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2010 Marriage Resolution: Break Free of Your "Him-and-Her" Pattern Prisons

Ah, the joy of a New Year! The endless possibilities, opportunities to set new goals, to achieve new heights! To break old patterns that no longer serve you, like nixing the danish and choosing fruit, actually going to the gym rather than just donating your membership fee as if to charity, setting small goals you can realistically accomplish instead of goals so intimidating you can’t even get started.

So how about some new couple patterns? How about taking a look at some of the him-and-her patterns you’ve adopted over the years, keeping those that work, and changing those that don’t?

You know, like the roll-your-eyes-snide-comment thing you do every time your beloved guffaws at what you consider to be some inane sophmoric sitcom gag. Or your severe sigh and heavily judgemental “I don’t want to talk about it” way of ending arguments. Or your oh-so-subtle fresh-bathed-and-perfumed cue that you’re in the mood which only works 10% of the time. . .

These were all workable at some time, no doubt! We don’t establish patterns because we think they will fail. On the contrary, him-and-her patterns emerge because they do work! So when you were first together, letting him know your opinion of a sitcom with a roll-eyes-snide-comment was cute. It certainly was more acceptable than saying something downright demeaning as in “I can’t believe you’re watching that ridiculous show. Are you stupid or what?” But over time, it’s not cute.

Why? Because watching those sitcoms has meaning for him. Perhaps it relaxes him, takes him away from a world of worry and responsibility. You might change your formerly cute pattern to one of accepting the good his watching does for him, and either not react, or – better yet - smile, appreciating the relaxation he finds there.

Your “I don’t want to talk about it” kept you from flying into a temper and saying things you knew you’d regret, and was a fine pattern back then. But now all it does it prevent your discussing issues you really need to discuss if your relationship is to deepen and thrive. Maybe you can change that pattern to “I need some time to cool down. I’d like to table this for now and come back to it later. That OK with you?” so you can handle your heated emotions without dropping an issue that will only continue to fester if left unaddressed.

And if your subtle “Come here lover” cue was enough to ignite the passion when you were first together, it may no longer suffice. Not that he loves you less, but just that life has gotten more complicated and distracts him from noticing your subtleties. How about varying your cues? Sometimes being overt “I want you, you big sexy thing,” sometimes being subtle, sometimes finding more playful ways to alert him to your desire.

The patterns we adopt to handle various situations are great. We couldn’t function in our highly complex world if we didn’t have reliable patterns to go by. But left unexamined, our patterns can become a prison, keeping us locked in behaviors that no longer contribute to a happy, joyful life.

This New Year, take a fresh look at your him-and-her patterns. Keep the ones that work, like greeting him with a smile and a hug when you or he return at the end of the day, and let go of the ones that don’t. Enjoy the surge of love that comes with new behaviors that fit who you – and your sweetheart – are today.

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