By DR. TED WIARD
Golden Willow Retreat
Relationships are a difficult part of life and some of the most magical. For many couples, this last year put new strains within their relationship as there were many transitions, high levels of anxiety, uncertainty, and a new way of being with life as an individual and in relationships.
Intimate relationships are more than physical. Intimacy within relationships is partners seeing one another mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, with safety and acceptance. The closer a couple is with one another, past wounding and historical triggers arise.
Survival patterns arise that may not serve the present relationship. Transferring old wounds onto the present situation, projecting internal feelings onto the other person are common and seem to happen more and more within the present relational dance. Partners allow the opportunity to heal old wounds and behaviors while allowing personal growth.
This does not just happen and takes conscious work within the relationship for the relationship to continue to grow and not become stagnant or die. Terry Real, master couples’ therapist, talks about the five couple cripplers as:
- Being right;
- Controlling your partner;
- Unbridled Self-Expression;
- Revenge; and
These non-productive survival techniques are a way to fight for “upping the partner” usually due to some level of poor self-esteem. Having to be right and the partner wrong immediately causes a barrier of communication and separation. Trying to control a partner can make a partner seem irrelevant, incompetent, or insignificant in their independence.
Controlling is usually due to trying to give a perception of safety while in actuality, it shows levels of anxiety and lack of self-esteem. Unbridled expression is when a partner turns the conversation or issue onto themselves and does not see, hear and value the other’s feelings and thoughts.
Revenge is revenge, needing to get even or get back, poisons the relationship in safety and trust. And last but not least, withdrawal can come in many forms and is usually perceived as withdrawal of love, affection and attention.
To move away from these toxins within a relationship, a couple must become conscious of the relationship and not take each other for granted. Relationships need tending to, just like a garden.
Being aware of the needs of one another mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually is highly important as well as navigating how to support a partner rather than rescuing a partner (rescuing is actually controlling).
Terry Real speaks of the five ways to build a healthy relationship as well and lists them as:
- Shift from complaint to request,;
- Speak out with love and savvy;
- Respond with generosity;
- Empower each other; and
- Cherish what you have.
If time is taken to see, hear and value a relationship, the couple is able to build on strengths rather than deteriorate from unresolved wounds that recycle in the present relationship.
As the pandemic anxiety decreases and life transitions into a new norm, there is the opportunity to look at your intimate relationships with fresh eyes of care and compassion. I wish you well, and until the next column, take care.
Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions or learn more about virtual grief groups to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat GWR@newmex.com or call at 575.776.2024.