Thursday, August 20, 2009

On Becoming a Couple

Some people just struggle in relationships. They just do. There are a few that can't quite seem to manage to begin them, and there are those who just can't seem to manage to sustain them. If you are one of the folks for whom this is true, here are a few things to think about.

Our very first relationship experiences form the template for our future relating. Beginning from birth, our relationship with our primary caregivers is critical to our concept formation about relationships. These early life experiences of disappointment or satisfaction mould our image of what a relationships should or could be.

As a psychologist who often works with couples in psychotherapy, I find that helping individuals become aware of what they bring to a potential couple relationship is critical in helping them work through of the couple's difficulty.

For example, who could compete with Fiona's vision of the 'perfect' father she imagined her father to be and who would ever measure up to the critical analysis of her mother?

Dane could never let anyone get too close to him, but he would find that he often felt desperate and needy in relationships. His father had left the family when he was two years old, and his mother vacillated between being depressed and angry.

Neither Fiona nor Dane was conscious of being impacted by their relationship with their parents, but neither one could sustain a relationship. It was not until they began to understand how they would consistently re-enact the templates from their early life relationships in every relationship, could they begin to make different choices which led to more sustained relationships.

If you are struggling in forming or sustaining current relationships, it would be important for you to understand the impact of your early life relationships and the messages about yourself and others that resulted from that experience.

Here are five tips to help guide you through the relationship process.

1. Get to know yourself, including what your fears and hopes are in relationships.
2. Make a map of your family, and identify the quality of the relationships between the family members.
3. Ask yourself the following question: Do the feelings in my relationship remind me of anything in my early life?
4. Remember that communication is key. This may be hard for those who were raised in families that didn't communicate well and this may require extra effort.
5. Don't be afraid to seek couples therapy to address concerns in your relationship.

1 comment:

  1. I never looked at it in that context at all. That is very enlightening and eye opening for me.