There are many behavioural patterns that are like poison to relationships, and we exercise them regularly, without knowing what kind of damage they actually do. I want to outline the four behavioural patterns, which are in my opinion very big obstacles to a happy relationship. Of course I won’t do it without pointing out how it could be better done. The Holy Scripture and modern science are wonderful guidance in this regard.
1. Falling in love with the imagination of your partner and trying to change her/him according to it
Very often we don’t fall in love with our new found partners, and how one actually is, but much more with our own imagination or an ideal picture of that person. The Self-made images of that person determines actions, and personal handling with him or her. Soberness follows soon after the person to whom one had a crush doesn’t fit anymore the self-made image, nor does that person want to fit it. The result of it is confusion. What happened? Where did all that love go that was there in the beginning?
Sadly to say, love drunkenness also has a bitter after taste. Psychologists talk about mental incapacity for a period of time between love birds, and that people need to stay objective and realistic with their expectations.
Erich Fromm once wrote, “One error that leads to the assumption that love does not have to be learned is the fact that people confuse the first state of having a crush with the permanent state of actual love.”
Not everyone understands right away that the reality does not fulfill the imagination wished for. Many people rather stay with what they believe to be right, and keep working on their partners. I too have tried to change my wife for a very long period of time, but I failed miserably. I have misused the bible in this context which clearly states, “Love does not insist on its own way.” (1.Corinthians 13:5)
At least in theory we know that falling in love and actual love are not entirely separable, however the difference between the two need to be understood since the second part is usually harder to put into practice, I want to explain how love meets the other person.
Love points out to potential qualities, teaches a person to walk through life with open eyes and calls out to go on an adventure. Love challenges us to really get to know each other as we are. It requires a decision for two people to fit each other, truly be happy in their relationship and find balance in every aspect.
A married couple once told me that they lived like a cat and dog at home.
So I told them to write down a list of general topics in their life, and when they finished we compared them. In many smaller subjects they matched together, for example when it came to house chores, or political views. Though in other cases they didn’t match but complemented each other.
However, the answer to the question of what was the most important thing in their life turned out to be very interesting. His answer was Basketball, and hers was Art.
Both parties basically had no feelings left for the most important topic of the other. They both had to go on a discovery journey, where by he had to visit an art museum with her some time, and she as well had go to on and visit a basketball field with him.
2. Raising your moral values to the ultimate standard for cohabitation
Values and principles build a foundation for our lives, they give us a steady hold and reveal what is important to us. People with solid inner values develop confidence if these values and principles are taken away. confidence can fade and the self-image crumbles.
It is recommended and important that people nourish their personal beliefs. Once a person finds the support for these beliefs, a big part of their personal problems will be solved.
In my assumption, most people pay attention to the values of their potential partner, for if they undermine these values, they undermine the things and philosophy that mater to the other person.
It is essentially important to know the values of the other person in order to understand them. Sometimes couples even ask me for advice on that matter and I simply tell them to write their values down and talk them through.
It is also helpful to write down ones own values and the values one would like to find in the other person when searching for a partner. This process helps to open every ones eyes, which in return leads to finding the right partner faster. Because one is now able to see what he/ she wants and want not.
In this I suddenly noticed my own wife, who had been around me for a long period of time, but I didn’t understand her until I asked myself what really mattered to m and that’s how I notice her. Of course she had her own values and one of them was, that her husband was not supposed to have a big belly. As a young fool I agreed to it, but now pay the price for it as well. I always have to pay attention that I stay somewhat in shape.
Sometimes I am asked why I even try so hard to stay in shape. And my answer is always simple because I respect my wife’s values, and don’t want to undermine them.
Through the knowledge of other people’s values, one can hold friendships for years and make new friends over time as well. By this, one learns not only to listen to their partner but also to grow a new passion for them. So if you were closed up to the values of your partner so far, then it is recommended for you to open up soon.
The bible speaks of a royal decree when it comes to treating others: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. (James 5:8) One of the Keys to a happy relationship is to accept the values of your partner as your own and finding the balance in those values is important.
3. Not admitting mistakes and making your partner responsible for your own.
When something doesn’t go the right way, simply advising the partner without being asked for, it is more of a common habit than people think. People do so frequently without being aware of it and may be it applies to you as well.
To accept mistakes requires maturity. The right way to deal with mistakes is the willingness to admit them, and have the conviction that mistakes will be made, and that it is allowed to make mistakes. Mistakes are simply a part of life and humanity, but at the same time it takes maturity to admit them. And to face failure, one really has to have courage to see his or her own short comings, for it is not easy to do so.
I assume that all people make the effort to build a successful life, and try to master it accordingly. But this can only work when we are allowed to make mistakes and shortcomings. The more mistakes we make and fall short the more opportunities we have to learn from them and grow wiser. This in return also raises our chances of building a successful relationship. Everyone who looks forward to the future also makes decisions and not all of those decisions will be right, but one corrects them and then moves on to continue shaping his life.
Forgive yourself. Me personally, I have problems to forgive myself and to let go of what I cannot change. Too often I want to make my past mistakes undone, but the more excuses I make up for myself, the more I get lost in them. Excuses do not help us a lot, but admitting our mistakes and letting them go, on the other hand works wonder. We have to understand that if someone already forgave us, they will forgive us again in the future as well.
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will treat our iniquities underfoot. You will cast our sins into the depth of the sea! (Micah 7: 18 – 19)
Wilhelm Busch once said to that: “Our sins are cast away into the depth of the sea, and fishing is not permitted there”.
So I will learn to forgive myself for my own sins and stop fishing for them. The same applies to my partner.
One mistake is nothing final, for the most mistakes we do are relatively small in comparison to our lives. When I think back of all the things I worried about last year, I notice that it is so small that I barely remember any of them. Victor Frankl once warned: “Whoever believes that his fate is already sealed is not able to overcome it”. He also made it clear that we are not free from our circumstances, but we are free to make the best out of it.
4. Use intensive guilt
Guilt is a strong word but there is a solution to it. Through Jesus Christ and what he has done for us on the cross, our guilt is taken away from us and stays with him on the cross, for God forgave us our guilt.
I think guilt is a difficult problem. Sadly, working with guilt or guilt tripping someone, is a common measure to move your partner to certain actions. Guilt is perceived as a negative feeling to everyone, and most people would deny that they try to work with guilt or manipulate someone with it.
But the truth is that most couples use it in some form or another, even if they’re not conscious of it.
For a short period, in time you can get what you want through guilt tripping your partner, but in the long run you only create more problems through it. Guilt creates fear, shame and at last a condition of unconsciousness. Your partner is practically suppressed by his/her feelings. like starting to believe lies like, “I have done this always wrong; or I’m not good enough”. These lies can cause your partner to withdraw, or grow cold. Whatever the reaction is, one has to remember that no healthy relationship can grow with guilt or guilt tripping your partner. Guilt destroys and no one wants to be around someone who works intensively with guilt.
If your needs sometimes come short it is regrettable, but to search the fault in your partner and to work with guilt will not help you in any way. It helps me personally to leave guilt out of the game and forgive instead. That way I can share my needs freely and try to leave behind me whatever went wrong by asking myself instead: “What do I really need? What burdens me? What do I worry about?”
Another couple that I counselled recently, also worked a lot by guilt tripping each other with mistakes from their past. She was told already before marriage that he was not the right man for her but in the end she still married him, and they had children together. What seemed like a harmonic family life, turned out to be a carrier blockade for her. So as time passed by, the children grew up a little and she could have jumped back into her carrier path but now she feared to come back. As a result she made her husband responsible for it, just as most people naturally react, he as well made her responsible for other things in return. But finally they both realized that it would be healthier not to do that to each other, but to try to communicate about their feelings, fears, and wishes.
Our focus should be to help our partner to unfold their potential and not to beat them up for it.
Guilt tripping prevents the growth of the other person, but when we learn to talk about our feelings, desires, and needs the potential to growth is limitless for both sides.