“Love Hurts” Nazareth
All relationships have their ups and downs. When you’re experiencing a down, it can seem unbearably painful at times. So how do you know when you should stay and work through it, or throw in the towel?
If it’s a healthy relationship, then it would be worth it to stay. Right? We need to define a healthy relationship and this may hold a clue:
A conscious marriage is a marriage that fosters maximum psychological and spiritual growth; it’s a marriage created by becoming conscious and cooperating with the fundamental drives of the unconscious mind: to be safe, to be healed, and to be whole.
In the first half of “Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples” Dr. Harville Hendrix describes what it’s like to be in an unconscious committed relationship. It’s when the honeymoon stage ends and all the wonderful traits in your partner that first attracted you to them start to irritate the hell out of you.
You bicker and fight, throw blame around, hurt one another with thoughtless actions and words, and generally live an unstable existence wrought with pain and anguish.
What ever happened to `happily ever after’?
From the psychological perspective, Dr. Hendrix explains it’s at this point where reality sets in. When you met your partner, sparks flew and you couldn’t get enough of each other. You felt as if you had met “the one”. You found your soul mate and now you’re complete.
Doc Hendrix suggests that when we fall in love, our subconscious recognizes characteristics (both positive and negative) in that person which correspond with those of our caregivers. The theory is that we continually seek, on an unconscious level, for someone to take care of us and help heal emotional wounds from childhood.
The problem is that no one is perfect and we ALL have childhood wounds to heal. Our partners are going through the same thing!
What we’re really looking for is happiness. Troubles arise when we look for happiness outside of ourselves, whether it’s in things, events or people. When we find disappointment rather than happiness from these sources, we get upset and feel the need to blame the sources themselves or other circumstance for our unhappiness:
“The psychological term for this tendency to put the source of our frustrations and the solutions to our problems outside ourselves is “externalization,” and it is the cause of much of the world’s unhappiness.”
The real reality to all this is that happiness is within each of us. We all have needs, many of them unconscious, and while our partners CAN help us meet them, most of the time they are too busy trying to get their own needs met.
The first step is to understand that we have the ability to fulfill our own needs and accept that our partners are going through the same thing.
How to stop the fighting a.k.a. “The Power Struggle”
When our needs are not being met and we fail to take responsibility for meeting them ourselves, we tend to act like children. By default, we become selfish. We lash out at those closest to us because we unconsciously blame them for not taking care of us and providing us with what we need to make us happy and fulfilled.
When couples live unconsciously, one person’s bad mood may be directed at or misinterpreted by the other and then it starts. The immediate reaction is either retaliation or withdrawing from the situation which then snowballs into a similar reaction from the other.
But arguing can end at any time. When one person controls their natural instincts to fight or flee, they diffuse the situation.
Gaining control over one’s emotions is the signature behaviour of a conscious individual. Conscious people train themselves to ignore the instant, natural impulse to defend themselves against a perceived attack in favour of a more thoughtful reaction.
Conscious people have trained themselves to be calm, balanced and rational. This does not mean that they have no emotions! It simply means that they consciously choose to recognize their emotions, deal with them then or later, and decide to react in a more constructive way.
A healthy relationship
All of this suggests that a healthy relationship is one that is based on love, trust and respect.
Love: if we’re all looking to heal emotional childhood wounds, then we’re all looking for unconditional love. Dr. Hendrix says that social conditioning and imperfect parenting make us lose touch with our natural ability to love unconditionally. If we can tap into this ability and fulfill our partner’s needs, we will be fulfilling our own needs as well.
Trust: like Nazareth said, “Love Hurts”. We open our hearts to another person, we trust them not to hurt us. When they do, we have to trust that they did not mean it. On the flip side, by becoming conscious and halting the power struggle, you can create constructive responses to destructive emotions and become a trusted confidant rather than a sparring partner.
Respect: everyone has a unique perspective and to show respect for another person means to do your best to understand where they are `right’. Those of us in a power struggle can only see where the other is `wrong’ based on OUR views. But the world is not black and white. By making an effort to understand your partner on both conscious and unconscious levels, you can forgive your partner for hurting you as well as gain their respect (because they see that you’re trying to understand them!).
“Our unconscious drive to repair the emotional damage of childhood is what allows us to realize our potential as human beings, to become complete and loving people capable of nurturing others.” Dr. Harville Hendrix
So does this post answer the question: What is a healthy relationship?
What it definitely does not answer is what an unhealthy relationship looks like and when you should throw in the towel. Any thoughts, Live Lighter Readers?