One of the core problems of failed relationships lies in the tendency to look to one’s partner, rather than themselves, to heal their shortcomings and create happiness. When we relinquish ownership of our deficits, we develop unrealistic expectations of our partner and shift responsibility for our personal development onto the wrong source, creating vulnerability for relationship failure.
While there is no guaranteed formula for preventing the breakdown of a relationship, there are ways to protect it. Developing your personal identity and sense of security will contribute immeasurably to building a stable partnership. Consider the following steps to develop your personal power.
- Do not succumb to helplessness. Don’t allow your frustrations to convince you that you need your partner to solve your problems for you. Depend on yourself where possible.
- Value your worth. Put your efforts into substituting praise for self-criticism. Your value must come from within, not from your partner.
- Be intentional about your relationship. Step up! Don’t sit back and wait for your partner to do all the work.
- Be a good listener. Identify your own needs and pay attention to your partner’s as well.
- Learn to take care of you. The biggest challenge of autonomy is giving up the idea that someone else will take care of you and make everything better. Take responsibility of governing your own life.
- Be truthful…to your partner and yourself. Admit when you are wrong, forgetful, or when you make a mistake. Developing confidence will help you handle failure and find new solutions.
- Spend some time alone. This will help you achieve balance and maintain contact with your own goals.
For people who can take care of themselves easily and confidently, being taken care of is not an ideal of love. Rather, it is a state of bondage, which will continuously undermine your self-esteem.
As you become less dependent, your love for your partner becomes less possessive and needy, and is instead more generous and intimately connected. Mastering the basic skills of personal autonomy – problem solving, coping with failure, self-awareness, risk-taking – is the foundation for mastering the skills necessary for autonomous relationships.
About the author:
Author of the recently released book, “Who Am I Without My Partner? Post-Divorce Healing and Rediscovering Your SELF,” Deborah Hecker, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist with over 35 years of private practice experience. She received her Master’s Degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from The Union Institute. In addition, she is certified as a psychoanalyst and has extensive training in the following areas: addiction counseling, grief counseling, collaborative practice and mediation. For more information, please visit www.drdeborahhecker.com.