Well, in the 46 years I’ve been working with individuals and couples, I’ve discovered ONE underlying issue that, when healed, addresses all of the problems that contribute to relationship failure.
This one issue is self-abandonment.
Here’s why: when you abandon yourself emotionally — by ignoring your feelings, judging yourself, turning to addictions to numb your feelings, and/or making someone else responsible for your feelings — you feel alone, empty, anxious or depressed, unloved and unworthy. You then pull on your partner to make you feel full, loved and worthy. Now let’s ask: what happens when you do this?
Your partner will likely either give himself or herself up to take care of you — and then will feel resentful as a result. They may eventually withdraw and resist being controlled by you. So … then what happens?
You both feel unhappy and distant. Or you fight. Passion dries up, and so does fun. There is little connection between you.
If you turn to things like alcohol, drugs, work, TV, gambling, porn and other addictions to fill yourself up, or as a way of avoiding your feelings, your partner will also feel shut out and disconnected from you. You will feel disconnected from yourself.
Relationships cannot thrive int he face of emotional self-abandonment because you cannot thrive as an individual if you are not taking care of yourself — your needs and desires. This is true emotionally, but also physically. If you turn to eating badly and not exercising, you might become physically unattractive to your partner, your sex life may suffer, and your partner might feel resentful that you are “letting yourself go.”
Or, to exacerbate your own feelings of self-abandonment, you may find yourself getting sick a lot, or feeling anxious or depressed as a result of your poor diet, lack of exercise and general lack of self-care. This, too, creates disconnection between you and your partner.
There are a few common areas of self-abandonment that are worth mentioning. Keep these in mind as you consider what the issues are in your relationship that might be coming from inside of yourself…
- Financial Self-Abandonment: Overspending, gambling, or not working (if/when there was an agreement for you to do so) will lead to huge resentment.
- Organizational Self-Abandonment: Getting into the habit of always being late, cluttering your home, or not paying bills on time will not only lead to practical issues in your life, but suffering in your relationship.
- Relational Self-Abandonment: Expecting your partner to read your mind, choosing not to speak up for yourself, blaming your partner for your feelings, or trying to control your partner are all habits that will lead to turmoil in the relationship.
- Spiritual Self-Abandonment: Making your partner into your higher power and expecting him or her to be your singular, dependable source of love will place a burden on the relationship.
When you abandon yourself in any of the above ways, you might realize that you’re also trying to control your partner in numerous ways — with anger, blame, criticism, resistance, withdrawal, compliance and more. This can often be a subconscious way of acting out that which you are not giving to yourself — leading to fights and distance. Conflicts can’t and won’t get resolved when both of you are trying to control, and resisting control.
Learn how to love yourself and feel your higher power from within rather than continue to perpetuate self-abandonment. When you learn to take responsibility for your feelings and behavior — instead of being a victim and making your partner responsible for you — you learn how to fill yourself with love to share with your partner. Then your relationship can heal.
How do you learn to love yourself? A good place to start is with our free Inner Bonding course. I hope you will start learning to love yourself today!