I don’t know about you but Holidays used to be a real trigger for me.
I was much more likely to look at porn around holidays than other more “usual” days.
Let’s use Valentine’s Day as an example.
I wanted the day to go well. I didn’t think that I cared as much about it going well for me as much as I did for Lindsay.
But what I started to realize is, I wanted it to go well for Lindsay so it could go well for me.
Because I put the outcome on my shoulders. I put whether she enjoyed the day or not, on me.
I made myself responsible for her emotions. If here emotions were good, then I could be good. If not? Yikes!
This seemed to be a great idea. After all, isn’t it so romantic to hear a man promise to his new wife on the wedding day, “I promise to make you happy.”
That’s what a good husband does, I would think.
It sounds so lovely. So romantic. What a great husband!
Balderdash! (but great intentions)
First of all, Lindsay, and only Lindsay, is responsible for both 1) her emotions AND 2) her thoughts that cause her emotions. And this goes for me as well with my thoughts and emotions.
I could get her dozens of dozens of roses, light candles throughout the house, take her to the best restaurant with the best view, find the babysitter, plan the date, clean the house going into it, start the day out with breakfast in bed and a neck massage, a hand-written card, the perfect gift without her even hinting for it, a special new diamond ring to commemorate our 13th year together (that’s one of the really important years in a marriage)…
I could do all these things and she may still decide to feel terrible about the day. This is not a real example. But it is a possible outcome with anyone, no matter how fantastic the plans are.
Because feelings don’t come from roses. They come from thoughts.
This is way more romantic than it sounds, trust me.
On the flip side, I could literally do nothing, plan nothing, and she might completely enjoy her experience on Valentine’s Day.
What’s Going On Here?
Only she knows, but Lindsay probably wants to feel loved, lovable, worthy, in love, wanted, attraction, amongst other things.
But if she is looking for those feelings in the perfectly planned and executed Valentine’s Day, there is good chance that she will be disappointed.
And she would be putting too much responsibility on me.
What About Me?
Turns out I also want to feel loved, lovable, worthy, in love, wanted, and attraction.
If I am looking for these feelings to come to me as a result of Lindsay feeling these things from the best Valentine’s Day ever, then I am not owning my responsibility to manage my own emotions.
In this case, I’m putting too much responsibility on her.
Round and Round
And then what if she feels the need to enjoy it because of all the work I went through, and she thinks she needs to be happy in order for me to be happy.
You see how this can go round and round.
Out of My Control
I would get overwhelmed because it was so out of my control.
With this pattern, sometimes Lindsay would be upset about something. And I would be so upset about her being upset that I would:
- distract myself
- not want to be in the same room with her
- not really support and help her through it
- I’d be more likely to look at porn too.
I see this same pattern in my clients all the time.
It’s like, I made myself responsible for Lindsay’s emotions because I cared. But then I would show up more like I didn’t care when making myself responsible for her emotions.
Well-intended. But “Whoops!”
A Truly Great Valentine’s Day
Let her be responsible for her. Me be responsible for me. Come together and just enjoy each other.
It’s hard enough to learn to manage my own emotions. How can I expect someone to manage mine on top of their own.
Giving permission to your spouse to be or feel however they want. If you are thinking that both of you have to take this approach for you to enjoy Valentine’s Day, you are missing the point.
Maybe you worry that if you start with yourself, you will be being selfish and not thinking of the other person. But what if you will be able to think of the other person better than ever if you start with yourself.
Saying “no” to the things you want to say “no” to. And saying “yes” to the things you want to say “yes” to. Showing up as your genuine selves.
When you set yourself free in this way, you will more naturally show up the way you really are aiming for to begin with.
Now that sounds like a great Valentine’s Day!
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