Balancing your mate and your family of origin can be quite stressful and tedious. This can be especially true for an individual who is strongly enmeshed with their family of origin. If this balance is not met it can lead to marital or relationship disaster. It can leave your mate feeling as if they are of minimal importance in your life or are only of relevance when their mate does not have access to their family of origin. The most important people in your life can come together harmoniously if you know how to negotiate and properly disperse your time, attention and energy.
This balance can be made however by following a few simple rules:
1: Remember the emotional needs of your mate. As humans we were made with an inherent need to be loved and cared for. Be cognizant of those needs not only in yourself but also in your mate.
2: Follow the example of healthy relationships in your ecology. It is so easy to replay negative dynamics in relationships around which we were raised. Make an earnest effort to embody the positive relationships you have been exposed to.
3: The golden rule always applies. If both parties in the relationship treat each other how they would like to be treated or expect to be treated the relationship cannot flourish. For example: If you want to be listened to be a good listener. If you want to be trusted give trust.
Now for those on the other side of the equation this can also be a difficult situation. How do you ask for more attention, affection or overall reciprocity without seeming insecure, uncaring or even selfish? Well first and foremost tact is needed. It's important to speak to your emotions without speaking with your emotions. Get your point across in a way that prompts your partner to meet your needs without feeling accused or attacked. I statements have more weight than you statements. For example, statements like "I need" or "it would make me feel good" if or even "I appreciate/love" can end in a more positive response and results than statements like "you pay more attention to more mother" or "you need to grow up and stop" or "you always let her". Tone always plays a significant role in negotiations no matter the purpose. In this particular situation your tone should never be attacking, condescending or blaming. It's best to keep in mind that your goal is to gain results and not to spark an argument.
There have been so many amazing articles written on this topic, numerous studies completed but none can quite do it justice. The dynamics of power and control in relationships are ever changing, ever evolving and effectively leaving relationships broken in its wake. Where we born with the need to control others? Yes, as studies show from birth we are programmed with the ability to influence others in order to survive. Think for a moment about a hungry newborn who cries to gain its mothers attention and receive the nourishment necessary for its survival. Let's take that imagine and compare it to a husband who slaps his wife when she doesn't act in a manner satisfactory to him. What do the two have in common? Power and control. One of these relationships depicts a healthy interaction while the other does not. One is about survival and growth while the other denotes weakness and a distortion of reality. Many therapists will not work with a couple engaged in a relationship with struggles of power and control or "domestic violence relationships" as they are well known and labeled. It is widely believed that a couple must be on equal ground in order for therapy to be successful. In relationships where violence is exhibited one partner has put themselves in a position of control over the other. Few of us can but imagine being in a relationship where you feel as if walking on eggshells has become part of your existence on this earth while sadly, many of us know the intensity of such pain. It can be expressed in a word picture of holding your breath as your life depends on it while drowning in the realization that at some point you must come up for air. Once a person comes to acknowledge that the scales of power in their relationship are unbalanced and in some cases broken; it can also be quite easy to get caught and imprisoned in feelings of shame and guilt. The most difficult part of the process however is seeking help. Seeking help for many can be a arduous understanding that nothing in life is perfect, that we all at times need support and that the things we seem to love the most can hurt unbridledly. Gladly, seeking help is also accepting awareness that things can be better and with time and effort... They will be. It is possible to live again. It is possible to reclaim life, love and livelihood. Whether struggles of power and control, domestic violence or domestic abuse are part of your life at present or a haunting by ghosts of your past; now can be your opportunity to move forward. Let your wellness journey begin.
*If you are someone you know is being hurt please seek help immediately. Domestic violence is never ok. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE.
It is important that we take a holistic view of self care as clinicians. For the families we serve, we hold more than a therapeutic role. In serving some cases we become an advocate, a planner, a protector, a support, a model for proper parenting, a source of transportation, a case manager, a housing representative, a sounding board, and even an object of which to take out the days frustration.
We also have to deal with stakeholder, supervisor, management, funders, timelines, feedback and numerous party expectations.
With all of these factors it is not a mystery as to why extreme stress or even burnout can occur before we are even able to address it. That is why it is important to always add the most important client to your caseload and that client is YOU! Without proper self care it becomes impossible for you to perform job duties to the best of your abilities and care for the needs of your client.
Whenever I travel on a air plane I am always keen to the reminder of the flight attendant that in case of an emergency the oxygen mask should be placed on yourself first. That is what will give you the opportunity to help others. In the social service field, we have the habit of attempting to put the mask on others first. The result? The entire system around us falls apart and we are left grasping for the pieces.
Let us make it our duty to ourselves and our clients to place the so called "oxygen mask" on ourselves first so that we can do what we came into this profession to do,.... help others.
To learn more about our burnout lecture and seminar visit us at PersonalWellness.com or send us an email inquiry at PersonalLifeWellness@outlook.com.
"Sometimes we are so stuck in the past that we miss out on the blessings to come in the future. We have to leave room in our lives and our hearts for change. You cannot get to happily ever after without turning the page." - Sejginha Williams-Abaku, LMFT