This guest article from PsychCentral was written by Linda Bloom, LCSW, and Charlie Bloom, MSW
When did the honeymoon end in your relationship? Was it the first time you realized that your mate wasn’t all you had hoped for? Or maybe it was when you discovered that sometimes their cheerful optimism could turn to resentment or depression for no apparent reason. Do you remember your first fight? How about the first time that you wondered whether you had made a mistake in your selection of a partner?
If you’re typical, then you’ve had the experience of disappointment, frustration, confusion, resentment or helplessness more timAes than you’d care to admit since you exchanged vows. If you’re like most of us, you may have taken these feelings as an indication that something could be seriously out of line in our marriage or relationship. And if you’re human, you’ve probably attempted to influence your partner’s feeling, attitudes or behaviors only to discover that you’d now created a new problem.
Most of us spend between twelve and twenty years of our lives in school yet nowhere are we really informed as to the specific requirements of sustaining and enhancing the quality of our relationships. We hope, believe or pray that despite our ignorance of the nature of interpersonal relationships that we can make it work anyway. And when the inevitable upsets arrive, we may feel defeated, angry, or despaired.
Though conflict may not be avoidable in marriage, it is not necessarily a foreshadowing of doom. Differences in opinions, feelings, temperaments, and even values, are an inherent aspect of relationship. In fact, we generally select partners who will help us to expand our inner and outer lives by offering a life perspective, which differs from our own. Unfortunately, opening up to these opportunities for growth can be excruciatingly uncomfortable. Often it is easier to tell ourselves that “it’s just not meant to be.” And yet how many of us are acquainted with couples who called it quits in frustration, only to turn around and play out the same pattern with another person?
What if the object of relationships was not to eliminate or even minimize conflict but to work with it in an effective, responsible and conscious way? What if each breakdown that occurred between you held the seeds of the possibility of becoming a more loving and wiser person. What if your experience of your relationship had more to do with you than it did with your partner? What if there were no mistakes or wrong choices in the selection of a mate, and you really do have the perfect partner for the lessons that you’re in this relationship to learn?
The purpose of these questions is to generate an inquiry and to begin the process of going beyond the models, expectations, and beliefs we all have about relationships. In this way we discover and create new possibilities. The biggest barrier in the development of a high-functioning partnership is our own preconceived beliefs, about being in relationship.
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