What is a Relationship Paradox?
There are names and titles to damn near everything. This title,”Relationship Paradox,” for this issue in life, is my interpetation. It is what I feel is appropriate. I have no evidence, just my therapeutic experience with patients. I developed it, so it does not technically exist as “relationship paradox.” I mention this for if you search this issue, it will not be found as exactly that. The definition I coined, which most of us already know as a “paradox,” is added now pertaining to the yin and yang of hurtful relationships. Doing marital therapy with a motivated couple and after many weekly sessions with much visible arguing, there seems to be no hope. The therapist who is supposed to help the marriage states, ” I think your relationship is over. I believe you should end this relationship.” That is only a paradox if the therapist: One, does not intend that statement to be true. Two, the outcome saves the marriage. Is this a lie? It is a paradoxical intervention with good moral intent. I cannot count the times I have used this with adolescents to keep them out of the hospital. So specifically, what is “relationship paradox?” As I will define it, when two people love each other, combined with being hurt severely in past relationships, they have LEARNED unhealthy behavior. This behavior is distrust, victimization, name-calling, pouting, and distancing, sometimes to the point of separating. The paradox; each party loves each other but because of their past learned behavior, they know how to hurt. Example, when a twenty-year-old smarts off verbally that they know how to get a job, and they are twenty and already know the world and it’s problems, they are defensive. They do NOT want help and will be rude and harsh. They may tell their parents in so many words, “Go to Hell. I know what I am doing.” Part of this is the teen-ager syndrome and part of this is having a bad role model as a parent. There is NO difference in that behavior than a wife or husband accusing one of being distrustful, hurtful or having ill-intent with motivation when they do not, because in their past, they were in a long-term relationship and learned how to hurt, learned how to demean. The wall, the “Williams Wall,” is an illusionary wall of the past that inhibits a loved one to see who one really is, to see past their ugly past and into the heart of the one they love. Yes, we all know that past trauma in relationships effects current ones. To move past this, there must be a recognition; a total internalization with learned behavior to correct it. This is nothing new. I am only renaming this long standing problem. If two people love each other so much, then why the turmoil? Why the drama? Why the inability to move past? The love is there, yet we hurt each other, ie; the paradox. The behavior is so ingrained, so embedded in our brain that we rarely admit. To admit means the following; We must admit our naivety and the victim role in past hurtful relationships. We need to realize victims, yes, even victims, know how to hurt. They have experience, sometimes for years. This means we must own up. We must take responsibility and not just own it, but sincerely apologize. Not like one may be reading the words off of a page, but with inflection of true heartfelt meaning. “I apologize,”many times, does not cut it. How about, “I am so sorry. I really did not mean to hurt your feelings.” Recognize how this behavior and paired apology can be very helpful and become bridge-building in the relationship. Recognize the “relationship paradox” and you have walked half-way home to a happy relationship. One must recognize the damage you can do to the relationship based on past experience. I say, “the relationship and the other person” purposely. If one is fairly healthy, one cannot make one feel inferior unless one gives the verbal perpetrator permission. Remember Eleanore Roosevelt, ” No one can make you feel inferior unless you give them permission to.” The relationship is a separate entity than each person. Know that, realize that, and see the difference.
What is “The Williams Wall?”
The “Williams Wall” is what I coined as an emotional wall that causes blindness. Yes, the wall itself causes us to be blind to our true heart and our true feelings. It causes emotional blindness. Dr. Hammerschlag has always said, “We must step out of our shoes and see things just a little bit differently. How we see things are not just the way they are.” The Williams Wall has to do with strictly emotions. We are blind to the true love one may have for us. We are deaf and cannot hear through this wall -not the true words that are being said. Why? The wall is built of pain, victimization, being put down, ridiculed, distrust, and all the ugliness of past relationships. This holds true for individuals who were victimized from previous jobs also. We may carry this wall with us wherever we go. Some may say this is not innovative and is called defensive posture or protective barriers. Of course, it is, however, I am trying to simplify. To simplify for the lay person, the person in pain. This may just give them enough insight to see past the wall. We must learn to see and hear with our hearts. Yes, we learn from past experience. Learning does NOT mean implementing ugly behavior. It means learning, hence, we dump the ugly hurtful behavior. One cannot just be positive, skipping through life, singing songs, feeling the sun when they have been hurt. As well as you cannot sit in the corner feeling depressed, covers pulled up over your head, and afraid to face the world. Why? You are dealing with real people, real feelings, real lives and a real future. Skipping along singing songs of upbeat lyrics is awesome. There will be a time for the happiness.Would you not rather do that with your lover and not alone? Fix it first, tear down the wall one brick at a time, and then skip through life with your partner. Trust me it is a helluva lot more fun, and not lonely.
How to resolve Relationship Paradox?
It is important to note that a few variables MUST be looked at to have any chance to predict positive outcome. These are: 1. How damaging psychologically was the previous relationship? 2. How long did the psychological damage last for? 3. How close was the relationship? 4. Was there physical abuse combined with emotional abuse? All of these are imperative to look at when measuring outcome as well as motivation, intelligence level and how determined do they want the current relationship to work.
Resolving “relationship paradox” must first begin with recognizing how hurt one was, how damaged emotionally they were and do they forgive themselves for their situation? Many hold onto responsibility. This is partly brainwashing from the previous relationship and partly because they do not know how to resolve the issue. Once one recognizes that previous effects of past relationships are caring over onto many issues in the new loving relationship it is now time for “cognitive re-framing.” What the hell is that? Re-frame the current situation for what it really is not for the illusion that you may think it is. Sometimes partners need to cue the other partner, when their behavior is distrustful. For this to occur BOTH parties MUST not be defensive and accept the love, and accept there is no ill intent. Once the “cue” is verbalized the other party must have the ability to see they are using past experience and carrying it into the present. In order to be positive, one must know, see and feel their partners love. One must re-frame the negative into the positive. Granted, this is difficult, but it takes TIME,TRUST,AND KNOWING YOUR PARTNER LOVES YOU UNCONDITIONALLY.
There will be failures. The key, accept them, no ill feelings, and try again. Be positive, without being Mr. or Mrs. hyper-manic, smiling all the time thinking life is grand. Be funny, but measured, knowing that an instance can occur and be prepared for resolving it. Do not bury your head into a depressive state. “Oh, woe is me syndrome.” This does not resolve the issue and only exacerbates feelings of helplessness.
This can be successfully kicked, however both parties must recognize their love, be optimistic, and help each other recognize when the past is creeping into the present like a Stephen King horror novel.