This comes from a question that was submitted. I've generalized it a little bit for this blog. Ask me a question here.
A- Regret always comes from feeling that you didn’t make the best choice. Most of us make decisions based on the information we have at the time. Making a choice to get divorced may seem the very best option at the moment we make that choice. We should recognize though sometimes we allow our emotions to drive decisions. If you’ve looked at much of my information, then you know, emotions aren’t the best guides.
When I’m emotional about a situation, I’m reacting based on those emotions which can be very irrational. Try never to make a decision when you’re in the depth of emotion.
A midlife crisis can be a time of strong emotions and discontent which might drive someone to act on those feelings and later realize it was an emotional reaction and wish they had made a different choice.
Living in regret makes you feel kind of frozen which leaves you stuck. If you regret your decision, you may be able to make it right, but there’s the possibility you won’t also. If you can’t, then accept the situation, acknowledge that you made a mistake and take some learning from it. If you can’t move on, contact a professional who can help guide you through it.
I divorced early in my life after 10 years of marriage and I wished it hadn’t happened. Maybe that is regret. At the time, I couldn’t have continued, but I wish we’d been able to find the tools to make it work. In my current marriage, my past experience has taught me to keep looking for the tools to connect. So, can I really regret something that helped me grow so significantly? I don’t think I can.
You may have to find a way to move on and looking for something to appreciate about the situation is going to help you get there.
Hope that helps,
Security is a primal need that relationships fulfill....unless they don't!
Learn some ways to navigate these challenges.
As always, let me know how it's going! I'd love to hear from you and help if I can.
of times, I have people say, “I want us to get back to where we used to be.” Those are all pretty big goals.
What happens when a goal seems out of reach? When we look at it and it seems impossible. Fighting less might seem like a great goal, but what are the steps it takes to get there? Do you know the steps? If you knew and could do the steps, wouldn’t you have already done them?
When we start doing these little steps, we get frustrated because we feel we should be at the goal already. We feel shame and blame we’re not meeting what we see as our desired outcome. We also fail sometimes. I can’t tell you how many couples are making good progress and they slip and have a huge row and they feel like they’ve lost all the progress they’ve made. All that can make us give up and stop going for it. It seems like an exercise in futility, it’s too difficult, or we just aren’t capable of doing it.
Well, I’d like to reassure you. When the end game seems impossible, it’s time to focus on the process, not the outcome.
Using a football analogy here: If your desired outcome is to win the Super Bowl, but your team has not learned to run a play yet, you better focus on running the play! Not only do you need to learn to run the play but you need to become great at it! You are going to run that play over and over until it’s second nature. You’re going to know that play inside and out. At first, the play is going to be awkward. At first, the whole team isn’t going to be good at it. There’s going to be a lot of failures in making the play. But eventually, your team runs a great play! They win a game, then another and before you know it you’re a Super Bowl contender. That outcome that seemed so impossible is now within reach. But only after you’ve mastered the process.
There’ve been times in my relationship when I’ve felt happiness wasn’t possible. I didn’t think it’d ever happen again. That seemed like an outcome that was too much to hope for.
Turning that around took a focus on the process. The processes of a happy relationship, (I call the pillars) are compassion, communication and commitment. Making the little decisions every day that align with these qualities is what got me closer to the end goal. I had to be kind when I didn’t want to be. I had to decide to stay just one more day when it would have felt great to walk out. Talking about things that made me vulnerable created intimacy little by little. I focused on the process because I didn’t know how to get to the outcome I wanted. I was so far away from it, I needed a telescope.
By paying attention to the process, I moved closer and closer, with consistency and persistence, until I could see happiness on the horizon. I tried to stay focused on my own behaviors, not my partners. By continuing on, we’ve found our way to a place of happiness I don’t think we ever imagined. We’ve now passed our 20th anniversary and we enjoy each other more now than we ever did. Do we still disagree? Yes. Do we still annoy each other? Yes. We fail all the time. But we focus on the process.
Practice time: What is your desired outcome? What processes do you need to get there? It’s the little things you practice every day that lead you to winning. What is one process you can commit to today? Consistency and persistence are mandatory!
Let me know what you decided. Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
Focusing on the process,
One of the shifts I like to facilitate with the couples I work with is recognizing how all of our behaviors have the intention of either expressing love or asking for love.If you can imagine this is true: all of our behaviors are either an expression of love or a cry for love. This is a concept presented by Marianne Williamson which is definitely a different way of looking at things. Try to allow the thought that even the most horrible things you can think of or a cray for love or in some way an expression of love. Shifting your perspective, just a bit, to consider another person’s motivation (even if you don’t understand it) can allow a space for empathy to grow. How is this person’s actions an act of love or a cry for love?
If my husband gets upset and yells at me for not doing the laundry…….Is that a cry for love I hear? He perceives my doing the laundry as an act of love. When I don’t do it, he perceives it as a lack of love. He starts to get concerned that he’s not loved by me. He starts asking for that love. In this scenario, he’s asking by getting angry and yelling. If my response is to yell back, I am also crying for love. My perception is when someone yells at you, they don’t love you, so it scares me when I hear him yell. I start to ask for love.
I’ll tell you a true story about myself and my husband. We’ve been married now for over 20 years and we usually get along very well now. It hasn’t always been the case, but now it’s good. A while back, I was visiting him at his job location. An argument came up because he had arranged for his employees to clean out a building that had been taken over by local people and it was used as a goat shed. So, imagine a building that has doubled as a goat shed for many years. Where there are goats, there is goat crap. His job was to have his guys clean this place out. Inadvertently, his boss came and gave his guys the day off after he had arranged for equipment and access to have the goat shed cleaned on this one specific day. Now his boss gave all his man-power the day off. He decided he was going to clean the goat poop out of the shed himself. I was very opposed to this. I didn’t think that he should be cleaning the goat crap out alone; I thought that he should rearrange the schedule. He had other things he was responsible for and cleaning a goat shed was not a priority for him. He became very stubborn and maintained that he would just do it himself. I was arguing with him that this was not a good use of his time, etcetera. Finally I said, ”You know what, you’re going to do what you want to do so go for it.” We just let it die between us. At some point later I was playing around with this idea of every action either being an expression of love or a cry for love. My mind went back to that conversation and I identified my behavior was expression of love ultimately. I was taking up for him and trying to help him see a different priority. So here he was, spending a whole day of his time doing something that his guys could have easily have done in a few hours and he was going to spend a whole day doing this alone. I brought it up to him that this was really an expression of my love for him. He was very surprised to think of it this way because he sure didn’t feel loved during that argument. He felt kind of beat up on actually.
Just like our partner’s expressions and cries for love sometimes don’t sound that way to us, ours lose their effect too. It’s our responsibility to make sure that our message gets across. We have to take a good look at our interactions and try to dig underneath to make them more authentically express what we’re really feeling on the inside.
Sometimes when our partners are kind of beating up on us a little bit, or fussing or complaining about something, they might also be expressing or asking for love. If we can we take a step back from what feels like a personal attack and explore what message of love is really there. It’s something to think about wrap your brain around. Analyze some of the past conflicts you’ve had with your partner. Can you decipher whether it’s a cry for love or an expression of love? This can go a long way to healing rifts in your relationship.
Can you more clearly ask for love or express it? If I get aggravated at my husband for working late all week, I can approach him in hurt anger. Or I can say I’m angry because I’m disappointed and I don’t feel very important to him. I can approach him and say, “I’ve really missed you this week, can we have a date night this weekend?” Which approach will get me what I really want? He’s going to respond much better to the latter approach isn’t he? My communication isn’t layered under insecurity.
Complaints you have with your partner (or that your partner has with you) are usually a cry for love in some way. This should help you look more closely and communicate more clearly. Being understood and understanding more is a winning behavior.
Practice time: Analyze some of your interactions. Can you link it back to a cry for love or an expression of love? If you can’t, send me the scenario and I bet I can help you see it.