Treating each other as grown-up, as equals, gives us our best chance at loving each other. Wow, isn't that an interesting statement? It certainly cuts through some "ancient" some times unconscious beliefs about the make-up of a couple relationship. And there is an interesting word, make-up. So many different connotations for a relationship
So, traditionally, the man is often considered the head, the woman, the heart. What the heck does that mean? Well, interestingly enough, the head is thought to be dominant and the heart soft, squishy, and ultimately submissive. However, biologically speaking, that makes no sense. In fact, you can't have one without the other. So how we came to using that metaphor to support male dominance is beyond me.
When I think about the relationships I am privileged to be in the same room with as a therapist, when I look back on all of my personal relationships, I feel stunned because there are so many relationships where we try to make a case for, that love does exist here, especially since love is not a feeling but a decision. But the reality is when I am hell-bent on throwing barbs and criticism at the other, when I am geared-up to slamming the other to win the round, when I am focused on making the other out to be the bad guy or bad gal, when I hold, steadfast in my heart, a trump card that allows me to leave the exit door open just in case, ....well, that just is not love no matter how you try to slice it.
Love is not present in these relationships, and perhaps you have a decision to either bring love back into the relationship or not, but sometimes, the relationship has just died, period. Too many previous heart attacks, too many previous brain bleeds, too many aneurysms, too much clotting, the relationship is stroked out, dead. And yes, both parties are responsible for the death of the relationship. They are both called to grieve this death. In fact, whenever we lose, whatever it is, the loss demands our bodies, our souls, our brains, our hearts to grieve. And we can either grieve freely or our bodies, at some point, will take us down, as in a wrestling match, and force us to grieve, sometimes resulting in yet another death.
So to avoid all that, for heaven's sake, start treating each other as grown-up or as grown-ups. Take the time to look at your own history of relationships and the blueprint for your relationships. Yes, the blueprint.
The blueprint is what you experienced in your relationship with Mom and Dad or whoever your caretakers were. It is the sum total and then "sum" of all your relationship experiences. As a child, we have no control over the blueprint. It drives us, and often drives us, time and time again, into one unhealthy relationship after another.
But as adults, we can examine the blueprint and literally work at changing the blueprint. It is sometimes scary changing the blueprint because the blueprint represents what we are most familiar with no matter how destructive. .
Changing the blueprint may actually make it possible to give new life, a transplant, so to speak, to an old tired self destructing relationship. But all those involved in the relationship must be willing to say good bye to the current relationship, the "old" relationship, The new relationship will look nothing like the old one, in fact, if the new relationship is to be new, it can't look anything like the "old" relationship. When we decide to give new life to an old relationship, it may require very radical changes. People give up life long addictions, for example. Sometimes, the new relationship may call us to have the the courage to leave or end a relationship.
A new relationship can make it possible for people to really love each other in a way not possible in the old relationship. For example, when a couple divorces, they can literally love each other perhaps for the first time because whatever got triggered in the context of marriage, is no longer an ingredient. They can then become the "best" for those who are dependent upon their relationship, for example minor and adult children.
It seems sad or ironic at first when that happens. So why couldn't they stay married and have a good relationship? And we may even go so far as to wonder why God allows such painful things to occur. Well, because God gives us free will and God allows us to grow and develop through out experiences without judging them the way we do. It is not about getting off course or back on course. It is not about doing the right thing versus the wrong thing. It is always about moving forward, growing, learning, doing our best to "sin" no more.
So take a look at your relationships. What is your blueprint for these relationships? And it may not be too late to make some serious adjustments to the blueprint. Chapter Five in From The Frying Pan To The Jacuzzi provides some excellent support in making such adjustments.