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Several summers ago I went to a local ski resort (yes, in the summer) where I took my mountain bike up the ski lift to the top. It was a beautiful view with a bright clear sky, wind blowing on my face and nature surrounding me. It was breathtaking.
When I first stood there looking down the steep mountain, I was nervous about my novice biking skills, but I was up for a good challenge.
As a beginner at mountain biking, I was pushed to my limits as I rode down the narrow and rocky trails. I tried my best to control the bike and its speed to avoid crashing or falling over the edge and getting hurt.
I found that the more fear I felt, the more I tried to control the speed, and the more I used the brakes. But what I realized was that the more breaking I did down a steep, rocky mountain, the more dangerous it became.
In fact, the more breaking, the more out of control the bike became.
I share this story to illustrate a common theme I see in relationships. The more we try to control uncomfortable situations in the relationship, the more dangerous they become.
When we get worried or afraid of getting hurt, we often then try to control the situation.
The reality is that the controlling usually causes the opposite response. The more I tried to be in control going down the mountain, the worse I got hurt. However, once I relaxed, maintained my momentum and let the bike do its thing, the smoother the ride became, and likewise, the safer I became. Weird, huh?
Attempts at over-controlling a relationship or your personal goals can take many forms.
Are you catching on?
Relationships require guidance, not control. Let the relationship take its course.
Influence the relationship, guide it where you want it to go, and have a voice, but avoid trying to over-control by telling your partner how, when and what they need to do.
Another pattern I see with couples is that no matter how much control and hurt that goes on, couples continue to repeat the same behaviors.
Break the cycle and let go of controlling the relationship. Relationships should be easy, not a challenge.
Don’t try to control the speed. Simply be there and learn how to influence your partner and guide the relationship down the rocky mountain.
Let go a little, remember to relax and enjoy the view.
Jennine Estes is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego with a private practice in Mission Valley. She has appeared as a Relationship Expert in Redbook Magazine, Martha Stewart Publications – Whole Living Magazine, Social Work Today Magazine, San Diego local news stations, and more. To learn more relationship advice from the author Jennine Estes MFC#47653, visit her relationship column Relationships in the Raw or her new San Diego Couples Therapy website.