Want to kill a relationship? All we have to do is convince ourselves that we’re too strong to be afraid. We can deny that we have a subtle fear that blocks us from being creative with our partner. If we deny our fear then we can fly blind without instruments. Then we can let our unconscious fear push us into hiding behind more important issues like “How are we going to divide up the household chores?” or “Who will get their preference for the new car?”
I came up against my fear again yesterday. It’s pretty wimpy by now. I’ve been stomping on it with my creative passion for many years. By creative passion I mean my open expression of love and meaning. My wife Helen and I were motoring our sailboat Dragon Lady down to Cape Lookout on the NC shore. Cape Lookout is where we’ve spent many happy vacations together as a family. It’s a little remote bay next to a pre-Civil War lighthouse. As we cruised along, Helen and I mused about all of our history of going to the Cape. We talked about our personal changes, our tragedies, our victories and the relatively short time left to enjoy our lives. That’s when I decided to let my love stomp one more time on my fear: “Helen, I just want you to know that I feel so grateful to have you in my life!” Helen replied that she felt the same way about me. Then the conversation moved on. We’re both used to this kind of talk by now.
This morning I woke up to a serene view of dawn breaking behind the lighthouse on shore. A nearby sailboat completed the picture. I reflected on how so many of us are afraid of sharing our internal truths. We chase pride and appearance. What can we show to justify our existence? We stay close to what’s safe. And whatever we do we should never ever ever risk being silly. I call that “The Big No No.” That’s the best clue to where we are trying to hide our fear. Look under your fear of appearing silly and that’s where you’ll often find it. So many of us grow our fears over the course of our relationships. When we hide in our responsibilities, when we suck in and don’t express our internal experience we actually grow our fear stronger. Conversely, we tamp down our fear when we honestly admit its existence and then stomp on it by expressing our experiential truths. As these truths win out over fear we free up to be the loving partners we want to be.
Dr. Bryce Kaye is captain of Love Odyssey marriage counseling retreats. He and his wife Helen offer intensive marriage counseling for troubled couples on week-long sailing odysseys to different port towns along the rivers and sounds of North Carolina.