Being Stuck

Sometimes couples feel “stuck.” They’ve tried to negotiate but both of them have something they can’t let go of. Usually they are trying to be fair but there doesn’t seem to be a midpoint. It’s often a feeling of helplessness. “Stuck” means the two of you can’t fully commit to an agreed upon course of action. You’re doing a bit from each of your backgrounds. Neither of you is completely committed to or comfortable with your current approach, and you couldn’t articulate a mission statement about the future of your children.

What is most important in being “stuck” is that no one is getting what they want. Not you, not your partner, not your kids. No one is being put first, you’re all coming second and you all feel it. Spoken or unspoken, no one feels satisfied.

You may need to just sit with being stuck for a while. This may sound silly, but embrace it. Make it yours. Find the pluses, the wins. But don’t deceive yourself. What is it that YOU are getting? What are you getting to avoid? What is the pay off? What are you getting to do that you’re afraid you might lose if things shifted or changed? Don’t stymie yourself with guilt or blame.

In regard to your children, this isn’t about teaching your children that life is all about material possessions. So don’t retreat to the idea that this way they get twice as many gifts in December. That sounds like a payoff, not a value. Promote emotional health. Your home needs to be a nurturing environment for your children and YOU. The goal isn’t a home piled with stuff; it is a home full of contentment.

The most common reason for stuck-ness is the desire to be fair to your partner when you yourself don’t feel you can budge. “I can’t give up on xx, so how can I ask them to give up on yy.” I understand. Our very being can be wrapped up in something that we simply can’t see a way to let go of. So we have to acknowledge that our partner also has those feelings. Now what?

The first step is to acknowledge where you are. Then look for what it is that each of you is clinging to. Why are you so attached to it? Why is that thing/behavior/holiday/practice unacceptable to the other person?

Just have that conversation and then in a week, have it again. Call or email me. Let me give you some suggestions to approaching the conversation in new ways. Just start; break the log jam.

Posted in Couples
Published on June 4th, 2010