As a psychologist I regularly meet with clients for couples therapy or clients who tell me about problems they struggle with in their romantic relationships. More often than not there are 1 or 2 core issues at play:
- it's either some kind of (unconscious) power battle (who has the last say, submission vs control) - or a lack of trust (in particular when one of the partners cheated and then lied about it).
I once had a lady with me who was telling me all about her boyfriend's "flaws" and how she was trying to teach him how things should be done around the house. After listening to her rampage for a few hours, working through the issues, coming up with ideas and solutions I "lost it". I excused myself before lashing out at her: who do you think you are???
With all my understanding and empathy for her situation I couldn't help to feel the urgent need to explain to her, that her partner was a grown man, with his own values and beliefs and that she was being very disrespectful and contemptuous to him. So what was she thinking treating him like a baby, educating him on how he should behave and molding him into something she wanted him to be instead of loving him for who he was? Why did she fell in love with him? What were his characteristics she was drawn to? Why was she trying to turn him into someone he clearly was not? And how could she know for sure that changing him was the right thing to do or that this transformation would even be successful?
She looked at me in disbelief. After a silent pause she admitted, that she hadn't been treating her partner as lovingly as she really wanted.
When it comes to relationships and working on them through therapy we roughly have 3 choices:
- we either want to change things or - we work on accepting what cannot be changed or - we move away from the things we cannot accept and cannot change (which results in separation).
When it comes to our relationships we're dependent on others if we want things to change. It takes extensive communication, respect and compromising. Accepting what IS, is a process we can work on ourselves. Leaving the relationship sometimes requires you to let go of something and/or someone you really care about.
Try to be loving and compassionate with yourself and your partner. Be true and honest about your feelings. If you listen to the purity of your inner voice and make decisions based on what you KNOW is right, things will turn out for the best. Even if this means that you'll have to go through a hell of a heartbreak and accompanying mourning period.
Remember: you're the one who selected this partner for yourself, who made the choice to be in a relationship with this person and you're the one who keeps making choices. I want to invite you to look at your romantic relationship: do you love each other without infringing upon the free will of one another?
Being in conflict often and/or for extended periods of time is not good for your health and can become an obstacle to living a fulfilling, happy life. If you're bumping heads on a regular basis then maybe your journey together has reached its final chapter.
Learn from the experience and if you're bond isn't serving you anymore, get the hell out.
To find out the truth about your relationship you can ask yourself the following questions;
- Are you holding on based on fear of loss? Or because you truly believe things will get better?
- Do you want to force your opinion on your partner and is this a way for you to make sure you won't get hurt?
- Are you willing to surrender AND stand up for yourself?
- Can you accept guidance from the other person?
- Is compromising possible between you two?
- Does your partner resemble greatly your ideal partner? Why/why not?
- Is there something important missing in the relationship and if so, can you (learn) to accept this fact?
- Do you want to stay because of this person or because you're afraid to start over?
- What is more important to you: being "right" all the time or keeping your relationship?
It's not up to me or anyone else to tell you if the relationship you're in is right for you. It's something we could figure out together, but basically it's about aligning your hopes, desires and emotions.
True partnership is one of the most beautiful connections we can experience. And even though opposites attract, it's similarities that keep people together. When you don't have to fight over daily annoyances, life and love will come easily to you. And please keep in mind:
It's always better to love someone for who he/she IS than for the person you hope they will become.