Monday, 14 March 2011

7 Important Relationship Lessons We Can Learn From the BP Oil Spill

By Lori Rubenstein
Here are some fabulous lessons we can all learn from the BP oil spill...
1. No matter how well things are going, it's good to have a back-up plan
Pre-nuptials are NOT romantic and often lead to feelings of hurt and anger between new couples. However, with 50% of all couples getting divorced, isn't it best to create a plan when you are still in love with each other?
There are also plans, marriage contracts, which you can write that do not plan for divorce, but plan for how you will act as a team, a business team, in your marriage. There's a wonderful book I recommend, Mastering Marriage, that leads you through hundreds of questions, helping you to learn about yourself and your partner in very intimate and important ways. For example, how will you handle things if one person wants to purchase a new car and the other one doesn't? How about animals? Have you discussed how you will feel when one of you gains 20 or 30 pounds?
If you need help with a plan, hire a coach, counselor or mediator to facilitate the process with you.
2. If you think you should take action but you wait too long, you lose out
Many are furious at Obama for waiting 2 months before forcing BP to come up with a financial plan for dealing with the largest environmental disaster of our era. Suddenly, everyone is blaming the government rather than the corporation. Similarly, in a problematic relationship, one person often wants counseling, the other thinks things are fine or just doesn't want to deal with counseling and bam, it's over!
When there is a major problem in a relationship, everyone has a different way of dealing with it. While some may become angry and yell and scream, others become quiet, ignoring the problem, hoping it goes away. There are dozens of ways people deal with difficult issues, yet, I think it's fair to say for everyone, that if an issue is ignored, it grows, and becomes bigger and bigger. As difficult and complicated as things may seem at the beginning, handling things as they come up is always a better course of action.
3. Not taking Responsibility for your part leads to frustration and unforgiveness
BP has finally agreed to give $20 billion in a reparation fund at the rate of 5 billion per year over 4 years. Yet, for 2 full months, there have been few apologies and not enough money coming in to help those affected by their negligence. Even 2 months later, we still don't know, and won't know for perhaps decades, all the ramifications of the spill. For now, we know that the spill affects untold numbers of people, fisherman, dock workers, hotel workers, restaurants, resorts, rig workers, etc. Hum...sort of like a divorce. A divorce doesn't destroy kids; it's how the parents handle the divorce that affects the children, perhaps for years to come.
I remember when we had the Exxon Valdez problem over 20 years ago, I walked around with a t-shirt that said "We don't care, we don't have to care, at Exxon, we're part of the problem." Are you going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?
As an attorney, I can't tell you how many lawsuits could be avoided with two simple words, "I'm sorry." Admitting to your faults, apologizing, and taking action to avoid re-harming is mandatory in relationships. It's clear to see that often big companies believe that they are beyond having to act as though their actions affect other people. Our actions always affect others, especially those we love. By realizing your piece and taking responsibility, you can avoid creating larger, seemingly unsolvable problems.
4. Biggering is not always better
Do you remember the Dr. Suess book, The Lorax? There was a wonderful lesson in that about using up all your resources and then having nothing left over... "I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please...." The last few pages of the book show all the trees have disappeared, the air is destroyed, the animals had to flee to find food and new homes, the corporation that cut all the trees is now closed, and all the people lost their jobs. How many people have gotten in trouble the past few years by using and spending all their resources, on biggering and biggering their lifestyles, simply to find themselves broke, frustrated and unhappy? How have these behaviors destroyed couples? We can see this not only in corporations and banks, but in many parts of our own lives.
Recently on Oprah, she sponsored a series called the Debt Diet. There are couples fighting and destroying their lives, keeping up with the Jones and being addicted to feeling good through STUFF. BP is not alone in this; they are just representative of over-filling and stuffing their stockholder's stomachs, while not building a solid foundation of safety and trust.
5. It's all about integrity
There is something grand when you can take someone at their word. Remember when the proverbial handshake was enough? Unfortunately, it's not enough anymore. It's so important in relationships to do what you say you will do and do it in a timely manner. It's all about trust. Trust is the foundation to a great relationship. When you can't follow through, then don't promise or say you will, just be honest in admitting you can not. When you mean NO, don't say YES.
Doesn't it seem like the US a teeter-tottering country these days? Many would rather appease each other than speak the truth. I don't know anyone who actually believes what politicians say. We EXPECT to be lied to. Do we EXPECT that in our marriages too?
Here's the truth, we can't control what the government, or big corporations do. Sure, we have the ability to vote and invest in certain corporations rather than others, but where we can make a difference, where it really counts, is in our home life; in ourselves. Are you honest? Do you have integrity? Is your handshake enough? Can you wake up everyday and look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who is looking back?
6. Use a Mediator...ask for help when you come to an impasse
I was glad to see Obama using his best skills, as a Mediator, to help resolve, to some extent anyway, this crisis. BP needed to take some action, the government and localities needed to take some action and also needed assistance. Frankly, everyone in relationships needs help at one time or another. Many people have friends and family members they turn to for advice, or even just to vent. For those who don't have that assistance readily available, going to a great counselor or relationship coach is very helpful!
John F. Kennedy said "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate." As I mentioned earlier, small hurts become large, difficult to forgive hurts, when they are not dealt with. If you need help, swallow your pride and ask. It only hurts for a second.
7. What comes out of a crisis is opportunity
There is no crisis without opportunity. Obama is using this environmental disaster to ask for a new energy bill that will alleviate America's addiction to oil. That is called using a crisis to create opportunity. The Chinese symbol for crisis combines the symbols for danger and opportunity. I guess you can always use a crisis as a cross-road, and as an opportunity to make a choice, in other words, to make lemonade from lemons.
Similarly, in relationships, problems such as adultery, bankruptcy and divorce can lead to personal growth and making decisions about whether or not this is the relationship you want to be in. Are there changes that need to be made? What is your part in the issue/difficulty? These are the times when many find new spiritual paths, friends, and re-connect with and learn the importance of family and most importantly, self-love and forgiveness.
In conclusion, we are living in scary times, to be sure. The changes all of us are being asked to make are not unlike those forced upon governments or large corporations. While much of the decision making is about money issues, many are also about relationship issues, especially about the relationship we have with ourselves. Are our actions consistent and in alignment with our values? Do we also have public images we like to portray? Remembering that we are all truly inter-connected, it is my hope that we all use these times of change and crisis as an opportunity to look at our options and take the high road, with ourselves, our relationship to spirit, and our relationship to family, friends, business associates, clients, neighbors and the community at large. When we look at the world through the lenses of love, wisdom and forgiveness, there is plenty of room for opposing views, and for our own personal growth through times of crisis.
Lori Rubenstein is your Love Advice Coach. After 18 years as a divorce attorney, Lori's passion is to help people find their way back to LOVE! Lori's clients are very well cared for, and they love her gentle but firm (Dr. Phil here's the deal!) way of helping them make the changes they need to make in their life to GET the life they truly desire.
You are invited to pick up your copy of the 10 lessons you need to know to have a Fabulous Relationship, at as well as free audios to help you start stepping up into the life you were meant to lead.
Lori's newest product, "I am Petrified to Date Again" helps people who have been hurt and are scared to go out there in the dating world again, get the education and self confidence they need to take the leap from being single to being in partnership.