It is important to look at relationships and ask yourself some important questions:
Is the love I give & receive based on how love was defined for me when I was a child?
Is this the kind of love that I wish to give & receive as an adult?
Is this the kind of relationship I really want?
We often stay in relationships that don't work for two reasons:
First, because we hope they will change.
Second, we are often taught that every relationship should work out.
When people are frustrated in repeat relationships, it's as if they are looking for milk in a hardware store. No matter how many times they go up and down the same aisle, they are not going to find any milk. If you want love, tenderness, and affection in your relationships, but you have chosen a person who clearly can't give it to you, it may be time to choose someone else. Don't allow people to be reckless with your love, your heart, and your tenderness. But don't also allow for old definitions to dictate your present life.
We often try to control and manipulate others. People may be happy in a relationship today but wind up fighting over something like, "Will you be here in 20 years from now?" But, the future is not for us to know so they may or may not be with you. That is okay as the length of a relationship or how it ends is never wrong, it is simply life.
It can be difficult to see people in the present, rather than to focus on the past or future. How many times have we held onto memories of something they did a long time ago? How often have we let those unhappy memories color our opinion of them today, even though they've apologized and changed? Sometimes we still have agendas of wanting to punish them or to make them see the past hurt. We hold onto our feelings, accumulating resentments and gathering evidence against those we love. If we hold on to the past hurts, we no longer have the intention of loving them. Instead of holding onto these unpleasant feelings, we must learn to say "ouch" when we hurt, and to the person who hurt us. Hopefully, they can help us to let go of the hurt by listening.
When we let go of the future pictures and illusions of how things should look, of our strategies and agendas, love takes on a life of its own. It goes where it wants to go, as opposed to us trying to direct it. When we let go, love can take us to some wonderful and tender places we could never have imagined for ourselves.
Life Lessons by Elisabeth Kuhler-Ross, Schribner, 2000.
Colleen Montgomery is a well-known individual and couples therapist in Severna Park, MD which is closely located to Glen Burnie, Annapolis, Pasadena and Millersville.