At the end of my first marriage my soon to be ex-husband and I decided we needed counseling. It was suggested to us we should go separately, at least at first. Considering we had no desire to sit next to one another on a couch, we agreed. Not only did we go separately, but we found separate therapists.
At the end of my first session, my therapist gently reassured me the problems in my marriage were not really my fault. He told me my soon to be Ex was a classic manipulator, which of course I already knew. He told me my Ex was manipulating the situation using our child. I agreed.
So, imagine my shock when my Ex reported to me that his therapist had told him I was manipulating. His therapist told him that I was using our child as leverage to get him to behave in certain ways and that my motives couldn’t be trusted. He agreed.
I was infuriated. I was also relieved that I’d found the best therapist and convinced his counselor had gotten her credentials from the back of Rolling Stone magazine. At the time it wasn’t funny, but now I look back and laugh.
We did not make it to couples counseling.
: to control or play upon by artful or unfair means especially to one’s own advantage. To try to steer a situation to get ones one way.
Guess what. We’re all doing it all the time. It’s human nature. It’s the way the game is played. Even when we’re being charitable or generous that behavior is driven by a need to feel a certain way.
Humans are driven to get what they want. It’s primal. When we aren’t getting our way we shrivel up eventually. The desire to be happy isn’t selfish. It’s biological. It can’t be overridden for extended periods of time without consequence. There is a reason people say all is fair in love and war. It’s because consciously or unconsciously we are always working a personal agenda. As strange as it sounds, there is nothing wrong with that because it’s natural.
In relationships, however, that natural drive can create very complicated relations. When two people aren’t on the same page those natural behaviors become manipulative and feel coercive or forceful. Most of the time it’s really not intentional. Two people who love each other very much can become magnetically opposed to one another and relationships suffer or die entirely. Any kind of relationship ranging from business to romantic will go haywire when opposing wants are at play. The best of intentions can’t override manipulation for an extended period of time.
It is actually a gift of our natural makeup that we are driven to our own happiness. It’s the kind of thing that prevents us from overriding our own best interests for too long. When you understand manipulation for what it is, it’s easier to be softer about it or even compassionate when you see it activated.
New couples often ask me how they can have a long and happy relationship. I always say the same thing. You better want the same things most of the time. Core values, big goals, a shared vision, all those things go a long way to a lasting love. When conflict arises, if you want the relationship to last it has to be about how both people can get what they want, now not later.
The most important thing to remember is, what we want is always a feeling. It’s not about the job, or the cars, or the kids, or the lovers. It’s a feeling and knowing that makes it easier to find a shared goal.
When you grasp the concept of manipulation for what it is, a human reflex instead of an act of force you can relax around it rather than fight against it. You don’t have to put up walls. You can put on music and dance. No villains. No victims. Just souls playing together trying to be happy.
Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.
Posted on 03/27/2013 at 12:00:00 AM