Saturday, May 28, 2016

Are You Looking For Unconditional Love?

Unconditional love is a gift bestowed upon most of us at birth, by family.  Truly, it is a gift we do not appreciate until we are older, as we come to realize that all other relationships in life are premised on conditions of one sort or another.

Unfortunately, after marriage vows are exchanged, I think many people fall back into this false belief that their partners have now agreed to provide unconditional love.  In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth because for most of us, marriage is conditioned on many things, including the need to communicate and be on the same page about your current responsibilities and future goals while remaining not just respectful and faithful, but caring and kind.

Unlike blood relatives, who will remain family whether you like each other or not, your life partner is entirely a connection of choice.  And with free will, comes the right to make a different choice if the relationship ceases to be nurturing and fulfilling.

Marriage in the 21st century unlike those of previous generations is based mostly on desire, not necessity.  No one I know actually believes in the clause "til death do you part."  In fact, most would agree that if someone continues to show bad judgment and risks the safety or financial security of the family's overall well-being, these are valid grounds to opt out-- even without any physical abuse or adultery at play.

The more people come to understand that the marriage contract, like all other contracts in life, are conditioned on maintaining a quid-pro-quo situation, the greater the chances those entering marriage will have more realistic expectations of their partners.

Reality is that unconditional love is predominantly a gift passed down by your bloodline.  In no way, however, does this diminish the conditional love extended to you by your partner because freely choosing to remain committed to one another to preserve the pact between you is an incredible gift too, just not one to ever take for granted.

If what you seek is unconditional love, then you really aren't ready for marriage, and maybe you should consider moving back home to live with your mom.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Did Your Partner Sell You a Bill of Goods?

We are all on our best behavior when we first meet someone-- not that we are acting but rather we all seek to present our best self.  It's also easy to get along when you are just having fun, and you don't have to confront major challenges.  But like the saying goes, all good things come to an end, and sooner or later all couples have to have it out as issues will arise either about different goals, priorities, finances, or commitment.  

As we hash out our differences, we each have to deal with the disappointment that stems from what we expected would be the case versus what in reality our partners are capable of, and if you find that the disappointment has mounted to the level of fury then either your expectations were completely unrealistic or your partner has ceased to be the person you originally fell in love with.  If it is the former, this at least you can work on, but if it is the latter, there isn't much you can do about that.

It is infuriating when someone changes from being a sweet, loving, easy-going person to a mean, spiteful and argumentative individual.  Essentially, it's as if they lied to you about who they really are, and it really doesn't matter whether it was intentional or not.  What does matter is whether they recognize that they are behaving in an inappropriate way, and if they are willing to make an effort to change.  But more often that not, people will blame those around them rather than see any fault in themselves.  It takes a lot of maturity, insight and self confidence to admit that you have some work to do on yourself.

When someone changes on you, it's easy to feel stupid.  You start to ask yourself whether there were red flags that you ignored.  Maybe you did, maybe you didn't-- either way, the important question is what do you do now with the information that you have?  Can you live with the person you have before you and move forward, or do you need to move on on your own? 

I am all for trying to work things out, but if you are simply miserable together, there comes a point where you have to be able to cut your losses.  If you no longer believe your partner is really sorry for the things s/he says or does and the words "I love you" have lost all meaning between you, it's time to recognize that what you once had is now gone.  

All good love stories have an amazing beginning and a complicated middle, and in the end if your partner is no longer the person s/he once was, then it is highly unlikely that the relationship will last.  You just need to be true to yourself to figure out what is best for you.  And remember, it's not your fault if you were sold a bill of goods.  

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Can You Escape The Quicksand?

In a healthy relationship, when conflict arises and you have a quarrel, you learn a bit more about each other, including your partner's fears, concerns, goals and desires, and with this greater understanding of one another you grow closer and deepen your bond.

By contrast, when you are in an unhealthy relationship, with each and every argument you lose more and more respect, the trust deteriorates, and instead of growing closer you grow farther apart with each seemingly minor spat.

Then there is the quicksand scenario, where at the time you call a truce to some battle you think you have made some progress only to find out a day or so later that your partner has reneged on your deal and instead of taking one step forward, you have actually taken two steps backwards.

If you feel like you are stuck in quicksand, the most likely reason is that you are dealing with someone that is passive-aggressive.  These people exhibit their hostility by being stubborn, sullen, and they deliberately procrastinate and fail to complete tasks that they are responsible for-- and when you call them out on this behavior they become increasingly hostile and angry.

As the cycle of outbursts, followed by remorse and sullenness, then a slight period of calm before the next explosive episode happens more and more frequently, you will find yourself sinking deeper and deeper into that quicksand, until one day you   finally admit to yourself that things will never get better, in fact they will only get worse if you stay.  Once you can say this out loud to yourself, and hopefully to a few trusted others,  this is when your escape becomes possible and the end of the madness draws near.

Survivors don't just escape, they flourish once they are out of a toxic situation.  The reason for this is actually quite simple-- as captured in this quote attributed to Plato: People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.

We all deserve peace and tranquility at home, which is meant to be a safe haven.  Don't stick around those that create a quicksand environment-- learn to cut your losses as quickly as possible, and move on to greener pastures full of beauty and serenity.