Curiosity in the individuals within the container.
We remain two individuals even after we’ve entered into a committed and intimate relationship with someone. We all enter multiple relationships throughout the course of our lives. Sometimes they are with the same person who continues to evolve and change and grow. Sometimes they are with multiple people who come into our lives for a period of time. In our life’s journey, the work of developing the self is as important as the work of developing the relationship.
The attachment cycle of relationships starts from the moment a baby has their first cry and a loving caregiver approaches to meet the need. This cycle develops, in that small person, a belief that trust and care can be counted on when needs are expressed. The self grows and navigates disappointment, challenge and difficulty. The Challenges can assist this young one to developing resilience and acceptance of a world that is beyond his or her control. When entering into adult relationships, we must learn the value of tending to our own garden (self) and nurturing the plants that are neglected. We must pull the weeds of self doubt, discontentment, and low self confidence. It is our job to tend the garden so that the sun from our relationships can provide comfort and joy and love.
There is as big of a need for self care and self awareness in the relationship as there is for couples care. When I work with couples, the best work is done when each one has done the work of nurturing the self so that they can fully thrive in the work of the couple. People sometimes gravitate to an extreme of self protection when they either fear abandonment or fear being consumed by the other. This insecurity develops behaviors of being overly pushy into the other or overly disconnected from the other. These behaviors come from a neglect of self care. A belief that the way to fix their problems is by forcing the other to change.
The narratives that we have learned from our earliest attachments will inevitably play a role in how we develop trusting adult intimate relationships. It is through our awareness of these old narratives that we can confront them and build more helpful patterns of connection and communication. When we are curious with each other rather than accusing, we are more likely to develop connection and security.
Tension in relationships is not a negative thing. In fact it can bring enrichment and connection because it is a reminder that there are two separate individuals here, with two separate sets of needs creating together, a couple. A relationship without tension can lead to stagnation and dysfunction due to boredom or enmeshment.
One common element that can break down a relationship is when a person feels as if they are losing themselves within the container. When this happens there is no separateness or identity apart from the relationship. Remain curious about yourself and invest in yourself and find out about your partner. Remain curious and open to growth and change. Learn about the ways that your partner may also be growing and changing. When you invest in yourself and in your relationship with care and curiosity that is when intimacy and strength within your container will thrive.