Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Paul and I have been married twice before – twice each. And of course, we did some fair share of dating and partnering in between.
Intimate relationships have not been easy to us. We both always felt hopeful that the next relationship will be the one to stay. There was always a lot of trying to make it work, and sustained emotional suffering. We did not know then that very few people makes it through a first marriage without divorcing, and apparently, second and third marriages are not better. Data show that divorce rates in 2nd and 3rd marriages are even higher.
When we met 13 years ago, we both had a strong drive to create a different type of relationship, but we did not know how to get there. We had a high degree of motivation to make this relationship work. We had read, researched and studied about the issues that came up with previous relationships. We had gone to therapy. Yet, that was not enough to make a difference in how we approached our ongoing conflict.
Our own relationship was not easy at the beginning...
As we found out, intimate relationships are challenging for many people - some people would share with you their challenges as soon as you ask, but many still feel shame about and may not disclose it. Some people suffer in silence, others do not spare in sharing their misery. Family of origin may also influence if you talk or don't talk about your relationship issues. For some cultures, to share your relationships problems is acceptable while other cultures would not approve of sharing.
Paul and I had to deal with lots of “emotional baggage” that we carried over from previous relationships and from life in general. This time around, we were willing to do whatever it took to make this relationship the relationship we wanted to have. At that point, we had a lot of experience about what we did not want it to be. We were willing and ready to unpack the baggage and stop carrying it around.
The willingness to deal with whatever our relationship brought up for both of us was certainly one major factor. This willingness turned out to be a blessing. We learned that a willingness to try on new thoughts and new beliefs can make a difference between a stressful relationship and a fulfilling one.
A second important factor we learned was that, before we can create the relationship we dream about, we need to be "ready to have" that different relationship we want to have. What do we mean by being ready? We mean that sometimes we want something different but we may not be ready or willing to go deeper into questioning the assumptions and old beliefs we have about ourselves and others (other people, other genders, other “others”). We need to be ready to:
- confront our own contributions to the unhappiness.
- stop blaming the other person about what does not feel good inside us.
- explore what I am bringing into the relationship that is a re-creating old patterns.
Many of us keep doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. This is the definition of insanity. In Einstein's words: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."
Very few people figure intimate relationships out on their own. The more we studied about intimate relationships, the more we researched about it, the more we realized that our perception was totally distorted. We needed help, we needed someone who could held the mirror in front of us consistently and help us de-construct our repetitive fights.
Yes, our relationship was never a romantic Hollywood movie.
What do you tell yourself about your intimate relationship?
Is your intimate relationship what you want it to be?
What are the intimate relationship skills you learned from your parents?
Are these skills contributing to creating the intimate relationship you always dreamed about?
Are you openly talking with your partner about what feels awful in your relationship? Can you also describe what feels good and hopeful?
Whatever your current situation, there is hope and there is help!
Email or call us for a FREE consultation. Relationship education could be just the piece missing in your relationship puzzle.