Friday, December 5, 2008

“Its Just Cobwebs” –

Have you ever been blind sided your partner’s comment or action? Did a ‘mole hill’ suddenly become a huge ‘mountain’ of relationship turmoil? Did a well intentioned comment or action turn into a hurtful or damaging event? Anyone in a relationship experiences these times. Let me share one ……

Just another day!

It seemed just like most days. I awakened around 5:00 a.m. and got out of bed as quietly as possible so as not awaken Pat’s sleep and went to the office upstairs. I logged some of the thoughts I had awakened with and checked and responded to emails. I spent the next hour or so reading and jotting down some connected thoughts.

A Blast from the Past..

Around 7:00, hearing Pat stirring in the kitchen, I greeted her as I started the coffee. While she was preparing breakfast, I took the scraps from the evening before to the chickens. I gave the hens their daily quota of feed, checked their water supply, and gathered the dozen or so eggs from the previous afternoon and returned to the kitchen. As I sat the bowl with eggs on the end of the counter, I heard, “Where have you been!” Immediately my ‘male’ brain thought – “how could Pat not know since I just sat down the bowl with the eggs?” Being somewhat literal in my actions, “I have been taking care of the chickens.” “You have cobwebs on you!” she said. Sure enough my left arm and shoulder was covered in the dusty cobwebs that only grow in a chicken house. I stepped outside, brushed them off and returned to the office without any other comment.

Pat called to me when she had breakfast ready. There was little conversation during the meal. As Pat left the table, she remarked, “You must like the computer more than me!” I did my usual “Huh” look and assured her that I liked her a lot more than the computer!


Pat’s remark stuck in my brain. Soon after she left to work at the Garden Center, I realized that what had happened between us was a ‘blast from the past’. My internal response to Pat’s comment about the cobwebs triggered a response that had been with me since early childhood. Although Pat had no intention of becoming a parent that morning, her comment was an echo from the past.

I had grown up with a lot of questions, remarks or judgments from both parents couched in “why are you doing that?” My childhood response was to give a minimal response and exit. I would go outside if it was daylight or to a remote place in the house if it was nighttime. My mind would attempt to reconcile the intense emotional response my parents had to my seemingly harmless ‘behavior’. I would have thought, “Its just cobwebs – what’s the big deal?”

Opportunity for Change

On that morning in August, my unconscious self had been in charge of my part of the relationship. The patterned behavior has been with me for at least 60 years! This awareness now presents me with a choice. It becomes a choice of accountability. I must own my part of our unconscious relationship. Next time, I can stay instead of leaving. I can think, “Thanks! this an opportunity to become more conscious!”


Here’s a comment from my studies in family and marriage counseling; “90% of the repetitive issues in a relationship are connected to the family of origin, while only 10% is relevant to the present”. Russ

Action Step:

Reflect on the next conflict, disagreement, disappointment that occurs in your relationship. Are there fragments or shards of the past finding a presence in the situation? What are the lessons? What are the changes that will improve your relationship?

Please share some of your insights and awareness’s


  1. Great post! I find that while I always care about my girlfriend, when I take time and effort to show it our passion intensifies.

  2. As I read the "Opportunity for Change" I was reminded of Fish Philosophy - which is a workplace management system. Why? The fourth step of their program is "Choose your Attitude". How many times is it our *preception* of a situation and the baggage that we bring to the situation that causes us trouble? She sees things one way, he sees things another. If you don't communicate and get down to the real issue - you both lose.


Reader Comments

"...My spouse and I have been married for 32 years and I've experienced our relationship from giggly in bed, to passionate in bed, to mad in bed to "sleeping" in bed...As we grow older the intimacy definition changes for me. Intimacy also for me is just sitting quietly, or driving for miles quietly or walking just hearing our footsteps crunch the leaves, holding hands. My usual struggle in intimacy is in my head - I have to intentionally stop my daily to do list, my past and future stuff and live in the present moment..." Pam

it's ... smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion

“We have found that passion ebbs and flows but we set a goal for our relationship a number of years ago that is working for us. At least every six months we do something that will create a lifetime memory. For us, we love to travel, so it's been pretty easy to find something big to do that will create that lifetime memory, but sometimes it's the finding of smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion.” Steve Rae

What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?

“The "typical beliefs that people have when the “fire” seems to have gone out of a relationship" I believe are a) that you feel your partner should have changed or should not have changed and b) that you feel you should change or that you should not have changed.

Acceptance of yourself and your partner leads to forgiveness. What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?” Brian Massey

A word from Russ Hardesty

The realm of relationship is mysterious; filled with magic, surprise, excitement, passion, intimacy, loss, disappointment and creativity. I am fortunate to have a life partner who is at once a mirror, teacher, lover, nurturer, student and companion. In this place of mystery, I continue to grow into a mature, loving and free man. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and comments – which is a gift to me! Thanks for joining the expedition! Russ