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RELATIONSHIP SUCCESS TIPS
Creating a Secure Foundation
Relationships that are mutually
satisfying and beneficial to both parties are on everybody's 'want' list. Yet too many of us end up still 'wanting'
in that department. We wonder,
"Who can I talk to about this?"
"Why won't (he, she) cooperate with me?"
"Who would understand?"
"Why do I feel so frustrated and upset in this relationship?"
"How do we stop the struggle and start enjoying each other?"
"How do I find out if this relationship is good for me?"
"Who would care?"
"Who can I trust to build a relationship that will last over time?"
and so forth.
Such relationships do exist - we can look around and see that for ourselves. How do we maximize the possibility
that we can have them in our own lives - either creating them at the start or doing things to increase the
possibility that the ones we have will provide the parties involved with what each wants?
All relationships that work well are based one thing: mutual consent. What this means is that both parties
have entered it and remain in it of their own free will and accord.
It's often true in life that relationships start out without this key element - perhaps the parties were brought
together by external circumstances such as happening to work in the same office, say, or an arranged marriage or
anything in between.
But starting out without mutual consent does not cast the relationship foundation in stone. Gradually, the
mutuality of successful relationships can be developed over time as the parties involved 'buy in'. They exercise
their right to chose and decide to participate of their own free will, and in doing so, greatly increase the
likelihood that the relationship will be mutually satisfying and beneficial.
Failure to achieve mutual consent is a great source of friction and heartbreak in relationships. Perhaps one person
is looking for a casual, loosely structured relationship, for example, while the other wants permanence and
commitment. Or perhaps the mutual consent they formerly enjoyed is in dire need of an update - perhaps the kids are
grown and gone, and each partner's priority has shifted. Yet neither one is making clear what they want, or perhaps
they are saying it, but each is clinging to the hope that the other will change.
Sometimes the parties involved do arrive at a relationship based on mutual agreement, and everything seems to run
smoothly for a while. But then things start to go sour. What's often going on in these situations is something
pointed out by Eric Berne, M.D., psychiatrist and founder of Transactional Analysis. He spent a lifetime studying
what goes on between people (which is why Transactional Analysis is called social psychiatry or social psychology.)
"There is a secret script contract in marriage," he said, "between the inner, younger or childlike parts of the
bride and groom. Each prospective spouse in the position of a casting director. The man is seeking a leading lady
who will best play the role called for by his script, and the woman seeks a leading man to play the role adapted to
hers." (in What Do You Say After You Say Hello. New York, Grove Press,1971.)
Of course, this circumstance is not limited to marriages - all kinds of relationships can be shaped by the hidden,
childlike desires of the parties involved. But whatever the nature of the relationship, the problem remains that
neither party is aware of what they're doing or why they're doing it. It's as if they have assigned an emotional
job to the other person but never told them what it is or gotten the other person's agreement. Your job is to (
always make me look good, see to it that I never feel abandoned, protect me from my fear of rejection, see to it
that I never feel alone, keep me distracted from the yawning abyss of emotional pain I'm keeping just out of reach
by providing a constant supply of goodies - food, treats, experiences, sex, stream of conversation or even high
One of the most helpful things to do in this situation is to kindly and gently bring this dynamic into conscious
awareness. In fact, it's often true that the people making these unconscious demands on the relationship do not
want to continue making them when they're brought into their awareness.
That simple awareness in itself transforms the friction and instability. What was covert and controlling is now
overt and subject to new choices. The partners in question are now in a position to make agreements in their
relationship based on their wants and needs as adults. They have now re-entered the relationship as consenting
adults who are aware of what they want and what has been motivating them. No longer held captive in their own
psyches by the unresolved issues of their childhood selves, they are free to create the relationship they want as
What is the take away message from all this? Three things.
1. Establish mutual consent. If the relationship didn't start out that way and you want it to
continue, work toward it now.
2. Bring hidden expectations into the light of day. Trying to make your grown up friend or life
partner into the mommy or daddy you needed but never had is a recipe for disaster. You already had the parents you
had, and now you're a grown up. And if you were to succeed in carrying out this agenda left over from your
childhood in a sexual relationship, it would become incestuous. Instead, find ways to share your history and your
pain with your relationship partner in conscious, considered ways instead of making unconscious demands that will
3. Update your relationship agreements. Priorities change over time, so keep your relationship
agreements up to date along with them. Treat them as an ongoing process rather than a fixed task to accomplish and
Pamela Levin is an R.N. and a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst. She has
maintained a private practice 42 years and taught and trained lay and professional audiences around the world about
creating a successful emotional life for each individual and in relationships.
Pamela Levin, R.N., T.S.T.A.
May 7, 2012
You can learn all about about the hidden emotional demands that sabotage relationships
and how to create a healthy emotional life at http://www.emotionaldevelopment101.com
Tags: successful relationships healthy relationship tips traits of successful relationships relationship support healthy relationship characteristics mutual consent creating relationship success relationship agreements
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