The Importance of Relationships
We are all living in a network of relationships. We describe ourselves as parents or grandparents, husbands or wives, brothers or sisters, partners and friends. This positions us within our community and becomes an important part of our personal identity. Many people actively seek out particular relationships to earn their place in society.
Such relationships are evidence that we are loved, valued and respected. They can become a key element in our creation of a solid sense of who we are and how we fit into the world. While each of these carries a responsibility, they are also a source of comfort and support so there is give and take in every healthy relationship. All of this can be challenged and become undermined when relationships start to go wrong.
Problems in Relationships
Each person within a relationship will see it differently and they will have their own desires and expectations. These will be influenced by previous experiences, current values and beliefs and the importance placed on the relationship in their lives as a whole.
Problems arise when there is a significant mismatch between these viewpoints. For example some people believe their romantic relationship and their immediate family are the most important part of their lives. Others may not define themselves by any one relationship but see themselves within a wider context that might include work colleagues, social status or a role within their extended family.
Each person experiences a shared relationship differently and understanding what it means for each of us will increase the chance of our individual needs and desires being met.
When relationships begin there may be talk of what each person wants. Romantic relationships may initially be overshadowed by physical desires and can include many assumptions such as creating a family.
People are always evolving and our personal priorities change as we move through life. What seems important when we are young can seem less so as we get older and objectives agreed at the start may no longer be fulfilling further down the track. Shared goals and assumptions need to be revisited regularly as peoples’ needs, desires and expectations change.
It is not uncommon for people to tell a disappointed partner that they thought what they were doing was what they wanted. Another common belief is that people would know what we wanted if they really cared about us.
If the key to managing relationships is understanding what people need and want, then it is important that we are able to communicate this. Only then can we begin to negotiate a way forward.
You need to fully understand your own desires so that you can express yourself honestly and openly in a way that can be understood. It is equally important that you are able to listen without judgement or prejudice to understand what the other is saying. If you each know what the other person wants then you can plan for the future.
It is easy to be blinded to another’s needs by the power of our own. When this happens there is always the risk that when desires are not fulfilled in one relationship satisfaction may be sought in another.
This applies whatever the relationship, whether it is parent and child, brothers and sisters or even partners in business.
Supporting Healthy Relationships
An experienced counsellor can help people to get to the heart of what they currently want from a relationship and support each of them in expressing this clearly to the other. By working this through it may be possible to realign a relationship so that it more accurately reflects peoples’ current needs, desires and expectations rather than being rooted in the past or being focussed on an impossible future.
© 2017 Michael Golding
About this blog ...
This is a collection of personal thoughts and observations on issues that many people are facing every day.