As part of my uni placement I have been attending, Building Better Relationship, workshops at a local counselling service, and it has been interesting to watch the 5 couples over the past 5 sessions , explore the dynamics of their relationships and work as a team to improve their communication, conflict styles, and over all the way they understand each other and work together.
I have also had some interesting online and in person conversations about relationships, what people expect, what they get in reality and how to work towards what they want and need. How many of us have bought into the Disney and Rom Com idea of how men and women are supposed to be in relationships, what the being together is going to look like and how the other person will automatically know what we want and how to be?
The one thing that I found coming up over and over was the expectation that our partner will be our 'soul mate', 'twin flame', 'other half' and will meet all of our needs. Personally I feel that is a lot to ask of one person, for them to be 'all' of themselves and 'half' of you as well, it also puts a lot of pressure on the relationships. We all have many people in our lives, both family and friends who fulfill the needs we cannot fulfill for ourselves, someone to talk to about important decisions, to cry on their shoulder, to be silly with or to just be silent with, our partner can do some or none of these, they can be other things to us as well.
When we have other people and interests in our lives we are always experiencing new things to bring back to our relationships, we take the pressure off our partner to be the 'be all and end all' for us. In the early days of a relationship we still spent time alone, with our mates, doing our sports, hobbies etc and had new and interesting things to share when we were with our new partner. There is no reason we cant continue to do this as our relationship and the intimacy between us grows, it maintains a level of mystery and distance which are healthy. Esther Perez talks about this as being the way to increase the desire in our relationships, as desire can often diminish as intimacy increases, but we can get it back.
And finally the most important relationship of our lives is the one we have with ourselves. This can sometimes be one of the hardest for us to have, we may have bought into negative messages about ourselves, or how we were supposed to be and found ourselves lacking. We may not give ourselves the priority we deserve, do we care or love ourselves enough, do we nurture ourselves, do we put others first and suffer due to that?
I know it is something I sometimes struggle with, putting work, study and family first and thus putting more stress on myself. We are all human and can often forget that if we dont look after and love ourselves and take the time to work out who we are and what we want and need in life, we can make unwise choices in our lives and not be there or have enough for the ones we love.
So my challenge to you and to myself is to " Remember that YOU are the most important relationship you will ever have, nourish and nurture yourself so you can have the energy to do so for others". Are you up for the challenge?????