Guest post from Jonathan Cohen
There is a psychological equivalent to the physical flexibility that allows us to dance the Limbo or twist ourselves into human animal balloons in Yoga class. As we journey through life together, we sometimes need the emotional flexibility to change plans, jump at new opportunities and laugh when things go wrong.
Being flexible requires us to re-set our expectations. If we expect our plans to proceed perfectly, exactly the way we imagined, we are going to be disappointed. And if we expect our spouse or partner to make things perfect for us, we make it impossible for them to please us and will probably piss them off.
Being flexible is especially important when we venture out into the world as a couple – whether taking a vacation or just dating. We look forward to these adventures and the wonderful time we are going to have, and then – to use the G-rated version of a popular phrase – stuff happens.
For example, there might be no place to park near the restaurant. Or the service turns out to be lousy. Or our plane is delayed, so we miss the connector flight, and then the hotel gets our reservation wrong, even though they’ve already charged us for the room in advance (after promising they wouldn’t).
Taking Things Too Personally
To make things worse, we men often experience poor service like this as an affront to our status and masculinity. I’m not just being treated like a schmuck, so our reasoning goes, but also being made to look inept and insignificant in front of my woman. If a woman plays on this kind of insecurity and begins blaming her male partner for the fouled-up situation, he may well react by turning his anger on her. Instead of an opportunity for renewed closeness, the trip or date turns into a sad disappointment that drives the two partners further apart.
The remedy for this is the flexibility to roll with the negative stuff that happens on any journey, to maintain our perspective and sense of humor. Does it really matter if it takes too long to park, or if we have to settle for our second-choice room in a hotel dedicated to pampering us? And isn’t an inept waiter kind of funny to watch as he gets cork in your wine, like a free Charlie Chaplin movie? After all, this trip through life is about sharing experiences together – not just buying things or being served.
When we’re flexible, we can enjoy one another without the extra pressure of meeting impossible expectations. And when we stop expecting too much, we open ourselves to the possibility of experiencing something new. As any experienced traveler knows, switching to Plan B often brings us down that hidden little lane we didn’t plan to visit, where we find this amazing hole-in-the wall bistro and meet wonderful people.
All the best memories start with things going wrong.