The Care & Maintenance of Love, Part 8: The Story of Your Relationship

In my last post, I wrote of the expectations and core beliefs about relationships that we each bring to our relationships. Influenced by the examples of our parents and the experience of previous relationships, this preprogramming can affect how you relate as a couple from the start.

This is the backstory that each person brings to the relationship. One’s individual psychological and relationship history influences the telling of the couple’s story.

Every couple has a story of their relationship. In long married couples, the story is often consensual; they agree on the main points; where they differ in the details is often a source of good-natured humour.

When couples separate and divorce, their stories are often quite different. Each of course is a simplification of a complex history. For better or worse, these stories help us make sense of our lives.

In cognitive therapy as it applies to marital counseling, we frequently recognize a turning point when one partner’s opinion of the other changes dramatically for the worst. The turning point could be perceived betrayal – through an affair, a forgotten anniversary or birthday, or a demonstration of bad behaviour.

The lens with which the offending partner is viewed changes to the negative, and all that is said and done is interpreted in that negative light. The positives once seen in the other are filtered out.

We can also lose sight of what we love in one another by allowing the busyness of the rest of our lives to take over. When we stop focusing on our primary voluntary relationship and allow the stresses of childrearing, finances, work and other relationships to intrude, we may experience fewer warm and positive moments together and appreciate one another less.

Next post: In the retelling of your story as a couple, 3 questions to ask yourselves.


About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
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