A savage bile rose in Tanya’s throat as she heard Martin talk to his mother on the phone. His patient, understanding and placating voice made Tanya want to cut the wire on the land line and smash up his cell phone. She wanted to feel his soft responsiveness - she wanted to be his one and only. ...

A savage bile rose in Tanya’s throat as she heard Martin talk to his mother on the phone. His patient, understanding and placating voice made Tanya want to cut the wire on the land line and smash up his cell phone. She wanted to feel his soft responsiveness - she wanted to be his one and only. Despite five years of living with Martin, Tanya was still competing with Martin’s mother for the top spot in his attentions. Tanya reached boiling point after being ignored by Martin’s mother at a family gathering. It made her feel as unimportant and insignificant as the day her single mother took her at the age of six to live with an aunt, and disappeared. Martin’s promises to stand up for her, and his lame efforts to make sure she was recognized as his partner were as hollow as her mother’s promise to come back for her.

Family life and responsibilities were cut and dried for Tanya. There was only one family portrait that was worth hanging on the wall. The zoom lens captured Martin and Tanya holding hands, with everyone else in the background. This was the fight of her life. It was her chance to insist on having a relationship on her terms, canceling out the helplessness she felt as a child.

Martin was attracted to Tanya’s strong will, determination and independence. He envied her confidence to do as she pleased. He loved her ability to be direct and up front about what she thought and felt. There was something comforting in her certainty. Ever since his father died Martin had been the man in the family. He basked under the crown of maternal adoration, yet dreamed of being bold enough to be his own man. Each time the waves of independence crested inside him, they immediately crashed on the sands of guilt, and the threat of losing his mother.

" I expect you to be with me at my office awards function tomorrow" Tanya threw out at Martin as he got off the phone with his mother.

" Look Tanya, I know it is an important day for you, but my mother isn't doing well. Her blood pressure is up, and I need to take her to the doctor " replied Martin pleading to be let off the hook.

" Her blood pressure is always high, and you fall for it every time! What about my blood pressure? I'm sick of playing second fiddle. I don't know how much more of this I can take. If you care about our future together, you will come to my office party tomorrow " Tanya snarled back.

" She doesn't always report the side effects of her medication so I need to be there to get it all straight. You know I can't be fully present with you if I am worrying about her." Martin said, ending the battle.

Seething with anger and humiliation Tanya stormed off. For the next few days she donned the hat of supreme self-reliance banishing Martin from her heart and mind. As time wore on, Martin felt depleted. Playing the responsible son didn't feel so good anymore. He had lost his life line to his partner, the symbol of his position as a mature man in the world. Struggling with feelings of shame and self-disgust he made frantic efforts to penetrate Tanya's well sealed sanctuary.

In her fortress Tanya shifted from righteous indignation towards loneliness and hurt. She spurned Martin's efforts to repair the breach, until hurt and isolation overwhelmed her pride. Eventually their mutual hunger to restore the status quo propelled them to forgive one and other. Both vowed to be more understanding and supportive during times of conflict.

Martin's Deal
• He feels very little power in his life, fearing being engulfed by women.
• When his mother's pull feels suffocating, he sways towards Tanya, borrowing from her independent streak.
• Stifled by Tanya's demands, he uses his filial duties as an escape route.
• Having two women to answer to means neither can possess him or swallow him alive.
• He gets his power from frustrating both women while keeping the lions share of himself for himself.

Tanya's Deal
• She feels very little power in her life, fearing being unworthy of true long term commitment.
• When Martin chooses his mother over her, fear burns fiercely, and she becomes even more demanding.
• She is envious of the close bond Martin has with his mother, something she was robbed of with her own mother.
• Having full ownership of Martin's time is the only proof of love she is willing to accept, reducing her chances of receiving what Martin is able to give.
• She feels her power through exercising what she feels are legitimate demands.

Both Tanya and Martin share a sense of powerlessness. Tanya has gained full independence from her family which becomes the hook that Martin gets caught on. It's what he wants too but is too scared to allow himself. So he gets it vicariously from Tanya. In Tanya's case she wants evidence of commitment so who better to try and get it from than a man who is tied to his mother. What a prize that would be!

Unhooking from the power pegs
• Martin has to develop boundaries that are able to safeguard him from fear of being engulfed.
• Martin needs to experiment with acting on his own initiative and build his emotional muscles
• Tanya needs to play with her definition of love, making it more elastic and allowing for ebbs and flows depending on circumstance
• Tanya needs to tell herself that she doesn't have to win a war in order to be worthy of being loved.

Copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jeanette Raymond is a licensed psychologist and psychotherapist. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology and a masters degree in child, adolescent and educational psychology. She has 20 years experience working with adults, couples, adolescents, children and families. She is the author of several articles online covering topics such as the purpose of anxiety, anger and depression, letting your body speak your emotional pain, trying to be perfect, needing validation, conflict that is sexy, self-sabotage and the power of dreams. You can access them at www.drjeanetteraymond.com/articles/

Dr. Raymond believes that the most important relationship you have is with yourself. She sets the stage for you to begin taking care of your most precious gift and ally - yourself. When you can do that, all else falls into place.

Her specialties include distress that shows itself in the body, feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled, fear of intimacy and loss, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-sabotage. If you mask your unhappiness with food, alcohol, drugs, or sex you abandon yourself. If you try to control it by working all hours, with excessive exercise, being busy, cleaning, and over-achieving you are ignoring yourself. Dr. Raymond helps you speak the turmoil that makes you want to go numb, and helps you find the fertile soil to plant your true seeds and flourish.

Dr. Raymond helps parents and children understand one another, and provides adult couples with a platform for having their conversations out loud rather than silently in their individual heads.

Dr. Raymond runs groups and conducts workshops on dream interpretation. She enables individuals to find their voice so that their bodies don't have to speak with back pain, gastric complaints, hair loss, skin breakouts, panic attacks and sleep disturbances. While emotional wounds can debilitate and prevent you from living a full life, Dr. Raymond collaborates with couples, family members and individuals to gain strength from it. She offers the opportunity to rewrite the internal dialogue that may be self-sabotaging and putting obstacles in the way of having meaningful relationships. She honors you and teaches you to honor yourself in a non-threatening environment, allowing you to unfold.