In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to like to reveal the ways that relationships are like Chinese water torture, and the 5 things you can do to avoid torturing yourself and your partner.
First a quick update:
The Breakup Test
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“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” – Charles Bukowski
You probably have heard the term “Chinese water torture”: Cold water is slowly dripped onto the person’s scalp or forehead over a long period of time. The drops can be rhythmical, or they can be random.
Slow dripping water is physically corrosive, but in the context of Chinese water torture, it is corrosive to the mind. Thus, the cold, slow drips cause fear, anxiety, and mental deterioration. The anticipation of the next drip adds to the anguish and anxiety.
Relationships are similar to Chinese water torture, if you allow them to be:
One of you is the victim strapped down to the chair, the other person has the water, and the drips are the arguments and fights.
As each drip happens, as each argument happens, there is a compounding effect on the relationship.
Little things make a tremendous difference over time. Therefore, those small arguments, fights, and nagging become corrosive to the relationship.
Just like the drops of Chinese water torture, those frequent clashes over meaningless or minor things create pain, anguish, and resentment towards each other.
Unlike Chinese water torture where you are held against your will, in your relationship, it is you who is the torturer. You get to decide the way you will respond or react to the actions and behaviors of your partner. And, if you choose to turn the small things into big arguments, then you are torturing yourself, and you are eroding the relationship.
The more you look for, identify, and remind your partner of how badly they are doing, the more trapped and helpless you become. Every time you keep pointing out the bad, and turning them into fights or emotional disagreements, you are dripping toxicity and torturing yourself as well as dripping poison on the relationship and torturing your partner.
5 Tips to avoid Chinese water torture in your relationship
More than 4,500 people have taken my Breakup Test, and according to the responses, the number one reason for relationship breakups is ‘We argued constantly.’
1. Choose your battles: Identify the big stuff VS the small stuff. It is up to you to define the trivialities, and to clearly distinguish them from the important, meaningful issues before arguing.
2. Make rules in your relationship: agree on the terms and responsibilities within your relationship. Perhaps you have fallen for the pop fallacy that responsibilities should be 50/50. However, relationships do not work that way. There are things you love to do and things you hate doing. So, discuss these with your partner and be reasonable and practical. Accordingly, if your partner works longer hours than you and you are at home, it is more pragmatic for you to take care of most of the parenting duties.
3. Stop being paranoid: Separate your partner’s intentions from his or her behaviors. We all make mistakes; we are all human. Therefore, beware of reading into your partner’s failings. Beware of catastrophizing or being neurotic: ‘He did….therefore he must have done it because he doesn’t love me…see, he hates me…I knew it, he must be doing it just to spite me…’ When you make these conclusions, you are dripping corrosive acid onto your partner and the relationship – and you are the torturer in this Chinese water torture! Instead, choose to focus on your partner’s goodness and what they are doing right.
4. Stop trying to change or control your partner: Anxiety is the feeling or belief that your world is out of control, coupled with the attempt to try to control something that you cannot control. In Chinese water torture, the victim becomes anxious because he has lost control and is trapped; he worsens his anxiety by trying to anticipate or mentally control the drops. The same applies to your relationship. You cannot control your partner, and the more you try to control or change him/her, the more resentful they become and the more bitter and anxious you become because you constantly fail at controlling or changing them. Instead, remind yourself and revisit the reasons you fell in love with this person, and why you love him/her now.
5. Stop competing – seek to understand: There are 5 conflict styles in relationships – compromise, collaborate, compete, avoid, accommodate. Most people think it is best to compromise, but that means each person is giving up something they want. Meanwhile, others focus on competing which makes one person the winner, and the other a loser. While each style is effective depending on the context and need, the overall best approach is to collaborate, to seek to understand what the other person wants and needs, and why. When you focus on understanding your partner, you deepen the connection.
In conclusion, remember you are in control, you can make yourself the torturer and/or the tortured victim by the way you respond to your partner and the arguments that ensue. Little things mean a lot, and small things can build or destroy your love and relationship.
If you would like help to remove the blocks that cause you to be angry, resentful or constantly looking for what is wrong, book a one-on-one session with me.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.