Growing Old Together
MISSING: My Kind, Loving Husband
Like so many clients, Linda* (not her real name) arrived at her appointment with only the feeling that she just wasn’t happy anymore. As Linda talked to relationship coach and hypnotist Beverly Craddock, it became clear that Linda’s unhappiness was a side effect of the slow erosion of connectedness in her marriage.
“When we got married, he was this amazing, caring, loving man,” Linda said. “And the kids grew up with an amazing dad. But these days, he’s more interested in the news than in us. He couldn’t keep his hands off me when we got married, now I rarely even feel eye contact from him.” Linda’s complaint was one that Beverly has heard over and over again.
“The early stages of a relationship are all about the brain being flooded with feel-good chemicals like dopamine,” Beverly explains. “Love is easy when the chemicals are flowing but over time all relationships become about the conscious decision to love the other person.”
While many marriages survive through the stages of acquiring stability and having children, they become challenged by the transition to retirement and an empty nest.
“One of the key problems in long-term marriages that fail is that the couple reaches a point of differing expectations,” Beverly says. “The wife is excited to finally have more time to spend with the husband - who they’ve missed greatly during the hard working years of providing for kids. The husband is typically tired of working and is looking toward retirement to spend time on hobbies or personal interests.”
It isn’t just retirement expectations that cause problems. Relationship expectation failures can plague a relationship at any stage. “Every couple can find their stress points if they begin to understand their expectations,” Beverly says. “Even the simple things like a disappointing anniversary or a disagreement over how to spend a bonus check come down to partners having different expectations.”
Beverly recommends that each partner understand their own expectations. Then they have to share those expectations. Often times expectations that are shared can be met because the other partner is willing to compromise or willing to do something to make the other person happy. Understanding and sharing expectations can prevent many of the arguments that most couples face.
“Working as a relationship coach can be easy at times because most people can see the problems from outside the relationship,” Beverly explains. “Having a hypnotist’s understanding of the subconscious mind means we can take the expectation dilemma a few steps further. We can help clients probe why they have those expectations and how those expectations are attempting to help them achieve something good or avoid something bad.
The subconscious mind is tasked with self protection. From providing immediate reflex responses to managing the automatic functions of the body, the subconscious is constantly protecting. It is also fueling our expectations as it seeks out joy and attempts to avoid pain.
“It’s useful to work with someone who can help each partner more deeply understand their own expectations and the expectations of the other person,” Beverly concludes. “Sometimes a fresh perspective can help both partners rediscover the magic that was present early in the relationship.”
When Linda understood her own expectations and where they originated, she was able to communicate more openly with her husband. His actions changed a bit and he then became a client. Linda and her husband are now finding the right balance of expectation and exploration that lets them both be more comfortable, happy, and fulfilled. When partners feel fulfilled, they are better at naturally meeting the expectations of their relationship, just like they did in the beginning.