Relationship Guide: Episode 3- The Real Battleground of Love
Ok! Now, you can put away the weapons and warpaint, because this is not that kind of fight. This is the beginning of an internal reconnaisance that will hopefully help you gallantly escort your partner as you both emerge victoriously. You may be frustrate at times, but let us sharpen our skills and understanding, to build our compassionate understanding, and not the blades of contempt that sometimes cause the bigger hurts in our lives.
This entry is an introduction toward specifc things to come, that will cover psychological information and strategies or tools to employ with an understanding of concepts related to what goes on in our lives of love and relationships.
I guess I agree with the 1980's rock and roll notion that Love is a Battlefeld, but only in a very clearlydefned manner. I have witnessed in my conversations with others, how the mindless adaptation of notions like this, that relationships "are a lot of work" or "a struggle", to be unnecessarily limiting. In fact, I think these supposed truths perpetuate some of the most miserable relationship dynamics by blinding us to the possibilities in relationships that lie beyond the challenge or confict. What seems a more complete thought is that relationships are a container within which two people may struggle together, not with each other as much as against all odds, as they learn about themselves and each other in the process. God is also revealed in these moments to those who care to pay attention, in that the challenges give rise to opportunities for refection upon thoughts, feelings, values, traumas, history, beliefs, and the spirits that accompany us throughout.
If you or your partner are even mildly frustrated or hurt in your relationship, then attitudes and statements that could lead you to complacency or resignation are entirely unhelpful. Additionally, misguided bits of information that seek to fnd pathology or causes that lie within your partner or yourself as a person are often harmful infuences. For examples of this, see any number of partnerblaming literature available on the internet. Topics on things such as codependency, personality disorder, psychological abuse, "toxicity, and a host of other emerging relationship designs seem to do a relatively good job of offering supportive validation and answers, even before the most important questions is even asked: What can be done to heal? Our frustrated and grieving rational minds often seek causal factors, which can also lead to blame and stuck-ness, versus a healing solution-oriented approach. Relationships focused on "why?!?" often become adversarial or despondent, when they could be redirected toward the hope of progress with the healing question.
While I take mistreatment very seriously (so should you), and hope that we can call out the problems associated with toxic patterns, I fnd incredible hope in learning to understand the common factors between people, versus the differences. It is also far more helpful to work on identifying specifc behaviors and feelings that can be mastered through more effective solutions, and I know that is why people seek help even in frustration.
The true enemies to our relationships are invisible, except in our behaviors. The visible signs of our compulsions, attitudes and other struggles, the things that harm us most are the causes of blindness and confusion. Blindness and confusion begets hurt and so-on.
Get in the Same Boat...
The antidote to blindness and confusion in relationships starts with learning to understand yourself, to follow some rules (have a God-directed code for yourself that you share with your partner) and to seek frst to understand your partner's heart. So, as you read this, if you fnd yourself in a mutual combatant situation or worse, checking in with yourself is the best frst step. This does not mean retreating and isolating to "fnd yourself", but it does mean carefully considering which behaviors impact your relationship negatively, which impact your relationship positively. You might want to close your mouth or step back to avoid the muddy ruts of old arguments, and you may need to spend a bit of time alone, but don't push it to a point where you risk alienating your partner. Don't be afraid to think in clear terms of "right and wrong" in relation to your own behavior, and let your partner freely explore his or her own relationship with thoughts and feelings. After an understanding of yourself comes a compassionate understanding of your partner.
There is value in seeing how we are always in the same situation as our partner, even if there are some important differences in feeling. What is always true, is that there is a massive difference between fghting for your relationship and fghting with or against your partner. Fight together, against a common problem, versus sparring with each other. It will take work, but it can be worth it!
About the author: Brock Caffee has practiced Marriage and Family Therapy for 20 years. He is in private practice is in Lawrence, KS. He has experience as a lecturer, clinical supervisor and manager. Life experiences include opportunities for insight into the world of parenting, divorce, step-parenting, and addiction recovery.