Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT
Do you Love Too Much? The Third and Fourth Steps to Creating a Loving, “I-Thou” Relationship
In working with the clients in my practice who are either in unfulfilling relationships or alone, I have discovered what they need to know and the steps they need to take to find that perfect mate for them. While the third and fourth steps to creating a loving. “I-Thou” relationship are the focus of this article, let’s start by going over the first two steps.
The first step to creating a loving “I-Thou” relationship is to recognize that we are complete and whole unto ourselves. Until a person truly understands that he/she is on a solo quest to discover the real Self, that Self which loves, honors accepts and is totally comfortable, he/she will continue as the victim.
The second step to finding your soul mate and a happy, fulfilling, committed relationship is to understand your Family of Origin. This is done by working with a seasoned psychotherapist who specializes in guiding you to explore the Life Script which has created the adult you and your unsuccessful, painful relationships. If you’d like more about steps one and two, you can read about those in the first article of this series.
The third step to creating a loving “I-Thou” relationship is to become acutely aware of how we feel. Since our feelings define who we are, we must become aware of how we feel every moment of every day. This is often a new concept to many clients, as communicating feelings was never taught in their families. In fact, each of their family members had no idea how they felt, so each member suffered in silence.
I once worked with a lovely 25-year-old client who had attempted suicide when she was 16. Both her parents were psychotherapists. She came to see me because she was depressed, had suicidal ideation and did not want to act upon those thoughts. I asked her if any of her former therapists had explained the importance of knowing how she felt and she said no! Well, no wonder she was depressed …her feelings were hidden so deeply inside her that she had no idea what was really bothering her. We worked hard with her Life Script and digging up those buried feelings. She recovered from her depression, improved her relationship with her fiancé, completed her therapy and married her fiancé.
I worked with another client who told me that nobody in her family ever “heard” her or validated her feelings. She had been born into a wealthy family which provided every material comfort and opportunity, but not a whit of understanding or acknowledgement of any family member’s feelings. Any time my client would express her feelings, her Dad would tell her “No, that is not how you feel.” She “coped” by disassociating, disconnecting, splitting off from her real self. She was unable to create and express her own separate identity and ego strength because it was discouraged and never modeled by parents who themselves were lost. It isn’t as though her dad didn’t love her and want the very best for his daughter. His own co-dependency, fostered by his Family of Origin, prevented him from knowing how he felt!!
The fourth step to finding a happy, fulfilling, committed relationship is to understand that it is a wounded inner child which has never healed that goes out into the world looking for love, acceptance and companionship. If we are not connected to our real self which has a solid ego strength, we go out into the world involuntarily, unconsciously creating the same unhealthy relationships with which we are familiar.
Certain behaviors modeled through the years in our Family of Origin are so involuntary and negative that it is impossible to find the true love which we deserve because we do not love, know and accept our precious, wonderful selves. If we are disconnected from our true selves because we have never been encouraged to express our thoughts, feelings and talents, we will be attracted to the same types of people with whom we were raised, suffering the same consequences of never really creating a safe place with an intimate partner where we can “just be.”
Stay tuned for the next steps in this series of “How to Create a Loving, I-Thou Relationship,” as these steps to understanding ourselves in the quest for love really do work. There are so many examples of clients who did that inner work and found true love and fulfillment. I look forward to sharing those with you.
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California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
Los Angeles Chapter