By Dr. Maryel McKinley
Make Up, Donít Break Up
Too many couples are quick to break up the minute conflict occurs in a relationship. This is becoming epidemic in our society, and itís no wonder the majority of marriages breakup in the first three years, and that there is a 50% divorce rate overall. Commitment is underrated in our quick-fix, fast-foodĒ I want what I want nowĒ society, being replaced by immediate gratification which promotes lack of integrity.
How do we solve this problem? By trying every way we can to better our individual selves and, if needed, to get the help we need in relationship counseling, workshops and reading books on the subject. Utilizing all resources is the way of integrity, and if this fails, maybe it is time to say good-bye, but not until youíve tried to work through the problem together.
If you are starting a new relationship, how can you tell if your potential mate is the type of person who will stick around during thick and thin? The best answer I can give to that question is to casually ask them about past relationships. Find out if they talk badly about their ex-lovers. Ask them how they met, what their relationship looked like, and how they broke up. Nine times out of ten, if the person has a series of non-committed relationships, or talks negatively about a mate, you will be treated the same way.
This is almost axiomatic. The only time it isnít a real warning sign would be when the potential mate has had a life-changing experience. Psychologists have known for decades that people generally donít change their habits, unless something profound happens to them. Whether they have had a profound spiritual awakening, or made a conscious effort to change, if the person hasnít experienced some kind of different approach to their perspective in life, they will most likely continue to attract and repeat the same type of relationship patterns they have for years.
A client I have who I will call Suzy (to protect confidentiality) told me she was in a relationship for three years with someone who was having trouble staying committed. When I asked her about her spouseís history with other women, she answered that he was a man who hated his ex-wife, and talked badly about his ex-girlfriends all the way back to high School days. He always broke it off when the littlest thing would go wrong, and blame the girlfriend for all his problems. He would rebound to the next relationship while still in the old one. This is how they met. He was leaving his ex-wife and got the courage to do so when he met her.
She became very concerned when I told her about the pattern repeating itself. So, I asked her about her own personal patter. We discovered she had a similar pattern, but was the one who was very co-dependent and played the victim role a lot. When she discovered her martyrdom was actually allowing her husband to continue his pattern as the victimizer, we worked on changing her reactions to his behavior to a more proactive role.
Instead of living in fear and trying to change him, she had an Aha moment and started to change herself. This in turn brought the Aha moment to her husband, and amazingly enough his behavior started to change. He started to respect her more, and started following her example, working on his own liabilities and character faults. Now, they are more in love than ever, as they are truly able to see the Divine magnificence within themselves and each other that was veiled because of toxic unresolved behavior patterns.
He no longer threatens to leave her, nor does he blame her for his problems anymore, and she no longer lives in fear, guilt and shame. So donít give up hope, donít break up when itís possible to make up. As long as you are truly honest with yourself and a commitment to growth, you canít go wrong. Even if things donít work out the way you think they should, when you change yourself, you open up to healthier ways of relating, whether itís with your current or future mate.
Dr. Maryel McKinley Ph.D., C.A.D.C. is a Doctor of Philosophy and a relationship counselor dedicated to breaking and preventing toxic patterns from appearing in relationships. She also treats people who have suffered from living in the alcoholic home as children. She can be reached at (949) 887-7957 for a free consultation. Telephone counseling and sliding scale rates are available.
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