Partner Edition – Part 1
I want to preface this email by saying this: if you are a parent to a young child, don’t freak out, my assumption is that you’re doing the best that you can; just keep doing that. If you are a parent to an adult child, don’t freak out, my assumption is that you did the best that you could; they will heal.
If you are reading this, I want you to read it with your childhood in mind. This is not about blame, this is about allowing space between your actions and reactions today and assessing why you act and do the things you do, especially when it comes to your partner.
Research shows that the person you are most likely to fall in love with is someone who has both the positive and negative traits of your parents. Your old brain is seeking reparation from someone who resembles the very people who were the source of most of your childhood challenges. The reason the unconscious is trying to resurrect the past is not a matter of habit or blind compulsion, but of a compelling need to heal old childhood wounds. (Take a minute to think of your partner and how this person could be similar to your parents).
Many children experience a rupture in their connection with their caregivers. For whatever reason, their caregiver failed to satisfy their basic needs for safety, affection and/or stability.
Being raised, we were taught, told and shown that there were certain thoughts and feelings that were appropriate, certain natural behaviors that we had to extinguish and certain talents and aptitudes we had to deny. We observed the choices our “parents made, the freedoms and pleasures they allowed themselves, the talents they develop, the abilities they ignored and the rules they followed…’This is how we live. This is how to get through life.’” These early childhood observations and teachings play a significant role in mate selection and is often a hidden source of tension in married life.
When you choose a partner or a mate and decide to get married, the primary expectation (subconsciously/unconsciously) is that your partner is going to love and care for you the way your parents never did. We enter our love relationship with emotional scars from our childhood and we unknowingly choose partners who resemble our caregivers. The unconscious selection process has brought together two people who can either hurt each other or heal each other, depending on their willingness to grow and change.
Fraud says that when we start to receive the love we long for from our partner, we experience pleasure and fear. We enjoy the way our partner is expressing love, while simultaneously feeling undeserving of it. Subconsciously, we feel we don’t deserve it; a part of us believes that in accepting the positive behavior, we are violating a powerful taboo. We are violating a limiting belief that we’ve held on to most of our life.
When we receive the love we so deeply desire, we eventually find a way to deny it: picking a fight, shutting down, expressing criticism etc.. We deny it because of these subconscious feelings and thoughts that we don’t deserve it. It is in this moment that we have the opportunity to start to heal our childhood wounds or enhance and strengthen them.
With that being said, many of our repetitious, emotional criticisms of our partner are disguised statements of our own unmet needs! Those criticisms of our partner may actually help us identify our lost self.
I am breaking this email into two weeks because there’s so much depth to it and a lot to unpack. Most of this information is from the classic book: Getting the Love you Want by Harville Hendrix. Next week we’ll explore ways to heal your childhood wound through your relationship with your partner.