Recently I asked everyone in our office the above question.
These are the responses I got…
Every couple in their Present relationship stands together on the razor’s edge of their Past and Future. Their Past has been comprised of hopes, fears, longings, regrets, hurts, wounds, desires, strengths, weaknesses, separateness, togetherness, laughter and tears. Their Future together will depend on how well the couple can reconcile, overcome and find purpose and meaning in their individual and collective Past. No couple escapes this reality. Every couple should honor their Past; nurture their Present; and embrace their Future.
Often times relationships can be very difficult. This could be because they touch upon or even bring up unhealed injuries, and when these injuries inevitably surface, trouble ensues and can wreak havoc in our relationships. At this point, it is a natural reaction to go into fight or flight. We may want to end the relationship because we think it is causing us pain & discomfort. Unfortunately, we cannot blame this feeling on our partner or the person we perceive that is causing us to experience the uncomfortable feeling, but it tempting to do so.
In my experience as I work to help people improve and understand their relationships, the pain typically stems from some form of unresolved trauma/injury from the past, such as relationships that didn’t work out, childhood neglect or abandonment, and a whole array of other unhealed issues that start bleeding into the relationship slowly contaminating it. But there is a solution, heal your issues; do as much inner work as you can. Running away from the relationship is not the answer; you’ll just have to keep doing the work in another relationship. Life is much easier in a partnership with someone. Sometimes if we just pause and attempt to see things from the other person’s side, as well as our own, things get a little easier.
Relationships are hard because we are all trying to do this thing called “life” without a rule book or manual. Everyone is wired to connect to others but depending on your first relationship, you may not have the tools or capacity to meet your partner’s needs or verbalize your needs. What is the first relationship? The first relationship is the relationship with your primary caregiver. As a child, we quickly learn that crying communicates that we have a need. The need may be that we are hungry, sleepy, lonely, etc. When a child expresses a need, and a loving, nurturing, caregiver consistently meets that need, the child develops behaviors that lay the foundation for a secure attachment style. The relationship between the caregiver and child sets the tone for the child’s first experience with concepts of trust, self-worth, and self-efficacy. If the child’s needs are not consistently met or if there is a significant event where the caregiver did not adequately meet the needs of that child, then the child’s capacity to trust and view relationships from a secure
prospective is affected. The child can develop unhealthy coping mechanisms to meet that need in order to survive. Each one of us carry our lived experiences with us from our first relationships –our families. If our needs are not adequately met at this crucial time in our life, then we often carry that hurt with us into every relationship we have thereafter. Our relationships feel hard if we do not learn how to express our needs in a healthy way. In addition, if our needs trigger our partner then the relationship can feel even harder. Where we come from sets the foundation for where we are going. We must explore our first relationship in order to understand how we behave in our current relationship. It is also important to have self-compassion and understand that we are all doing the best that we can do with this thing called life.
Relationships are hard… because of the inherent tension contained within relationships. Have you heard that opposites attract? It’s not necessarily true, but what is true, is that relationships are like magnets, and magnets have poles, and there’s inherent tension when those poles get near each other and interact. So too with human relationships. When we get near someone, we’re like magnets – attracting and repelling – creating the tension and dynamism that’s seen between magnets. In relationships, there’s inherent tension. It’s there. It bring us together and pushes us apart.