Friday, March 18, 2011

But I won't do that...

Here is an example of an oft-heard phrase in couple's therapy:

Man: I would do anything for her! I'd go to the ends of the earth for her...
Therapist: She's not asking you to go to the ends of the earth, she's asking you to go to the end of the driveway and take out the trash.

Do you ever find it odd that people will express their love in lavish and extreme verbal ways, but their physical follow through is piss-poor?

In teaching a parent recently about a parenting philosophy, I mentioned that it is difficult for us to influence our children if they do not like us. The parent responded, "I don't need her to like me. I don't need to be her friend. I love her and I would do anything for her, anything in the universe, whether she likes me or not. I won't let her throw her life away."
I replied, "If you would do anything for her, then would you stop talking over her and take time to listen to and understand her? That is what she's asking for from you. I'm not excusing her bad behavior, but it stems from not feeling cared about or valued by the person who matters most to her."

Next time we feel hurt by a loved one's actions or inactions and we are tempted to justify our feelings of anger and hurt by declaring how loving WE are and what we would do for our love... pause a moment and ask, "What is the other person really asking me for?" My wife doesn't want me to walk 10,000 miles for her, she wants me to respect and appreciate her in all the small, easy ways.

Why is that so hard for us knuckleheads?

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