If love’s a game, then it’s one that takes some serious practice. Anticipating someone’s wants, needs and quirky habits is tough stuff. And, being open enough to let someone else figure out yours? Even tougher. The secret to success is being willing to both identify exactly what it is you need to work on, and actually working on it, repeatedly. That’s this week’s #RelationshipGoal.
Step one is identifying that “inner dragon.” For John, it’s the betrayal of his ex-wife. For Jaymie, it’s the inability to trust and see her self-worth. For Freddie, it’s the hesitance to drop his humorous front and be himself. Nine episodes deep, we already know all this, but this episode focuses on concrete ways for each of the exes to practice working on their problems. And as Dr. Ish explains, practicing bettering yourself – and your relationships – is something you need to actively remind yourself to do.
“You have to remember to do it. And you have to take it seriously,” he says. Take Freddie, for example. He thought he passed his test of not speaking with flying colors, but he missed the point of the exercise completely. Rather than using silence as a tool to practice thinking about what he says, he used a whiteboard to scribble jokes all day long.
“Freddie’s humor is a defense, but he shouldn’t be surprised when his love life is one big joke,” says Dr. Ish. “We all have defense mechanisms to keep people at arm’s length. But you need to let people actually get to know the real you.”
John’s defense mechanism, on the other hand, is acting like a jerk. His wife cheated on him, and now he can’t, or more accurately, won’t let anyone else in. The easiest way to do this? By mistreating the people who care about you.
“People always define their life by an event,” says Dr. Ish. “If it weren’t for this one thing, they think they would be a different person. Whether you’re blaming yourself or someone else, you’re not moving forward. For John, his ex-wife was the thing holding him back. Now he’s got this enormous wall and manifests it with arrogance. You just have to tear that wall down.”
Playing into John’s athleticism, Dr. Ish created a literal wall for John to break down and John fully embraced this exercise.
Our question: can one exercise be enough for a complete breakthrough? Dr. Ish says yes.
“It’s cathartic. Once you finally address something you’ve refused to talk about, the emotion will never have to be that high again. Yes, you’ll need to process it for a while, but now you can process it in a calm and rational manner.”
Staying calm and rational during arguments with a significant other? Definitely something that takes practice. But, a change in perspective and reminding yourself to see things from their point of view can save your relationship.
“Before you get mad about something your partner did, change your thought process,” says Dr. Ish. “Ask yourself an important question: What else could this mean? Nine times out of ten, it’s got something to do with them and not you. Stop taking things personally! It’s really not about you. They’re not thinking about you that much.”
Don’t miss the season finale of Ex Isle Friday at 11|10c.