A Major Cause of Relationship ProblemsBy Dr. Margaret Paul
November 19, 2007
If you are in an unhappy relationship, do you believe that your unhappiness is caused by your partner?
Most of us know from experience that relationships can be very challenging. I have been counseling individuals and couples for 53 years and over and over I see the same underlying cause - which is that each person is making the other person responsible for his or her feelings and then trying, in various controlling ways, to get the other person to make him or her feel loved, safe, and worthy.
When most people get into a relationship, they tend to believe that this person whom they love will finally make them feel safe, secure, adequate and lovable. Because most people do not know how to make themselves feel safe, secure, adequate and lovable, and because many people came from families that did not provide this, they each believe that it needs to be provided by the other person. This is called a codependent relationship, and it generally doesn't work out very well.
Your partner might be kind and caring, and try very hard to provide what you want, but...
Imagine that you are abandoning and rejecting yourself by ignoring yourself feelings, being very critical of yourself, or numbing yourself out with addictions. While your partner's caring feels good, as long as you are rejecting yourself, you will feel bad. No matter how much your partner loves you, as long as you are being unloving to yourself, you will not feel safe, secure, adequate and lovable.
However, you might not realize that your feelings of insecurity, anxiety, or fear are coming from your own thoughts and behavior. You might think that you are not happy because your partner is just not loving you enough. As a result, you might try various way of trying to have control over getting the love you want - such as getting angry, blaming, or giving yourself up. Sadly, the act of trying to control your partner only adds to your own bad feelings.
Meanwhile, your partner is likely doing the same thing - trying to get you to make him or her feel safe, secure, adequate and lovable. But when you try to control your partner and your partner tries to control you, you both end up feeling worse. One or both of you might go into resistance, withdrawing to protect against being controlled. When one person withdraws to avoid being controlled, the other person might feel even more abandoned, trying even harder to have control over getting the love you want.
As long as you each make the other person responsible for your feelings, you will continue to create a relationship that doesn't work.
The way out of this - the way to break this codependent system - is for one person to start to take responsibility for his or her own feelings through the consistent practice of Inner Bonding. It really just takes one person to break the unloving system that both have established. When you begin to notice your thoughts and behavior that create your fear, insecurity, and feelings of unworthiness and unlovability, then you can start to learn to heal the wounded part of you that is rejecting and abandoning you. As you do your own inner work and learn to love yourself, you stop being a victim. You stop blaming your partner. You stop trying to control your partner into making you feel loved.
While there is no guarantee that your partner will also make changes, there is a good possibility that when you learn how to make yourself happy and take the pressure off your partner to do this for you, he or she might be interested in doing this as well.
Whatever the outer problems are in your relationship - sexual issues, money issues, parenting issues, chores, time, and so on - the underlying issue is not taking responsibility for your own feelings. When you decide to learn to do this through developing a consistent Inner Bonding practice, you may be thrilled with the results!
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
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The paradox of our wounded self is that it wants to feel safe so it tries in so many ways to control that which it cannot control, which leads to feeling anxious and unsafe. Surrendering to what is and opening to spiritual guidance creates the peace that will never come from trying to control.
By Dr. Margaret Paul