I have worked with many clients in unhappy relationships and it is hard when one half of a partnership is trying to work through their issues and the other is not so willing. There is much to work through, but many times clients can recognise their present situation has much in common with what they experienced growing up. Some are very surprised to see the same traits they disliked or were afraid of in their parents to be the same in their partner. They may not realise it, but they have an opportunity to do something different that their parents were unable to do.
Exploring the family, you came from and the kind of relationships you had is the first step. The second is to understand you were a child and had no control over what happened to you. You had no choice but to trust your parents and hopefully you had parents that loved you and were doing the best they could. It is to approach a situation with kindness and empathy rather than all guns blazing.
You may know the state of relationship with the people around you but what is the state of relationship with yourself? Do you know? To be a better partner, friend, parent and all the other relationships we have it is important to work on ourselves. If we don’t we are in danger of taking on the opinions and behaviours of other around us. If we allow others to complete us, make decisions for us and control us what happens if that person then decides to leave for whatever reason.
Maturity means recognising the hurts and abuse of the past finding a way that works for you to understand and heal those hurts. The danger of not doing so is that any relationship you are in your past will inform that relationship. Your lack of trust and pessimism will have an effect on your relationship and instead of secure loving safe place to be you will recreate the same hostile environment for you and your partner. The same goes for your partner who will also seek to recreate the familiar.
Take a minute to think about how you treat yourself. It is easy to see how others are treating us but how often do you notice that you are criticising yourself or beating yourself up about something? You promise to do something to take care of yourself, eat better, exercise etc only to find you don’t? You let yourself down time after time but have no clue why as you don’t treat others in this way. If we don’t respect ourselves or don’t even think much of ourselves the people around will take our cue. The less respect we have for ourselves the less other will have.
Most people come to counselling because their problems have become so bad that they need help, but it is also an opportunity to find out who they are. The roles and strategies that have been played since childhood can be re-evaluated. If for example you played the joker to alleviate the tension that now in adulthood you find it hard to express genuine emotions without joking, then this part of you can be reconnected with. The pain that is there under the joking around can be connected with along with the anger and sadness. This reconnection can be life changing in that it is a step toward your authentic self.