When Then Game, Tara Fields, Ph.D., LMFT

How to Stop Playing the “WHEN, THEN” Game

Embrace the Present and Enjoy (the) “Now”

Feeling anxious and powerless about the future since the November 8 election? Join the club.

There has never been a better time to role up our sleeves and empower ourselves by working on what we do have control of and what is truly important…our relationships.

Working on a relationship is . . . Well, it’s work. It’s much easier to postpone working on our relationship until the “right” time, or until we think that we’re “ready.” The problem is, by the time we’re ready or willing to change, it may already be too late, or, at the very least, some water might have accumulated under the bridge, making it much harder to go back and fix what’s been wrong for so long.

It’s not just the psychological difficulty of it all that can make you put off “fixing” your relationship. For example, have you and your partner ever agreed that when you have more money, you’ll go on vacation or travel the world or go on a date night? Have you reassured each other that once the kids go off to college or you get through the Holidays, you’ll have more room in your lives for quality time? Have you ever promised yourself that when you lose weight, you will feel sexy again or be happy? I call this the “When, Then” game—when X happens, then you will put the effort into your relationship. It’s a dangerous game, one made more dangerous by the fact that we often don’t realize we’re playing it.

Sometimes, postponing something pleasurable may seem like the responsible, obvious choice (you’re probably not going to plan a second honeymoon, for example, if your spouse or partner has just lost his or her job). Too often, however, we become so focused on putting things off until tomorrow that we postpone our happiness and miss out on opportunities to experience what’s right in front of us, to celebrate our love and our commitment to each other today. Play the “When, Then” game long enough, and you may find yourself looking around and wondering, What happened? Why have we been so unhappy for so long, and where did our happy life go?

Change comes with awareness. By bringing yourself back to the “now”, the present moment, and by asking those vital questions you have taken the first step to rediscovering and re-igniting the love and passion you once shared.


For further reading: 

How a Health Crisis Can Affect a Relationship, for Better or Worse,  by Jessica Migala with Dr. Tara Fields

Helpful Links:
Feeling Frayed From a Tug-of-War With Your Partner? End it Today!
On Infedility with video: How Can a Couple Cope with Infidelity? via Sharecare.com
Dr. Oz Show with guest Dr. Tara Fields – The Science of Infidelity, The Dr. Oz Show 
Dr. Tara Fields – About Her Private Practice
Dr. Tara Fields – Media and Television/Radio Content & Appearances