I strongly believe that it is in our relationships that we learn the most about ourselves.
Particularly in our relationships with our spouses/partners/boyfriends/girlfriends, but also with our children.
When we live with and love someone every day it’s inevitable we will come up against things that push a button or hit a nerve. Even the most placid and easy going person will have something that irks them that little bit, but in the most part we all just get on with it. Normally the majority of what annoys us, isn’t worth getting too pent up about or is forgotten in the next moment.
But what if the same things keep coming back up, causing constant issues in your relationship?
Unfortunately too many relationships are plagued by problems that persist, and try as they might to resolve their differences they bubbling up, contaminating the love shared between two people and threatening the future of the relationship.
While the catalyst and the shape the problem takes might change with each argument, so that it seems each situation is a new argument the heart of the matter usually remains the same and when you pick away the protective shell, the defensive fluff and the emotional padding, what’s really underneath comes back to the same core issue.
It’s this underlying but overarching issue which must be addressed, otherwise it will continue to regenerate and remerge.
Part of the problem is, that as well as the problem masking itself with new circumstances, we can also get caught up in pointing the finger and expecting our partners to change, so that the problem can be fixed. We don’t tend to look at ourselves first because admitting we’re wrong feels too much like failing and exposing our imperfections.
Even though that’s exactly where the good stuff is always found.
Now I’m not saying your other half is never wrong. You might have some pretty good examples of where your partner seems blatantly at fault but in many cases the breakdown is between two parties, both equally responsible for their part in the cause, and the resolution.
This is where it’s going to get interesting.
If you are going over the same old ground, time and time again, over an issue that doesn’t seem to ever get sorted and causes you frustration or upset, STOP and use your partner as a mirror.
Take a GOOD HARD look.
What do you see as THEIR problem? What are THEY doing to cause the issue? Why are THEY doing it? What do you want THEM to change? How should THEY act differently? What don’t THEY do enough? What do you want more of from THEM?
Now using them as a mirror, turn those questions back on yourself.
What is really YOUR problem? What are YOU doing to cause the issue? Why are YOU doing it? What do YOU want to change? How should YOU act differently? What don’t YOU do enough for YOU, for them? What do YOU want more of from YOU?
You see, often the lessons we most want our partners to learn, are actually lessons for us.
Don’t believe me?
When my husband was in the grip of addiction and causing great harm in our relationship, to himself and to me it seemed he was absolutely solely in the wrong. I spent 3 years trying to get him to change, trying to get him to love me the way I wanted him to, trying to get him to love me enough to stop, wanting to be the most important thing to him so he would want a life together, without addiction.
It wasn’t until he had left me, and I was lying in my bed for the 4th day, unable to lift my head let alone get up and get dressed that it dawned on me. My lesson was there right in front of my eyes. I had accepted his behaviour, I had allowed myself to be in the relationship and I had done this because I didn’t love myself enough, I didn’t make myself the most important thing, I didn’t value myself enough to NOT accept the form of love he was giving me.
And I had expected someone else to love me in this way. It wasn’t my husband’s fault that I had accepted much less than I wanted. It was mine.
The amazing part of my lesson is that my husband ended up being able to give me exactly the love I deserved, but I had to learn my lesson first, walk away and demand more and once he embraced his recovery we found more happiness in love than I ever thought possible.
And I have never stopped looking for lessons since. Nothing occurs between two people in isolation so given the only person I can control is me, taking the time to determine if there is a way for me to improve my part of the relationship is worth it.