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Take a Trip on the Real Relationship Ship

The Typical Sinking Relationship

Just how long is your list of resentments in the relationship? Is your list so long you feel like you need a few days just to write it all down? Okay, I may be exaggerating, but in many relationships there is so much hurt and so many unresolved issues that it is no surprise that there are so many breakups and divorces. This article is going to focus on what you can do differently in your relationship to make it work better.

If you were to look at the dynamics of relationships, when you first enter into one, it just feels so good. All your problems disappear and are replaced by this intense feeling, usually a mixture of physical, emotional, and intellectual love and attraction. You are on your best behavior with one another and life feels full and alive.

As time passes by, that dynamic, energized feeling starts to abate. Small irritations arise and your partner seems less perfect than when you first met them. Then you start to notice things. You know, the things that really irritate you and get on your nerves. Resentments start to build. You begin to voice what you want to change and simmer with the rest of the unspoken words.

Then the arguments start, if they haven’t already. You are right and your partner is wrong. How could your partner even think like that? The anger builds and you start to feel less happy. You feel like you have been cheated, that your partner has misrepresented himself or herself. You have been honest from the beginning and do not understand how your partner can be like that.

All you know that if something does not change, if your partner does not change, you do not know how much longer this relationship is going to last. You may feel unappreciated, unheard, victimized, burdened, taken advantage of, etc. You know how awful this feels and your partner is not really willing to do anything about it.

Something has to change. Everything that you have tried is not working. You are at your wits end. Sure, there are the good times, but just when things are going great, something happens that pushes you even further away emotionally from your partner. You start to close down; it seems like so many things that your partner does are just so hurtful. The relationship has become just too hard.

How Has Your Ship Been Built?

Let’s look at relationships from a slightly different angle. I think most of you would agree that you carry some baggage forward into relationships. Yes? What you don’t realize is that when you first get together with your partner that you subconsciously seek out resolution to the baggage you carry. The true nature of that “baggage” is that you feel incomplete, that there is a piece of you that is unfulfilled or unvalued.

The feeling you get from this new experience of love is that it makes you feel complete, whole, valued, and safe. You don’t feel the weight of your baggage, it is as if your partner has healed the hurt and taken away the pain. You have never felt happier in your life. Then, as time goes on, some of the hurt starts to return by resurfacing.

From your perspective you mistakenly think that this is a new hurt, different than the one you brought into the relationship. Until your partner started saying or acting that certain way, you hadn’t felt hurt like that before. That is what your mind tells you and it really does appear to make perfect sense. Yet there is a hidden disappointment that the hurt you thought was healed is not only still there, but it hurts even more.

Now, each time you feel that hurt from your experiences with your partner, new resentments and levels of anger build. You start to act defensive to try and protect yourself from being hurt and to avoid further conflict. Your defensiveness starts to build walls. A relationship cannot grow with walls and the walls only get stronger every times there is a conflict.

Interestingly enough, what I just described is also what your partner is going through, differently than you are, but with the same dynamic of the fear of getting hurt. Your partner came into the relationship with the same amount of baggage, the same expectations, and is experiencing disappointment and hurt just as you are, but in their own way.

You are misinterpreting and misunderstanding why your partner is acting the way they are. Your partner is also are feeling attacked and is afraid of being hurt, just like you are. You need to understand that a lot of this happens on a subconscious level. You are only aware of a small part of what is happening in your mind or in your partner’s mind.

When both people get caught up in thinking and feeling that the other partner is responsible for their hurt, the relationship spirals downwards and starts to sink. The only way out of this spiral is to be able to look at yourself and your partner differently and unravel all the blame and hurt into something that is understandable and that gives you something to work with to change your situation.

The hurt in your partner shows up differently than yours, causing you to misunderstand and judge it because of your own fears. It becomes a catch-22 of misunderstandings and mistaken judgment of one another. We fear and judge what we do not know or are unfamiliar with. If we change our understanding, we can move closer together in intimacy and trust.

Understanding the Storms of Hurt

Every time you feel hurt emotionally, there is multi-step process that you need to go through. First acknowledge in yourself that the hurt is inside you and is not coming from an outside source. It appears that it is, but your partner has only been the trigger for the pain that you are experiencing.

Before I go any further, let me explain what is really happening. Do you remember the baggage that we talked about earlier, that you brought into the relationship? Well, you have opened it up and you are looking at it right now. Your partner’s actions or words only reminded you of the hurt that was already there.

Your partner's actions and words only act as a catalyst for releasing what already existed within you. This is a very difficult concept to embrace when you are used to blaming your partner for your hurt. But you know that your way of dealing with your hurt is not working, so I strongly recommend that you open your mind to this other possibility, because it does offer you a solution.

Your hurt is yours. You have a choice not only to feel differently in response to the trigger from your partner, you also have a big opportunity to use that moment to redefine what is happening within you, with your partner, and what you partner’s intentions really are.

Start this process by being willing to let go of being right in your mind. So far, you have been sure of the dynamics of the relationship as you see it. Yet those dynamics, as understood by your mind, are only from within the frame of reference of your personal experiences to date. Every experience, every hurt that you have ever had are adversely influencing how you currently see and understand your partner.

Even in extreme situations a partner’s true intent is not to hurt you, but to protect themselves from further hurt by going on the defensive or offensive. Yes it is convoluted, no it is not right, but that is how most relationships have evolved. You keep unsuccessfully trying to protect yourself from hurt, yet it is only by working on a deep understanding of your partner and yourself that you can stop that pattern of hurt. If you can consider this possibility, there is hope for your relationship to grow and for you and your partner to grow closer together.

Redefining the Hurt for Smooth Sailing

Once you can acknowledge within yourself that the hurt you feel is yours and is occurring in this moment because it was triggered by your partner, you then have the ability to look at the situation differently. Whether you know it or not, you have made a series of assumptions that justified blaming your partner for your feelings of hurt.

Take a look at all the reasons where your mind goes, that confirm for you why you are feeling hurt. Write them down. Think about all the other times you have been in a similar situation with your partner. Write down the thoughts, feelings, and the emotions that you have had and are having now.

Go back through your list and cross off any item that does not reference your partner. For each item that is left, come up with different reasons why your partner may have chosen their words or actions, based on their fears and insecurities. The trick is to not make it personal to you. Keep yourself entirely out of the picture.

For example, you could say that your partner is afraid of being hurt, rejected, abandoned, judged, etc. You can also look at it from the perspective of your partner’s needs, that your partner has a need for approval, recognition, acceptance, love, etc. You can also look at it from the perspective of your partner’s insecurities and self-judgments, that they think they are unlovable, shameful, guilty, unworthy, inadequate, etc. Much of this can be subconscious in your partner and they may not be fully or even aware of it at all.

When you start to redefine the previously hurtful interaction in this way, you open the door to deeper understanding and compassion. You can use what you are observing and learning as a mirror for yourself as well. You start to see more clearly how you also act in defensiveness or offensiveness to compensate for your own needs, fears, and feelings of insecurity.

When you stop blaming and judging your partner and stop being so afraid, you leave room for your partner to stop blaming and judging you and to also stop being afraid. This results in more trust and compassion with each other, creating a safe place for both of you. This is the strong foundation that is missing in your relationship right now. Getting there requires patience and months, if not years, of work. Yet imagine having a relationship without fear and hurt. The effort is so worth getting there.

The Clear Skies of Communication

There are additional factors that need to be addressed along with redefining the old assumptions about your partner. In every relationship, there exists some fear about being completely honest in the relationship. You may choose not to speak up about something because you judge it as insignificant, that it will upset or bother your partner, etc. Or you may be afraid of your partner’s reaction, disapproval, getting into an argument or conflict, and so on.

Yet when you do not feel free to speak, then resentments start to build up and they join up with irrational thinking. Your mind tries to justify the resulting hurt by again placing blame on your partner for not listening, for not letting you speak, for making you afraid, for somehow controlling your behavior and stopping you from speaking.

The real issue is that you and your partner have not learned clear and effective communication. It is actually possible to communicate without conflict. It takes much effort to learn how to do this, but it can be done. You need to do a lot of work on yourself in order to stop reacting and start making different choices.

When we are unsure of ourselves, we are susceptible to feeling that we are under attack. Yet every person has the right to speak and every person listening to what is spoken has a right to do what they want to do with the information they hear. Conflict occurs when two people really are not listening to one another, making assumptions about the meanings, needing to prove something, and on some level feeling that they do not really have a right to believe in themselves.

A person who is sure of themselves does not need to prove anything to anyone. A confident person asks questions and does not make assumptions. They do not take offense to what somebody else says, even if it is about them. Another person’s opinion is only their point of view and not fact. A confident person understands this 100%.

If your partner says something negative about you or to you, what are your options? The automatic ones are to get angry, feel hurt, want to protect yourself, and sometimes retaliate. But that is not necessary when you understand that your partner is expressing their own internal conflict and that you only triggering it. If it weren't you being the trigger, it would be somebody else. Your partner's internal conflict has nothing to do with you personally.

Your option is to create healthy boundaries by speaking up without emotional reaction and to be able to communicate that to your partner. Yet in order to clearly communicate, you can’t be reacting. To get to this point, you essentially need to learn a whole new language. We assume that we are all good communicators, but we really are not. As long as you make a single assumption, you are not communicating anything but the fact that you are making assumptions and not fully understanding the situation.

Your relationship is worth saving, yet it is hard to do it on your own, especially when you don’t know how. Learning this new language of different communication takes time, persistence, practice, and commitment. Find somebody that can help you redefine your relationship and yourself. It will be worth it!

If you want to Take a Trip on the Real Relationship Ship or if you want help with any other issue, contact me to get The Help You Need. Right Here. Right Now.

Ewa Schwarz

OnlineCounseling.org

https://www.onlinecounseling.org/

 

Thank you for your continued support.


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