Hello there Patch readers. Today I want to continue my conversation with colleague Deborah Leeds, where we introduce you to some of the latest "magic pills" on the market that are being developed for couples.
I am very excited to tell you all about a new vitamin discovered, Vitamin V. "A vitamin is an organic compound required by an organism as a vital nutrient in limited amounts" (thank you Wikapedia!). What a perfect description: it is vital, and it is only needed in limited amounts.
Vitamin V is a special pill which allows one to drop defenses and be vulnerable with one's partner. When you find yourself in an endless attack/counterattack mode, or even point/counterpoint, you pop one of these and pretty soon you feel your muscles relax, your jaw slacken, and your breathing deepen. Suddenly you understand deeply what your partner has been trying to tell you for the past two hours, and to understand their frustration at the wall you've been putting up. You also understand the part of you you've been trying to protect with your defensive posturing and you simply name it. Let me give some examples for how Vitamin V might work in an argument or discussion:
Before Vitamin V: "Why do I always have to be the responsible one who makes all the decisions and makes sure everything gets done?"
After Vitamin V: "Sometimes I feel like a little kid who isn't up to handling all the adult things on my plate."
Before Vitamin V: "It really pissed me off the way you ignored me at the party last night."
After Vitamin V: "I was worried you were attracted to that other woman and I felt frumpy in what I was wearing."
Before Vitamin V: "I wish when you came home you didn't treat me like a house keeper."
After Vitamin V: "I don't get a salary so I wonder if anything I do is valuable."
Before Vitamin V: "Why are you always spending so much money?!"
After Vitamin V: "I'm worried about providing for the family and afraid I can't keep up."
I think you can appreciate how much more easy it is to accept what is said when someone takes their Vitamin V. What's spoken from our heart enters another's heart. What's spoken from our defensive posture triggers another's defensive posture.
The trick, of course, is to be able to speak from a place of vulnerability when your instinct is to want to defend yourself. If you don't have any Vitamin V in your medicine cabinet, I simply recommend the following: practice. Try it on your own and see what happens. Most of the times it stops an argument dead in its tracks and brings forth a vulnerable response from the other side. If it doesn't work with the first statement, try it two more times. By the third time, I predict 99% of arguments will be shifted, if you are vulnerable in spirit as well as in word.
For those of you who are saying to yourself: "My partner would take advantage of my vulnerability" I say "Are you sure? Is that based on fear or reality?" If you try it and it is indeed based on reality, you probably need some outside help.
Do you have a question about your marriage or relationship? Is there a particular topic on relationships or individual psychological issues you would like addressed in this blog? Ask Josh in the comments below or email him at email@example.com.
Deborah Leeds, MFT, is a couples and individual therapist with offices in Pleasant Hill and Berkeley, CA. Visit her website at deborahleeds.com
Josh Gressel, Ph.D., is a couples and individual therapist based in Pleasant Hill, CA. Visit his website at joshgressel.com.