Relationships require maintenance

Many people invest in their home or career. But what about investing in the relationship with your partner? When you maintain a house, you remove the wood rot, you scrape off, sand, filler, you put it in the primer, you paint and you keep it.

Relationships also need maintenance. What does that consist of? How do you deal with disappointments, setbacks, and how do you restore communication when it is broken?

Relationship therapy can help with this. A therapist can guide you to get back into a good conversation with each other, to investigate what caused you to lose each other, to gain new insights and to work on change or acceptance.

A fairy-tale

In the first stage of the relationship, being together often seems like a fairy-tale. Especially bridal couples who have a wedding day with “all the trimmings” express their perhaps unconscious wish for a fairy-tale marriage. A “heavenly day”, a “dreamlike dress”, a “fairy-tale party”, a “fantastic honeymoon”, mark the beginning of a long happy relationship.

Because that’s how fairy-tales end, right? After much effort and trouble, the prince and princess get together “… and they lived happily ever after“. The fairy tale suggests that you have reached the ultimate goal on your wedding day, after which you can rest on your laurels.

Few fairy tales end that way. For example, the little mermaid does anything to marry the prince, gives up her home, family, beautiful voice and beautiful fish tail, suffers untold pain, but does not get her prince.

Why do we love to believe in fairy-tales?

When you ask people what their deepest desire is, most of them wish there is someone in their life who loves them, finds them important and valuable, who nurtures, cherishes and accepts them.

As a baby, even before birth, there is a constant need for contact. Research shows that a baby will languish if it has no physical contact with the mother, father or other caregivers. Fortunately, most of us have had an early childhood in which you were cared for, in which your mother or father responded to your most basic needs for safety, nurturing, love and acceptance. It seemed as if your mom and dad knew exactly what you needed.

But no matter how well you have been taken care of, you have missed things, there are unfulfilled desires. If you grew up in a large family, it may be that as a child you would have liked more attention from your parents, if you were in the unfortunate circumstance that one of your parents was often sick or has died, you may especially missed the care of that parent. It could be that you were never allowed to get angry, or that a great responsibility was placed on you, or that you were found to be too dreamy, or too spontaneous, or … everyone can make such a list for themselves if you think back to your childhood.

As a child you develop a strategy to deal with the pain of not having your needs fulfilled, such as withdrawing, adapting or exhibiting very striking behaviour. Everyone develops their own strategy.

As long as these needs are not met, you subconsciously keep looking for intimate relationships in which you expect them to be met. The choice for a partner is only partly a conscious choice, which often stems from the unconscious desire to fulfil what was unfinished in your childhood.

The reality

Let’s take a look at the reality of marriage. Divorce is common these days, and even if you stay together, there are often problems in the relationship. From minor irritations to skyrocketing conflicts, about things of all kinds: work, household, hobbies, children, family, money, etc. And you realize that there is no fairy-tale at all. And the trouble is, since you’ve come to see the other person as the source of good feelings, you now blame them for not feeling so great anymore. Because underneath all this lies the fact that you are disappointed in each other: your expectation and need that your partner will provide automatically for all your needs like a fairy godmother. If you are not aware of this, you keep going around in the same circle until, in desperation, you have tried everything to draw closer together. And sometimes divorce seems to be the only solution.

Working on a new connection

You can also use this situation as an opening to a deeper connection when you realize that there are areas where your relationship needs improvement. You can make the conscious choice to transform your relationship so that it is a fulfilment for both. What does this mean? You will gain new information and insights about yourself, your partner and the nature of your relationship. And then actually change the way you interact with each other.

With us, you can find the guidance you need to get back into talking about vulnerable matters, to explore the underlying needs that you want to have fulfilled in your marriage. Exchange, attention and insight are important steps, but even more important is that everyone is motivated to work on their own injuries from the past and to support each other.

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