Sharks don’t scare me. I don’t faint at the sight of blood. When onboard an especially turbulent flight, I am cool, calm and collected. But if there’s one thing that gets my palms sweaty, causes my pulse to race and my stomach to turn into knots, it’s hearing the words “We need to talk.”
We’re all taught communication is the key to a healthy relationship. We’re also told all relationships take work. And isn’t it common knowledge that you can’t change people—you can only change yourself?
Lynn Rassmussen disagrees. She’s the author of the recent book Men Are Easy: A simple guide to fun, sexy, happy, and easy relationships. She says we’re stuck in outdated modalities, yet we live in a fast-paced world that places many more demands on our time than our parents had, and our ideas about relationships need to shift.
“As little girls, we’re graded and so structured,” said Rasmussen, who has a Masters in psychology with an emphasis in systems thinking. “We learned to strive for perfection. We are not told to trust ourselves. It’s the industrial age metaphor: Love is hard work, it’s rare, expensive and if you don’t get it, you need experts. Let’s pretend it’s part of nature, but not in a new-agey way. Love is the flow of energy between people. It’s genetic, made for our survival.”
First of all, there’s no such thing as a relationship. “A relationship is a process, not a thing,” Rasmussen wrote in her book. “When you act from common sense, you relate well.”
That’s what it says in chapter four, “There Is No Such Thing as a Relationship,” which comes between the chapters “Communication is Not the Key,” “You Can Change Him” and “Don’t Work at It.”
Yes, this is a self-help book that promotes positive reaction by strongly encouraging non-action. Basically it’s a multi-step program on how not to try to fix your problem. And apparently, housework is the leading cause of most distress in domestic relationships, even more so than finances. But contrary to public opinion, Rasmussen believes the best way to approach a solution is to not come up with one, at least right away.
“What I’m saying is, yes, the household is a mess,” she said. “First, get yourself together—focus on you, first. This doesn’t mean take a vacation or get a massage. I mean put food in the fridge, do laundry, sleep. And then you can think straight.
“Problem solving is a poor way to do things,” said Rasmussen, who is also a professional business and life coach. “We have to get creative, use a different approach. You need to play, not work at it. When you lighten up, your perspective opens up. When you’re afraid, you don’t see clearly.”
She’s had firsthand experience. After 12 years of marriage and seemingly everything in its rightful place, Rasmussen hit a roadblock. She said that even though it didn’t make sense—that she had two beautiful children, great friends and a successful, loving husband—she was miserable. Now she believes that we all go through life transitions, or times of intense internal growth, whether we know it or not. And sometimes, our brain simply can’t keep up.
“In machine thinking, chaos means death,” she said. “In systems thinking, there’s a breakdown in organization before you reach a higher level. People get scared because they think they’re crazy. Think of yourself as an evolving system; sometimes you need an upgrade. But it doesn’t happen overnight.”
Now married for 31 years, Rasmussen has discovered a new perspective on communication and relationships, one that values chaos, self-care and playtime.
“I want to have more fun, I want to be happy,” she said. “It changes the feeling, opens people up to start to see what’s possible. There’s always a risk to being open but it’s the only alternative. Start to trust it. People start responding to you differently. It happens with business, too. All systems are the same, especially with kids. I’m not pro-marriage; I’m for the design of a good life.”
For more info visit www.menareeasy.com. MTW