Friday, December 1, 2017

Isolation and Managing Communication in the New Era of Relationships

I came across this article discussing isolatory experiences in relationships.  How to Cope When You’re Feeling Lonely and Invisible in Your Marriage.  This feeling of invisibleness and loneliness in marriages is an occurrence not uncommon.  What this article lacks
is an appreciation for the contemporary couple while respecting the values of past ideologies.  I practice as a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, so I must recognize that the culture and demographics in this part of the United States (which ranges from Beverly Hills, Studio City, Hollywood, North Hollywood, Echo Park, Burbank, Silver Lake, Glendale, Brentwood, Ladera Heights to Leimert Park - well, you get the idea) might be vastly different that other regions of the country.  So, I am mindful that the direction of therapy and couple counseling in Los Angeles might be affected by the region.  With that being stated, I can appreciate and concur with the author’s notes on unrealistic expectations on marriage. However, more depth and insight might allow for couples’ self awareness and overall understanding of what is wanted in marriage before any commitment.  Thus, my discussion might separate from the article in that I would advocate the early processing of establishing a voice.  This voice should represent who you are as an individual and what you want to be as a member of a couple before engaging into unions (or before moving in together).  Furthermore, even when fully partnered annual or six month check-in’s (or mini re-evaluations) might be an excellent opportunity to reduce unrealistic expectations while strengthening collaboration and intimate team building.  The article’s discussion of the dated male/female role is not an image of the new normal and millennials.  If you have an opportunity to see the film The Big Sick you will learn that relationships and roles are being redefined.  Hollywood is not producing romantic Meg Ryan Tom Hank comedies because the movie demographics are not buying tickets for these old dated scripted formulas.  The relationships that we knew are not the affairs of the new.  Millennials have created a post era and perspective on love.  Thus, the new normal must seek out the new marriage counselor (or new couples therapist). What is important to identify is this:  

Each couple must create their individual relationship within the construct of societal norms.  I will say it this way.  Design your relational rules and criteria in a way that fit your life goals while not directly harming others (harm is meant as physical and cruel intent to damage).  

With the complexity of present day relationships it is crucial (and often neglected) to connect with you tribe.  This is the mentor that can help you navigate through the rough patches of marriage.  Mentors are not gossipers.  Getting advice from “the girlfriends” is not always good advice if it is a reality-TV-type-dramatic-over-the-top atmosphere.  A mentor is not the perfect Iconic person of the community.  It often is someone who has made mistakes and has grown and learned from them.  

The tribe is the communal support that holds us together and not necessarily a family member.  With Los Angeles being so spread out it literally can take you 40 minutes to get to a friend’s home.  As many of us have relocated from other parts of the world we are often alone when we arrive in this city.  So, to find love and then have conflict in the relationship can be daunting and lead one to isolate. Creating your core alternative family or communal regulator is important.  The difficult challenge is to create a community without allowing that group to interfere with the relationship.  A good mentor and a good tribe will not deconstruct but add to your Self or your relationship.  A good tribe will contain and help you reach your fuller Self (with or without a relationship).  
So, your love relationships can be challenging and complex.  And to isolate might be an option when you feel wounded or in trouble or not in a good space.  The danger with isolation is it creating a mis-communication if both parties are not on the same understanding. So early communication and knowing One’s Self could lead to facilitating healthy unions (or marriages).  With commitments in partnerships you want to check-in.  Do not assume.  Many companies have regular weekly staff meetings, or monthly team meetings.  Why should we not treat our marriages the same?  Calling in sick all the time can get you fired.  Being sloppy and lazy with your work performance allows for someone else to get your job or your promotion.  Don’t think it works any differently.  Granted, you don’t want your marriage to be work; but, it is.  Some people clearly state “I love my job, I love what I do, I got offered another job with more money and more perks but why would I leave… they’ve been good to me, why would I even think about leaving, besides, I just got a raise and promotion.”  Your marriage can be the same thing.  You can love your marriage; you can love being in your marriage and you can have it all.  Partner, best friend, confidant, someone whom you can share intimate “stuff’ (feelings, goals, dreams, finances, fetishes, fantasies, past crimes -- all that stuff).  So be careful with  isolatory behavior as it can  prevent you from a good marriage.  Especially if the your partner is not fully accepting or aware of your solitude being an agreed and accepted form of communication.  So, engage in the art of talk which means listening which means knowing your partner.
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