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Compare that to, you ask your partner to attend party. He or she agrees. You go and have a wonderful time, spontaneously enjoying some quality intimacy upon your return home. Do those circumstances feel different to you? I bet they would to your partner.
No one likes to be controlled no matter how subtly or skillfully controlling is administered. External control is one thing human beings are almost guaranteed to rebel against.
The bottom line is that we often engage in destructive relationship patterns with those people we claim to love most. We typically donít use these destructive behaviors with our friends. If we were to try, we soon wouldnít have any friends left!
When we think about our progress over past 100 years in terms of technology and relationships, it is very clear that we have made great strides in technological field and very minimal gains, if any, in our relationships with each other. Can you think of things we have available to us today that didnít exist 100 years ago? Today we have cell phones, computers, satellite, televisions, DVDs, CDs, space travel, etc. The list is virtually endless.
One of reasons we have made such huge gains in technological field is because those who are working at making those advances are willing to try a new approach when their approach is no longer working. They adjust their behavior to fit situation. This is simply common sense.
However, in area of interpersonal relationships, would you say that people get along better today than they did a century ago? Do husbands get along better with their wives? Do parents get along better with their children? Do teachers get along better with their students? Do neighbors get along better today? Most would admit that there has been little, if any, improvement.
The reason for this lack of progress in relationship department is that when our external control behaviors donít work to get us results we want, we take those same behaviors to next level. We are convinced that they will work if only we do it more often, harder or faster. In other words, we get a bigger stick!
The reason this mentality has survived ages is because we can usually crank up pressure or find one punishment or threat that will work to get us what we want. Did you hear me say external control doesnít work? Of course it works! Thatís why we use it. The question remains: At what cost?
When we consistently use external control behaviors in our relationships with those we love, what does it cost? It costs us relationship. Iím not saying relationship will necessarily end, although that is a definite possibility. What I am saying is that we keep whittling away at foundation of our relationship and then wonder why there has been no relationship progress over past 100 years or even longer.
There are alternatives. There are ways to simultaneously honor ourselves and our partners. The first step is to recognize when we are using external control behavior. We will probably be able to recognize it long before you feel able to do anything about it. This is acceptable. Of course, best case scenario is that from this moment forward, every time you consider externally controlling your partner, you stop yourself and use a caring habit instead. However, if that is not what happens in your case, donít despair. Recognizing external control is first step---bringing it into your conscious awareness. Once itís there, then you can make a decision about what you are going to do about it.
To learn about excluding external control from your life and implementing caring habits in your relationships, visit www.TheRelationshipCenter.biz and check our calendar for upcoming teleclasses, chats and workshops.
Kim Olver is a licensed professional counselor and a life/relationship coach. She helps people unleash their personal power by living from the inside out, focusing their time and energy on only those things they can control. She also helps people improve the quality of their relationships with the important people in their lives.