A lot of people don’t realize the importance of reading about relationships because maybe they think that they had enough experience to decide what’s best for them and that they don’t need advice. But reading relationships books isn’t just about taking an advice, it’s not about telling what to do and what not, these books actually, are meant for you to understand a lost of things not only about the relationship but also about yourself and your partner. Below are some facts I’ve learned from relationships books such as “Getting the love you want” by “Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.”:
1- We seem to be highly selective in our choice of mates. In fact, we appear to be searching for a “one and only” with a very specific set of positive and negative traits. The ultimate reason you fell in love with your mate is not that he was young and beautiful, had an impressive job, had a “point value” equal to yours or had a kind disposition. You fell in love because your subconscious had your partner confused with your parents, your subconscious believed that it had finally found the ideal candidate to make up for the psychological and emotional damage you experienced in childhood, even if it was a slight damage such as feeling abandoned sometimes with having working parents or because of being in a big family with a lot of brothers and sisters to take care of.
2- People in relationships are either “fusers” or “isolaters” depending on how they grow up, for example when a child wanders out of the room, her insecure mother might call out “Don’t go into the next room, you might get hurt!” The child dutifully comes back to his mother’s lap. But deep inside he’s afraid that, if he always comes running back to his mother, he will be engulfed, he will be trapped in a symbiotic union forever. Without the child’s knowing it, this fear of engulfment becomes a key part of his character, and later he becomes an isolater, a person who unconsciously pushes others away. He keeps people at a distance because he needs “a lot of space” around him. He wants the freedom to come and go as he please. When he marries, his need to be a distinct “self” will be on the top of his hidden agenda.
Now some children grow up with the kind of parents, ones who push them away when they come running to them for comfort: “Go away, I’m busy”, “Go play with your toys”, “Stop clinging to me!” These children grow up feeling emotionally abandoned. They become later fusers, people who seem to have an insatiable need for closeness. They want to “do things together” all the time. They crave physical affection and reassurance, and they often need to stay in constant verbal contact.
3- To the lovers it seems as though romantic love is actually going to heal them and make them whole. Companionship alone is a soothing balm. Because they are spending so much time together, they no longer feel alone or isolated. And as their level of trust increases, they deepen their level of intimacy. But romantic love brings more than kind words and empathic moments to heal their wounds. With sixth sense that is often lamentably lacking in later stages of a relationship, lovers seem to divine exactly what their partner are lacking. If the partner needs more security, they become protective and reassuring. If the partner needs more freedom, they grant him or her independence. This degree of make-believe is quite common; most of us go to a lot of trouble in the early stages of a relationship to appear to be ideal mates, which we are not. In some cases, however, the deception is more extreme. We put in much effort that we don’t continue with in later stages of the relationship. And the memory of the role a partner had obligingly played become more real than the truth of his actual behavior.
4- To some degree, we all use denial as a coping tool. Whenever life presents us with a difficult or painful situation, we have a tendency to want to ignore reality and create a more palatable fantasy. But there is no time in our lives when we our denial mechanism is fully engaged than in the early stages of our love relationship. All we have to do is exaggerate the similarities between us and our partners and diminish the differences. Romantic love does indeed thrive on ignorance and fantasy. As long as lovers maintain an idealized, incomplete view of each other, they live in a Garden of Eden. After this denial, the disappointment is so great that you don’t allow yourself to see the truth. You do your best to see your partner’s negative traits in a positive light. But eventually the denial can no longer be sustained, and you feel betrayed. Either your partner has changed drastically since the days when you were first in love, or you have been deceived all along about his or her true nature. You are in pain, and the degree of your pain in the degree of the disparity between your earlier fantasy of your partner and your partner’s emerging reality.
5- Later in the relationship, all people know is that they feel confused, angry, anxious, depressed, and unloved. And it is only natural that they blame all this unhappiness on their partners. They haven’t changed, they’re the same people they used to be! It’s their partners who have changed. In despair, people begin to use negative tactics to force their partners to be more loving. They withhold their affection and become emotionally distant. They become irritable and critical. They attack and blame “Why don’t you…?” “Why do you always…?” They fling these verbal stones in a desperate attempt to get their partners to be warm and responsive. They believe that if they give their partners enough pain, the partners will return to their former living ways. What makes people believe that hurting their partners will make them behave more pleasantly? Why don’t people simply tell each other in plain English that they want more affection, or attention, or freedom, or whatever it is that they craving? It’s our old brain, when we were babies, we didn’t smile sweetly at our mothers to them to take care of us. We simply opened our mouths and screamed. And it didn’t take us long to learn that, the louder we screamed the quicker they came. Whereas this arrangement worked fairly well when we were babies, in adulthood our needs are a great deal more complex. Furthermore, our partners are not a devoted mother hovering over our crib. They are an equal, with needs and expectations of their own.
6- At the end of the relationship, people no longer have any hopes of finding happiness or love within the relationship, the pain has gone on too long. At this point, approximately half the couples withdraw the last vestiges of hope and end the relationship. Most of those who stay together create what is called a “parallel” relationship and try to fit their happiness outside the partnership. A very few, perhaps as few as five percent of all couples, find a way to resolve the power struggle and go on to create a deeply satisfying relationship.
Below are a set of tips to help your relationship:
1- Create a more accurate image of your partner, see your partner not as a savior but as another wounded human being, struggling to be healed.
2- Take your responsibility for communicating your needs and desires to your partner. Accept the fact that, in order to understand each other, you have to develop clear channels of communication.
3- Be more intentional in your interactions. Don’t react without thinking and train yourself to behave in a more constructive manner.
4- Learn to value your partner’s needs and wishes as highly as you value your own. Stop assuming that your partner’s role in life is to take care of your needs magically and divert more and more of your energy to meeting your partner’s needs.
5- Embrace the dark side of your personality. Openly, acknowledge the fact that you, like everyone else, have negative traits. As you accept responsibility for this dark side of your nature, you lessen your tendency to project your negative traits onto your mate, which creates a less hostile environment.
6- Search within yourself for the strengths and abilities you are lacking. Being with your partner can give you an illusory sense of wholeness, but the only way you can truly recapture a sense of oneness is to develop the hidden traits within yourself.
7- Be more aware of your drive to be loving and whole and united with the universe. You have to ability to love unconditionally and to experience unity with the world around you. Social conditioning and imperfect parenting made you lose touch with these qualities. So allow yourself rediscover your original nature.
8- Accept the difficulty of creating a lasting love relationship. Instead of believing that the way to have a good relationship is to pick up the right partner, be that right partner. You gain then, a more realistic view, you realize that a good relationship requires commitment, discipline and the courage to grow and change. Creating a fulfilling love relationship is hard work.
9- Shift your focus away from demanding that your existing relationship meet all of your needs to focusing on what your relationship needs from you.
10- Limit your exits, those ways to act out your feelings rather than putting them into words. As an example, it’s easier to stay late at work than to tell your partner that you feel unhappy every time you walk in the front door. Talking openly about those exits with your partner, creates a deeper sense of connection and reduce your need to stay isolated.
11- Surprise your partner. While it’s common that couples give each others presents on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, these gifts are so customary that they are almost taken for granted. Although these gifts may be enjoyed, they don’t carry the same emotional impact as a present that is given as a total surprise.
12- Make sure you understand your partner. Reflect back to him what he was saying to make sure that you’re getting him well. There is a tremendous satisfaction in simply being heard, in knowing that your message has been received exactly as you sent it. It is such an unexpected luxury to have your partner’s full attention.
13- Stop expecting the outside world to take care of you and begin to accept responsibility for your own healing. And the way you do this, paradoxically, is by focusing your energy on healing your partner. It is when you direct your energy away from yourself and toward your partner that deep-level psychological and spiritual healing begins to take place.
14- Eliminate criticism: Couples can have a more joyful relationship when they abolish all forms of negativity. This involve getting rid of blatant forms such as anger, shame, and criticism, but also eliminating more subtle forms as well, including such well-known ploys as “helpful” criticism, inattention, condescension, “the silent treatment”, and using a bored or weary tone of voice. Ideally, this ban would extend all the way to eliminating even negative thoughts.
15- Own your relationship. When you are accountable, you are agent of change. Everything you’re going to do from now on will be designed to maximize your power in your relationship an to get yourself to start being hones. You will start making permanent, healthy change, not only within your relationship, but within yourself.
16- Accept the risk of vulnerability. Say “If my partner does so something negative or harmful when I open up and let myself care again, I won’t like it, but I’ll survive. I will pick up my marbles and go on down the road, or scatter them out and play the game again, and again until it works. Do not let fear paralyze your life.