Making Relationships Work

   The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.  It evolves over your lifetime and depends on your childhood experiences.

   We are born into relationships with our primary caretakers and then with others as our social circle increases.  Even when we are in the womb we experience sensations from the outside world.  After infancy these relationships shape your self-image, self-worth, and security.  In the first few years we take in information about what a marriage is; what a woman, wife and mother is; and what a man, husband and father is.  It is crucial that our caretakers be available nurturing and interactive with us.

   Sometimes we are assigned "roles" in our family (the hero or perfect child, the scapegoat, the black sheep, the lost/invisible child).  There are rules that go with these roles.  These may be overt (spoken) or covert (demonstrated by the actions of those around us).  These roles and rules program us for future relationships.

   If we are abandoned in childhood, we may live out our adult lives finding people who abandon us.  If we are persecuted, we may choose and stay in abusive relationships.

   Our parents demonstrate for us how to "do" life.  If they are unhappy, that is what we learn about life and marriage.  We may pledge to ourselves that we won't be that way, but we don't know how to go about it differently.  That is what counseling can teach us. 

   The good news is that, once we are aware of how our past has affected us, we can choose to learn new ways of being.  We can change how we view ourselves and how we want to proceed in life.  We can see ourselves as whole, healthy, and happy to teach our children to do the same.