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The Convenience of Compartments...
Wouldn't it be lovely if relationships could be tidied away into nice little compartments? Never crossing and conflicting with each other? There'd be compartments for everything from work colleagues to lovers. [All personal details below changed]
But hang on a minute don't most men have a knack of managing just that? A client, Lara, 39, found her boyfriend of two and a half years, David, 47, managed to do so. Things had been ticking over nicely - and they were both in love - except increasingly she felt he led two separate lives.
There was the dating, couple-about-town, life he shared with her and the separate life he had visiting his two children from his ex. Although they spoke about them meeting - and I might add he raised the subject - it was never arranged. After this much time Lara wasn't happy with him compartmentalised his life like this.
Such compartmentalisation can challenge and even damage a relationship irreparably. Somehow men seem to find it a quite natural state but it frustrates women who on the whole juggle strands of their life weaving them into each other quite readily. As far as we're concerned it's unrealistic to think the demands of one compartment won't impinge on those of others. And a compromise or reconciliation must occur between them.
Lara had a heart-to-heart with David, discovering anxieties over allowing these "compartments" to mix. He feared she wouldn't like his children, nor would they like her. It might cause ructions with his ex-partner, and it’d hail the permanency of their relationship which he wasn't sure he was ready for.
I’d prepared Lara to challenge such fears. Rightly she said his anxieties would stop their relationship deepening. She'd rather know if he didn't have the chutzpah to face them because then he wasn’t the man for her. This gave David the proverbial "kick up the..." to introduce them; thankfully it went well.
Compartmentalising your life may work in some instances but not when it prevents relationships from bursting out of those boundaries and growing.
An edited version of this was published in The Times
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