Looking For Love

Looking For Love thumbnail image

One of the hopes that most of us share is that we will find a “soul mate” – a partner we can trust and adore through the many years ahead. Perhaps we are fortunate enough to find that unique person in our 20s or 30s; perhaps not until our 60s or 70s.

The divorce rate suggests that for many of us, finding love is a trial-and-error process. Through that process, many individuals experience the same difficulties in one relationship after another. Rather than “getting better” at intimate partnership, we seem to attract the same problems and repeat the same actions over and over again.

backlit coupleMany of our expectations about romance and partnership are derived from the modeling of our parents. From our earliest awareness, we absorb their messages, both spoken and non-verbal: respectful, interested, secure, affectionate, impatient, abusive, disrespectful, unforgiving, indifferent, etc. As we seek a romantic partner, the easiest path to follow is the one that has been well-trod by our parents.

But women are not their mothers and men are not their fathers, nor can they expect that their partner will fit neatly into the role carved out by an idealized parent. Every couple brings a fresh mix of information, intelligence, ideals and experience to a relationship – raw materials that they will explore and define and shape into a partnership of their own, unlike any other.

This “shaping” of the relationship is a lifelong commitment. As individuals, we have the capacity to grow and learn throughout our lives; if we fail to do so, we become stagnant, bored with ourselves and depressed. By the same token, to keep our relationship alive, we must also grow and learn as a couple.

As individuals and as partners in a relationship, we must be forgiving – of ourselves and of our partners. We are human; we are all damaged to some degree by experiences from our childhood; we are imperfect. The more we understand and the more honestly we can face our own imperfections, the greater our capacity to accept our partner unconditionally.

One of the most productive learning experiences we can have as individuals is to explore our personal issues through professional counseling. In the safety of a therapist’s office, we can look at our concerns and strengths as well as gain a greater understanding of the issues that are likely to occur in our intimate relationships. This process not only enriches us as individuals, but it also makes us better, stronger, more willing partners.

Learning to engage honestly with one another and to meet challenges with intelligence and maturity helps us build a successful love relationship AND helps us cope with the daily challenges we face as individuals. Relationship counseling can help us develop the language, skills and comfort to keep our romance growing and thriving.