Self-Sufficiency in Relationship
Hal and Sidra Stone
Each of us must be careful not to give up too much in relationship lest we give up just what it was that we needed.
It is always difficult to determine when we are giving up too much. Listening to our dreams, becoming aware of our own bonding patterns, and taking responsibility for ourselves all help us to see that we do not give up too much and cause ourselves unnecessary grief.
Marie was extremely trusting. She came from a New Age background and had faith that everything would work out well if only she concentrated all her energies upon success.
Marie moved to a new city to be near her lover, Basil. She found herself a job there, but he soon lost his. He asked, from the needy son, for her financial help. Her nurturing mother could not resist, and Marie soon depleted her financial resources.
When she no longer had any money, Basil, the bounder, left her. He needed another woman who had the funds and the emotional availability to support him from the nurturing mother. Marie’s distraught and vulnerable child was badly battered. Unfortunately, to top it all off, she now had some difficulty arranging special care for her vulnerable child because she had spent so much money on Basil that she had none left for herself.
Unlike Marie, some of us are so concerned about not giving up too much that we cannot follow the natural course of the relationship. The balance between these two extremes is important. The best safeguard is to allow input from opposing selves and to process both sides of the question from an aware ego.
Glenda only listened to the fears of her vulnerable child and never really let herself become involved in relationship. Her mother had given up everything for her father and had then been abandoned. Glenda learned her lesson well, but she was so careful to maintain her own “space” that she had very little space or time left over to share with George.
She engaged in her own activities almost every night after work. She had a women’s group, a class in investment strategies, yoga class, and a subscription to the theater. She also had a number of women friends whom she met for dinner on a regular basis. She was so worried that the relationship might affect her performance on the job, that she often brought work home with her. She literally had not a single night free to spend with her husband.
The relationship suffered from lack of attention. Both Glenda and George felt proud of their sophisticated marital arrangement, but this was an arrangement made by two highly developed protector/controllers; the vulnerable children stayed in hiding. Finally, they realized that neither of them was very happy and they sought counselling.
A middle course was steered carefully by Carrie, a woman who was used to taking care of herself but seriously interested in relationship. When she fell in love, unlike Glenda, she was willing to take a chance and make a major life change for the possibility of a rewarding relationship. She moved to the city where her lover lived.
But, unlike Marie, Carrie did not deplete her resources. She also maintained a fall-back position in case the new relationship did not work. She returned each month to her home town where she maintained her hairdressing clients. In this way, if the relationship did not work out, Carrie had only to move back to her home and resume her life as she had left it.
It is often difficult to determine which course of action is appropriate in relationship. Walking the line between giving too much away and holding too much back requires an aware ego. Having to hold these two opposites is certainly a great way to stretch ourselves and to increase our awareness of both our own internal processes and our external bonding patterns.
We have found that, as a group, women are likely to give up more of themselves than men do. This can be particularly dangerous when a woman completely gives up the resources that will enable her to sustain an independent life. She makes herself particularly vulnerable if she gives up her residence, her savings, her job, and most of her friends.
In marriages, we have seen women surrender complete responsibility for their physical bodies to a husband who is a doctor or complete financial responsibility to a husband who is a good businessman. This automatically bonds them in as a dependent daughter and deprives them of the ability to manage their own affairs in a responsible fashion.
Similarly, we have seen men give over to a wife all responsibility for nurture and the maintenance of a comfortable home. This deprives the man of the capability of living an enjoyable life without a woman to take care of his needs, and makes him fearful that if he is alone and sick he will be totally helpless. Thus, he automatically bonds to his wife as the dependent son.
This does not mean the knowledge or abilities of one’s partner should not be appreciated and used. It is great to have a partner with medical or financial expertise or one who knows just how to make life feel cozy and safe. What we do mean, however, is that one should be wary of abdicating total responsibility in any area.
Each partner needs to be in a position to survive without the relationship.
This helps to keep the relationship evenly balanced. If a certain balance is not maintained, the relationship will inevitably settle into a bonding pattern.
It is natural in relationships and friendships that the two people have different strengths and weaknesses. This is one of the wonderful things about relationship. We are able to rest into the strengths of the other person and they are able to rest into our strengths.
Resting into a strength does not mean abdicating responsibility for it. For example, in our relationship Hal rests into Sidra’s strength and knowledge in the area of business and money management. If he abdicates all responsibility in this area, then we will fall into the bonding pattern of son to mother in this particular area and this will create problems.
What he tries to do is recognize her strength and let that strength help to support him, without abdicating responsibility in this area. He must know what is going on and not abdicate decision making in this area. If he does, he will shift into the needy son, and one day soon he will explode and become a very negative father in relationship to something that Sidra has done.
Along a similar vein, Hal has the primary responsibility for scheduling the workshop and seminar programs. Sidra is very happy to rest into Hal in this matter. However, she remains an active participantin the process and nothing is scheduled without her full involvement. Otherwise, she would become daughter to the father, and eventually her negative mother would take over when something would happen that was not to her liking.