How to Reconnect – Phase One: Recognizing the Exit Strategy

As I reflect on this American celebration  from this week, I want to give all my thanks to my faithful readers and supporters. I also want to thank all my patients who have trusted me and work with me to better ourselves and the world around us. Finally, I want to thank my family and friends and particularly the very special people who generously donated their time, support and love to carry me this past month through a most challenging medical time. Thank you!

Falling in love is exhilarating; staying in love is a labor of love! And so we relished in our romantic love, blind and happy, until we started sharing house and dirty socks! The red flags were there but our happy hormone pumped up self was oblivious to the potential smell of the dirty socks. Eventually of course, it started to stink along with our responses to it. So came the comments, then the remarks, the heated exchanges and the full fledge fights, all very gradually, until one day, the gap was so wide that we became estranged to each other, wondering how we got there.

Of course, some of us decide that “life is too short”, that “it’s not worth it”, that “there are plenty more where they come from” and use other clichés to justify our personal reasons to withdraw and start a new relationship. Some of us, however, for other personal reasons, do not feel so easily defeated. We want “to work at it”, “rekindle the initial flame”, enjoy the long term effect of companionship and acquire the trust and respect of the lover who over time also becomes our best friend. This choice is arduous and painful but rewarding and validating.

Because this choice is difficult, it is always a good idea to create an environment that will facilitate the process of reconnection. The first step is to close most of the exit strategies. Let’s go back to my lovely initial reference of unsavory household details. Overtime, we have developed strategies to avoid the smell of the dirty socks. We have justified longer work hours. We have made our phones our free-time full-time partner. We have declared ownership to the “do me” hip slogan and decided to go to the gym five times a week regardless whether our mate was available or not. We have made ourselves intimately unavailable because of the children, etc. I think you’re getting the picture. These are exit strategies.

Exit strategies are developed consciously or not to escape. When the relationship becomes tense, boring or conflicting, we disengage, disconnect and increase time away from our partner. Instead of calming the game, overtime, we intensify the disconnection. The key to start closing exit strategies is to examine your individual activities and find out your hidden motivation. Remember that the reconnection business is like meringue, salsa or tango, it requires two people! Also, the goal is to be successful, so no big leap to start with. Kafka, European philosopher, once said:”a path is made by walking it”.

Good luck! Next time, I will talk about phase two…