The other night I found myself sitting through the Dark Night of the Soul, a period when you face all of those nasty demonic voices in your head, telling you that nothing you do matters, that you have nothing to offer the world, and no value as a human being. It doesn’t matter how rich, successful, popular, or happy you are, everyone sits through one of these once in awhile; it is just the perverse nature of human consciousness.
As I sat in my kitchen, deciding whether or not to open my bottle of Laphroaig to medicate the demons a little bit I found myself thinking about the work I did for MAP coaching along with Athol Kay a couple of years ago. I love working with married men, and mending a broken marriage is one of the most rewarding things I have done as a life coach. It is something I look back on in my dark moments; to remind myself that with a little help from me, there are over a dozen children growing up in intact homes who might have grown up without an involved father in their lives.
Fixing a marriage is not easy, when it has been doing poorly for a long time. The actual steps are easy, and basically the same whether you are a man or a woman, straight or gay. But first you have to get our of your own way. There is a lot of pain and anger that you have to unravel before you can actually bring a clear mind to the process of fixing your relationship.
And here’s the real core issue, for fixing relationships, and half the other problems in your life:
Relationships fall apart because we give up our power.
Instead of making ourselves happy, we expect our relationship to make us happy. Instead doing what it takes to affirm that we are worthy as human beings, we expect our families to do things that tell us that we’re worthy. Instead of judging ourselves by our actions as good or bad men, we look to others to tell us we are good or bad.
And half the time we wrap it all up in the confusing world of sexual theatre; we don’t want our wife to tell us we’re good men, we want her to show us with sex. We don’t want to work out our anxieties or face painful past events head-on, we want to role-play them away with our fantaises and fetishes.
If you want to make real, lasting change in your life, this is where you have to start: by remembering that no one can make you happy, healthy, or whole but yourself. It doesn’t matter what your partner does or doesn’t do; what matters is what you do for yourself. Before you can have self-worth, you need to make sure that your sense of self-worth isn’t hinged on getting approval or sex from someone else.
That is a scary step, because it means accepting that we have been our biggest obstacle all along. We have to accept that the proper recipient for all of our frustrations, anger, and resentment is ourselves. Then we have to do the even harder thing of forgiving ourselves.
Then you can start planning how to make yourself happier. Usually, fixing your relationship is a side-effect of that process – not its goal.