Relationships ?

When couples fall in love, sex and passion is not far away. It is present and overwhelming. The test for real wellbeing benefits of couple life-and there are many proven benefits of a long term relationship- is when they can voice differences which, however unpalatable to the other, demonstrate how you can be robust, flexible, containing of the other. The easier thing for some is to close down when it gets unpleasant. At times, most human beings simply don’t like to hang around when things get bad. Others get stuck in and go for the long haul. This ability to weather the storms and stay together, smile and find mutual things to do creates a great foundation for good relationships.

It is when we open our thoughts and minds to others and see them as human beings that we really becoming richer as human beings. One has to work 24/7 to keep expanding and not contract -against the impulse to shrink when things get rough. To go against the instinct to keep the circle around us from shrinking.

People gain more depth and personality when they allow themselves to create more space for the other person to be and the other person returns the gesture. Judgment ought to give way to expansion in understanding the other and accommodating what feels odd at first. The growth of civilisation depends on this give and take.

However, when that generously given space is used in a parasitic way- i.e. the other invades and takes over rather than shares in a mutual understanding, the relationship loses the balance which makes the relationship healthy. The  scale becomes lopsided, the see saw weighs more heavily on one side-the person who takes advantage of their partner’s goodness and kindness, does it far too long and there is an end to it. The sweetest of people come apart under this kind of stress.

Enduring couples allow arguments and quarrels and the love and passion that comes in its aftermath, when anger ebbs away. If this anger remains and ferments in a toxic way, perhaps because this is the way the persons involved have seen their parents behave, then the relationship will spiral downwards. Time must be made for increasing wisdom, understanding and kindness for the relationship to go on and encompass children and elders in its folds.

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I am a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice.