A lot of the work I do with clients revolves around being tolerant of their partner. You might think that was obvious but so many of us in long term relationships or marriages start to allow the little things our partners say or do, to annoy us.
Over time we lose tolerance with our partner. Those ‘cute little quirks’ that we once found so adorable become annoying habits that drive us mad after we have been living with them for any length of time.
So how do we learn tolerance to accept our partner, quirks and all, in the way we expect them to accept us? Or do we just decide that enough is enough, we can’t put up with the quirks any longer and that’s the end of the relationship?
It’s a conversation I have with my clients time and time again and I always ask them “Do you still love your partner?” The majority of the time the answer is “yes, but I just wish they would stop ………”.
And there’s the crux. Everything after the “but” is making their love of their partner conditional, and the quickest way to fall out of love is to make it conditional upon them being a certain way. By learning tolerance and remembering what made you fall in love with your partner in the first place, you can quickly learn to love them unconditionally.
It takes practice both to love unconditionally and to be loved unconditionally and I spend a lot of time with my clients working through this.
On this International Day for Tolerance what can you be more tolerant of in your partner that will bring you back to unconditional love?
For help working it out register to attend my next FREE live training: 5 Days to Redefine Your Relationships.
Today is 4th October 2020. 17 years ago today I got married for the second time. We were blessed with a warm, crisp and sunny Autumn day and were surrounded by family and friends in the small country house hotel we had exclusive use of for the event.
Little did I know then what experiences that marriage would bring me. I’d been married before to a physically and sexually abusive man who had beat me up for the first time on our wedding night. I was adamant that my second marriage would be for life.
My husband had quite literally swept me off my feet, carrying me in his arms on our first date when I had my leg in plaster and we had to climb some stairs. He was tall, dark and handsome and that gesture won many smiles, comments and claps of approval as he showed all onlookers that he would look after his woman.
Less than 2 years into our marriage and I was feeling that something wasn’t quite right. It would be another 2 years before I left, a shell of the woman I used to be.
At first, I shrugged off his somewhat insensitive comments about my appearance, how he would belittle me in public or treat me with complete disrespect. I thought that I must be mishearing his outdated and misogynistic comments about women being second class citizens and belonging in the kitchen or the bedroom. And when I challenged him about it he would tell me I should be grateful that he didn’t beat me like my first husband had. What’s worse is that I actually agreed with him. Over time I had been indoctrinated to believe that he was right, I was wrong and that I couldn’t cope with day to day life without him guiding me.
When he sold our house without telling me and bought a new house, 30 miles away in the middle of nowhere, far from anyone we knew, I trusted him when he said it was only a temporary measure and if I was that unhappy we could move back. I trusted him when he told me that I was an alcoholic and needed help, standing over me as I called AA in tears, because I drank one glass of wine per night and on the nights I didn’t pour my own, he would pour me a large vodka and tonic, telling me ‘I needed one’. I believe him when he told me that I was incapable of looking after our son because I’d never had children before and didn’t know what to do. I believed him when he dissuaded me from cuddling our son because it would lead to attachment issues. And I believed him when he told me that him taking family photos or videos and leaving me just out of shot was accidental. All the while I was trying to keep a business afloat and a roof over our head because he wasn’t working.
When I left, I left our son with him and I believed that was the right thing to do. I also believed that I would be free of what I now know was psychological abuse or coercive control.
How wrong I was. That was just the start. The 12 years that have followed have been the years that I have had to pay emotionally, financially and metaphorically for having the audacity to leave him. And they have been far, far harder than the years I was married to him. Two lengthy and expensive court battles to prove that I was fit to be the resident carer of my son were the least of it. The staggering attempts at parental alienation to discredit me in front of my son, the social services and anyone else who would listen. The pursuit of my destruction, whatever it takes, to prove that everything he said and believed about me was right.
The two attempts to take my own life because I couldn’t take the abuse any more were long after I’d left him. I’d reached the end of my tether and I’d run out of energy to carry on fighting. Watching his father take metaphorical pieces out of me was damaging my son and I wasn’t prepared to put him through anymore. Thankfully, I didn’t succeed in my attempts but I was far from out of the woods and headed down some dark and dangerous paths before eventually I was fortunate to find a fantastic therapist adept at working with survivors of abuse. I met a partner who had first known me long before I met my second husband and who supported me in working through the abuse I had endured in both marriages and a subsequent financially abusive relationship.
Working through everything I’d endured gave me strength I didn’t know I had, it helped me to re-evaluate my life and redefine my relationships not just with myself but with my partner and my son who now lives with me. It gave me the courage to believe in myself and embark on a six-year psychology and counselling degree with the Open University. It opened new doors of opportunity for me as my self-belief, self-confidence and self-esteem returned. It made me determined that I would do whatever I could to try and ensure no-one else, regardless of gender, ended up an abusive relationship.
That’s a huge undertaking. There will always be those who abuse others. But if sharing my experiences and learning helps just a few more people, who go on to help others by modelling strong, healthy and robust relationships, then it will all have been worth it.
Change is scary, leaving your abuser is scary, the abuse never stops it just changes. It’s how you respond to those changes that matter. I still get ‘abuse’ every day, these days it’s usually sad attempts to discredit and belittle me in front of my son. I spend many days worrying about when ‘pay back’ is going to happen but these days I know I’m strong. I can take on any of the attacks that are coming because now I have a solid foundation built on trust, love and self-respect; all of the values that eluded me in my marriage.
Now I truly am FREE.
To help me share my story and give hope to millions of domestic abuse sufferers and survivors around the world please register to hear me speak at the Introbiz Global Summit alongside greats such as Les Brown, Brian Tracy, Sharon Lechter, Rob Moore, Lisa Johnson.
To learn more about my work please register for my FREE live training, 5 Days to Redefine your Relationships
Or join me in this workshop ‘From Surviving to Thriving’ on 19th November which I’m hosting with Suzanne Smart of Positive Imprint and Rachel Earing of Live 4 Energy.
You would think by now that I would stop being surprised by the conversations I have. Let’s face it, I’m a Sexpert.
A lot of my conversations revolve around relationships and sex, and quite often they can be pretty explicit. I have no problem with that, sometimes the only way to describe something is to describe it as it is and that often means using language that my clients are comfortable with to save them worrying about any sensitivities I may have.
Sex is sex, it can be beautiful and glorious, romantic and perfect, and equally it can be downright dirty and disgusting, depending upon your particular proclivities.
None of that surprises me.
What does surprise me, however, is the number of clients I work with, and women I speak to, who don’t ask for what they want in the bedroom.
These are women just like you and me.
You ask for what you want in a bar or restaurant, or even when you go shopping. You know what you want to drink or eat, you know what brand you want to buy and you even make a choice over how much you’re prepared to pay for something.
If you’re in business, you ask for the sale and ask for payment. At the top of your career you’ve asked for promotions and pay rises.
Even in a https://amzn.to/3kcLJx0burger chain you ask for your burger, your way.
So why do so many women avoid asking for what they want in the bedroom or in a relationship?
The answers I hear most often are;
“It seems wrong to ask for what I want.”
“ It’s embarrassing to ask for what I want.”
“Women aren’t meant to ask for what they want.”
The over-riding theme is ‘nice girls don’t ask for what they want in the bedroom’.
And I understand that, for so long women have lived under the constraints of a patriarchal society dictating what is and isn’t acceptable and reigning shame on any woman who dared to suggest that she had rights not only in the voting booth but in the bedroom too.
We don’t even have to look to history for examples of this shame. Any woman deemed to be selling herself, leading someone on or just making her sexual desire known is labelled anything from a common whore to a slut or slag, whilst men are allowed to sow their wild oats and enjoy the adulation whilst boasting about their conquests in the bar or club. Men aren’t judged for literally buying sex but women are judged for selling sex.
But this is a weary argument and one that I don’t intend to resurrect right now.
In my opinion, women have a right to ask for what they want, just as men do and the sex industry is nothing more than a service industry with entrepreneurial women using what they own to fulfil a market need. That is the very premise of business. And is another debate for another time.
But therein lies the answer to my question. Women don’t ask for what they want in the bedroom because they have been conditioned to believe it is shameful, dirty and degrading to do so. Yet the quickest and easiest way to get exactly what you want and alleviate feelings of dissatisfaction, un-fulfilment and frustration is to ask for it.
After all, you wouldn’t put up with the wrong meal or wrong coffee every single time you ordered it, you’d ask for it to be changed and served just as you like it.
Asking for what you want in the bedroom or in a relationship is no different. The words and terminology change but all you’re actually asking is for the provider to fulfil a need, just as food fulfils hunger and water satiates thirst.