Who is the enemy? It may be your past.

When in a relationship you may find at some point that either you or your partner has some event in their past that is effecting how you interact and communicate with each other. The way we behave and react to current life events is effected by our past events. Were we raised in a stable home or did we grow up in a tumultuous home or the foster system? Were we exposed to a traumatic event like a rape or military service? Did we grow up in a home with an alcoholic or drug addict or an abusive parent? We may have survived all these events but now we are in a relationship with another person and the way we respond to them may not be a healthy response and you are both struggling with how to fix this conflict.

You may have learned that the best way to deal with a conflict is to avoid it, shut down, don’t address it but this is not working in your adult relationship. Or you may have learned to put up an emotional wall, don’t even acknowledge the feelings. Or you choose to fight anything that appears to interfere with the plan that you have. The past events which are now affecting your behavior were no fault of your own but now you are an adult and you are responsible for the choices you are making.

If the history and behavior is yours you may not understand why your partner is unhappy with you and you can’t make them happy. They say you are not listening or you have to always have things your way or you are too quick to anger. I know this can be very frustrating to both parties. But I hope that if you have made a commitment to the relationship then it is time to work together to find more healthy solutions.

This is not time to go to war with each other, to shut yourself off from each other or to resent each other. This is time to pull together and fight the enemy as teammates. The enemy is the dysfunctional childhood, the trauma of rape or war, or the unhealthy people that taught these unhealthy coping styles. Those are the enemy not the person you love. Those things were not their fault but now as an adult this is when it is time to look at how the history is playing out today. It will take effort to learn new skills and communicate in a healthy way. To learn to listen to your partner, to communicate in a way that doesn’t feel like an attack to the other person. To understand that how you communicate now is not working.

This is all possible but we need to understand who our enemy is. It is not your partner who went through the trauma. If you both are ready to acknowledge that what was learned or experienced is affecting your relationship and it is not healthy to continue to respond to current life in a way that may have worked before but is not working now. Then team up with your partner and fight together to change for a healthy future.

Written by Lisa Strong