If you’ve ever been in a long term relationship you will probably have experienced the highs and lows that come with the relationship “journey”. In this article we share with you some of our thinking and the resources we suggest to help guests move on from relationship issues. This short article is written for anyone who wants to explore, understand, accept and move on from difficult times in any relationship. Relationships can give rise to some of the most intense emotions in our lives so this article may also interest anyone who wants understand themselves and others more deeply.
Relationship stresses can lead to people searching to get away and time for reflection. We regularly get guests at La Crisalida who want to take time to reconnect with themselves and often move on after relationship problems or recent break ups. Relationship issues can be complex and include confusion or a lack of clarity about how to move forward, a loss of trust, a sense of instability, or self-esteem issues. Many times relationships can uncover our deepest fears.
How do I know when it’s time to move on?
Many of us seek out friends to help support us when we feel down, and often a good sharing of feelings or a night out can help. Typical advice we can get can be along the lines of “they weren’t good enough for you” and “you’ve got to move on” which of course can be temporarily helpful. However most of us know that for a break up when difficult emotions arise, it can be difficult to move on quickly.
When we say moving on from a relationship, what we really mean is moving on from the emotional states or patterns that keep us stuck. Of course, although it can be a tough time emotionally, we normally have to find our inner resilience to cope. The problems arise if we repeatedly have the same feelings or end up feeling stuck in a negative pattern. For example, with an affair, maybe we continue feeling a sense of loss of trust with the opposite sex. So really we are only ready to move on from a relationship when we are ready to move on from these patterns. This may of course involve forgiveness and compassion.
In theory at least, a relationship breakup has similarities to the sense of loss we get as if our partner has passed away. Maybe you can recognise that when a close person disappears from our lives we often seem to only remember the good times with them. However, Dr John Demartini (a leader in the world of personal development and human relations) calls this the enfatuation process. His research suggests that in this type of situation, we have pushed the negative side of things into our unconscious minds. He says that we make up a fantasy in our own minds about that person and the relationship that leads directly to an “artificial” state of loss. His work encourages those stuck in the deep sense of loss to jump out of what he calls the “delusion” and to consciously remember the relationship challenges and the bad times too! Sometimes for those who are open to it, we work on this very process with guests at the retreat via the life coaching sessions and the results are often deeply healing and transformational.
Dependency and Interdependence
Our sense of loss with a relationship ending can also come from dependency. If we are dependent on someone, for example, for DIY, getting the bills paid or socially, the threat of them disappearing from our lives can leave us feeling very vulnerable and uncomfortable. At La Crisalida Retreats we prefer to work towards balance in all areas of life. One of our workshops is called “Creating Balance in Your Life” and we work to identify and minimise unhealthy dependency in relationships. For this workshop we adapt some of our content of Susan Jeffers’ book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” (which has a great section on healthy relationships) which is well worth a read.
Whilst it can seem “romantic” to rely on others, too much dependency can lead to clinging and anxiety within relationships. For longer term relationships some people tend to lose their own identity and can only identify themselves as part of a couple (similar identity issues can happen to mothers, with a sense of loss when the children move out or go to university). In our workshops we encourage interdependence. This is where two people in a relationship have a healthy identity as a couple, whilst equally maintaining their own individual identity too. This means having joint interests/doing things together and maintaining their own interests/doing independent things. We strongly suggest you spend time on your own so that you can become comfortable without any need for anyone else. Interdependence is also when love can really flourish.
Dealing with negative patterns in relationships
Most of us tend to feel compelled to put on a brave or positive face for others. For example, many of us at work have problems or challenges to deal with all day and have to find solutions or perhaps our children are struggling with some concepts at school and we step in to help. This constant pressure to stay positive can of course make us tired and so we need some down time too. If downtime is not something you get enough of in your life then it is likely that you will take out any accumulated stresses, negativity and arguments when you get home. The book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray is fabulous at helping us understand our partners. Men and women approach problems in completely different ways. John Gray says that men famously want to go into their cave to assimilate their day and that women want to share the problems/challenges of their day with their partner. His book describes how women just want to share and be listened to whilst men gain self-esteem from fixing problems. Maybe you can recognise the situation where the female side of the relationship is sharing their emotions and the male side turns it into a problem and keeps suggesting how to fix it!
The key to breaking negative patterns in relationships is simply to understand the other. We all value different things and see life differently. Understanding the other is of course only possible with good listening skills and hard work! If you are able to see your relationships (whatever phase they may be at) as something that uncovers what is already inside of you then even troubles and negative patterns can be seen as opportunities for our highest growth.
We hope this article has provided some insights into moving on with your relationships. Of course, we would love to hear from you the ways you have been able to move on too.