Preface: for the sake of this post and my point, I’m going to be very generalized here. I understand not all people and relationships are like this. I understand you may be the exception, but please bear with me…
I, in no way, shape, or form consider myself a relationship expert. That’s not specifically what I help women with, so I don’t typically write or talk about it. I do have lots of experience in relationships– both failed and successful ones (okay, one successful relationship).
And having lots of failed relationships and then a successful one, I can tell you the key to making that shift:
Looking at my own shit, dealing with it, healing it, and repeating that process over and over.
What I see many women do (my former self included) is this:
- You’re in a relationship and you’re not happy. It doesn’t matter what the specific problem is.
- You break up with or divorce your partner.
- You find a new partner, everything is great for a few months.
- Then things go to shit.
- You can’t figure out what’s wrong with the guys you pick. It’s the “same shit, different guy” syndrome.
The common denominator in all the failed relationships is you. Along with your beautiful self, you’re bringing all the unresolved issues from your childhood and past relationships. All your insecurities and pain. We all have it, none of us are exempt. But also, we all have the opportunity to look at it, own what’s ours and not our partners, work on healing it so we can be better humans to the people we care about.
They say, “the grass is greener where you water it”. And by “water it,” that means work on it. And by “work on it”, that means work on it with your partner and sometimes even more importantly, work on yourself. But sadly, I think a lot of people don’t do this.
I can’t even imagine the head explosions marriage therapists deal with when an unhappy couple comes into their office. I suppose many couples come to therapy when their marriage is in such crisis; they should have started going ten years prior. And I also imagine the therapist hears their arguments and complaints and is like, “Dude. You both need to come alone to weekly appointments to sort out your shit; then we can work on your marriage”.
NONE of us get to adulthood and have no issues. We are all imperfect humans raising children imperfectly and no matter what, they will grow up to have pain and scars and issues. I never understood people that say, “I don’t believe in therapy”. Well, first of all, it exists and second of all…you don’t believe in healing? That’s like saying you don’t believe in surgery for a ruptured appendix. Yep, just let that appendix spewing poison sort out itself. Oh, you died? Oh well, a doctor couldn’t have helped that.
Seriously, therapy works. And if you can’t afford it, many of them have sliding scales and some churches have free counseling. Look for resources.
Let me tell you something else, something that sucks and is hard: Looking at and owning your shit. Admitting your insecurities and messy parts of yourself is never fun or something I love seeing on my to-do list. But, I’ve found this piece absolutely necessary at having a healthy relationship. There have been several times in my marriage where I’ve gotten angry with my husband and stopped myself and thought, “What about this is legitimately something I need to be upset about, and what about this is all mine?” Truth be told, most of the time, it’s mine. It’s my insecurities, and I’m being triggered by something that happened in my past that’s an old wound.
Now, I’m not saying you should blame yourself for everything. Sometimes the people we’re in relationships with can be dicks. All I’m saying is when stuff comes up for you– when you’re feeling angry, frustrated, resentful– any of the harder emotions, check in with yourself and get curious before you blame or lash out. That is the first step and a big one.
And I won’t pretend this is easy. Looking at your own shit and admitting it's yours is vulnerable and takes courage. But, you can’t expect your partner to be vulnerable and intimate in the same way, if you aren’t. You need to show up as you want your partner to show up. Model what you want to see. Because at the end of the day, that takes courage and will make you proud of who you are.
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