Our Relationship with Relationships
Relationships are lots and lots of work… I’m not only talking about long-term, romantic relationships. Every relationship that is important to us is a lot of work.
Although I’ve spent years working on relationships of one kind or another, I must admit that I still feel challenged by them. When conflicts arise in a relationship, it is not always easy to stay calm and centered. Conflicts can bring up feelings that we’re not good enough or worthy of love. We can get swept up in our insecurities and behave in a protective, defensive way.
In a long-term relationship, things occur that cause pain and misunderstandings along the way. When we feel wronged or hurt, we may launch into accusations, blame, or some of us choose stonewalling or silence. Even though we’re hoping that our partner will hear, understand, and accept us, the actions we choose do not usually elicit the desired response. In fact, they are often destructive and unhealthy for the relationship.
In close relationships, our unresolved issues often get triggered on a regular basis. A present-day annoyance when added to old, unresolved pain will, no doubt, escalate feelings of hurt, adding to the conflict. Without self-awareness and clarity about what is causing all this pain, coupled with not knowing how to resolve it, creates a climate where one or both people begin to shut down and over time, naturally drift apart.
Most of us did not start our long-term relationship with the skills to create a fully engaged, loving partnership. We did not learn healthy ways to handle the conflicts that are certain to arise. We didn’t talk about our hopes, dreams, or expectations to our partners. We trusted that, if they loved us, they would just KNOW what we expected and needed from them. We found out too late that this is not how marriages or relationships work.
It is important to forgive yourself for not doing better than you did. We were not taught how to navigate the challenges of a long-term relationship. In all the preparations leading up to marriage, the movies, TV shows, and all the classes in school or college, these real-life relationship skills were not discussed or developed.
But now, we are armed with a bit of hard-won wisdom, and being aware of what did not work in the past, we can begin developing new, healthier ways to resolve differences in our relationships.
As we grow in awareness, it is important to develop a deep, loving relationship with yourself. Knowing, accepting, and loving yourself is necessary if you want to have a healthy, loving relationship with a partner. Isn’t it exciting to know that this is not the end of your relationship with relationships?
I bet that your strongest, healthiest, most loving relationship is just around the corner!