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Relationship - So much to learn

Taken from the Goldstream Gazette:
LETS TALK March 18, 2009

Paul Beckow M.Sc. R.P.C.
Individual, Marriage, Family Counsellor

There is nothing more basic to our sense of well being and accomplishment in life than feeling successful in our relationships, being connected in our families – with our partners, our children, our parents, our extended family.

If you are happy and satisfied in your relationships you can acknowledge yourself for you have definitely accomplished something.

Why do I say this?

Because our record of success in relationships is not that great.

Look at the statistics. Last year Canada’s divorce rate for first marriages was over 45%. Divorce in second marriages was close to 35 %.

More than one third of marriages in Canada will end in divorce before their fifteenth anniversary

This is not uplifting news.

Someone once said the two most creative inventions of humanity were gunpowder and romance. It seems over the last two thousand years we have come a lot farther with warfare than love and relationship.

What are we missing? What do we not know or understand
that if we knew, might really strengthen us. prepare us, in the practice of our relationships?

Consider that, as children, we were captured by a small yet significant misunderstanding - a core belief supported and nurtured by the romantic movies and fairy tales. That is:

" If we just find the right person then it's sure to all work out - if they love us they will, into the future together, love and support and take care of us. ( as we will them )."

Ha! Not necessarily so.

Everyone in marriage knows their relationship requires a lot more work and attention than that! And that soon in marriage, romance fades and our differences appear – our different ideas, styles, ways of being, strengths, weaknesses, needs, points of view, values, approaches to problems, etc.

This is the beginning of finding our way with conflict. And that is the real work of relationship.

The truth is to maintain intimacy in relationships is an always "in your face, on-the-job, on-your-own" laboratory for personal learning - and the workability we may achieve reflects directly upon our skills as a "relator".

So we can ignore the fairy tales.

We do not find the right person. We make the person we have chosen the right person.

Now this is a definite challenge, is it not? A clear test of our ability to one) look after our own well being; and two) remain open, undefended, in a spirit of good will towards the other.

The problem is so many of our lessons are contained directly in moments of conflict, upset, differences. And the tendency is, in the face of conflict, to close down and protect - that is blame, or complain, avoid, or withdraw.

In conflict we protect and when we protect we don’t learn. We can't learn. We side step any learning because we are looking "over there" at our partner, how they "should be or shouldn't be". There's no looking at, no curiosity, about ourselves.

And the way it works is - we learn or we protect. We can’t do both. We are either learning or we are protecting. One OR the other. They are distinct.

To learn in the middle of conflict requires a certain openess, interest and curiosity, to ask ourselves - “What is relationship and this particular problem trying to teach me ?”

Meet challenges and problems together, we learn, and we grow. We have the experience of expanding and being nurtured together, even by difficult problems. Yet defend and protect and we block our learning and begin to spin our wheels.

Yes, relationship is a challenging curriculum for sure. We are in the school for being a human being. There is so much for us to learn.

It is my work and my passion to support couples with their lessons and curriculum. That's one of the reasons I write.

I propose that through this column we join in learning together; that we explore many of the challenges and issues we find in our individual, couple and family lives today.

Write me and share some of the challenges and questions before you in your marriage and/or in your family. Let’s communicate. Through this column LETS TALK !

Paul Beckow is an individual, marriage and family counsellor on the West Shore and can be reached by e-mail at pbeckowLETSTALK@shaw.ca, by phone 250 721 2477 or on his website www.paulbeckow.com

For personal or couple counselling, for more information, or to register for a course - please contact Paul Beckow at The Victoria Family Institute.

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