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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 drama.)

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 adults.

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 sabotage it.

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 then forget.

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

Source: 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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Pamela Levin is an R.N. and a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst who has been in private practice offering health improvement services for 40 years.

She has over 500 post-graduate hours of training in clinical nutrition, herbology and applied kineseology.

She has published many professional journal and lay audience articles and has an international reputation in the fields of emotional development, emotional intelligence and Transactional Analysis.

For her work in these areas, she was awarded the prestigious Eric Berne Award by members of the International Transactional Analysis Association in 72 countries.

She has lectured and trained both lay and professional audiences all over the world.

Her work is continues to be used  throughout North and South America, The UK, Europe, Asia and Australia.

She has personally researched the key emotional nutrients™ she makes available through this site.

They have consistently been demonstrated to be the core nutrients people need to feed all the six parts of their emotional selves. 

People from all cultures and languages in all parts of the world have used them since she first made them public in 1974 to feed their emotional selves, move from surviving to thriving, release limiting beliefs, improve parenting skills and more.