Everyone comes into relationships with a past. This past can bring with it unresolved issues that can affect the health of your current relationships. This past can be your family of origin and/or past relationships you have been in. How does your life story affect your relationship story and how similar are the two?
Our family of origin, or the people we grew up with is where we learn so much about how to be in a relationship. For better or for worse, we learn beliefs and attitudes that affect our actions in relationships. We learn what roles to play and what we expect from each other in a family. We learn how affection and anger are shown. We learn how to handle disagreements and money issues. We develop our beliefs and attitudes about marriage and family from our family of origin. As we get out in the world, we may alter these beliefs some depending upon how we felt about our experiences growing up and what experiences we have in prior relationships.
When you enter into a new relationship, both individuals bring to it their relationship history, whether consciously or unconsciously. If you pick a partner that has similar beliefs and attitudes, usually the relationship is easier to navigate. Frequently though, we don’t even discuss these issues or find out what our beliefs are until they become a problem. Even then, you may not have awareness that your past is affecting the present. Understanding what you bring into the relationship can help you better understand your behavior and your partner’s behavior. This awareness will help you not repeat negative patterns you may have learned which can lead to better communication and choices.
If you are single, this is an essential step for you to take before making a commitment in a relationship. It is important to take the time and effort to do some soul searching and find out what beliefs might interfere with your relationship. Also, you want to understand what is important to you in a relationship so that you can pick someone who has similar requirements and beliefs. Then you want to discuss these topics with a potential partner and agree on what an ideal relationship looks like for both of you. This makes the day to day negotiations so much easier. The big decisions about how the relationship will run are already decided and then you are only negotiating on smaller needs and wants.
If you are currently in a relationship, learning about your family of origin and the beliefs you carry from past relationships will help you understand your behavior patterns and your partners. Understanding goes a long way toward resolving any problems you may be having. It helps you to put things in perspective.
So take a look at your beliefs and attitudes that may be causing you difficulty, where did they come from? It is important to stop blaming others and take responsibility for your own actions. Once you bring them to the surface, you can start to make positive changes, maybe even be more understanding and tolerant of others. Freedom comes from forgiving ourselves and our past.
Marriage is only as healthy as the two people involved. So let go of past baggage and feel the huge weight lifted. You will be able to discuss issues more openly and negotiate solutions when necessary. Your marriage will be healthier and happier.
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Lori Ann Davis, MA, CRS
Certified Relationship Specialist
Radio host, “Ask Lori” show on WGIVCharlotte.com