Julie Miller's Mental Health Blog

Archive for the ‘“R” is for Relational Problems’ Category

So it’s late, and I’m tired.  Is this a good time to bring up a touchy subject with my spouse?  Good guess – no.

I used to think I ought to be able to handle anything emotionally in my relationship.  I’m a therapist right?  I’ve had tons of therapy right?  Yes, and yes.  BUT (and as you can see this is a big BUT) I’m also human.

The less I accept my humanity, and all the foibles that go with it, the more likely I am to step in it (“it” of course being doo doo) in my relationship.

Everyone has limitations.  It doesn’t make me weak.  It means I’m human.  Being human is much more acceptable to me than it used to be.  It’s okay to say, “you know, I just can’t be there for you now,” or “I know you want me to do you a favor, but I’m wiped out, so…  sorry.”

I accept my limitations and my humanity more and more.  I accept others’ limitations and humanity more and more.  That makes for a lot more peace in relationship with others.

Relationships.

Humans require relationships.  Perhaps some cultures are better at them than we are in America.  Perhaps some individuals are better at them than the mainstream in the United States.

Divorce rate now around 50%, right?  There are websites by the thousands purporting to help keep relationships together, or help you make a good choice for a mate.  There are opinions everywhere about why the divorce/break up rate is so high.  (If we count break ups where the two individuals aren’t married, would that make the rate higher or lower?)

Are we getting worse at relationships in America?  This culture moves so quickly, it’s hard to tell what, if anything, might be the cause, if indeed we are getting worse at it.

I can tell you one thing that will definitely make a relationship rocky – attachment issues.  If I wasn’t attached securely as an infant/toddler/child, then I will struggle with it as an adult.  And successful relationships require attachment.

Haven’t you heard?  We marry our mother/father/significant caregivers when we grow up.  Well, you know what I mean.  If my heart doesn’t go “pitty pat” when I’m dating someone, I am not interested, right?  And if my heart does go “pitty pat,” you can rest assured that there are some significant shared dynamics between the man/woman of my dreams and my mother/father/significant caregiver from childhood.

Just look at your own relationship.  What are the positives about your childhood caregivers?  The negatives?

Now, make a list of those same characteristics (+ and -) about your boyfriend/girlfriend/lover/partner/husband/wife/etc.  Circle the similar dynamics.  Take your time and be honest with yourself.

It’s not like it’s a BAD thing; it’s just how it is.  This is how humans work.  Like we have a choice.

There’s no point in looking for “Mr./Ms. Right.”  Sure, you can maybe find someone who reminds you of your caregiver who has a job as opposed to one who doesn’t, but the underlying dynamics will remain similar.  “Trading up,” is what we call that.

Given that it is what is, use the insight to grow, to improve yourself.  Since there’s no “Mr./Ms. Right” out there, become “Mr. or Ms. Right” for yourself.