Michele O'Mara

50 Ways to Keep Your Lover: # 23-24

Filed By Michele O'Mara | March 07, 2008 11:25 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: advice column, lesbian, relationship, tips

In my book, Love Tips and Trips for Gay and Lesbian Relationships, I have identified 50 Ways to Keep Your Lover. My post last Friday offered strategies 21-22, this week I am sharing strategies 23-24. Look for more strategies next Friday!

23. Choose Love. Love is a choice. For gay men and women the word "choice" is loaded, so let me clarify that in this context; I am not referring to the concept that you have a choice as to whom you are attracted, rather you have a choice as to how you nurture that attraction once it presents itself.

A commitment is a choice. The choice does not stop with the commitment. The commitment is the foundation for all of the choices that you continue to make each day. Every day you have a choice about love and a choice as to how you communicate your love for your partner.

To love is a decision, a choice. Just as it becomes your choice to decide not to love. Remember this, when, in the midst of your long-term relationship, you unexpectedly find the new girl at work quite attractive, and she is flirting with you everyday. When you entertain thoughts of starting fresh, and flirting back, know that these are choices you make. An affair is not an accident. Infidelity is a choice. The decisions you make to be faithful are rooted in the same ability you have to make the decision to be unfaithful. Choose the behaviors that support the person you want to be and the relationship you want to have.

24. Make the Best Interpretations. Your thoughts are what give meaning to the experiences you have in life. How you view any given situation will determine the feelings you have about it.

"A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying, SITUATION HOPELESS - STOP. NO ONE WEARS SHOES. The other writes back triumphantly, GLORIOUS BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY - STOP. THEY HAVE NO SHOES."
Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander
The Art of Possibility

You are in complete control of how you interpret your life experiences. You are not, however, always in charge of the circumstances that life presents you. What you have control over is the meaning you give them and how your respond.

OUTstanding couples develop the ability to give the very best meaning possible to the situations they encounter in their life and their relationship. For example, when your partner is late coming home from work, you have the option to view that situation in many different ways. Through a lens of fear, you might think that she has been in an accident. Through the lens of insecurity, you might think she is being unfaithful. Through the lens of anger, you may think she's being disrespectful. Through the lens of love, you may think that there are numerous reasons for her running late, none of which have to do with her love for you. Given the choice, which thought will lead to the most peaceful outcome?

Creating the best meaning possible for the events in our life does not mean that you ignore facts and naively pretend that all is well when it is not. Interpreting the best meaning possible requires honesty and openness. If your partner is late from work every night, and it is getting to be a pattern, then you have to work within the framework of the facts. These facts may suggest that your partner has poor discipline when it comes to managing time or that she is unaware of the impact her tardiness is having on you and your relationship. The point is not to create negative meanings in the absence of facts. If all of the data before you leads you to a conclusion that you don't want to see, it is important to see it anyway!

Michele O'Mara, LCSW

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I do wonder about all these choices. Since all of our "choices" are informed by the ways that people previously treated us and what we see as possible versus impossible, can we really say we have control over all our choices?

If that person in the example has an affair with the flirty coworker, could she possibly have avoided that choice or did everything that happened in her life, and the lives of those people who affected her life, etc., have set up a situation in which she had no real choice but to have an affair? Since the act of choosing is, at its source, electro-chemical (or not, I did poorly in human physiology in college), then wouldn't she have as much choice in having an affair as a ball has a choice to fall when let go?

This all boggles the mind! But I say she should go for the affair and get her partner involved. Oh, wait, I know nothing about the lives of hypothetical lesbian A and hypothetical lesbian B and hypothetical lesbian C. But that doesn't stop me from making life-altering decisions for them!