Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Entering the Crucible

This is the first of a series of posts where I work my way through the crucible that David Schnarch describes in his book Passionate Marriage. I'm using the bullet points that he lists on pages 336 ff.

Look within your gridlocked issue or situation and extract your own unresolved developmental tasks.

Schnarch rephrases this as treating the gridlock as a personal dilemma to be resolved rather than as a situational problem.

The situational problem is the deep disagreement between my wife and me regarding sex in both frequency and activity.

The personal dilemma is my faulty belief system, the Nice Guy Working Paradigm, as stated by No More Mr. Nice Guy author Rober Glover:

If I can hide my flaws and become what I think others want me to be then I will be loved, get my needs met, and have a problem-free life.

I adopted this mindset long before I met my wife, and it is independent of her. Because it has nothing to do with her, attacking this paradigm will accomplish the key goal of focusing on self, according to Schnarch:

You'll lose your puffed-up sense of righteous indignation and you won't feel like a victim.

If you go back to the bulletin board threads that gave rise to this weblog, you'll be able to see my commentary reeks of both indignation and victimhood.

With the core issue identified, we are now able to ask the question suggested by Schnarch:

In what ways are you contributing to your own unhappiness?

Let me count the ways:

  1. I secretly place the responsibility of getting my needs met upon others by doing nice things for them and then expecting reciprocation. I then develop resentment when I don't feel like they have returned the favor.

  2. I let my life choices be governed by my fears rather than my principles, needs, and desires.

  3. I avoid expressing my feelings when I think they may lead to conflict and let them accumulate to noxious levels.

  4. I fail to set and enforce boundaries with family, friends, and coworkers. When people violate these boundaries, I wallow in self pity.

  5. I don't take the time to develop an awareness of what I really want.

  6. I worry too much about what other people, especially women, think of me.

By not asserting direct responsiblity for my life, I feel unfulfilled and disappointed. I place the blame for this unhappiness on others, especially my wife.

Coming next: How is this current situation particularly relevant for me?
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