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February 14, 2006

Assume Love Author: Patty Newbold

Patty NewboldHi! My name is Patty Newbold, and I've been married twice.

Both times, I chose really great guys, but it didn't go so well the first time. By the time our 13th anniversary rolled around, I had a long list of things my husband needed to change to make the marriage work. I was frustrated, really frustrated. I had read every self-help book I could find and talked to a therapist and to my husband's psychiatrist about my frustrations. And I found no answers.

I felt depressed and guilty. He was sick, fighting a long-term chronic disease that used up most of his energy. How dare I complain? How did my needs stack up against his? And how was an exercise in communicating going to help? We talked all the time. Neither of us had any answers to the conflicts that we faced.

When I reached my breaking point, I read my husband my list of unmet needs and suggested a divorce. I really wanted my marriage back. I wanted that more than anything else in the world. I wanted to feel loved again. But it didn't seem possible, and a divorce seemed like a good runner-up solution. We could each find other people to love us and still be friendly while we raised our son. He was a great father and a good man. I just couldn't stand the way my life was with him. It wasn't meeting my needs.

I've had a long time to think about that list of needs. He died the next day, a freak side effect of his illness and his medications. After I made the awful calls to his family and our friends, I slept. And when I woke up, I did a mental inventory. He was gone, but the list remained. Out of perhaps 30 needs, only one was made easier to meet by losing him. Only one! Yes, now I was free to move the drinking glasses next to the sink.

Still on the list was a need for more income, so we could keep our son in the great private school we'd found for him. Now there was less. Somebody to learn to dance with was on the list. Help with the yardwork or with finding someone to do the yardwork was on the list. No dance partner or lawn maintenance crew showed up just because I was no longer married. I wanted to be touched and held more often, too. Instead, I got less.

When I got to the bottom of my list that morning after he died, I realized for the first time in my 34 years that marriage isn't about my needs or his needs or about how well we communicate about our needs. And it really doesn't require any hard work after all.

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Marriage is about loving and being loved. That's all. Life is about meeting (or letting go of) my own needs. Marriage is about loving another person and receiving his love in return. I had thought that I would receive more love when my husband gave more. Now it suddenly became oh so clear that receiving love is something I make happen, not him.

And with that understanding, I was flooded with remembrances of all the times I'd been offered love by this wonderful man and rejected it because I was too wrapped up in whatever need I was facing at the time. Now I accepted each one of them and bawled my heart out in grief over the past I'd missed and the future I'd just lost.

That's when Assume Love was born. But there was income to bring in, so that our son could stay in private school, then live in a town with a good public high school, and eventually go to college, marry, and become a father himself. And there was love to find, my second husband, who turned up in my life 11 years later. And then, of course, although I'd gotten great feedback from friends on my approach to being loved, I had to put what I'd learned to the test myself for a few years. So I've been waiting 20 years to share this with you.

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I'm not a marriage counselor or relationship therapist. I'm not a psychologist or a social worker. I can't legally offer you counseling. But I can share my ideas with you, and I think you'll find that you don't need anyone else's help to put them to good use in your own marriage or life partnership.

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I am a Certified Performance Technologist, a professional designation awarded by the International Society for Performance Improvement. That's very handy in my day job, which involves helping companies and universities make work easier to do well. I own a consulting firm. I'm self-employed. I design courses and create tools that run on the internet and personal computers. The courses cover a wide range of topics, from how to motivate employees and improve quality to how to make donuts and operate a telephone system. Some are self-instructional and others are presented by my clients' trainers. The tools might be called computer applications, but each one helps a particular group of employees perform a particular task more efficiently or more effectively.

In my spare time, I'm a registered leader for Barbara Sher Success Teams. I help people identify their passions and dreams and go after them.

I'm trained as a planner and policy analyst for education, health, and social services. My undergraduate degree is from MIT and I finished all of the coursework and some of the research required for a PhD in this field from Carnegie-Mellon. I did a number of studies for school districts, state departments of education, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation early in my career.

So I've studied a lot about psychology and sociology and how people learn and relate to each other, both in school and through my work. In recent years, I've also had the pleasure of working with a great group of psychologists. With Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté, authors of The Resilience Factor, I created a course for use in corporations to teach resilience in the face of change, based on their model. With Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness, and Christopher Peterson, co-editor of Character Strengths and Virtues with him, I've created web-based tools for measuring character strengths, meaning in life, satisfaction with life, and happiness and for making it easier to conduct long-term research with exercises that increase happiness or build strengths. I've also written a web-based course on resilience for college students for one of Dr. Seligman's research projects.

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But Assume Love is my real mission in life. It's my tribute to the two men who have loved me so much, Rod and Ed. And it's my way of bringing more happiness, less financial stress, fewer psychological problems, and more love to married people, life partners, and their children.

 

TM Assume Love is trademark of Patricia L. Newbold