All of us in relationships come into our union with the skills we learned growing up. Many of us might have come from homes where the problems never got solved. Some of us might even be new to even thinking about saying, “I am sorry.”
That’s how I grew up. My family was full of love and deep connections, but the display of those emotions was buried under a lot of anger and disappointment. When someone drank the milk and another family member wanted some, that person would yell, “Who drank the milk?” If someone answered, then there would be an argument about why they drank all the milk.
All of us grow up and believe that when we meet our person we will live eternally happy. This is a wonderful fantasy. But that is not the reality of most couples.
If you are in a relationship then you know that your relationship started out so great and then became a little more difficult. And that is the story of most relationships. Only we don’t think about this part when we fall in love.
Some of us blame our partners when things do not go right. Some of us even blame ourselves when things are not great. If you blame yourself, this article is for you.
When we live with another and in a close relationship it is very common to think we know exactly what our partner is thinking or what they are about to do. This just happens in many relationships. Sometimes we are absolutely right. But sometimes we are not.
And that is the point of this article. Often we can see that our mate should just do such and such, especially when we are having a disagreement. If they only said or did this then everything would be better.
All of us as children learned about the world. We understood if we were well taken care of, or if we were ignored. We figured out when we were coddled and not allowed to say much, or we had to discover things by ourselves and speak up.
All of us have had childhood experiences that shaped us. And since we survived into adulthood, our skills that we developed worked. We all got here. These skills became our habits, and they don’t disappear when we enter a relationship.
A lot of us in relationships try and get what we want to make ourselves feel comfortable. Sometimes our mates do things that make us uncomfortable and then we tell them what we like and don’t like. This is very common.
But when we get into difficulty with our partner and they don’t do what we like, we might fall into a pattern of telling that they are lazy, stupid, mean, unkind and more. We might start to label them. And this labeling can have a devastating effect.
Sometimes we get so mad at the person we are in a relationship with that the only thing that can come out of our mouths is the worst thing we can ever say to another human. This happens when we are terribly wounded, they just can’t see that we are in pain, and they are not understanding us. We feel it’s so important that they just understand us, that we have to crush them with all our might.
Yeah, I have been there. It is never nice. It is always the worst thing we can do to people we love. And it is so hard to take back all the terrible things that we have said too. It is so hard to make things right again.
I know this as well. In my past I have destroyed many friendships and relationships with my anger and my crushing. I have even sworn at my mother. Yeah. I did that.
When I work with couples, I sometimes hear how one partner wishes the other could show more compassion. The person asking for this is often unhappy because they are expecting something from the other person and they are not getting what they want.
Compassion in relationships is essential. Compassion is true understanding of another person’s pain and hurts. And compassion is what leads to healing for all of us.
But how do we learn compassion? If you were cared for tenderly as a child and as a young adult you might have an idea of what it feels like. But even after we have experienced feeling compassion, are we able to give it?
Many times, in relationships one partner will say something to their mate about how their habits are the right way to do things because that is the way they grew up. This is very common.
All of us are taught how to be humans by the training we received when we were little. If we grew up putting our clothes in the hamper when dirty, then this is the habit we will bring into our relationship.
If we grew up laying our clothes on chairs or on the floor as a child, and this habit is still with us, then we will do the same thing in our relationship.
No one knows everything about another person. No matter how close, there are always some things that one person keeps to him or herself. This is normal and extremely human.
But when we are in a relationship with our special person, well that is the time to reveal what is inside us. We do this because when we tell them something that we see about ourselves, we educate them on who we are and how we think.
We also invite them inside of us where most of us live all the time. But let me start over again. I have already given you the reason we should invite them in, but I haven’t even acknowledged that most of us don’t actually do it.
Most of us in our lives do both, we pull things apart and we put things back together again. This is also the way of relationships. Sometimes we have such hurt feelings we have to separate from our mate. And then other times we feel the loneliness of that separation and want to be together again, so we make our way to our partner.
There is nothing uncommon about the actions described above, but if we want to have a smoothness in our relationships, we might want to look at what we do to separate, and what we do when we want to rejoin.
Because when we know our actions and can look at the effects they have on our partners, then we can evaluate if they are working or if we want to do something different. This is about growing our awareness and using it to benefit the relationship.