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Why Our Relationships Hold the Key to Personal Growth

Bride and groom walking away on the roadThis week I’ve got an article I really want to share with you because it gets right to the heart of one of the most important truths about our relationships.

We tend to be attracted to partners who help us recreate the same troublesome dynamics we were hurt by earlier in life.

For example, a woman marries a man with an addictive and unpredictable personality, just like her mother.

Or a man marries an emotionally unavailable woman who unconsciously reminds him of the stoic grandparents who raised him. But check this out…

On the surface, she may seem wildly different from his grandparents. She’s outgoing, socially active and superficially affectionate.

But in subtle ways — ways neither of them recognize — she keeps a wall up, shutting him out. Just like the people who raised him.

Freud called this “the repetition compulsion.” We’re compelled to repeat (so we can fix) the painful dynamics of early formative relationships.

The trouble is, we usually try to fix the other person.

This is not a winning strategy.

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining. If both partners are willing to look inside themselves, a great deal of personal growth can take place. The compulsion to repeat difficult relationship dynamics can be transformed.

I like to think that if just one partner is brave enough to take an unflinching look at him- or herself and take some emotional risks, he or she can experience growth within the relationship.

And who knows? Maybe the reluctant partner will follow suit.

Gandhi’s advice, to BE the change you wish to see in the world, is true in relationships as well.

Enjoy Marian Stansbury’s excellent article at the following link:

Revisiting Childhood Wounds in the Context of Couples Work

Photo courtesy of Just2Shutter / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."

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