Emotional Fitness

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Interdependence - Finding Balance & Harmony in Love

Living in an interdependent relationship gives you both respect and nurturing

Have you ever noticed couples who seem so enmeshed with one another that you can’t tell where one person begins and the other leaves off? Do you also notice couples who seem to be so distant that you are surprised they are together? 

We all relate to one another in different ways. Some people are very independent in relationships, others are dependent, and a number of people are co-dependent (which means they put aside their own well-being to maintain a relationship with another).

The healthiest way we can interact with those close to us is by being truly interdependent. This is where two people, both strong individuals, are involved with each other, but without sacrificing themselves or compromising their values. What they have is a balanced relationship, and unfortunately it is not all that common. But it is attainable with just a little awareness and understanding

First you need to assess where you are right now. If there is too much neediness (which can be a turn-off) or you feel that your partner is way too independent and doesn’t want to be with you, rebalancing how you relate is very important. Without it, both of you will always feel out of sync, and that isn’t a great formula for a harmonious adult connection. 

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When someone is very needy, it can push the relationship into a parent-child type of dynamic. The needy partner can’t seem to do anything without their mate’s presence or approval, and when the person they are dependent upon is not available it can create arguments and lots of resentment. This can easily be a relationship breaker and someone has to initiate the necessary changes before too much damage has occurred. 

If your partner is too independent it will also bring about difficulties. There has to be the understanding that you got into this to be a couple and if one or the other of you is off doing your own thing for days on end, your mate will wonder why he or she is in the relationship to begin with. 

You need to give each other balanced time and energy. When there is too much in one direction it will throw things off. Establishing a habit of interdependence is a great way to ensure that your relationship will have what it needs to grow and bloom for both of you. In addition, it gives you both what you need in order to keep your dynamic in check which will help give you both what it is that you need.

To create this new habit you have to take a good look at where the relationship is on this level and how you both participate in keeping it on or off track. Once you have established where you are, begin looking at how you got here. Ask each other some questions like “Did this start because of an argument?” or “Is this what you really want?” and “How can we make it better for both of us?”

Getting clarity before embarking on a journey of change is imperative. Create some of your own questions that are specific to your relationship and lifestyle. If one of you travels, the two of you will have different issues from couples who are around each other 24/7. Every relationship is different, and there are a myriad of things couples can do to make things better if they both want to.

For example, if you feel that your mate is unavailable, have a serious discussion about your feelings as well as giving him or her some alternatives you have thought of, which can be very helpful. By priming the pump in this way your partner won’t get defensive and fell like he or she has to scramble to come up with something to add to the conversation. In addition this talk should be blameless and shameless. If you make your partner feel badly, it is much harder to reach a resolution.

If you have the opposite issue, your mate won’t let you have any alone time, you need to bring it up in the same way and discuss it gently. By asking for personal time, you cannot make your loved one feel less than. Just because he or she is too attached at the moment does not mean that with a little conversation they won’t see the light. After all you are just asking for some personal time, which this author believes we all need.

Sometimes, when the person we are with has displayed behaviors that make us uncomfortable or cause us pain, we think that we really don’t want things to be different; we just want them to be over. And that can be a huge, painful and life-altering decision. 

What couples need to learn to do is talk about what they are feeling and make the necessary adjustments so that both people can feel better. First, though, you have to step out of your stubbornness and let the healing happen. 

The best motivation for this is to realize that when your other-half feels good about your relationship, so will you. Be aware that the changes you are contemplating are not just for another person or even your relationship; you are also making them for yourself. That isn’t selfish, it’s appropriate. It is also part of what makes interdependence a laudable goal for your relationship. 

Look, if you don’t take time for yourself you won’t be as good a partner, the same thing goes if you take too much time away from the one you love. Couples need to find way to balance their time and togetherness that makes the relationship something you both look forward to. 

People can live in unbalanced relationships for a lifetime. What they don’t see is that by making some simple realizations and changes about the way you relate to your partner, you can change your entire life for the better.

Living in an interdependent relationship gives you both respect and nurturing. What a nice way to go through life.

 

 

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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