John sold his home in California and moved into Sheila’s house where she felt she had more control over her environment. She had become more self-assured and independent. For the first time in their relationship, she made more money that he did. Fortunately, she did not reverse roles with John because of it. They both loved each other and always had but they had established a pattern that was toxic to their relationship.
Sheila’s pattern was developed when she was nine years old. She was changing out of her swim suit when she looked up and saw her cousin had climbed a ladder to watch her changing her clothes. It was devastating to her. She felt violated just as much as if he had touched her. From that point on she felt as though she was a victim in most relationships with the men in her life.
Sheila has told me she never gets depressed any more. She loves everything about her life including the new sense of partnership she has with John. Although I have not talked with John personally, Sheila has told me he is much more relaxed and has more fun with their relationship.
Developing good relationship skills takes a conscious effort. Some people say it takes work, but I don’t believe it needs to feel like work. It should be an awareness of the other person’s needs and desires as well as being considerate of who they are. I believe we often give complete strangers more consideration than the people we love because we trust they will have the patience with us when we don’t get it right.
Again, it’s a learned behavior pattern. We need to be more conscious of how precious our relationships are. They might be strong but they are also as fragile as crystal.
Judgment has no place in loving relationships. I know it is one of my biggest challenges, even as aware as I have become, I still struggle with judging others who do what they do. When I see my brother use drugs, I can’t help but to judge him, but I know full well, it is not my place to judge his life choices.