RELATIONSHIPS are full of conundrums. The challenges that relationships face can be difficult without tools and resources that can promote and sustain a healthy, adult relationship. It takes two “grown up” people with a mature understanding of their partner’s world to be able to resolve issues that arise during the course of their relationship. It takes a willingness to extend oneself to nurture the other. This takes two evolved individuals willing to stretch their emotional muscles for the sake of loving and respecting one another. More than that, it takes a commitment to honor and protect the relationship as your most precious investment.
It has been said by Lori Gordon (PAIRS) that “ love is a feeling; marriage is a contract, but a relationship is work!” The essential ingredient of a good relationship is to have two healthy, mature partners that are committed to moving the relationship forward. If one partner depends on the other to feel whole, the relationship is doomed.
In many relationships one partner can lose their identity without consciousness. They give up who they are to satisfy the needs of the other. They don’t feel whole without the other, so they hook themselves emotionally to their partner and lose their authenticity in the process. They become whatever they feel will keep their partner happy. This NEVER works! It becomes a parasitic, pathological relationship.
Intimacy cannot exist without autonomy. Two halves have never made a whole. Multiply ½ x ½ and you will get ¼. Each partner must feel independent in order to have healthy interdependence. Each must be a whole individual to maintain a healthy relationship. The chief cause of losing oneself is low self- esteem. The patterns that develop in a relationship are codependent and eventually cause irreparable damage.
It has been said by the great philosopher, Martin Buber that we are wired for connection. When we dis-connect, we face a crisis. When one loses their self to please another, disconnect is the result. No one can be responsible for another all the time. Each individual must take responsibility for themselves. Without a positive sense of self, a relationship cannot flourish.
We know that 90% of what is happening in the now is dragged in from the past. Only 10% has to do with the present. The chronic arguing about the way she irons his shirts has very little to do about the shirts. It’s more about his past and the way the shirts trigger what is unresolved from his family of origin. The past is always present until it is extinguished through self- exploration, self-examination, recognition, acknowledgment and most important, owning it! Until this is accomplished, partners will be fighting over the same things “until death do us part.” To extinguish the shadows of the past, we must first embrace them. Therapy is essential. No one can do it themselves. Not unlike casting your own broken arm or doing brain surgery on yourself, people need a trained therapist to work through the issues they carried from the past into the present. Their history will color the present and be unloaded on an innocent partner who does not deserve it.
Almost 60% of all marriages end in divorce. The reason: read the above paragraph once more. We unconsciously choose a partner that will bring us our worst nightmare in order that we learn what we need to know. We usually end up firing them for the very reason we hired them; that being to clean up the past so that the relational space between them is no longer polluted. (Hedy Schleifer, Encounter Centered Couples Therapy).
There are many modalities that are very successful in achieving the desired outcome goals. The object is to find an approach and therapist that works for you. Often experiential couple’s therapy can heal the wounds of each partner. Sometimes individual psychotherapy is the answer. Most important, is being open to the unacceptable behaviors that keep us stuck. It’s not the adult in us that is holding us back. It’s the little wounded child that is driving the bus and pushing us tenaciously to discover who we are and who we want to become. The goal in life is to be free from the past and the shame that binds us so we can make choices that work. The discovery of our authentic selves will release us to become the person we were meant to be. Our essence is our path to a healthy relationship not just to another, but to discover ourselves as well.
Discover what is keeping you stuck. Learn to acknowledge the pain you have repressed. Share your feelings with a trained counselor who can help you reclaim your essence and authenticity. Only then will you never lose yourself to another!