By David Joel Miller
That other relationship of yours.
Every one of us has other relationships that can at times interfere with our primary partner relationship. Now some of you already jumped to the conclusion that this has to do with affairs or cheating on your spouse. It is much worse than that.
We all have far more relationships during our lifetime than we recognize. Each of those relationships takes up time and space in our existences. Let these other relationships get out of whack and your primary, romantic relationship will suffer.
Family of origin relationships.
We all have families we grew up in. For some people, this is messier than for others. Even if you never knew your biological parents, you had foster parents, group homes or other relatives you stayed with.
We all take the lessons learned and the unresolved conflicts from those old relationships with us into the new ones. If you came from an unloving non-affirming family you may find it impossible to accept compliments. You may also settle for anyone out there who will love you. That puts you at risk to be victimized by someone who gives you a little love and then takes more than they gave.
If you were abused or neglected you can take that distrust along for the rest of your life. Scars from childhood influence our choice of relationship partners.
Relationships with Exes.
We have al kinds of Exes. Ex-bosses, ex-teachers, and ex-partners. Even if you are with your first love there are likely to be the ones you had a crush on who got away.
All those past relationships throw long shadows onto the current relationships. You are at risk to relate to the one you are with the way you learned to relate to others in your past. Make sure you are over those exes.
Balancing relations with children and partners.
Children are lifelong relationships. This is a special problem in blended families. How healthy your relationship is with your children and their other parent can seriously affect your new relationship. If you have not worked out your issues with your children and their other parent do so before it ruins the chances of a successful new relationship.
Work relationships impact home relationships.
Employers know that many of the problems their employees have on the job they brought to work with them. A fight with a spouse or children carries over into the work day. So do substance abuse problems and exes.
This connection between home and work problems works the other way also. If you are unhappy on the job it will make you stressed and tired when you go home.
Work on finding a job you love or on making the job you have more enjoyable. Sometimes just giving up the disappointment struggle and practicing radical acceptance is the best solution.
Substances or Interests.
Anyone who has lived with a substance abuser is likely to have felt like their partner was having an affair. I wrote post a while back about how partners of substance abusers can get caught up in a Threesome.
We all create relationships with things as well as people. Some things we like, some things we hate. Some of those relationships are healthy and supportive others can become sick or dysfunctional.
If you have a relationship with a thing or a substance that has gone beyond a preference and is becoming a must-have, consider that your needy relationship with that substance or activity has probably already impacted your primary love relationship.
Partners of internet or porn addicts will tell you that they have lost their partner to an affair with imaginary pixels.
Spiritual and religious practices.
This issue runs the gamut. Some people have a rigid position on the “correct faith.” While they were fine with dating and falling in love with someone who did not believe as they did they feel the continued need to change and convert their partner.
At the other end of the spectrum are those people who have no particular religious or spiritual tradition and who wish their partner did not either. They try to make the partner chose between their faith and the relationship.
The solutions for all these other relationships? Begin by recognizing that you and your partner have other relationships in your lives. Work on learning to keep those other connections in their proper balance.
Some of you will have others, family and friends who so intrude on your primary relationship you will need to distance yourself from that former relationship.
Good partner communication and a belief that whatever the challenges, your significant other is committed to this partner relationship will go a long way in keeping those other relationships from damaging your couple’s relationship.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books
- When your mind magnifies your problems (counselorssoapbox.com)
- What do several failed relationships mean? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Are you a functional Alcoholic? Do you know someone with an Alcohol Use Disorder? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Could you use some help? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Fairytales end at the wedding – Marriage and Divorce (counselorssoapbox.com)
- More on how to be happy (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Do emotional problems, depression and anxiety, time travel? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- The voices in your head – depression, anxiety, and fear – they lie (counselorssoapbox.com)