Relationships are hard. They are perfect and wonderful, but hard. They come with soaring highs and tear-filled lows and on some days, our relationships are plain old boring. In fact, relationships are so hard, that many of them fail. People separate because the pain is too much or the longing too unfulfilled. Whether it is a dating break up, a marital divorce, or alienation by a family member, lost relationships usually happen for one of three common reasons. They are haunted by ghosts. Ghosts from the past, present, or future often haunt our relationships into failure, but you don’t have to let them. Becoming aware of the booby traps hidden in love’s tangled web can save you from a lot of unnecessary pain.
Ghosts of the Past
We all have a schema for love inside our head. It is based on how we received love in our early years. Sadly, that love may have come with pain. Now here’s the crazy part. If our childhoods came with neglect or abuse, we found a way to manage that. It’s the kind of love we know. What we aren’t sure of is what happiness and security feels like. Even if we find a relationship with someone who can give care with respect, we will drive our partner crazy until he or she behaves the way we understand love to be. Nuts, I know, but the ghosts of past old traumas cause nutty distortions. The only way to get rid of the ghosts from the past is to shine a bright light on them. Get healthy and whole with professional therapy. Go where few go – deep inside the dark places that hold distortions and lies. The places where you feel undeserving and unlovable. Only when you learn to let go of your past, will you be free to truly accept love.
Ghosts of the Future
The future is bright for most of us. For those who have created goals of fame, wealth, and conflict-free love, the future is neon bright. The ghost of the future has a name and that name is perfection. The problem is, the ghost of the future haunts many “good enough” relationships, causing them to not measure up to a media ideal of happiness. Psychological pain is often caused by reality not meeting expectations, and when one’s expectations are designed by media messages of frequent hot sex, money that grows on trees, and relationships that are always happy, the reality of life pales in comparison. Plenty of people throw in the towel on good enough relationships because they idealize love. The way to block the ghosts of your future expectations is to find happiness and meaning in things that don’t come with money or beauty. Research shows that people who spend money on experiences rather than things are happier. Fight off the ghosts of the future by finding gratitude in the present. Every day, tell those who you love why you value them. Find mindful awareness of the simple precious things – a child’s laugh, a warm breeze, your close friends.
Ghosts of the Present
Ghosts from the present can haunt your relationships too. Their names are complacency, boredom, and taking things for granted. So many people allow their relationships to fail because they forget to water their garden. Love dies because it hasn’t been given the attention it got in the early days. Or worse, relationships die because people water the weeds instead of the flowers. They criticize or nag, looking for the worst in their partner and giving that an abundance of attention. The best way to avoid the ghosts from the present is to ignore your partner’s faults and catch him or her being good! Focus on the positive and watch it grow. Don’t let the ghost of the present darken your relationships. You have the power to transform love simply by rewarding – with a kind word or touch – any good behavior you see.
Relationships skills can be learned. Enroll in Dr. Wendy Walsh’s online workshop, The Ten Secrets of Mindful Love, to transform all of your closest relationships.
Most recent from Relationships