Map of Relationships (Full Version Script) Part I
Section 1: Introduction (CLICK HERE to print entire Map.)
© Al Turtle 2006
Hello. I’m Al Turtle, and welcome to a presentation of my Map of Relationships. Today, I want to share with you the whole picture of intimate relationships… – what is really going on…. So many people over the years have asked for this. They wanted a great partnership and didn’t know why things went wrong. Everything they did seemed at best a partial fix.
When I found the answers to their questions, I could see how easy it was for people to get lost. I want to stop this waste of time and effort. I hope to help you understand what is going on for you, where you are in this world of intimate relationships, what are your options, and I want to inspire you to go ahead and to realistically seek your dreams.
This material is the result of over 35 years of work, research, many thousands of hours with couples and individuals, and many more thousands of hours of detailed explorations with my wife.
Before we start, I want to thank you, each and every of you for listening. I want people to get along well. I want partnerships to be great. I want to nurture fantastic marriages. When I see you, I believe that you want better relationships for yourself and for others. I believe that you also care deeply about how people get along with each other.
Need a Map
Why do we need a map of relationships? Because in my experience the vast majority of people are lost. I see them in my office, and I see them as I walk down the street. People who see me tell me about them: their friends, their neighbors, their parents, their children.
Most people seem to be just going in circles, following the same blind alleys that I did. But now that I’ve been there, to the goal, I can look back. It was all a matter of finding the path ahead of me. I think that at no time in my life have I seen more distress about the way we are relating to each other. The “institution” of marriage seems confusing and outdated. While fewer people are choosing it, they are still trying to live together with poor results. Domestic Violence is a major problem in all our cities and towns. Our politics seem a disaster area. People argue at the drop of a hat. Radio and TV talk shows are full of anger. Rather than doing the work that needs doing, people seem to prefer to yell at each other. Our kids watch and learn from all this. Teenagers and school children are fighting each other and their teachers. Discourse between people seems to be getting ruder and ruder.
While many people believe we are in the middle of a great cultural change, and that at this point, everything seems to be falling apart, I don’t believe it. I am very optimistic. As I was building the Map of Relationships, I came to see the hand of a higher power.
These days many people are coming forward, and telling us what to do. There are lots of books, lectures, TV shows. Experts say “read the Bible”, “have values”, “use active listening”, “come from your planet”, “turn toward your partner,” “have a covenant marriage,” “renew.” Many are giving you answers to problems you haven’t even thought up yet.
If a great relationship is so tricky that it takes a rocket-scientist or a university professor, then I think the good Lord would have made us all rocket-scientists or university professors. We are not. Is a great relationship, a great marriage so difficult? If you need to do all that, if it is so hard to have a good relationship what are you doing? Maybe it’s better to go fishing!
Now I believe it is not that hard. I like to say that Sandra, my partner, and I are putting 10% as much effort into our relationship now, as we did 10 years ago. And yet we are getting 50 times more out of it. I think it is all about following paths that work. Learning new ways to do things can be challenging. But, looking back from where I am now, the hard part was mostly wasted energy – doing things over and over again that were getting me nowhere. Like trying to start a lawnmower with no gasoline in the tank.
Thus I think we all need a good map – a tool that shows the landscape, marks the many roads, and that clearly points the way to our destination.
Now… let me take a moment….To tell you about me. I was born in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. My father was a doctor, a Pediatrician, and my mother, who stayed home with my sister, brother and myself, was the daughter of a lawyer. I loved math, science and especially loved finding out how things worked. I went to the Viet Nam War on a Navy destroyer, the U.S.S. Edson, as an Electronics Technician. I went to college, studied Math and Physics, took a degree for teaching those subjects in High School, and then discovered my deep interest in Psychology. I have a Masters degree in Counseling.
I was married for 17 years and had 3 kids: two boys and a girl. I divorced, and was single for 5 years. My teenage kids lived with me. It was a hard time. I remarried, and soon found I was now in just as much trouble as I had been in my first marriage. Frantically, I began to really study how to make my relationship work. One result of my learning was that 15 years ago I began to offer Marriage Therapy in my private counseling practice.
Now after 20 years of this marriage, and perhaps having seen 2000 couples in my office, and all the work of discovering and learning I’ve done, I believe I can say, “I’ve got it. I understand.”
Why listen to me
Why, you may ask, should you listen to me, Al Turtle? Here are some of my traits. I am a deep and exact person, who has been there. I was the kind of kid who took everything apart. My curiosity seemed endless. I wanted to understand everything. The unknown attracted me. I am stubborn. If people told me to take something for granted, I would ignore them and dig in till I had figured it out. I loved and do love structure. My parents and teachers told me I was bright, but lazy. However, I learned that I just love efficiency. In physics I would rather learn the underlying concepts than memorize a bunch of formulas. I am thorough. As a technician I like to fix things so that they don’t need fixing ever again.
As a petty officer in the Navy, I also learned to get other people to do my work. And so I became a teacher. One thing I learned was to do it first myself, before asking anyone else to do it. Besides, it is easier to teach by modeling, by example. That is true to this day. I never ask my clients to do anything I haven’t done myself many times. I am practical. I don’t want to do it, if it doesn’t work.
Eventually I became focused on the problem of “people not getting along with each other.” I might owe this to my Dad. As a pediatrician, he felt he knew what to do for children under the age of 4, to prevent illness. He thought we should be able to prevent the social troubles parents have with teenagers. But he didn’t know what to do, himself.
I don’t believe in complicated explanations. I believe the big questions must really be so simple, that any of us can grab the answers. God’s messages must not require a PhD.
I didn’t develop the Map of Relationships for scholars. I wanted it for me and for you. I am, like you, a person who badly wanted the kind of relationship that I dreamed of as a kid. I have stubbornly pursued it. Eventually I figured it out, and my partner and I did it. And now I want to share with you what it takes.
What is a Marriage?
Oh. One thing before I go on. I will be using the word “marriage” often. I want you to be clear how I use this word. I believe that two people, living together in intimacy, make a marriage. Whether they are legally or sacramentally married or even of the same gender, it does not seem to make any difference as far as this Map is concerned. If you have moved in together, I think you might as well consider yourself married.
What will a Map do for you?
And so, what can this Map of Relationships do for you? Like all maps, it will help you make sense of where you are, help you make good choices about where you want to go, and especially how to get there. If you are single, never married, it will let you understand better what is ahead of you. If you are divorced, it will probably give you some encouragement and direct your steps. If you are In Love, this may not do much for you. You are already enjoying life a lot anyway. Still, this Map will let you plan ahead. If you are married, unhappy, struggling or fighting, this Map will probably restore hope, make you feel better about where you are, will point the way to the choices ahead of you and will shorten the way forward to a great relationship.
If you are long-time married, but feeling a bit dissatisfied, this Map may help you start on your way back toward a really great, joy-filled marriage. If you are in a relationship, but on the point of considering whether to leave it or not, this Map will definitely help with that decision. If you are married and frantically trying to do better, reading books, taking workshops, etc. this Map may help you in choosing what courses to take.
So, what are my goals in sharing this Map of Relationship? First, I want to give you the data and then stand back and let you make your decisions. I have learned to do this with my clients. When they ask me, “What should I do?” I give them my best guess and then let them make their own choices. I refuse to make decisions for other people. I don’t think I am qualified to make decisions for others.
My personal Bias
Second, my personal Bias is that I want you all to move toward what I call Vintage Love. I dream of a world where everywhere you go you meet with couples who are happy, who are raising happy children, who are contributing to a healthy community. I’ve learned that it takes a whole village to raise one child. I’ve also heard that it takes a whole village to keep parents sane while they are raising that child. I want a village, a community, a country, a world where we all live peacefully. That is a big wish? I just want people to get along.
I wonder what you think of this quote by Mark Danielewski? It seems relevant to your work.
“It is not difficult to understand how children who have suffered from malnutrition or starvation need food and plenty of care if their bodies are to recover so they can go on to lead normal lives. If, however, the starvation is severe enough, the damage will be permanent and they will suffer physical impairments for the rest of their lives. Likewise, children who are deprived of emotional nurturing require care and love if their sense of security and self-confidence is to be restored. However, if love is minimal and abuse high, the damage will be permanent and the children will suffer emotional impairments for the rest of their lives.”
Sure. We’re all drinking from the same fountain it seems. My view might be even stronger than that in the quote. I looked up Mark. Seems a nice guy.
What do you think of this topic? What does it bring to you?
Oh, you really want to know about me? The quote is from my favorite book and it leaped out to me. I think I might be unable to love because I didn’t get any love in childhood. My parents mostly ignored me, so I took care of myself, which I never felt was a bad thing since it worked just fine. I have never felt attached or connected to anyone.
I don’t feel like I’m an avoider or a clinger. I don’t feel overwhelmed or lonely, I just don’t feel anything to anyone. I want everyone to feel happy so I don’t think I’m a sociopath. If a friend or a boyfriend got hurt, I would be sad. But if a friend or a boyfriend said they will never see me again, I wouldn’t feel anything positive or negative. I’ll just get a new friend or boyfriend, so what’s the problem? I don’t understand why people get so upset when someone leaves them.
I get praised for this a lot. People say that I’m so independent, but I feel that it’s not a good thing. Something is off, something is missing. I enjoy other people’s company, but I don’t get attached to any one person. I could take or leave anyone. That’s wrong, isn’t it?
So in what way is your view even stronger than Mark’s?
Well Hello again, Unnamed person, Thanks so much for sharing a bit about your interest in this topic. I am not sure how many times Mark has faced and experience the “wounds” from our upbringing that persist into adulthood. My experience is about 3000 couples deep. I have not met a pair (so that’s two each) who have not been wrestling with the processes of recovering. Seems to me there are a lot of obviously wounded and an even larger number of walking-wounded. I sometimes think of this culture as producing PTSD convalescents. I find myself cheering them (us) on.
And I think that it is easier to recover from a dramatically awful childhood (“minimal loving and high abuse”), as the need for help and recovery often seems obvious. A large number of people I see who struggle deeply, cannot seem to even see the historical events that inflicted their damage. When someone says, “I had a wonderful childhood.” I tend to get a chill. The principle is that it is often better that your parent violently beat you than that they silently turned away. Ah well.
In your case, I’m not clear anything is wrong with you. Seeking to understand yourself is a very valuable pursuit, I believe. Being independent and happy sounds fine. Some people would label it “wrong”. There is even a convenient official label for it: attachment disorder. I find those labels only slightly useful. If you are concerned, I would seek a good counselor and discuss your concerns.
Thinking that you are “unable to love” can point the direction toward some learning about judgementalism in others or in yourself. May point to some learning about ‘what the heck is “love”‘, too. Also a great study. I think your studies are worth it and shared by lots of people. A young friend of mine pointed out the recent movie “500 Days of Summer” that I think was created by similar thoughtfully puzzling people.
Good luck and keep searching.
You have really interesting perspectives. I will look into attachment disorder. Thank you, and thank you for showing interest in me.
Hello I am Samantha I have an ex husband a child with him and its a very bad relationship there. I am remairred of 5 years but been together 6 years and known each other 7 years. My husband and I also have a 4 year old son. My ex husband started again to go after our child Ally to live with him so we have been in court and such it always very hard on us. Well My husband K came to me sat night and said he dosn't think he still loves me! He said he loves the kids and cares for me and dosn't want to lose my family. I love this man with all of my self I just dont know what to do. Im scarried for me and for my children. Also to note my husaband K was by a very ill man that was never medicated. he is the only one out of 4 boys that is ok in life. his mother left them all when he was 12. But raised the youngets son who was 3 at that time. But she has loved them all she just fell for the lies and shes a runner. I need help!! If You can help please do. Thank You Samantha
Oh. Wow. Samatha, things sound pretty confusing and definitely “no fun.” Yes, I think you need help. Not sure what I can do at all. Do you have any thoughts?
You posted this comment in a place I think is a great idea (read my Map), but only if you are trying to calmly figure out what is going and and what to do next. It sounds much more urgent than that.
My guess is you needs someone(s) in your local area who can be helpful. Over all goal is to really start taking better and better care of YOU.
Do you have any thoughts of what I could do that might be helpful?
Well I'm not sure we do have a consoler here that we have been going to for 2 plus years it started as help with Ally but we have seen her our self but we usually talking about Ally. When we do talk about other things its not big stuff just work and stress with my ex (this is with council). I did tell her the other day that he has done this. She was thrown off as well she does know that we are always under extreme stress. He even said that when I asked to go talk with our consoler K just said that she was going to say it was all stress. Thats not what she said but it is a factor. He is gone for 3 weeks doing his air force training. I belive that I have been lead to you for help. When he was telling me this he wouldnt look at me at all. He made sure that there was a stack of clothes in front of him. Also I noticed that his text messages kept going off and he kept looking at them. I belive that I am more of the clinger he can be that way but not most of the time. He doesn't open himself up to other almost ever. Hes the nicest man you could meet but he doesn't really like many people. Everyone at arms length but me I was in and now I'm out. K has gone on lock down with talking to me. He is not responding to me that often. I feel as if another person has his ear. Maybe a girl maybe a guy but I feel very strongly about this. He guards his ph I cant touch it with out him right there listening and watching he has changed pass words to email and face Book. I am trying to be calm and think. I started selling in direct sales in April and it has taken up a lot more time then I have wanted. So If your asking I do belive that I have neglected our relationship. Not because I don't love him but because of life and me wanting to help in house hold cost more. I feel as if I should not stop talking to him I also told him that I wasn't giving up on us That I would fight for this relationship. We also have been so focused on Allys issues that we've just been doing that a lot. I do not think that I should just stop talking to him I am not calling or texting 24 7 though. I try and keep it to topics like the kids and just saying we all miss you have a great day. My councilor as she said with out talking to him she can not know anything for sure (as i understand). She belives that he may be felling abandoned by me and in turn hurt and I agree its not in his character to cheat or to give up. But thats what he was some what saying to me. I am doing things while he his gone trying to get things in my power in control. Such as money the home inside and out and I have been journaling. I along with conceal have been thinking about sending him a letter telling him some things but I do not want to place blame or make more doubt for him. I have a close friend that is great with helping guide me in my relationship with god. However she is telling me to stop talking to K and to get out of the way of god. I belive that is the worst course to take. Because if he feels rejected and not safe then that to me would reinforce those feelings. Plus we have kids. I want to be better for him myself and our family. I cant imagine K not being in my life. Please any insight a place to start from were to go with it. I belive this is what I am asking you to help with if you can. Thank You Samantha
I am very relieved that you have both some sort of counselor and a good friend and God. I feel much more relaxed. I can not really “do” much to help anyone, but I can share all sorts of things.
I was reading both of your posts and saw some things I can speak to.
Keep a going.