Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where Do Relationship Ideals Come From?

Where do we get our concept of what relationships should look like? How to these ideas affect our relationship with our partner? What can we do to compensate for differences in our relationship vision?

When we are very young we observe the world around us. We are like a sponge absorbing all that our senses can detect. We watch our caretakers as they go about their daily lives. As they interact with one another they serve as an example of partnership relationship behavior. As we grow up, we observe relationships other than that of our family of origin. We see other adults interact on a daily basis. We see our peers behaviors. We watch television, absorbing ideas regarding relationships from that venue. By the time we have reached the end of our adolescence we have observed thousands of relationships from a wide variety of sources.

Our earliest observations within our family of origin forms the basis for our values and beliefs regarding how adult relationships are formed and maintained. If our family of origin was healthy, balanced and communication was open, we will come to expect our relationship to mirror those values. If our partner came from a family of origin where there was hostility, dysfunction and a lack of communication we will have opposite expectations.

As we enter into a relationship with our partner the difference in our backgrounds may cause us difficulties in our partnership. We may, for example, expect to talk through problems whereas our partner may not wish to acknowledge problems. We may find that over time we experience discomfort due to the difference in the way each of us handles our emotions and how that difference affects our relationship.

If we are to create harmony and balance in our relationship we must find a way to communicate with our partner in a way that our partner is able to hear. We look for common ground, shared goals and values as a starting point. Once we have discovered that we essentially want to reach the same goals, the path to meeting those goals becomes easier to forge. As we share our values and ideals we may find that we share more commonality than we previously knew. As we work toward a solution we keep our shared vision prominently in view, keeping us on track toward our goals.

We adjust our expectations of one another as we walk the path we have chosen. Perfection is not the goal. We will both experience setbacks as we work toward our shared vision. With compassion and deliberation, we take two steps forward and one back on our road to balance and harmony in our relationship.

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