Relationships: Relationship Advice and Couples Therapy

What gives you the freedom to stay and the freedom to walk away? Learning How to Forgive. Free Ebook.

Getting into a Healthy Relationship

There can be few areas of life that are more challenging, or potentially more rewarding, than our relationships. Whether with close family members such as parents, children (if we have them), work relationships, friends we gather through life and so on. Each is an opportunity to learn and grow; or to get wounded or resentful – depending on how well we handle the situation. What goes on in primary relationship, be it monogamous, polyamorous or whatever, affects our other relationship and vice versa.

Therefore, there are few areas in life, other than relationships, where forgiveness can have a dramatic and powerful effect, allowing us to let go of painful experiences from the past so that we can live more effectively in the present. Our relationship with our parents, or lack of relationship with our parents, is often one of the key things which shape our view of life, and our sense of self. Lack of a positive influence from our parents, where we felt seen, valued and loved, can have major effects, till we learn to forgive and move on from the past.

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It might seem, at first view, that forgiveness is not really an issue because we might just want to forget and move on without every thinking about any painful relationships we have had. Besides, for many of us “forgiveness” may have religious overtones, for which we may well have developed an aversion. Especially, if one or more of the painful experiences from our past related to an overly-strict – and entirely hypocritical – religious zealot. Yet, forgiveness can be a psychological process as much as anything and scientific research has show forgiveness to be very effective.

Forgiving someone does not mean that we have to maintain a relationship with the person we are forgiving – unless we want to (See the Tough Forgiveness chapter in The Four Steps to Forgiveness). Forgiving can be seen from a purely psychological angle as simply letting go of the pain from a past situation. Learning what we can from whatever happened, and becoming free to live more fully in the present.

Forgiveness is not foolishness; we don’t have stay around someone who is highly likely to hurt us all over again.

There are even those who try to weaponize forgiveness as something we “should” do and try to make us feel that we are somehow bad or wrong because we don’t want to forgive someone. Yet, we might have very good reasons for not wanting to forgive them – especially if they might hurt us again if we have anything more to do with them. Forgiveness does not mean we have to be foolish and stay around someone who is highly likely to hurt us all over again. Giving another chance to someone who is genuinely remorseful is very different from doing so for someone who shows no sign of changing their ways. (See False Forgiveness in the Four Steps to Forgiveness).

The Best Relationship Advice & Couples Therapy

If you don’t forgive the past you might get to relive it, possibly more than once.

In a way, the best relationship advice is for each person in the couple to learn and to use a forgiveness practise to forgive each other. But ideally they do more than that. By using a forgiveness practise to also heal other issues their past, they can resolve many an issue before it arises between them, or at least take much of the charge out of it so that it does not become such a heated issue. Too often couples are having fights which only seem to be with each other; but are really about unresolved issues from past relationships. Old, unresolved, past painful experiences, can get triggered by what someone says or did, even if innocently. This is good fodder for couples therapy, which is one way of processing such issues, but it also helps if each person has way to resolve things, whitnin themselves, before it turns into a fight.  Letting go of the past, clears the air so all that old baggage is not getting in the way of the current relationship. Otherwise, old wounds will keep getting triggered and we will be placing the blame on the other person for something which may well have happened to us a long time ago.

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Old wounds, even those which cause as to verbally attack another, can also come from a lack of Self Forgiveness. We may have an internal dialog where we are blaming and shaming ourselves for allowing a situation where someone hurt us, and may be living in fear of that happening again. Self Forgiveness, makes it easier to let go of any blaming and shaming inner voice, so that our responses come more from what is happening now. Even if our wounds come from betrayal by a lover, or from emotional cheating, Self Forgiveness can be important as we may be also blaming ourselves for allowing it to happen, or making up reason for why we might have deserved it to happen.

Obviously, seeking relationship advice is a very good thing and couples therapy, or marriage counselling, all have their place. Yet, these are much more effective when those concerned are willing to look at their part in the issues and this can be made a lot easier when some form of forgiveness exercise is available to a couple.

Long Distance Relationships

Couples in an LDR can remain in limbo for a long time if they don’t face the underlying issues in their relationship.

An LDR (Long Distance Relationship) brings it’s own challenges, mostly in the form of “feast or famine”. For a while, when you meet, you are totally immersed in each other; then for another while, when you are apart, you are deeply missing each other. Sooner or later the couple need to make a commitment to both live in the same place; otherwise, there is a strong possibility that they will drift apart, get tired of it, or one of them will meet somebody else.

If the separation is temporary, especially for a known duration, and LDR can work. However, when it is open-ended a long distance relationships can drag on like that for a long time especially if the couple are very attached to each other and neither wants to end it.

The problem with an LDR, especially when it does carry on for a long time, is that many issues which ordinarily surface in a relationship remain unresolved. Issues of commitment and being able to deal with the mundane practicalities of life together, can all get lost in the passion, excitement and drama caused by the on/off physical separation.

The couple can be tempted to not raise issues with the other, because they don’t want to rock the boat during their relatively short times together. They may put up with things which really bother them, knowing that they will soon separate again and they won’t have to deal with it. This can stop each person growing and maturing as an individual by learning to adjust to the wants and needs of another person, and how and when they are willing to do that. Rather than facing issues which may cause them to either resolve them, or to discover that they need to separate permanently; the whole thing can remain in limbo.

A Long Distance Relationship can feel like a Rebound Relationship, except that it is with the same person, or a Karmic Relationship.

A Long Distance Relationship can sometimes feel like a Rebound Relationship, except that it is with the same person. We may have drifted away from them, or even given up on them, then suddenly the sparks fly again and we get back together. We can even end up feeling like we have had multiple rebound relationships with the same person owing to the nature of an LDR. They can also end up feeling like a Karmic Relationship as we feel somewhat stuck and can’t or don’t want to leave the relationship.

Emotional Cheating and Platonic Relationships

Emotional cheating is what happens when your closeness to someone else disrupts your investment in your partner by taking up too much of your attention. This goes beyond just a friendship with the other person, because with Emotional Cheating you will usually feel the need to keep it secret. Another key is that with emotional cheating the trend of the relationship will be leading you away from your partner (even if it has not happened yet); whereas in a friendship the trend of the relationship will be to support you in staying with your partner.

A genuinely platonic relationship or platonic friendship will support the primary relationship; not erode it. However, someone with a jealous streak may well be very threatened by their partner having even a genuinely platonic relationship.

If someone is in a genuinely platonic friendship, or platonic relationship, that relationship will support their primary relationship. The conversations will not be to undermine the primary relationship, but to clarify and enhance it. When this is the case, the platonic friend will encourage a change in the persons attitudes and beliefs which will help make that persons primary relationship stronger; they will not seek to get the person more interested in them as an alternative to the primary relationship. However, someone with a jealous streak may well be very threatened by their partner having even a genuinely platonic relationship.

The problem with emotional cheating is that is can cause the “cheater” to become “distant” and avoid true connection with their partner and avoid dealing with the underlying issues in their relationship. The cheater has left or has begun to leave the relationship on an emotional level; even if they are still present physically. It can take a lot of work to get over and resolve the issues behind emotional cheating and this can sometimes be as intense (with all the issues of betrayal of trust and so on) as if physical cheating had taken place. Much forgiveness is needed to heal emotional cheating (Download The Four Steps to Forgiveness) and this can help heal the relationship and resolve the issues which led to cheating in the first place.

Wishing you all the best on your journey into healthier and happier relationships.

Written by: William Fergus Martin
Author: Forgiveness is Power

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Four Steps to Forgiveness

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Four Steps to Forgiveness

A powerful way to freedom, happiness and success.

William Fergus Martin

ISBN: 978-1-63443-344-0