I love my parents. Individually, they have great qualities. But together they drive me and others insane. Mainly because they seem to have lost their ability to communicate effectively and they don’t allow each other space for individual expression.
I do feel lucky to have grown up in a household where the parents stayed together. However, I sometimes wonder how things would have turned out if they had separated while I was still a kid? Even more, I wonder if and how my own romantic life would have been different?
I grew up in a household with traditional family values. Values that I once swore by and claimed were my own. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Unfortunately, it has taken me 15 years to realise.
The truth is, I have yet to witness a successful relationship based on traditional values. A relationship where both parties thrive individually and as a couple.
We all have dreams. Though it seems the dream about the big house, the white picket fence, 2 kids, and a dog is outdated and causing more havoc than happiness.
Perhaps it’s time to stop chasing old ideals…?
Personal growth strengthens partnerships
My childhood memories are mostly happy. However, having just spent two weeks at my parents’ house I was quickly reminded of the things I hated growing up. The constant bickering, the backtalk, and the blaming and complaining when the other person isn’t around.
A victim mentality that is founded upon personal insecurities, narrow-mindedness, and a disconnect from the self.
Nothing much has changed since I lived at home. Except, maybe it has gotten worse with personal insecurities stronger than ever. Their individual qualities are growing fainter and they are moving towards a place where there is nothing but us.
Of course, I would love nothing more than my parents be happy together. But not at the expense of their separate personalities. You cannot have a strong us without strong individuals.
Personal growth and development is important at any age and whether in a relationship or not. If there is no sense of self, growth is impossible and it ruins any chances of being happy as an individual and as a couple.
Unfortunately, my parents are not an isolated example. In fact, I don’t know a truly happy couple whose relationship is based on traditional values.
Instead, what I see are sexless marriages, broken trust, broken connections, impacted children, and truly exhausted individuals ready to implode.
Spending time with them individually, I see them thrive. At the mention of, or together with their partners, they act as victims.
“He doesn’t do what I ask”, “she doesn’t understand”, “he just doesn’t care”, “all she does is complain”, and my two favourites “they just don’t listen” and “if only they would … then things would be great”.
Has anything good ever come from blaming your partner for your dissatisfaction or unhappiness? I fail to see how this could ever solve your issues or bring anyone closer together. It will only deepen the wounds.
So should everyone split up?
However, most people tend to settle with where they are. They accept the situation as it is and give up trying to better it. And who can blame them? Without others leading by example, how could one possibly think otherwise.
Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to settle for a mediocre relationship. You can have anything you want. It just takes courage. In the words of Brené Brown, you have to dare greatly. Dare to be vulnerable.
I am pleased to say I know many thriving couples. Couples who aren’t afraid of challenging traditional values. Individuals who believe in changing themselves first if they want to see a change in their relationship. People who aren’t afraid of speaking their truths, even when it feels vulnerable.
These are qualities that many could benefit from adopting. Qualities that strengthen the self and the relationship. Qualities that I wish I had adopted many years ago. Fortunately, as I have learned, it is never too late to change.
My personal relationship suffered
I thought I had the perfect recipe for the ideal relationship. Though my ideals were flawed. I assigned my husband and myself roles that nearly destroyed us. I made all the same mistakes that I still see my parents make today.
Selfishly expecting my husband to change when I wasn’t happy. Never giving him space to express his self or live his values.
Such behaviour is devastating to a relationship and if not dealt with, it can break up a couple.
What to do instead
Awareness is key. You’ve got to find the courage to step aside and look at the situation objectively. Find your insecurities, find your flaws, and find yourself. Work hard to improve yourself first, do not try to change your partner. All the things you want to change about your partner is only a reflection of the things you ought to change within yourself.
I have become a pragmatic person. If I see something not working, I will fight to make the changes necessary.
I saw my marriage was headed in the wrong direction. And I also saw that I was the one who needed to change. My attitude, my behaviour, and my beliefs.
Of course it was hard as hell. I was risking everything. But I have let go of my obsessive need to control my marriage. It is not my responsibility to decide how other people should live and love, even my husband. As a result, things are improving fast.
If you feel stuck in your relationship and you want things to improve, forget the norm. Be brave enough to test the boundaries of traditional values. Explore new ways of living and loving with a partner. Be your authentic and unapologetic self. The more authenticity you display, the more interest you attract.
There are as many ways to live and love as there are people, but some “laws” hold true for us all.
If you’re looking for connection, connect with your true self and others will connect with you. If you want to be loved, love yourself first and others will fall in love with you too. If you’re looking for intimacy, find the blockage within yourself and intimacy will find you.
Be open, be vulnerable, be you.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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