1) A Relationship that's not growing at all
2) A Relationship that's growing apart
3) A Relationship that's growing together
Many times we find ourselves struggling in relationships that are not going the way we want them to go. Like most, they start out with a bang and seem to be going great, but down the road things change. Why does this happen you may ask? Lets take a look at some of the possibilities and see if we can relate and bring some understanding to the situation that may be of help.
We will begin by looking at relationships that are not growing at all.
I'm going to start back in my younger days when I desired to be married and raise a family. That was all I wanted, that was my dream. I imagined what that would look like and feel like for me. I had all kinds of scenarios from living in the mountains, living off the land and falling in love with an Indian Princess to marrying a beautiful wealthy woman and financially set for life. I had an imagination that kept going and creating different situations. If was exciting and fun to dream about romantic, intimate relationships of all types.
Although I have to say none of my fantasies or dreams ever came to fruition do to allowing other thoughts and beliefs to take hold in my life. This is the part where I mentioned when you get in relationships they seem to go great at first but then down the road things seem to change. As we are learning, our hormones, oxytocin, dopamine feel good chemicals in our body are running wild and we are in that honeymoon faze for a period of time until it starts to wear off. We get beaten down with life and its responsibilities and sometimes we lose sight of the very things that attracted us to each other to begin with. Sometimes we change or we refuse to change.
One person may be content with the way things are in their comfort box and do not want change or grow at all while the other is changing or moving forward. Communication breaks down, walls go up, things come to a stand still. The relationship may get to a point where it feels dead, no more life, no fun, no connection of any kind. It has stopped. Many people choose to stay stuck in these relationships for many reasons. Even though they may be unhappy, they are safe and secure and provided for. They may not have a voice or be able to speak their truth. They may not have their freedom but they are willing to stay in it for now and sacrifice their happiness for a false since of security. It may just be out of convenience that keeps some people together.
There are many reasons for relationships to get stagnant but it comes down to what are you willing to put up with. Many people feel stuck and have no choice in the matter. They find themselves so dependant on the other that they do not see any way out. Or they may be sticking it out for the kids sake thinking they do not want to leave a legacy of divorce, failure or disharmony for them. So they live in a lie like everything is great with mom and dad when inside everything is dead and dried up. Life is full of twist and turns, there are no cut and dry answers for everyone. Each relationship and person has their own unique parameters to deal with.
I have been married and divorced twice. My religious belief system was that divorce was not an option, that you work things out no matter what. That anything can be worked out if you choose to. Well for starters it takes both people willing to do that and be committed in that relationship to even have a chance of working things out. But it doesn't always work that way, sometimes you have to release, let go and move on. And unless you have been there yourself, you will most likely not understand that. Separation is always painful no matter how it goes down. In a since it is like death, a separation that will never be the same. A feeling of loss, abandonment, guilt, failure and it will have a permanent impact on your life for better or for worse. And so will abuse, trauma, and toxic relationships. We can choose to settle for something that is less then what we want or we can decide to not settle and hold fast to our dreams and desires. Settling is no longer and option for me as I stand for my truth.
Susan found herself in a relationship and marriage that lasted for 33 years. She knew after the first two years that it was not what she wanted. She stayed in that relationship raising three boys and helping her husband run a business. The relationship was not growing, it became stagnant, abusive, controlling and basically was a marriage of existing but not in harmony. He was a narcissist and he did not want to hear what Susan had to say on any topic.
He would rant and rave, beating the walls with his fists and keeping Susan in a place of fear. She did not have freedom to be herself or speak her truth. She was always to blame, everything was her fault. It was his way or the highway. He controlled the money and gave her enough to buy food and necessities but never would he let her buy things for herself, she had to sneak to get things she wanted. He would put her down constantly ripping at her self-worth. He called her repulsive, a bitch and always made her feel unworthy.
Their relationship came to a stand still for years and was just maintaining. He did not want any kind of change, he liked right where he was at, in control. He commented and said they were like vinegar and water. He did not want to take care of her, it was all his money, he earned it all. She found herself moving out of the bedroom into her own room. The intimacy ended, connection stopped and she tried to maintain and keep to herself. This was a relationship that was not growing. Susan spent much time working on herself and improving herself. She learned how to continue to love him unconditionally in spite of how he treated her. Susan decided that she would stay in this relationship until she learned her lessons so that she would not repeat this type of relationship over again. Susan grew out of this relationship, he was content to stay just where he was at.
No matter what type of relationship you find yourself in, there will be lessons to learn from each other. Sometimes people come into our experience for a life time, other times for a season. But there are always positive aspects that we learn from each other. We get more clarity on what we want and don't want which helps move us forward in life.
I do not want to leave you with a negative out look on life because for many of us that have struggled in our relationships, we need healing and help to overcome and move forward in our lives. If we do not learn and grow from this, we will continue to repeat the same type of relationships over and over again until we learn our life lessons.
The important thing to know is there is Hope. There is help and support if you want it. You do not have to suffer all your life living in a relationship that you feel stuck in. Your well being and life deserves the best and we all deserve love the way we want it. Just because you may not have experienced genuine love does not mean it doesn't exist, so don't give up on love. For in its truth and beauty it is the only thing that will be solid and sustain your life.
You may feel alone and isolated in your situation and afraid to reach out for help. Let me just say we all share similar experiences more then you know. We deal with the same problems life throws at us. We just do it a little differently sometimes. Fear is the biggest thing that keeps us paralyzed from doing anything. If you will just take a step forward, you will be amazed at how easy it really can be. That is the beginning of change. We make it out to be so hard on ourselves and by doing nothing we will suffer. We are all smarter then we give ourselves credit for. You can make a decision in your life to bring on the change you desire if you will just give yourself a chance. Life is to short not to.....
ask yourself these questions:
a) What type of relationship am I in?
b) Do I feel happy and free to be me?
c) Am I allowed to be myself always?
d) Do I communicate and have the intimacy I desire?
e) Am I allowed to speak my truth?
f) Am I co-dependant?
g) Am I manipulated and controlled?
h) Do I have access to money?
i) Am I respected and trusted?
j) Do I have the freedom to come and go?
k) Am I a part of the decision making that goes on in the home?
l) Am I in the relationship of my dreams?
Susan and I would like to hear any feedback or comments that you may have from your relationship experiences in life. Feel free to comment and share your life experience and what it has taught you.
In our next blogs we will explore in our relationships what:
Growing Apart Looks Like
Growing Together Looks Like
With Love and Gratitude,
Phil and Susan
Relationship Love Mentors