Thursday, September 20, 2007

Is There a Key to a Successful Relationship?

After yesterday's post, it's been suggested that the third relationship should have been the first. However, I don't know if that could have ever happened. It is clear to me that I got to the third one because of the other two.

It was the fact that the first two relationships were abusive that led me to therapy in the first place. By then I was so unsure of myself when it came to men, that I really didn't want to get involved in another relationship for fear I would make the same mistakes over again.

When Dave came along, I was in therapy and pretty sure that I didn't have a clue why I had picked abusive men in the first place. The therapist was teaching me things like active listening skills and how to be assertive but I don't know that those helped me in my relationship with him.

I don't think it was long and I felt the same old familiar feelings. I was supposedly in a relationship but didn't feel cared for at all. Dave and I broke up and I was pretty comfortable with that. He's the one that didn't want to let go. I decided to make him an offer, if he would go to therapy with me, I would go back to dating him. That seemed pretty safe to me, how could I make another mistake with the therapist in on the whole thing?

Truthfully, I expected him to say no. But he didn't and our days of therapy together began. I believed that he was sincere about getting help. Years later I learned he just told me what I wanted to hear. But despite that he did learn some things in therapy. He needs to be reminded from time to time however.

The therapist wasn't any help either. She totally missed his games. But by the time I figured all of this out, we were married. That followed by a serious car accident that left me disabled changed the focus in my life. Therapy became about adjusting to my limitations and accepting Dave for who he was instead of expecting him to change. It was a mess.

It wasn't until I got into counseling to deal with the sexual abuse that had finally surfaced that I began to get a handle on my life. Finally, I had a therapist who was not blaming me for the problems in my relationship. Not that she was blaming Dave either, because she wasn't but the other factors that influenced my life were finally being addressed. For the first time in my life, I was learning who I was.

I'm sure that the changes were hard for Dave. I know that dealing with the chaos of my therapy when the alters began to show themselves had to be difficult for him too. They were difficult for me. While he wasn't always supportive, he didn't get in my way either. He took good care of my children both internal and external.

What he had trouble with was and still is letting go of the controlling and manipulative behavior. Fortunately for both Dave and I, this behavior didn't involve anger nor controlling my life. Dave rarely gets angry. probably to a fault but it has made it easier for me to deal with his other manipulative behavior. He'd really like me to take care of him but I won't anymore.

He's been flexible about the changes in my behavior. As I have decided I need more in my life than just a roof over my head and the bills paid, he has gone along. When I decided I wanted a horse, that was fine with him. When it grew to a dream of breeding horses, he went a point.

Thinking about it, I guess I would say if there is a key to a successful relationship, it would be allowing your partner to change and grow, treating them with dignity and respect and respecting their needs to pursue their dreams.

And on the other hand, the key to a disastrous relationship would be expecting your partner to live their life by your standards, not giving them the space to flourish and grow, and not treating them with dignity and respect.

Tomorrow, I'm going to finish the post on "Self" I got distracted and forgot that I still had part of that to post.


keepers said...

we agree with you 100%! we have grown so much since we got married over 35 years ago, despite the DID diagnosis. Our JM has pretty much allowed us to move forward as best he could afford it, and we thank him for his consideration.

peace and blessings


April_optimist said...

What a wise post! And how much growing to reach the point where you know this. I look back at my own marriage and want to hug the woman I was and tell her all the things I didn't know back then.