Everything in your life is more important to you than I am," his wife said. She went on to add, "Your job, your friends, everything is more important. You get excited about being with your friends and I see you talking with them, but you don't seem happy to be with me. And, you never want to talk or spend time with me."
Many women complain that they do not feel like they are number one in their partner's life.
In response, many men lament that if they made their partner number one, they would lose their freedom to do what they want. They see this need as controlling and a loss of independence.
There seems to be a struggle between closeness and independence. The struggle can be compared to magnets. No doubt all of us as children had fun experimenting with magnets. We tried many surfaces to see if our magnet would stick to them.
We also discovered that the magnets have two poles: north and south. The south pole and the north pole attract. One of the interesting things we discovered about two magnets was that when we moved the similar poles to each other, they moved away.
There are some relationships like the magnets. At the beginning of our relationship we are drawn together. Then, something happens in our in the way we relate. It is as though one of us has turned the magnet pole around so now when one of us tries to get close, the other withdraws.
We hear such statements as: "I need my space. I want more freedom. You are too needy and want too much." If we are the one keeping our partner at arm's length we may become an emotional island.
The struggle between intimacy and independence shows up in little things such as not calling our partner when we are going to be late.
Many of us view that as controlling. Actually, it is an act of caring, so our partner will not worry or there is an emergency. In truth, when we are accusing our partner of being controlling, what we are really doing is fighting for independence!
There is a difference between our partner wanting to be close and trying to control us. The ironic thing about relationships is that when we make our partner number one, we have a lot of freedom. When we do not make our partner number one, the opposite happens. Isn't it ironic that independence is found in intimacy!
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700
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