I could feel the tension between Lucas and Emma when they came into my office. They had either just argued or were about to. So, I asked if one of them would tell me what was going on.
Lucas waded in, “Man, Emma’s mad! I really caught it this morning when she found out that Marty and I went to lunch yesterday without her. Now, she’s punishing me. I’m telling you; she’s got to get a hold of that temper of hers. It’s crazy the way she just gets on something and chews it to death.”
It turned out that Marty, a friend of Lucas’s, wanted to borrow $3,000.00 from them. Earlier, Lucas had promised Emma that he wouldn’t talk to Marty without her. Why not?
Emma really wasn’t sure they should be lending that much money to anyone, even a friend. After all, that money would come right out of their savings because they sure didn’t have it just lying around. And, even though they had that much in the savings account, they also had three young children. Maybe they would need the money for an emergency. Emma knew jshe’d feel a lot calmer about the whole thing if she could just talk with Marty face to face.
But yesterday, Lucas in spite of his promise to her had gone ahead and met with Marty alone. And then, to make it worse, he hadn’t mentioned it to her. She’d found out about it from Marty’s wife, just by accident. “Unbelievable,” she spoke up. I could feel her anger, even though I was sitting across the room.
So, I called a “time out” so I could check out the information. “Lucas, did you promise Emma that you would include her when you met with Marty?” I asked. “Yes, I did,” he said. “Well then, I don’t get it,” I remarked.
By the way, Lucas is in business for himself; overall, he’s a very sharp, responsible person. So, we all knew he hadn’t just forgotten Emma. But, I also knew that (1) Lucas was scared to death of any situation where there might be conflict or even just disagreement, especially with those he cares about. (2) And, he has a very hard time saying “No,” especially to family or friends.
Lucas knew that if he took Emma along to talk with Marty, chances were very high that she would question Marty. If she did, Lucas knew he’d feel plenty embarrassed. And not only would he feel bad, but Emma’s questions might make Marty angry. And then, on top of all of that, what if Emma refused Marty the money? That, he couldn’t handle. No, he knew it would be a lot more comfortable if he just met with Marty alone. He gambled that he could get by with it.
So, he went to meet Marty without Emma. He hoped that either she wouldn’t find out about it, or if she did, she wouldn’t be too upset. But, Emma did find out and she was more than upset. She was furious.
When she confronted him, he responded by saying that their agreement wasn’t really a promise and so it wasn’t that important. We know this is a completely untrue statement; I’d checked with him twice to be sure. Finally, he blamed their argument on her temper. He wanted both Emma and me to focus on her anger.
Let’s step out of this situation for a minute and look at it objectively. Here’s the reality.
1. Lucas made an agreement with Emma. He promised her she’d be included in the talk with Marty.
2. He broke his promise.
3. She felt hurt, disappointed, and then, angry. (These are appropriate feelings for this situation.)
4. But, instead of acknowledging Emma’s logic and her feelings, admitting to himself and her that he’d made a mistake, Lucas tries getting out of his responsibility to his relationship with Emma.
First, he tries to change the reality by implying that their original agreement was unimportant. This goes nowhere, of course, because Emma reminds him that she had made it very clear how important it was to her that they see Marty together.
Second, when that doesn’t work, he focuses on her temper. Here, because he is unable to admit that his behavior was wrong (even to himself), he turns it back to Emma.
But, the truth: This “break” in their relationship happens because: (1) he’s terrified of any kind of disagreement or conflict, (2) Lucas fears saying “No,” to either Marty or Emma.
The saddest part of this whole process (which happens pretty frequently between them)
is that Lucas is unaware of what his behavior means.
He’s emotionally “stuck.”
Actually, Lucas was the one who set up Emma’s anger by breaking his original agreement with her. In a healthy relationship:
(1) Lucas, would make a promise only if he intended to keep it.
(2) If, after Lucas realized he’d made a promise that he didn’t want to keep, he’d approach Emma to change the agreement. They’d come to some sort of compromise together.
A bonus: By talking it out, they’d understand each other better and they‘d be putting their relationship first.
Here, Lucas acted alone when he should have included Emma. Remember, Emma is his chosen life partner; they’re in it together. We don’t lie to our partners because we aren’t comfortable with something we’ve agreed to especially if it’s something our partner needs. Here, Lucas should have faced Emma and worked it out.
Lucas’s manipulations didn’t work here. Emma’s feelings of betrayal and resentment were justified. Lucas eventually, over time, understood that:
Saying one thing and doing another, especially over and over, as he had done, destroys relationships because it destroys TRUST.
Question: Could this article describe anyone you know or You?
Warmest regards until next time,