Issue 64 –
Suggestion # 7 Respectful disagreement
Hal : And – speaking of negative bonding patterns – there’s something else, going back to this business of respect. Sometimes when you work through a negative bonding pattern, you don’t end up with the problem necessarily solved. In other words, people have differences and that’s the way life is. Now all we can offer to a married couple, or any relationship, is a road map to get out of the negative interaction you’ve fallen into.
For example, we have a big tree by our road. Well, we have a lot of big trees, but the one in the corner, one of the main branches has grown up over the parking area and it drops a lot of stuff on cars that park under it. So I would like to get it cut back. Now, Sidra has a very strong feeling for the aesthetic of that tree. It’s a very spectacular tree.
Sidra : It’s gorgeous!
Hal : I don’t know what kind it is.
Sidra : It’s a live oak and you just don’t see them on the coast. It’s beautiful.
Hal : Yes. It has a beautiful configuration and she really doesn’t want to cut it. But I pushed a little bit and she said that she’d consider a little bit of trimming, that would take only a little bit off. Then I would push a little more and I could feel the part of me that wanted to go into the negative bonding pattern but that didn’t happen. So we are where we are about the tree. (Hal adopts a dramatically reasonable tone with a mischievous grin.) I have made it clear to her that I don’t think it is a good idea to allow a tree to do that to you … to invade your space in that way. I’ve also pointed out that every time a person parks a car there, they shouldn’t have to have a lot of tree junk dropped on it; especially at certain times of the year. I’ve said that just doesn’t make sense to me. And then Sidra says “Well …
Sidra: Well, they can just park someplace else! (Laughing) Or, just park under the tree and complain! How’s that for holding both sides of the truth?
Hal : So, there you see a lot of ways to do this. I’m respectful of her feeling about it and she’s respectful of my feeling about it; but nothing has changed in terms of the basic issue.
Suggestion # 8 Veto power
Sidra : Yes, and this leads us to another aspect of our relationship, which is that we each have veto power. If one or the other of us feels really, really, strongly about something, we may go along with it or nix it. Like with the tree, it has been a ‘no’. No cutting of the tree. We’ve cut a lot of other trees. But this one is somehow special to me.
Conversely, I didn’t think we needed a third well, but we dug one, because Hal felt very strongly that we needed a third well. He wanted to be sure of the water supply and so we went ahead with it. So if one or the other of us feels very passionately, either pro or con, we will often yield to the other person.
Hal : But there is always the right of veto. If somebody says absolutely no, then we don’t go with it. We’ve seen too much of what happens with that.
Sidra : That’s a good question. I think you can feel the difference. This is where that basic respect comes in. If Hal shares his vulnerability with me about something, the way I can keep it from turning into a positive bonding pattern is that I don’t try to take care of it right away. I’m really just there with it, almost as though he was a client at that moment. There’s a certain amount of impersonal energy in this; where this isn’t my problem, but not in that sort of defensive, overdone boundary way of saying, “Well, this is his issue!”, because of course, it’s an issue for both of us. But – and this is important – it’s not mine to fix. As soon as I find myself thinking I have to do something about it, I’m on the wrong track, I’m becoming my Responsible Mother self.
This makes me think again about sharing our vulnerability. If I bring up my vulnerability, I will often say: “I feel vulnerable or worried about this. It’s really not up to you to take care of it. I just want you to know that I don’t feel good about it. ” Or I will ask for Hal’s input on something I’m feeling vulnerable about; something he might give me a hand with. But that’s different from throwing myself on his mercy. It’s really about trying to stay mindful about ‘playing your own instrument’.
Hal : I would add one more element. If you’re vulnerable about something at those times when we’re deeper into our feelings, and you essentially allow the Personal Self System to express the vulnerability, it’s going to come out in a particular way. It tends to lead the other person into Good Parent, to take care of it. Of course, they could also beat you up because they’re sick and tired of hearing it; they could go either way.
But if you express that same vulnerability, such as, “I’m very jealous when we’re out and you flirt the way you do, ” ” and you express that through an Aware Ego Process, that means that you have personal energy on one side and impersonal on the other. You’re on the impersonal continuum. If you were to go farther on that continuum, you meet Ms. Genghis Khan. So, that kind of raw nature energy and/or impersonal energy is over here, and the personal over here, with all the vulnerability. Then when you make the communication, it makes all the difference in the world, because you’re in touch with both.
Sidra : So, you see it can come from either side, the handling of vulnerability. Hal could express his vulnerability and I could refuse to be pulled in. Or I could express mine and he could refuse to be pulled in. Or one person can carry both sides; like, “ “I feel vulnerable about this. You don’t have to fix it. I just need to share it. ” ”
Hal : So, in short, the more personal you are, the greater the pull to the positive bonding pattern.
Sidra : It’s really what a lot of us, particularly women, have been trained to do; at least some generations were. You didn’t even have to say the words. You just threw the ‘I need help energies’ out. That’s really good for changing tires, or when workmen are around the house. I’m not going to knock it. (Smiles.) Pull for a positive bonding pattern whenever you have a workman around who’s a little bit identified with his macho self. It can really work to your advantage. Of course, if you do that in a primary relationship, you pay for it later. We don’t recommend it! I remember I had to learn that. I wasn’t accustomed to someone who would become as emotionally responsible as you. And you accepted marvelous emotional responsibility. Hal’s Good Daddy was just something wonderful to curl up into. But I had to learn that if I took the candy now, I would pay for it later.
Hal: That’s right. So, let’s see. Where are we?