The average person is prone to bring past relationship wounds into their current relationships. These are particularly destructive because our current partner has no idea what you are talking about or where you are coming from. So for instance, if a past spouse cheated on you, we often distrust all future spouses. It’s important to remember that the person we are currently with did not perform the act (or said the words) that wounded us. Much like our criminal justice system, that person should be considered innocent until proven guilty—they should be given the benefit of the doubt. Likewise when a person has been wounded by a mother or father while growing up, it is difficult to not reflect that behavior upon on future relationships.
When you are in a dysfunctional or abusive relationship, fear makes you believe that the next one may be worse, that you may be hurt more and loved less. Those are false voices based on your wounds and the evil ones who wish to see you tortured.
People who have past relationship wounds are often dependent for their happiness on the happiness of their partner. They receive validation and contentment by how their spouse treats them or the attitude they display. This dependency makes it very difficult for either spouse to maintain a healthy attitude.
But partners who aren’t dependent upon the validation of the other can remain intimate even during times of stress and conflict. They use each others’ strengths to fuel their relationship instead of allowing their weaknesses to destroy it. When we allow another person to validate our worth, we give them the control to manipulate our lives.
Unfortunately, the more emotionally unhealthy a person is the more apt they are to engage in highly dependent relationships. Because these people don’t handle anxiety well (they aren’t able to comfort themselves), every time their partner becomes upset, they do as well. And since they are dependent upon their partner for reinforcement, they then spend vast amounts of energy trying to control their partner and the relationship in order to get control of themselves. That’s a lot of emotional energy getting expended in a generally frustrating and often fruitless cause. In the alcoholic home I grew up in, whenever my mother got upset, everyone paid for it. So we each either left the house or spent much of our time and energy trying to make sure she was happy, contented, and anxiety free. But it was a no-win battle. She continued to negatively control and manipulate things regardless of what herculean efforts we performed.
At some point a person gets tired of this game and either individually grows and learns to self-validate ourselves, or leaves the situation--often repeating it in another scenario (like a second marriage). It’s one of the reasons why second marriages have an even higher failure rate than first marriages.
If you’ve recently been in an unhealthy relationship, give yourself time to heal before getting involved in another one. Find professional counseling if needed to heal childhood wounds. Otherwise you’re prone to making the same mistakes all over again or making a poor decision in the choice of a partner.
Excerpted from Rick's new book, Romancing Your Better Half, by Revell Publishing. To find out more or to purchase a copy go to: www.betterdads.net