is what they have discovered.

John sees Linda as too emotional and outspoken. He takes her complaints to heart and feels unappreciated and criticized. He feels he can do no right and that she will pounce on him any time he says or does the wrong thing. He sees her insecurities and doesn’t understand why she feels the way she does about certain things, especially things about him.

Linda sees John as passive aggressive rather than easy going. She feels criticized and unappreciated and never knows when his unexpressed anger will surface. She feels like he doesn’t understand her and furthermore, is uninterested in doing so. She experiences his insecurities and fears in a way that impacts their relationship negatively, and believes he is more selfish than she originally thought. His inability to deal with her concerns makes her question the future of the relationship.

Here’s the challenge. Both Linda and John are experiencing each other in new, and at times, painful ways. They are seeing each other’s shadow sides in addition to the more appealing sides they presented when they first starting dating. However, they still don’t know how much of this is true about the other or how much they are projecting. As long as they continue to react and counter-react, they will never know.  They are also forgetting and dismissing all the wonderful qualities that still exist within each of them. All they are experiencing are the deeper layers.

Here’s the opportunity.  Linda and John can learn a lot about themselves and each other. They can grow from the inquiry. They can heal old wounds buried deep within the layers. They can create a very special and intimate relationship based on trust and vulnerability. They can reignite all the wonderful and magical things they love about each other and then some. They can create a relationship based on mutual understanding, acceptance, and love. This does not come easy but it’s worth the effort.

If you or someone you know is experiencing the struggle of moving into deeper layers of yourself and your relationship, please don’t hesitate to contact me. This is challenging work and most people benefit from the help of a qualified professional. And while it may seem daunting at first, I promise that once you get the hang of it, you begin to own the process, moving through the layers with grace and ease.  Your reward? -- A transformational relationship that so many seek and yet so few find. Be the one that gets there. Take advantage of the opportunity receive the support and guidance you deserve.  

As always, I’m here to support you in creating strong and powerful relationships.

Be well,

Julie

Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery

Retrieve Your FREE Relationship Assessment Quiz and see if YOUR Relationship is on track at www.julieorlov.com

Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com

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