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Common Relationship Problems With A Hair Trigger

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She was standing at the end of the driveway sobbing.

How is this going to go.  What if the police show up.  What if I actually do it.  Screw him, he deserves it.

As she approached the house, she pulled the handgun out of her purse.

This is it, show time.

She twisted the knob gently and casually walked in.

“Hey Johnny, where are you?”

“I’m in the kitchen”, he answered.

She raised the gun and aimed at his head as she stepped into the kitchen.

“What the hell’s going on?  What are you doing?  Why do you have a gun?”

“I know you’ve been cheating on me, Johnny!”, she yelled.

“What are you talking about?  I haven’t cheated on you.”

“Then why did I see the charge on our Visa from Victoria’s Secret?  You’ve never brought me anything from there and it’s been weeks since I saw it on the card.  My birthday is over six months away.  You dirty bastard. I can’t believe you would do something like this. ”

Her face turned red and her hands started to shake as she thought about the possibilities.

“Who is she, Johnny!  Tell me.”

Johnny looked at her as a tear began to form in his eye.

“It’s YOU.  It’s you, sweetheart.  I thought I would surprise you when you get the promotion you’ve been talking about.  I thought about it weeks ago and didn’t know when your promotion would go through.  I figured I would get you something nice and give it to you when it happened.”

Johnny started to shiver out of fear.

“Now put the gun down. We seriously need to talk. What made you go to this extreme?”

She dropped the gun and started to cry…

***

Now that’s a bad situation.  And it could happen to anyone.  Yes, it’s a little dramatic but when you consider emotions, the chemicals in your brain, and your reactions based on what’s going on in your life, this event is possible on varying levels.  And the roles can be reversed.  Man or woman, husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, we ARE invested in our relationships.

Where does all this come from?

You’re probably saying to yourself right now… “That wouldn’t happen to me.”

Sure, maybe not to this extreme but how many times have you jumped to conclusions about other things that weren’t true at all.  It happens to all of us.  And it’s ok.  It’s not right or wrong, good or bad.  It happens and it’s our job to become aware of it so we can do something with it.

First, let me tell you about this great bit of information I found on Psychology Today that explains some of the chemical wirings that might be causing some of this to happen.

Love triggers oxytocin
Oxytocin is the neurochemical that causes trust. It’s released during orgasm, and in smaller amounts when you hold hands and when animals lick their babies. Oxytocin is the good feeling of a common cause, from a political rally to a football huddle to honor among thieves.
Reptiles release oxytocin during sex, but mammals produce it all the time. That’s why reptiles stay away from other reptiles except when mating, while mammals form attachments to relatives and herds. The more oxytocin you release with a person, the more attached you feel. More touch, more oxytocin, more trust. But trust gets complicated in the human brain. You trust a person to live up to your expectations, and don’t realize how complex your expectations are. Eventually, your loved one fails to meet your expectations, and you fail to meet theirs.

To your mammal brain, any loss of trust is a life-threatening emergency. When a sheep is separated from its flock, its oxytocin dips and its cortisol surges. Cortisol is the feeling we experience as fear, panic, or anxiety. It works for sheep, motivating them to re-connect with the flock before they’re eaten alive. In humans, cortisol turns disappointed expectations into emergencies.

Source:  Psychology Today

What does all that mean?  It means that when you encounter an incident that has you lose trust in your partner your brain surges with cortisol which causes fear, panic, or anxiety.  It means in the situation above the lady felt like her life was threatened.  It was fear of the unknown and her brain filled in the blanks.

Think about it.  If you’re a jealous person I bet you experience these types of situations more often.  The unknown causes you to fill in the blanks and if you’re jealous you’re probably filling in the blanks with lots of stuff like cheating, messing around, lack of love, my partner loves other things more than me, etc.  That in turn creates this cortisol pump the psychology folks talked about.

Can you see how, if you don’t put a stop to it and become aware of how YOU are being, these things will continue?

Of course you can.

Once you’re able to become aware of how you act and react to things you’ll start to get a handle on it.  Add to it a healthy dose of honest communications with your partner and you’ll be on your way to a superstar relationship.

Is it easy?  I don’t know if it’s easy or hard.

It’s just what IS in many relationships.

You see, we often times don’t want to admit much of this to ourselves because it can be confronting.  It’s almost like you’re admitting you have a flaw.

The thing is, it’s NOT a flaw.  It’s a past experience, an expression of who you’ve been, and a survival mechanism you use to get through your relationships.

Let me give you another example…

My wife walks into my office.  I’m at my computer concentrating on work.  She comes behind me and gives me a big hug.

Quickly I pull away, throw my glasses on the desk… THWAP!

I turn back around and hug her back.

Depending on the perspective, past experiences with throwing things down, past experiences with pulling away quickly and everything else dealing with a similar  situation…she might interpret anger and that she is being a nuisance.  While on my side I just wanted to get all into the hug and enjoy it with out crushing my glasses.

Here’s the rub. In the moment, nothing was said.  It was all action.  It left our minds to fill in the blanks and thoughts associated to feelings and sounds.  There was NO meaning from the actions themselves.  They were just actions.  It’s our brains that want to immediately fill in the blanks because of our learned survival mechanisms.

Had we not had a conversation afterward, that entire incident could have been interpreted as something it wasn’t and held on to for the rest of the day.

Boy that would make for a fun night, wouldn’t it.  We could have been at each other’s throats.

Can you see the importance of conversation in your relationships?

In my experience, this sort of stuff really begins to ruffle feathers.  You may disagree with my writings.  You may agree with my writings.  I don’t know but no matter what it can’t expand and open up to something new unless we have a conversation.

As Bobby wrote in the previous article, Making Any Relationship Work, conversations allow you to open your mind, see different view points and either keep or disregard your current view.  If you’re holding it in, having the conversations with yourself, you might as well stop now.  You’ll always agree with yourself.

So, if you disagree with me or anyone on the RLA team let’s hear it.  Give me your thoughts and opinions.  Lets start a dialogue.  You never know how we’ll end up on the other end.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.  -Buddah

I would add to that holding on to anything at all yields the same result.

Enjoy,

Jay

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