Axioms of Relationships – part 3 Posted by: Dr. Matt

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

In relationships, we often repeat the same patterns of interaction, over and over, irregardless of whether the patterns bring us satisfaction or not.  We’re such creative people, so it’s a bit confusing as to why we quickly become so limited in our options of interactions, but it’s almost always the case.  {In relationships we’re creatures of habit. Wash, Rinse, Repeat} With all the change and choices that surround us, this axiom may come as a bit of a surprise.  I mean, “If it’s not working, just do something different” right?  Yet this isn’t how we tend to behave in relationships.  We quickly develop patterns that guide how our relationship unfolds.  Like a river following through bulwarks, though the river flows, its path is always the same – governed by the pattern of the walls.

Our interactional patterns are generally helpful.  They both keep us on the right track, and limit us from taking a new direction.  Like the tracks of a train keep the train (usually) from driving onto highways and through neighborhoods, it forms a functional pattern.  But when the train’s route is no longer functional, it takes enormous effort to re-route the pattern of tracks that govern the train’s course.

Even the brightest, most successful people quickly becoming limited in their patterns by 1 or 2 choices.  “It’s either this or that.”  Either they yell or stonewall.  Either they stay or go.  Either it’s “my way or your way.”  Intelligence, education, and occupational success don’t seem to insulate us from this relationship axiom.  People frequently seek relationship counseling because their pattern is no longer functional – it’s no longer meeting the needs of both partners.  They’re desperate to change the patterns that are now constraining their relationship.

Wash, Rinse, and Repeat.  Relationships are governed by patterns.