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Change is destabilizing -- and for most people, destabilization is very triggering. When people are emotionally triggered or feeling insecure, relationships suffer. Sometimes, sadly, they cannot withstand the stress, and people grow apart. But does that make personal growth an adversary to good relationships?

Everything of high value requires your protection: Your sentimental objects, your iPhone, your children, your health, your IRA. So why not your dear, dear heart? Counter to popular new age philosophy that being open with and about everything is the key to living well, I am going to counsel you to protect your vulnerability.

You can’t always choose how life is going to go, but if you pay attention to the roles that simply take over and lead you nowhere, you can begin, as Katherine models, to select what roles you want to play. And that enables you to steer the relationSHIP to safety in rough waters.

Sheila and Tracy found themselves arguing mercilessly about logistics. Who was doing more household tasks? How was the middle child going to get to piano on Wednesday? When would Tracy have time to go back to yoga? Who was going to figure out the logistics of getting them to a family reunion in August? The stress became overwhelming, and threatened to destroy them.

We know the limitations of avoiding big conversations and feelings in relationship on a regular basis, so avoidance is obviously not recommended as a long term strategy. But it can be used in moments, in small doses, as in the story above, to preserve a more important, agreed upon value.

Some people who have been enduring the Drama of the Gifted Relationship have simply tired of it. They want their relationships to be based on and about something other than processing feelings. Something like pleasure, or creativity, or both.

I usually go for seltzer water or fermented grapes, but sometimes you get the kind of news that is better swallowed with real spirits.

You would think that after witnessing so many women in the sheer agony of childbirth, she would be prepared. But this tough, very contained woman tantrum-ing around her ceremonial home-birth apartment and threatening to go to the hospital for drugs, reminded me that no amount of theory or witnessing can prepare you for actual experience.

All through dinner prep and catching up with my friend, I breathed into my discomfort as I focused my full attention on him. My task was to really reconnect with my friend. We swapped stories and smiles, and even with the nagging provocation hangover, I was enjoying the reunion. About halfway through the meal, a miraculous thing happened. . .

Although it was a special Valentine's Day dinner, in a very pricey restaurant, we could hear the conversation of the couple next to us all too well. They weren't loud: We were quiet. Silent, in fact.