Blog 34. The Family: Did You Know That Every Couple Sets Up A Relationship System Which Can Be Destructive?
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In my last Blog I wrote about the Family system and I pointed out that when two people get married or enter a partnership they develop a relationship system often based on their parent’s relationship system.
Often I have repeated that, our parents and their relationships are our blueprints. Each partner may therefore, continue ‘using’ the same behaviour pattern in their current relationship, as did their parents – sometimes without question.
And depending on the couple’s unconscious contract (Blog 14) and what they hope the relationship will give them, will depend on the ‘type’ of relationship the couple set up for themselves.
So you may not, as many couples are, be aware of the unconscious system that each couple sets up.
Every individual enters a relationship often with emotional needs that are usually unconscious. Two people often attract one another hoping that they will be given, what their parents never gave them, emotionally.
Couples then set up their relationship accordingly, often with hopes, expectations even fantasies of what they hope they will get from a relationship. And they ‘bring’ their past into their relationships.
Sometimes the system works, other times it can fail. If it works it can go on for years. It’s always wonderful to see those couples that have been together for decades. It gives others hope.
I am sure too that you will have observed some couples with the oddest of relationships. But – if it works why fix it?
Sure many relationships go on for what seems like forever, whilst others flounder. This is why it is so important to understand you past in order to help you set up a relationship system that will work for you.
To help you understand this concept better, here is an overarching example of how couples set up their relationships systems albeit unconsciously:
Two people are high achievers. They work really hard so as to create a relationship system that allows them to feel emotionally safe.
They create busy successful lives and they organize themselves with work and friends, even family commitments, so that they don’t ever have to look at their individual issues.
Partner A, who was abandoned as a child and who has not resolved these issues, may be attracted to someone who is prepared to become an emotional ‘mother’ figure.
Partner B on the other hand, might also have childhood issues which they too, do not want to face.
The couple then ‘agrees’ to what I call the ‘unconscious contract’ (see Blog 15) and over time this contract gets deepened as Partner B becomes the capable organizer and the responsible parent, whereas Partner A remains the needy ‘child’.
After a number of years, what works for one partner might start to become a burden for the other partner.
All the organising, the socialising and holding everything together, might seem okay on the surface. After all it’s what this couple set up. Their relationship system has allowed them to survive this far and it’s helped keep their issues at bay.
But in the case of say partner B, they may start to get annoyed. Partner B may even begin to find ways of punishing their partner for sitting back, doing nothing and constantly playing the helpless child. (I refer to Blog 8 and 9).
What might have gone on for many years might start becoming cumbersome, tedious and irritating.
When and if this occurs, the couple will start having problems. This is when their agreed relationship system starts falling apart. It’s when one partner decides they’ve had enough of propping up their partner emotionally, possibly even financially too.
Partner A on the other hand, feeling that their partner is abandoning them, might start to panic. The fear of abandonment (originating in their childhood) might result in further emotional paralysis and this could irritate and anger Parter B even more. And as Partner B becomes irritated, possibly accusatory, the more Partner A will feel punished with all their childhood abandonment fears surfacing. I wrote about this in Blog 4.
The best solution for the couple at this point would be to seek therapy, although this could be very scary to contemplate as they may have left going to therapy too late.
Consequently, and as two people’s roles are forced to shift, the situation could get worse: it could result in divorce, illness, retirement even death of a partner.
What our example couple did and many couples do, is that they set up a relationship system to help each partner avoid issues. Except that roles that suit us one day might not suit us in years to come.
So in order to prevent a destructive unconscious contract occurring in relationships or rearing it’s ugly head later on in life, it is advisable to get to know your issues now. This will help prevent you projecting your issues onto your partner and your relationship/s. And it is so important to start as you mean to go on with a full understanding of what you want in a relationship. I wrote about this in Blog 22 and 23.
You can begin this process by “watching yourself like a hawk”, so that you can start understanding your knee-jerk reactions, how and why you behave as you do and so on.
And please remember that issues don’t just go away when you sweep then under the carpet. Your partner may at some point decide that they’ve had enough and your relationship system might come crumbling down.
So before you set yourself up for disaster, why not get to understand yourself and relationships better? It will do you no harm.
So what’s stopping you?
Note: © 2014 Information Copyright Deidré Wallace
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