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The Happiness Project: Part 3

February 10, 2010

So I’m reading through Gretchen Rubin’s bestseller “The Happiness Project” month by month and incorporating some of her ideas into my life to hopefully increase personal happiness. This month, Gretchen talks about love and boosting happiness through the most significant relationships in your life. I want to take the next week to write about things I’ve learned about love over the last year and a half in my marriage to my best friend, Katie.

This week, I’ve been working with the family therapy team at Shades of Hope. (I’ll give more information in a future blog post if I end up working there permanently.) Shades of Hope operates out of a multigenerational modality, with emphasis on triangulation, looking at multigenerational transmission processes (especially of addiction), and differentiation through establishing boundaries. Murray Bowen, one of the founders of this modality, suggests that relationship problems are a result of unfinished business from childhood; he assumes that one cannot give emotionally to others what one has not received from his/her family of origin. Therefore, people search for spouses who can give them what they failed to receive, which can create some pretty unhealthy boundaries, such as an overfunctioning/underfunctioning relationship and codependency, what Shades of Hope defines as losing yourself in the midst of the other. Codependency can play itself out through rescuing, enabling, and addictive behaviors.

So in the midst of this, I love that Katie is an individual.

I love that Katie doesn’t mind giving me space whenever I come home from work–she doesn’t interpret my need for Jeremiah time as a slap in the face, but respects my individuality and trusts me. (And uses this time for Katie time.)

I love that Katie is capable of speaking her mind, both to me and friends, and expressing her frustration without placing blame on me or these friends. She takes risks of being rejected or scoffed at when she calls me out, and sometimes I respond defensively, but she never lets my mood effect the way she feels. (Can you tell a therapist is writing this?)

I love that Katie is going to New York in two weekends for a writer’s retreat–a chance to learn more about her career and make some connections. I love that she pursues her passions and dreams regardless of whether I’m on board. Me being on board creates a new level of excitement, but I feel that practicing her passion is not contingent on my behavior.

I love that Katie is secure enough in her personhood and womanhood to give and receive love on her terms, not someone else’s.

Thanks so much for reading today–more revelations about love tomorrow.

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