Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Knowledge is power! How do you use it?

“Need to know basis”

In response to a recent blog “for men”, a woman reader shared that her role with her husband was different than described in the blog. It seems the husband was slow when making a plan, didn’t share the plan clearly, and was slow to take action. She indicated that ‘being left in the dark’ and operating on a ‘need-to-know’ basis were road blocks to peace and closeness in the relationship.

Information and knowledge is power and subject to being misused to increase personal power or unwelcome feedback or criticism. Certainly, there are times when the need-to-know is appropriate as in: certain military situations; discretionary access control such as a computer or financial system; social security numbers; or credit card numbers. However, in committed relationships, secrecy and the use of need-to-know as power impacts the well being of the partners in a relationship and is counter to an open and loving connection. Trust is the casualty of such control.

“Clear and open”

A fulfilling relationship requires clear and open communication. Operating on the ‘need-to-know basis’ amplifies power struggles and inequality in the relationship. The one who decides what the partner needs to know sends the message unconsciously that they aren’t capable decision makers. This abuse of power squelches initiative and imagination; both vital elements of passion.

The readers husband may not have intended such messages to be sent, and would likely be surprised to know their partner felt frustrated. Both partners likely came from homes in which one or both parents operated on the ‘need to know’ premise. Patterns from our past operate unconsciously in everyday interactions. When such a pattern exists in the family of origin, openness and trust are often compromised and prevents emotional closeness and safety. The reader experienced a “wait and see feeling” which made it difficult to have the security that comes from knowing “the plan”.

What we Live With….

“What we live with we learn; and what we learn we practice and what we practice we become” is a phrase which has been helpful for many wanting to change a pattern or behavior. Unconscious behaviors are a large part of our lives and operate without thought. In the blog, “Its Just Cobwebs”, I described a personal experience when an unconscious pattern came into my awareness. To change the pattern that was a part of my earlier life experience by “learning” or realizing the impact of the pattern in my present relationship. The work of “practicing” the new behavior of “staying” connected even if I am uncomfortable is hard but necessary to change old and destructive behaviors. Practice is – repetition of the new behavior. One practices the new behavior until it becomes their first response. Interestingly, the practiced behavior becomes a part of your being and operates at the “unconscious” level. Changing such patterns as described by the reader’s comment requires personal honesty and desire to grow! Both are critical to fulfilling relationships.

Action Steps:

  1. Practice sharing your plan with your partner – discuss and ask for input and use the first two steps described in “for men”
  2. If your partner shares a plan; listen responsively – reaction usually is taken as a judgment and creates defensiveness and distance

1 comment:

  1. I believe communication is key in any relationship! If we don't communicate, then we lose out on one of the most wonderful gifts on earth; the sharing of ideas. It is very much a part of who I am.


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