Moxie mental health makes people stronger than strong. How is that possible? Consider this Aesop fable comparing the reed with the oak tree.

An oak and a reed were arguing about their strength. When a strong wind came up, the reed avoided being uprooted by bending and leaning with the gusts of wind. But the oak stood firm and was torn up by the roots.

How do you try to portray “strength” to others? To people who act like oak trees, “strong” means “being right” or resisting other people’s point of view. This “strength” is really just Insecurity with a mean face and a loud voice. The need to be right depletes the quality of relationships with others, and leaves others feeling deflated and alienated.

How Bending With the Wind Can Save Your Relationship

But Brian was a reed. He had learned from experience to value the opposition. He knew he had the right to mistakes, as did others. He also knew that whenever one person in an intimate relationship feels that they have “lost” in a disagreement—both people lose.

Which is why, when Chelsea told him she was unhappy with her relationship with him, he did not put up his emotional dukes, and punch back by listing all the reasons he was unhappy with her. He did not even put on an emotional flack vest, and start defending himself. Instead, he told her that he wanted to hear her feelings.

She told him some things that did sting his ego—but he kept perspective by reminding himself that Chelsea was more important to him than his pride. She did not like how he made love. She interpreted five minutes of foreplay as meaning that he only cared about himself.

He controlled the money in the family—and she wanted to share the power. She felt like a child when she had to ask for money for personal needs—or even groceries.

She felt he was always too busy to interact with her. He spent his evenings, after work, staring at a laptop, answering email and playing solitaire. She would like him to look at her, smile with his eyes, and sometimes just hold her. She would also like to share her thoughts with him, and hear about what was going on in his world.

How Did Brian and Chelsea’s Life Change?

Brian agreed with most of what she said—except for the part about only caring about himself. He wanted her to know how much he cherished her—but verbally debating the point wouldn’t work. As she wound down on her remarks, he looked her in the eyes, smiled, took her hand gently and said, “I guess this shows how much I need to change.”

Brian and Chelsea kept talking that night. And the night after that—and every night after that. They even talked about their sexual encounters. Brian did some research on how to make evening romance more pleasurable for his wife—neither one of had known there were so many options. Chelsea suggested that they open three bank accounts—one for him, one for her, and one for their expenses, that they would both contribute to. Brian had not realized that Chelsea felt like a beggar when it came time to buy groceries or get her hair styled. And for the after -dinner hours—they developed a new tradition. Evenings were spent on the deck, and not in front of the computer. Home became a place of intimacy—frustrations and triumphs were shared; ideas were exchanged; personal needs were discussed without shame; the future was dreamed about; and hurts were soothed.


Author's Bio: 

Katrina Holgate Miller, PhD, MFT is a freelance medical journalist specializing in mental health.

Her professional experience has encompassed many facets of mental health care, including mental health assessment and treatment, substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse (victims and perpetrators), couples counseling, and adolescent group counseling. For the past five years, Katrina has worked with patients across the country to help them resolve their barriers to adequate and effective mental healthcare and chemical dependency/addiction treatment.

Her writing tells the stories of the patients who used their moxie to overcome their distress.