Living on The Edge in Marriage Conversation:
A young thirty something businessman and I were talking about his business and the fact that it ‘flat lines,’ ‘doesn’t grow’ and that inflation drives his small profit margin down each year. We got around to talking strategy and I began talking about attitude. “You’ve got to find an edge” I said.
“An edge?” he shot back. “I don’t have that. I can barely get up in the morning. Bills, employee problems, government regulations, taxes. I don’t have time or energy to develop an edge.” We talked for sometime about the challenges of being in business, which, it seems to me, is majorly about personal consciousness and growth. Finally, we circled back to talking about the edge.
Humans can go two ways. They can decline, or shrink, or collapse, or withdraw. Or they can expand, upgrade, build up and step out. What they can’t do is stand still. In marriage you are either becoming less and less connected or you are becoming more intimately connected. You are either shutting down and watching your relationship die or you are stepping in and challenging it into new life. There’s no neutral. Though some believe they can be neutral they can not.
Living in ‘maybe’ is living in no. Imagine a continuum with ‘no’ all the way on the left side of the line and ‘yes’ all the way on the right. ‘Maybe’ lives in the middle, kind of sliding back and forth. In relationship you can safely say anything to the left of Yes! isn’t really maybe, it’s no!
We’ve come to the meaning of living at the edge. Any relational attitude that risks ‘yes!’ embraces the edge. The edge is where relationship happens.
It does not happen, obviously, in no and it cannot happen in maybe. So the young thirty something businessman who barely has the energy to get out of bed is making the mistake of believing in his fear, his angry mood and the resulting despair it offers.
Yes might look like a complete overhaul of his product line, it might look like a total evaluation of how he ‘spends’ his energy and time, it might look like getting some outside help in re-imagining what he wants to do and how he wants to do it. But to live in ‘sort of’ and ‘maybe’ – to live in fear of change is to travel down the road to extinction.
A marriage too, is meant to be embraced, conflict welcomed, change observed and challenged, always open to the latest discoveries. Life on ‘auto pilot’ produces numbness, boredom and often an eerie kind of chronic tiredness.
As I sit here and review what I’ve written I realize I’ve missed a very important observation. When talking of ‘living in maybe/no’ I mean to point out an attitude of fear and avoidance. But there’s another way that ‘no’ can lead to ‘yes’ and that is when you have the courage to say no to drift, maybe, auto pilot – whatever you want to call it. That ‘No!’ is built on your longing and willingness to say ‘Yes!’ – to everything life offers.
Stephen W. Frueh PhD is a coach, consultant, writer and speaker. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 805 338 4286
“Healthy marriages make the world a safer place for children.”
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