Relationships are not easy. They become less difficult over time. Everyone deals with their past differently: some deny it, repress it, aggress it or accept it as part of life’s cycle. The reality is that when you’re in a relationship you are dealing with another person’s experience and issues and your own. Together you are creating a shared experience while learning one another. Relationships are the place that you challenge your own experiences and your perception of how life ought to be. Eliciting emotions out of you while trying to create a healthy relationship is where some difficulties arise because we resort to the mechanisms that were most useful to us prior to the relationship.
Here are some questions to determine the health of your relationship and what mechanism you are using to cope with them when you are experiencing difficulties. Keep in mind that sometimes we are using all of them.
Key #1: Honesty
Question about the relationship: Is the person deceptive to you?
Question for you: Why do you want to live in deception?
Maybe you don’t want to deal with a painful past event/memory and the person’s truth is a painful reminder of it. Sometimes we don’t want hear the truth, so that we can act like it doesn’t exist and for it not to be real. It’s harder to hear things that would help move from a negative state of perception to a positive one, so people that love you want to protect you from what can be hurtful. However, deception creates mistrust and feelings of betrayal, which are harder to build on.
Key #2: Conflict Resolution
Question about the relationship: Does the person blame you or others for their life’s setbacks?
Question for you: Do you make them aware of taking responsibility for their decisions that led to their actions?
Taking responsibility for one’s own actions is a personal thing not a couple thing. It’s based on the individual’s personal decisions and choices. I don’t believe in you get what you deserve. You get what you chose. If the person isn’t learning you and vice versa, you are in a relationship with yourself. You’re treating yourself the way you want to be treated and hoping that the other person will in turn do the same for you (on the same/ any level). Not taking responsibility for one’s actions can lead to devaluing the other person. The person isn’t valuing what you do for them because they have relied on others to assist them. While assistance from others is what all of us need from time to time, when that assistance turns into a negative outcome like a life setback, it can be easy to turn that blame on the person who provided the assistance.
Key #3: Equity in the relationship
Question about the relationship: Do you feel like you give more than you receive?
Question for you: Why do you feel you have to do things?
Often times people don’t fully appreciate the effort, time and planning related to the things that their partner does. I’m not talking about cultivating romance. I’m talking about daily living and functioning. E.g., If you’re preparing dinner for your partner and prior to you they were used to ordering out or restaurants, they became accustomed to someone else preparing their food. Their needs are being met. The time, effort, and planning isn’t part of their equation so it isn’t reciprocated. That differential is what can cause resentment.
When you look back at anything you got that you really wanted, you’ll see that it took significant sacrifice, time, and effort. That’s what made it even more worthwhile. Didn’t you appreciate it? Didn’t you celebrate it? The same rule that applies to things apply to people.