February 02, 2009


Too often we are guilty of living in the past or forever focusing on the future. In relationships, this can be a true detriment.  Sometimes we even look to the past to predict the future. For example: 


  • Sue won’t ask her partner to help clean since the last time she asked him he refused and started a fight.  She’s sure he’ll do the same now too.
  • Dan won’t ask his wife to go bike riding since she often comes up with an excuse and he’s tired of hearing excuses.
  • Mary decided to buy herself an expensive item for her birthday, behind her husband’s back, because she knew he would throw a fit if she discussed it with him.

We often think we know how our partners will respond in any given moment; we then base our actions (or lack of actions) on that assumption.  Unfortunately, our assumptions are not always right.  If we continue to think we KNOW what our partner is going to do and we then act accordingly, we run the risk of getting ourselves in a ridiculous rut.  We base our actions on things that happened in the past and in so doing, we do not leave room for a new future.  


I can’t tell you how many people have stopped asking their partners to: change, do things with them, help them, be home more etc.  Many have given up and decided that their relationship “is what it is”.  They’re tired of trying and don’t believe they’ll get what they want…so they stop trying; they also don’t get what they want.

Instead, we need to stop allowing the past to predict our future.  We need to ask for what we want, not what we think we’ll get.  We then need to learn to fight for it.  Although the past can be a good predictor of the future, it is not the only predictor.  Instead of thinking our partner is going to do the same old thing and giving up, perhaps it’s time we stopped doing the same old thing in response.  Perhaps it’s time we stopped waiting, hoping, wishing, and instead started stepping up in a new, respectful, creative, and powerful way.  

If we want a new future with our partners, we need to let go of the past and create a new future.  Look at each action as though it is the only action…and deal with it from that place.  It is much less overwhelming than seeing one action as a thousand previous ones.  Stay in the present and, in that moment, decide what YOUR next step is.  

Remember, every action creates a new and different reaction.  Change your action and watch how your partner changes theirs.

CHALLENGE:  Stay focused on the present and do not allow yourself to stop your behavior based on what you THINK your partner is going to do or not do.  See each action as a moment in time and then figure out what you’re going to do to handle this particular moment.  


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"we know how our partner’s will respond"

You lost me at the improper use of the apostrophe idiot.

DEAR ERICH: Thanks for the message...you might want to work on your delivery however. Calling people idiots when they make a mistake won't help you in your relationships.
Take care-Lisa

I understand your advice and I think it makes a lot of sense. In order to look forward, you have to have trust in your partner not to hurt you, or to repeat those things in the past that haunt/hurt you. Without trust, looking forward is equivalent to being in the past. How do you rebuild trust when it's been destroyed, or even worse, never really present?

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