There are not a lot of great relationships to root for on television these days. But one relationship I find myself cheering for is the relationship between Rachel and Mike Ross on the Suits series. And that's why it was so disconcerting when, in the middle of sky-high tensions and last minute decisions with so much at stake... at the end of season five... Mike Ross chose to make an arbitrary decision directly against his promise to Rachel.
I know it's a TV show. I know he says he had only 3 minutes to make the decision that changed everything. I know there was a great deal to lose if he miscalculated. I know that he felt the weight of it unbearably. I know he loves Rachel deeply and would sacrifice himself for her. I know it was an incredibly difficult decision. And even though it is a TV show, there are real life choices that are also very difficult. Those 'rock' or a 'hard place' choices that are agonizing.
However, my point in this blog, is that he broke his promise to Rachel without a conversation with her, and made his 'higher calling' choice without appreciating the impact on her. Several times Rachel tries to keep them together, united, working as a team, intimately connected, and although it is abundantly clear to the viewer that Mike's love for her is immense, he makes his big decision on his own. In the end, he is a lone wolf. He somehow misses the fact that to sacrifice himself has a huge impact on Rachel.
This is a significant thing. When you are in a relationship it is truly challenging to live in the place between individual freedom and commitment to 'team'. Some people naturally go for autonomy and independence and can experience 'team' as a confining 'trap'. Others naturally go for alliance and dependence and can experience freedom as a type of abandonment. So it's tricky.
However, the one thing that is crucial either way is communication and vulnerability. It is not compromise, or 'taking one for the team', or silencing your natural yearnings that makes the relationship work. And it most certainly is not your old ways of getting your needs met.. like subtle manipulation, overt demands and various ways of 'self' and 'other' deception. It is being honest and open. It is through 'real' conversation. It is knowing yourself and knowing the other - and that can only happen with honesty and vulnerability. And honesty and vulnerability can only happen when you feel safe.
If you are struggling in a relationship where you feel misled, misinterpreted, misrepresented, misinformed... and generally 'missed'... then you do not have open, vulnerable communication. If you cannot seem to have a 'real' conversation, then connection in your relationship is not really working. If your influence in the relationship seems to veer between tight and controlling to ineffective and unmanageable...or if you experience your partner as either withdrawing to a place you can't access, or acting out in a way you can't handle... then neither of you feels safe. And that's a problem.
Unfortunately, there is no 'magic' technique here. It is a (probably lifelong) journey towards enjoying a liberating connection and secure interdependence. Freedom AND safety. It is work, but it is definitely worth it.
If you want to do this but don't know how, call me. I can help.