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I expect my boyfriend to live up to my expectations and visit when I would like him to, but he doesn't and now I'm angry and stressed - can you help with some clarity?


heart to heart
Question
My philosophy on life is that love is the all powerful force. However I do not seem to experience this force in my relationships. I have been in a relationship for 4 months. My boyfriend went to Paris for a week to visit his son. I picked him up at the airport on Wednesday and spent the evening with him (my own teenage sons looked after themselves that evening, I left them their tea). He stayed the night for the first time at my house, which he had been wanting to do. I have stayed often at his when my boys are with their dad.

I asked him next morning what he wanted to do at the weekend. I suggested staying at my house and watching films on Friday and then going out on Saturday. He knew I had the boys for the weekend. When we parted I said see you Friday - he said I thought you were going out with friends. No I said you were coming over to me. Oh ok he said. An hour later he rang to say he didn't want to come Friday as by the time he got in from work at 8 o'clock and got to me it would be after 9. My heart did a clunk but I accepted it. He said he would see me Saturday for a family do (my family from Italy) he wanted to come to.

He rang Saturday to say he had reorganized work to come earlier to it. My mind got going overtime feeling left out, disregarded. He knew I was having a tough time in a new job and I wanted some support. For me he wasn't there. I discussed my feelings with a friend on Saturday and decided I did not want him to come to my family do if he couldn't be bothered to be with me on Friday. My son had an incident which the police had to be called to on Saturday teatime. I eventually felt compelled to tell Robert not to come that night and in fact not to come at all. He just said ok.

An hour later I had calmed down and rang to say I couldn't stretch myself in 2 as I had 2 boys to look after. I believed part of the reason for him not coming was because he is unsure of being with my boys. He has 4 children of his own from 2 marriages and has had children to be responsible for since the age of 19. His wife left him after an affair to live with the other man. He said it was not me - he meant everything he said about loving me but he couldn't do the boys.

I tried to speak to him on the Monday but he got angry and said he wanted a woman around all the time not one who had other commitments. I said I had never asked him to be responsible for the boys. He asked me to send back his stuff.

I have been separated for 6 years during which time I have had 2 other relationships and had strong treatment for cancer. I'm ready for someone to share with. I have since had terse e-mails about his stuff being returned and I let rip with an e-mail which was very angry and accusing which I didn't mean to send but sent accidentally.

Now I can't get him out of my mind. I keep occupying myself but the pain of missing him comes back. I've been writing out my feelings of anger, sadness, regret, love. I am sorry for being reactive. I hate the animosity and feel its all gone berserk with no room for talking.

I have it in my head to try to heal the relationship with an apology for my anger. I would like to open communication. I would like my relationship back. I have so many mixed messages from friends about leaving it alone or sending a response. I don't know what to do at all and I'm stressed out trying to decide. Can you help with some clarity?

Wallace's reply
Wallace
You seem to have had a rough time with your prospective partner. You say at the end of your email that you would like to open communication and that you would like your relationship back – but that you are not sure if this is the right path and your friends are giving you mixed messages.

I don't know if it is right for you to have this gentleman as your partner because that is a decision for you alone – however I do feel that it is right for you to open up communication again. You are both coming from failed marriages and judging from your email you could both benefit from practicing loving communication. The most common cause of marital discord is poor communication between the partners.

There are a few principles that will help you communicate lovingly within a relationship. I'd like to share them with you and I'd like you to commit to practicing them in all your personal relationships with adults and also in your relationship with this gentleman.

1. No Expectations
This is the same as not needing to control our partner by having them respond to our wishes. You might prefer your partner to behave in a certain way but it is a mistake to expect certain behavior. You are angry because you expected this gentleman to see you on Friday. Then instead of really listening and attempting to understand why he couldn't come round to see you, your communication became angry and then so did his and you both ended up feeling hurt and aggrieved. I want you to practice being in relationships without expecting others to conform to your wishes.

2. Not Blaming Your Partner
When things go wrong in your relationships I want you to completely desist from blaming the other person. When we are blaming the other all ability to understand the difficulty we are having disappears. Instead it is much more constructive to learn to ask questions and listen calmly, carefully and with full attention to the answers. I want you to practice being in relationships without blaming others and to replace blaming with asking questions and listening carefully to the answers.

3. Taking Time to Sense Inner Guidance
I have the feeling from your email that you react immediately to what your partner is saying – when we react immediately like this there is no time or space to sense inner guidance. We need to practice creating pauses and spaces in our communication where we go inside and sense the appropriate thing to say. When we are new to this type of communication it can be helpful to ask lots of questions and do lots of attentive listening and then take time out from the communication to digest what has been said and to sense inner guidance before returning to the communication process some time later with our refreshed perspective. If we leave ourselves time and space in our communication we are much more likely to receive insights and improve our understanding about the way forward. I want you to practice asking questions and listening attentively and then take time out before giving a reply. In this time out learn to wait patiently to receive insights and understanding. This will only happen if you are calm and not blaming your partner.

If you attend carefully to the advice I have given your communication with your partner and with other people in your life will improve – perhaps even dramatically. At times you might find it a challenge to do what I am advising – for example if your partner decides not to come round and visit and you accept that (because you are not expecting him to do as you ask) you may feel this ache in your chest and a clunk in your heart. It is important for you to understand that this ach is a result of your own lack of love for yourself which you are seeking to fill up through being with someone else. So along with the three pieces of advice above I suggest that you purposely take a regular time each day to be with yourself. You could go for a walk in nature or if you feel inclined you could stay in and meditate a little, learn to commune with the highest part of yourself or listen to the sounds outside your window.

You will find help with this on pages 202-205, 44-46, 37-40 and 50-59 of Unfold Your Wings and Watch Life Take Off, the book that supports my email coaching – I suggest you read these pages. For other advice on relationships I suggest you read in the same book 'Your Calling Helps You Understand Relationships' pages 77-82 and 'Your Healing from a Broken Relationship' pages 214-219. Ordering the book will give you access to the private part of my website called 'A Life Discovered Community.' Here you can learn how to use inner guidance to improve your relationships in the online coaching facility. I also suggest you join the discussion forum in the private part of the website where you can share your thoughts with other readers.

You say your philosophy is that love is the all powerful force. This is a very good philosophy and with the help and suggestions I have given above you may be surprised at how you can tap into and experience that force!

Further Help and Resources
In addition I recommend you take a look at Peter Shepherd's 'Communication and Relationships Course' – I suggest you read the section titled 'Ask Closed and Open Questions' on page 15, which will guide you on opening up communication so you can understand each others needs. Also look at the section titled 'The Self Defeating Should' on page 26. This will give you insight into how having expectations can undermine empathy and love within a relationship.

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