Momma Told Me: Identifying Relationship Habits That Prevent Healthy Relationships

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Identifying Relationship Habits That Prevent Healthy Relationships

Momma Told Me: The most important person you need to listen to is yourself.

The funny thing about habits is that they are not only hard to break, but most often require a long and painful recovery.  We do perhaps hundreds of things a day that seem meaningless and unintentional; when in truth, they are processes repeated over and over. Whether it's the harmless preference of replacing the toilet paper roll over versus under, or the quite possibly deadly decision to buy another pack of cigarettes. Humans are creatures of habit, and we will repeat actions to the same negative outcome over and over without thinking twice. Yes, that's the definition of insanity, but in a way, we're all a little insane, right?

Where are you going with this, Jenna? You see, I've recently identified a habit of mine that is actually quite detrimental to my emotional health, and it all began at 17 when my very fist 'stars in the eyes' love broke my heart on Halloween. I had moved across the country to be with my high school sweetheart and 5 months later there I was standing in a group of our friends watching him take the hand of a cute little bumblebee and tell me it was over. Not only was I humiliated, the sudden change in our relationship status came as quite a shock, I was not ready to get over him- In truth, I'm not really sure when I did, finally, let go of the pain of that breakup. Only recently did I see a status online alerting me that he was marrying that bumblee, and did I feel a little piece of contentment to know my heart had not broken for nothing.

Unfortunately, ever since my self esteem, and worth, has never been quite where it was in those golden Summer months before my teenage world fell apart. Sure, I dated again, and for quite a while. I fell in love and at one point thought I could be perfectly content living exactly how everything was for the rest of my life. There was one major roadblock, the relationship would never allow for children because only part of the partnership wanted a child. For years I thought it didn't matter; some happiness was more important than none. But I was young, and after bringing up my unhappiness and feelings on the issue for almost an agonizing year, I at last realized I was never going to be heard.
This need to have my needs, my desires, acknowledged quite literally drove me to marry someone who, for the most part looking back, was a stranger. My husband said all the right things, we had common interests, and he wanted a family. The only problem? Even just months after our quick wedding it became clear my husband had no intention of making a family, and that  was more of a necessity to satisfy his very religious family at a precarious stage in his life. While I knew the reality of this almost immediately, all the positive feelings were still there, I did not hate him, in fact I loved him. After all, I was 1/2 of the adult equation that made vows to someone I so clearly hadn't known. So, for 3 years we were 'married' and it looked nice on paper, and to family and friends, but at home we were no more than roommates.

Towards the end, in the final year, I slept on the couch most nights, pleading for movement on a divorce- but he didn't want to tell his family, so I went along. I told him I was going to start dating, even though I was in conflict that I was still married I at least needed to feel human and experience another human connection, even if it wasn't physical. My self esteem on that final day was non existent. I was at my lowest low, and I may have never quite fully recovered. How could a woman in her twenties be married and not feel the touch of the man she called her husband, yet saw every day, not feel unattractive and guilty inside? My head told me these things were not my fault, but my heart couldn't understand those words.

Flash forward to yet another failed relationship- one in which I inevitably felt responsible for the person I was with. One in which I loved the other person deeply, but was not in love with them any longer. For months I had shed tears in silence trying to make my feelings known to someone who simply didn't want to accept them as real. I cared about this person and they refused to hear my unhappiness; they told me they had nobody else, that they couldn't make it on their own. And I felt guilty beyond any needs of my own. So I pretended nothing was wrong. Until this relationship, I got angry- If they would not hear me say it's time for space, then perhaps I could make them hate me enough that they would leave on their own?
It's funny how we can look back at history and see ourselves slowly building these habits. In the beginning they look completely harmless. For me, being unhappy, so long as I still felt loved was acceptable from the very beginning. Let's face it, it's not easy to end any relationship, romantic or not, without the feelings of anger and a good reason- but there is such thing as an unhealthy relationship. People don't have to be physically harming one another, or making conscious decisions against each-other to neglect. Sometimes we simply try to hold onto the good because we don't want to face the bad. And when you are unhappy in a relationship, of any kind, for any reason, it is not a healthy relationship. Yes, you can work through smaller things and repair- but it is impossible when both parties are so firmly holding onto the frame to repair the flesh.

Have you ever ignored your happiness in a relationship (could be professional, romantic, friendship) for the sake of keeping the relationship going?

Daughter Says: Breaking habits can be hard; but making new ones can be so much healthier.


22 comments:

  1. I had abandonment issues for years so I would do my best to change myself into what the other party wanted. It all finally ended when I was in my thirties and I became determined that I would be alone until I figured out just who I really was. You see, I had forgotten. It took me a couple years but I learned to like and love who I am as a person. I then met my husband and we have been together since 2000.

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  2. Ah yah this has happened so many times in the past. It's like ripping off a bandaid :: just need to do it once you figure out it's not healthy and then move forward ;)

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  3. I went through something very similar with my ex-husband. Thank God I finally took a stand and told him it was over. I just couldn't live unhappy like that anymore.

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  4. Thankfully overall I've been pretty lucky and have had healthy, strong relationships - but I don't think it was me, I just happened to pick people who were better at them than I was.

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  5. These points are so spot on. I have def. felt this way in a job before, it is so frustrating. Relationships of all kinds have their struggles.

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  6. Great points... I was in an up/down relationship for years with a man who I loved... I truly believe I would have stayed with him forever even though I now see he wasn't worth it. :(

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  7. I was in an abusive relationship once and everything was about keeping him happy. Thankfully now I am in a fulfilling two sided marriage.

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  8. I absolutely have done this and continue to do this. It is so hard to make the decision to move on, especially once kids are involved.

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  9. Great tips.. I was in an abusive relationship and once I was strong enough to leave I promised myself this will never ever happen and it hasn't I've changed BIG time.. sometimes I feel a little sorry for my new husband cause I'm not jealous, I'm not upsad if anything ever happens I know I can do it on my own.. we both know that and that makes both of us stronger and we don't have to worry about each other just love each other and support each other

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  10. This is such good info. My last relationship was so bad that I am still hesitant to get into a new one. I will be much more aware next time around.

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  11. It is hard to leave a relationship that is unhealthy. You are a strong person and I admire you for changing your habits!

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  12. You are such a great writer! I have habits that I know are not the best but that I don't know if I can ever really change. Sometimes it is just easier to stay in disfunction than try to get out of it.

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  13. I think we often stay in relationships, both personal and professional, because they become comfortable, safe. We'd rather stay in what doesn't work than face the fear of what comes after the relationship ends.

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  14. People are social creatures. We get lonely easily, and we often times fear being alone. I think it's that fear of being alone that causes us to stay in relationships that we know darn well aren't working.

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  15. These are very true! Thanks for the wonderful advice!

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  16. Relationships are hard. Even harder when we aren't in a healthy relationship. We all just want to be accepted and loved; so it is extremely difficult to end a relationship that isn't healthy as that also cuts off that source of being loved or wanted or belonging to/with someone. It takes a mighty brave woman to know when a relationship isn't healthy and moving to stronger stage in her life. You are so strong.

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  17. Relationships can be hard to maintain and also to know when to walk away. Everyone deserves happiness, but it can be hard to find it for your self.

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  18. I've had some negative friendships that over time thankfully dissolved. I've learnt to distance away from negativity.

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  19. communication is big in a relationship. Stopping to listen. I have had to weed out unhealthy relationships last year, it was hard but glad I did it.

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  20. Thanks for sharing your story, it's very similar to a friends on mine. Communication is the key, so many things can get clouded so easily!

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  21. You are soo right about this. Great post!

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  22. Thanks for sharing, great points you have made. Sometimes it can be hard getting out of a relationship that is unhealthy, especially when there are kids involved.

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