Image Credit: Sean McGrath.
Let me paint you a picture.
You are on a romantic getaway with your partner, tucked away in a remote log cabin in the mountains. There’s a fire roaring in the hearth. You’re snuggled up together with a glass of wine, enjoying the cosy warmth and some precious time alone, just the two of you, no distractions.
But then you feel a cold draught seeping in. It feels like it’s coming through an open window on the other side of the room – and it bothers you. You get up to close it, thinking now it will be perfect. However once you have closed the window, you notice another draught coming in through a gap under one of the doors. You find something to tuck under the door and close that gap. But no sooner have you fixed that, than you notice a crack in the glass of the kitchen window. So you rummage around in the drawers and find some tape and carefully patch up the crack.
And then you think, you know what, while I’m up I might as well check all the windows and doors in the house. So you go around checking, fixing and closing every single nook and cranny. You go around weatherproofing. And all the while you’re thinking when all this is taken care of then it will finally be perfect and we can just relax and enjoy ourselves. But by the time you finish all your searching and checking and fixing, and you return, the fire has gone out and your partner has gone to bed.
Battening down the hatches is what we call ‘weatherproofing’, a term the US therapist George Pransky first coined along with the powerful cabin metaphor, to illustrate the need to seek out every little problem in our relationships and shore up protection against All That Could Go Wrong. Which on the one hand sounds preemptive and sensible right? You have a good thing here and you want to work at it, you want to fix it, you want to ‘close all the gaps’.
Image Credit: Carnie Lewis
But when you are so busy weatherproofing, you create a sense of divide between yourself and your partner. And that divide in turn triggers your partner’s paranoia and insecurities. Insecurities that they are not loved, that they are not enough, that they are being judged and somehow found wanting.
And let’s face it, when we are feeling insecure and judged, when we feel that we may not be enough, that we may not be loved, rarely do we show our best side. We often become defensive and resentful and withdrawn, perhaps even angry and argumentative.
And so often you find that those niggling problems seem to grow and you start wondering, why are things so bad between us at the moment?
It’s so important that we take the time to enjoy the good things in life and the powerful way they can connect us all. The activities, the jokes, the laughter, the adventure – all those wonderful things that lured you and your partner to that special mountain cabin in the first place. Getting back there is easier than you think.
Laughter and fun are the best antidote. Try something new. Something neither of you have done before. Perhaps take up salsa dancing, it’s great exercise, it’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s the ultimate contact sport. And you have to come together as a team to make it work. Anything where the focus is not on your relationship, where the focus is simply on enjoying each other, and being best friends. Open a bottle of wine and talk about the stuff you love. Take the time to open up about what you would like to do and encourage your partner to do the same.
Image Credit: Sean McGrath
What you might even rediscover is appreciation.
And when you appreciate your partner, you are choosing to be thankful for the unique hilarious person you fell in love with. The judgement will fall away. And funnily enough, so do many of the ‘problems’ that so urgently needed to be fixed.
In an appreciative state, all of those imperfections that seemed so jarring are barely noticeable because you’re too busy laughing so hard you can’t breathe at a joke so old you can’t believe it just came out of your partner’s mouth, and that you still find it funny.
Because you’re too busy being thankful for the way your husband always rushes to lessen your load when you arrive home tired with your arms full of groceries or overflowing with files from work.
Because you’re too busy noticing how your wife takes your breath away when she looks at you and smiles.
There is no room for insecurity or judgement in those moments. There is nothing to weatherproof.
There is simply love and appreciation and connection.