Marriages & Partnerships: The Petri Dishes Where We Rework Our Issues – Written by Joyce Marter, LCPC

As part of human nature, we unconsciously gravitate towards partners who help us rework our issues from our families-of-origin or other earlier life experiences. We all gravitate to what is familiar, which is why so us are reminded of aspects of our parents when we look at our mates. This recreation of old relational and emotional dynamics creates an opportunity to rework or correct that which we missed in our earlier development. The relationship becomes a petri dish in which both partners issues interact. This can recreate old problems which can either result in relationship breakdown or in an opportunity for both partners to use their relationship to heal, grow and develop.

Usually, that which initially attracts us to our mate is inevitably what drives us crazy about them down the road! For example, somebody might be attracted to a partner who motivates them to be their best and helps to structure their life. Down the road, those same characteristics may be viewed as critical or controlling. Or, somebody might be attracted to a partner because of their sense of humor and spontaneity. Down the road, they may be irritated that their partner does not seem to take life seriously enough.

Relationships take work. They need attention and nurturing. It is easy to fall in love with the good parts of somebody. The challenge is to accept and even love the parts of all of us that are less perfect. The ability to successfully resolve conflict and come to a mutual vision of your shared life becomes perhaps even more important than all the good stuff that initially brought you together.

In order to successfully work through our issues in the context of our relationships, we must become conscious or aware of our own “stuff” and how it is coloring our perspective of our partner and our relationship.

Relationships are a two way street. We are usually attracted to partners of a similar level of mental health. As we work on ourselves, our relationships may shift, as each partner is a part of a greater system (the relationship.) Sometimes one parter outgrows another or sometimes one partner can inspire growth in the other and the relationship can deepen.

Urban Balance offers individual and couples therapy to help people understand themselves and their relationships, gain insight, and move forward in life in a positive direction.


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