Learning How to Have a Better, Richer Relationship

4851374698_ae172fcb86_z“When two codependents enter a relationship, they often overtly or covertly try to manipulate the partner to provide the love and approval needed to fill what John Bradshaw calls the “hole in the soul”. Both partners attach themselves to the other for a sense of completeness, a strategy that stunts personal growth and development. By surrendering responsibility for our happiness to other people, we create power struggles, arguments, and ultimately broken promises, expectations, and hearts. We can break out of the codependent trap….by working through the pain of our unmet childhood needs and by cultivating an inner life.”       Ronald S. Miller

In 2009 when I began living alone and learning from divorce, I was determined to find my unmet childhood needs in order to grow more completely. One pattern I have seen is that I don’t feel that I deserve affection from a man. My father was very self-absorbed. Being the oldest child of three girls, I must have learned very young that he didn’t have much to give me or anyone. Instead I apparently decided that I needed to parent him. Actually, I guess I became the parent for both of my parents at a very young age. So it was an old pattern that I have learned to give up. I need parenting also at times.

I know now that my husband and I paid a high emotional price for each other. It is amazing how clear it is to me now and how I never realized it sooner. Maybe because his leaving was so traumatic, I was able to see my anger for what it was. Instead of trying to work through our trouble with each other, we chose to attack and criticize. We were on a collusion course for disaster. I knew that I needed to heal and to mourn.

While I was healing, I am read Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples. The author, Harville Hendrix , and his wife, Helen Lakelly Hunt, continue to help healing couples. This book was originally written in 1988 and has been updated. I am read it very slowly and  was learning with my heart and not just with my head.

I am pondering this selection now: From “Becoming a Lover”–“We all have an understandable desire to live life as children. We don’t want to go to the trouble of raising a cow and milking it; we want to sit down at the table and have someone hand us a cool glass of milk….This wishful thinking finds its ultimate expression in relationships. We don’t want to accept responsibility for getting our needs met; we want to “fall in love” with a superhuman mate and live happily ever after. The psychological term for this tendency to put our frustrations and the solutions to our problems outside ourselves is “externalization,” and is the cause of much of the world’s unhappiness.”

So each day I focus on being a happy person. It really is a daily choice I have. To accept what is and to be grateful for it sometimes takes me several start-overs for the day but it is getting easier.

From Yvette Bowlin: “5 Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship”:

“Toxic” doesn’t only entail obvious damage like physical abuse, stealing, or name-calling. It also represents all the internal turmoil that results from an unhealthy relationship. I’d like to share how I learned to recognize when I was in a relationship that was not suitable for me.

These are 5 signs that you are in a toxic relationship:

1. It seems like you can’t do anything right.

The other person constantly puts you down as not good enough. They mock your personality, and you feel ashamed most of the time. You only feel pardoned when you take on the traits of the person doing the condemning or judging.

2. Everything is about them and never about you. 

You have feelings, too, but the other person won’t hear them. You’re unable to have a two-sided conversation where your opinion is heard, considered and respected. Instead of acknowledging your feelings, they battle with you until they get the last word.

3.  You find yourself unable to enjoy good moments with this person.

Every day brings another challenge. It seems as though they are always raising gripes about you. Their attempt to control your behavior is an attempt to control your happiness.

4. You’re uncomfortable being yourself around that person.

You don’t feel free to speak your mind. You have to put on a different face just to be accepted by that person. You realize you don’t even recognize yourself anymore, and neither do your closest friends and family.

5. You’re not allowed to grow and change.

Whenever you aim to grow and improve yourself, the other person responds with mockery and disbelief. There is no encouragement or support for your efforts. Instead, they keep you stuck in old judgments insisting that you will never be any different than you are now.

If you’re experiencing even just one of these signs, check in with yourself to see if the relationship is doing more damage than good. Evaluate the relationship and what it’s worth to you.

Photo credit.

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4 thoughts on “Learning How to Have a Better, Richer Relationship

  1. Syd

    An important post. I have had a few toxic relationships in the past. Thankfully, I feel that my relationships at the moment are much better and the one with my wife is filled with love.

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