“Huong Phat” or Why No Relationship Should Go Unsupervised

Mitch was a mess. His girlfriend of two years broke up with him a few days after he proposed to her. He was clueless that his proposal didn’t have a fighting chance. Why did he think proposing marriage was timely while she had one foot out the door?

By the time he asked her, she was fuming after having just finished up her silent series of relationship tests that lasted several months, which were unknown to him but which would prove his everlasting love to her. All of which he failed, of course.

I think it’s mostly a girl thing to give tests for boyfriends to pass. I’m guilty of it myself. But that was when I was young and foresaw an endless string of boyfriends to torment. Now, I am mature and have been home-schooled in “Advanced Relationship Communication” by my live-in boyfriends who were more likely to torment me if I wasn’t clear about what I wanted. So my relationships now are all smooth going without misunderstanding or communication breakdown. I wish.

I believe all relationships need us to supervise them. While two people are getting to know each other, a bigger picture is being painted called “the relationship.” I think it is a good idea to get together, step back and make sure you both see the same image of the relationship. Really, I believe supervision ought to be mandatory for every relationship, at all times, and called the “Huong Phat.”

Some people are intimidated by the Huong Phat concept. You mean I have to make a special time to talk about my relationship when nothing is specifically wrong?!? Exactly.

The Huong Phat is a safe zone. Here you focus on the relationship and say what’s on your mind. We all get caught up in the mundane events of daily life and tend to talk about those trivial matters rather than our feelings, because it’s easier. But who doesn’t have sensitive issues that you really wish were easier to talk about with your partner? Scheduled talks can resolve relationship tension.

For one thing, you don’t have to stress out about finding the right time to bring up something important. You know you’ll have the chance to talk about these matters later, and so you can let them go now and relax. It also gives you time to prepare the kindest way to say something that has been upsetting you, so your partner can hear it without becoming defensive, and you will get the outcome you want. Frustration and anger make us blurt nasty things to our partner because we had been holding back feelings about something else for too long. It feels pretty amazing when there is a happy resolution to a sensitive topic and all because you approached it in a relaxed way and carefully chose your words.

But the Huong Phat is much more than a bitching session. Again, this is the safe zone — where you have your partner’s attention and respect. A lot of people find it difficult to express intimate thoughts. Here, you can feel safe to reveal your private feelings. It’s a good time to talk about sex and your future together. Ask unresolved questions. Anything goes.

Before you end your Huong Phat, you both should agree that you had the chance to say what you wanted. If not, keep talking … at that time or another. Don’t be afraid to get clear about your partner’s needs. It is not about criticizing; it is about respecting and nurturing the relationship. You want the chance to fix it before it breaks beyond repair. If you don’t care, then why stay together? Time is precious.

If the Huong Phat was mandatory then couples would consistently talk to each other about things that matter. A husband would not be surprised to hear one morning from his wife of fifteen years that for a long time now she has not wanted to kiss him and she wants a divorce. Lovers will both know to expect the occasional booty call and think nothing more of their casual fling. And, Mitch would not have proposed. He would have had all the information he needed to see that his relationship was on the rocks.

As for the name “Huong Phat,” I made it up. Under pressure, I took some words off a plaque at a Vietnamese Restaurant in San Francisco while trying to convince my new boyfriend why it’s a good idea to have “check-in” talks. He agreed in concept but didn’t like what I was calling it. Looking up, I saw an important-looking phrase engraved on a plaque and proposed a new name. Thankfully, it stuck.


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One Comment

  1. Posted October 5, 2008 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    good article thank you