In a relationship, love and forgiveness can conquer most anything if two people are willing to work through the crisis. The problem is this: most people give up at the sign of any discomfort. It is usually one person that makes that decision to say they aren’t going to put up with someone anymore. Sometimes both do and then they say it was mutual when they leave at the end.
Love is easy, you can kiss and make up. Relationships are for grown-ups and require a lot of hard work. Persistence, dedication, love, and commitment to each other. This is the recipe for turning things around. If one or both refuses, they have missed out on an opportunity to grow and become better people. They are essentially running away and choosing to continue living their life in the crisis. This is unfortunate. If they could stay with their partner and do the work, the relationship could potentially transform into a much more powerful union. A sense of relationship enlightenment could ensue.
There is a saying “No matter where you go, there you are.” In this case it means that you can keep going from one relationship to another, but you will still continue to be the same person over and over again if you do nothing to learn from the past. You will keep finding the same faults in the other if you are unable to heal your wounds from those who came before. Two people make mistakes in the relationship. Both need to heal.
My mother remembered fondly last night how she might have been married 60 years this September to my father. I could hear the sadness in her voice. He was her first love. My father has often told me that he realizes he gave up on a good thing. I have heard many clients tell me that one or both parents are still sad about losing their spouse as well. When you grow older and look back on your life, it is so easy to see the mistakes that you made. It is too easy to realize, too late, if only I would have done this or that. Now, in our modern society, there are too many books, therapists, workshops, to run and hide. And so many people still choose to do just that.
I had a client who’s husband cheated on her. He realized, after losing her, that he loved her more than the affair and did everything in his power to get her back. They stayed apart while doing this. They communicated. He did individual therapy; she did the same. They did couples counseling. He made sure to rebuild trust and then they worked on repairing the damage. “Repair is less about fixing what is broken and more about getting back on track,” Zach Brittle LMHC as seen in the article above (open repairing). Once she felt sure she was ready to return to him, they did and are all the more better for this.
When two people are very passionate for each other, there will be times when mistakes are made. It goes without saying. Words are spoken in the heat of the moment. Decisions to sleep with someone are made in an environment that is often ripe with alcohol or drugs – or the work trip when no one is around. Mistakes that people make because they are too caught up in the relationships of their past, are unable to let go of their anger. Mental health conditions that the person is unwilling to get support on.
When I look at the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” and see a woman who stands by a husband with Schizophrenia, I am so amazed at her tenacity to the marriage. Here is a couple who met at a young age and have stayed married for many years. You can’t help but feel the love between them.
Why is it so many people just want to up and run at the first sign of trouble in a relationship? Why is it so easy to blame the other for things? What is really going on when this happens? When I listen to couples talk, I usually see them after years of bitterness has ensued. “According to relationship and marriage expert Dr. John Gottman, couples wait an average of six years of being unhappy before getting help.” By this time, they are so desperate for a quick fix when a long treatment plan is necessary to get things back to center. People will spend years in therapy as an individual but won’t often devote the same amount of time to a relationship. After many years, in a relationship or marriage you can sometimes need this. Even in a short term relationship, it might be necessary when you have so many wounds from past relationships that you can’t let go of in your mind.
I feel sad when I see a couple breaking up. Sometimes it is obvious that there is just nothing there (between them) and other times they are just not willing to do the work. I have tried to support couples by giving them the motivation to work on themselves together and have had some success at this. I recently told a couple not to give up so easily or they would regret it in the end. This has held them together and caused them to continue coming back. They realized that they owed it to themselves and in this case their little family. I said this to them because I saw a lot of love between them. Intuitively, I could see that both would wish they hadn’t if they did.
Working on your self and your relationship means more success for your own children. They will see a much stronger person (s) and benefit from the lessons you will learn. Children see the conflict their parents deal with on a daily basis. They struggle when they see their parents suffer (especially when they suffer in two households). When a parent works on their relationship issues they can go back and teach their children what they have learned about life. They will show up to their children as happier and stronger parent (s) and this will help the child to become stronger and happier as well.
Instead, it is ultimately the ego that drives a wedge between two people. Not the incident. It is that stubbornness to say “there is nothing you can do that will change my mind.” This is where a person is really saying “I don’t deserve to be loved and I am giving up on us.” It is where they are saying “I am giving up on me.”
Imagine if the person could have a breakthrough and just say “I am willing to work through this if you are willing to stand by my side.” If the person could say “I want a different conclusion in my relationship this time. I don’t want to fail like I have in the past.” Leaving is nursing a fear that once again they have been let down by someone else. That they are unworthy or incapable. And that is exactly what will happen because they have now determined to believe this.
If a person could be willing to take that leap of faith and determine that they will win, no matter what the odds, then this is what will happen. If they choose to give up and decide that the relationship is over and nothing will change their mind, then they are doomed to repeat this mistake over and over again for the rest of their lives. Until we learn the lesson, as to why our relationships are failing, the relationship continues to fail. Until that partner is willing to work together with their significant other, they continue to see the same problems in the next person. No one can ever show up as different, as long as they continue to blame the past. As long as when you look into the face of the new person, you only see the face of those that came before.
Failed relationships require forgiveness first on the part of the person who has been wronged. To forgive the one that has hurt them and then to forgive themselves. Second, to talk to a therapist about what lessons they need to learn about themselves. How can they be a better partner in a future relationship? Third, listening and growing with their therapist and continuing to work on their mind, body, spirit outside of therapy as an adjunct to treatment. Fourth, be willing to talk about the past relationships with a detachment rather than an enmeshment. To be able to say “Yes, I was hurt by these persons but I realize now…” Rather than punishing everyone going forward when they cross their legs the way the previous person did.
If you look back at past relationships with anger and bitterness, you will never have a happy relationship ever. If you look back at past relationships as a lesson that you learned, you can see the new person as just that. A new person who you can cherish and accept as an individual. A person who deserves your love; just as you deserve theirs.
When we can move forward without anger toward the past, we can truly embrace a relationship and accept them for who they are. We can be loved because we give love and are open to receiving love. We can communicate what we want and need and receive this back.
The goal when you meet someone is to hold a value that you want to be in a healthy relationship. If both of you share this same belief and talk about how you want things to go in the relationship, success is possible. A healthy relationship is based on love and forgiveness. It is based on a level of commitment to the person you are with. It is two people who refuse to give up, no matter what the odds.