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Resolving the Impact of the Past on Your Relationship

In a relationship facing difficulties, it is common that each partner believes that the other partner is largely responsible for the issues that they have. This is often heard in phrases like “if only you could” or “if only they didn’t” then things would be better. The idea that one partner is heavily contributing to the relationship problems is generally based on the belief that we are normal and anyone that thinks or has different opinions to us is wrong. In other words, we are the normal one in the relationship and our partner is not.

Sometimes we are aware that some things have happened in our past which are probably impacting the relationship, but that is readily dismissed as not that significant. In my experience problems in a relationship can never be attributed to one person. Certainly, there can be one member of the relationship who contributes to the issues to a larger degree but how their partner interacts with them is magnifying the issues.

Issues occur in relationships because when we come into the relationship, we bring with us things from our past. Most people refer to this as “baggage”. Baggage implies that it is something that we can get rid of. However, this “baggage” is parts of our personality which have developed throughout our lives. As such they really can’t be gotten rid of, cut off or bludgeoned into compliance.

Each of us is an individual. We are born into a family. There is some genetic code from our parents which predetermines part of our personality. The rest of our personality develops based on

  • how we are treated within that family (accepted and loved constantly, acceptance and love happen sometimes or completely rejected)
  • the ethnic background of that family
  • the socio-economic background of their family
  • the beliefs of the family which we take on
  • the beliefs of those that we see as authority figures in our lives which we take on

Couple this with the experiences that we have in life that we interpret through our belief systems, and we end up as adults with a particular view of how we understand the world and how we react to the world. Unless somebody had the same journey, you have no chance of finding someone who is the same as you.

It is also interesting to note that parts of our personality developed to help you cope with things that happen in your lives. For instance, if you are in an abusive relationship, then you will develop certain parts of your personality to help you cope with that. You may become subservient, or even a victim to help you survive. But that now is part of your personality and can easily be triggered in relationships. Sometimes we look for relationships that put us back into that type of place because it makes us feel comfortable on some level.

All of these parts of us are brought into a relationship when it first formed. A relationship has three parts. There is Individual One, Individual Two and then the relationship which is the sum of the two. Individual one has things they bring from the past; individual two has things they bring from the past and those things react together within the relationship.

Unless you can understand your drives as an individual and understand your partners drives you will never be able to understand what caused the issues in your relationship. Understanding drives are critical to resolving the issues in a relationship.

When a couple comes to see me for the first time, I concentrate heavily on understanding the individual drives and how they are playing out in a relationship. Many people think if they could just get out of their current relationship get another that one will be better, but how many times have you heard of people getting back into a very similar relationship and ending up with the same sort of experience.

Relationship counselling/coaching is based on identifying drives and determining how to manage them best. Because they are part of your personality, you are simply not going to be able to cut them off. You can push them down, but eventually, they will resurface. And when they resurface, it will be because they get triggered by something, and they tend to return with a vengeance. Understanding your drives, understanding when they work for you and when they work against you is essential to improving your life as an individual and improving your relationship.

For further information contact Tracey at start point counselling on (07) 3458 1725 or schedule a 15-minute obligation free online concentration with me by going to http://startpointcounselling.gettimely.com/book.

© Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2018

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