Why Do Relationships Work – Part 2

As we’re on the countdown to Valentine’s Day, the annual celebration of relationships, I thought I would share with you my Seven Key Ingredients that are essential in making a relationship successful.  If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that today is day 4 and here are the next two ingredients.  If you missed the first edition then click on this link Why Do Relationships Work.



Number 3 – A successful relationship is when our relationship models are similar

We grow up learning from those around us. Our most influential teachers tend to be our parents, since they were the ones who tended to be around us most when we were growing up.  And when I say ‘parents’ I don’t necessarily mean your biological mother and father, I also include, in this category, the people who were around that performed the parenting role for you. This could be grand-parents, older siblings, nannies etc.  You get the idea.

When we are really little, before the age of 7, we record everything that we witness – what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell – and all of this data is stored in our subconscious mind. We have no way of evaluating what is good or bad or what is appropriate or inappropriate, we simply store it all.

We learn about the world, relationships and ourselves from the data we’ve stored and this data creates a model, impression or image of what we believe the world is all about. We create a model of what a relationship should be like from our parents and then we create an impression of who we need to be in a relationship.  Models are the way we learn and therefore essential in helping us develop and grow.

As examples:

  • If mum and dad are respectful to each other show each other affection and support each other.  If they communicate well, set and follow the family rules, if they are fair and always talk things through together, then this type of relationship experience or model is what you’ll expect from your partner in your relationship. You will be using what you witnessed in your parents, what you’ve recorded and learnt from watching them as you grow up in order to create a relationship model against which to compare your current relationship.
  • If mum and dad argue, slam doors, walk out, never agree on anything, never talk positively and calmly, then that too will be witnessed, recorded and learnt. This will be your relationship model you will use for comparison.

If you then compare your learned relationship model with your current relationship and it falls short, you will do whatever it takes to ensure that the relationship you have meets that benchmark positive or negative.  We do this subconsciously and this can place you and your partner on a losing streak, seemingly never able to fulfil each others needs.

How to discover your model

If you want to find out more about how you are operating within your relationship then set aside some time to reflect on both your parents and your own relationship. The following questions are triggers to help you reflect but are by no means exhaustive.

  • How did they show respect for each other in their interactions?
  • How did they communicate – were they willing to talk things through?
  • How did they discipline you – were they in agreement and fair?
  • How did they show each other that they loved each other?
  • Anything else that comes to mind

Note down what this tells you.

The most important part of this process is in making you aware of how you are operating within your relationship.  By comparing your current relationship with the model learned from that of your parents, you are then able to highlight behaviours that you don’t like and areas you’d like to change. Now this is where it gets exciting … from understanding comes change and all you need to do now is, be willing to accept that there is another way.

You might also ask your partner to do the same to make this process even more powerful. You could then be brave and share the realisations with each other. When you do this you can then support each other in discovering what you want instead, this time as a team rather than as individuals.

Number 4 –A successful relationship is when we accept that our perceptions are different

Perhaps some of you have heard that when you change your perception of something or someone the response and behaviour you get back in return will then be different. Let’s take 2 examples:

  • You meet someone that reminds you of a teacher you didn’t like at school. Upon meeting them you immediately recall the teacher who made you feel stupid or perhaps even scared whatever the reason that caused your dislike in the first place.  As a result, your defences go up and you become wary. The thing is that this individual ISN’T your teacher, they simply LOOK like them. Your interaction with them will be based entirely on your memory and rather than being open, warm and receptive to them, you hold back which then prompts a similar reciprocal response.
  • Now imagine the person you meet reminds you of someone you like. Your behaviour will be open, warm and receptive.  As a result the reciprocal response you get from this individual will be entirely different to the one you had earlier.

Our experience of the world around us is based on our perception. We BEHAVE according to how we THINK; as such we get various reactions from those around us. As you get to know someone better, as you gather more data from them, which may take some time you may then let go of your earlier perception, you experience them for who they are now not who you thought they were, your behaviour changes and you get a different result.  In fact, you may even start to like the person that reminded you of your horrible teacher; you may even start to dislike the person that reminded you of someone you liked.   I’d hazard a guess that you may have had this experience at some point in your life. What this means is that what we carry around with us from our past, memories, experiences, values and decisions we made which then has an impact on our current reality.  The interesting thing is that our reality is different to that of our partner’s and other people around us.

Can you remember a time where you had dinner at a restaurant and you loved it and someone else thought it was awful?  This is an example of different realities being created because we all have different perceptions.

Each of us creates a unique perception just for ourselves, a perception which is neither right nor wrong it simply just is. This means that someone else’s perception is also neither right nor wrong, just simply different. With this new-found knowledge you can now work through different perceptions and find common ground through the process of sharing them with each other.

How do you work through your Perceptions?

  • Firstly, be willing to respect someone else’s perception.  Remember their perception is neither right nor wrong, just simply different. You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to live in it, all you need to do is respect it.
  • Secondly, be willing to be flexible with your perception …  be willing to see through their eyes, hear through their ears, walk a mile in their shoes, be willing to change your perception slightly so that it is more aligned with your partner’s
  • Finally, be willing to talk it through so that your perception and that of your partner’s gets closer.  It is unlikely your perceptions will ever be exactly the same, so stop striving for that.  Simply aim for it to get closer so that you feel more loved and supported

If you found this useful then pass it on and let me know how useful it’s been. If you have any questions or would like to discuss something then please get in contact. It would be lovely to hear from you.

Keep you eye open for my next edition.

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