It’s practically 2020. So….
You started a new relationship…or got married and you told yourself that you have got to focus on each other. You both make a commitment to make each other the most important thing. That’s cute. Make no mistake, though…there are “other” relationships you are bringing into this new fire love relationship, and these other types of relationships could make or break your love relationship (or marriage).
You have to properly manage these other relationships or else this NEW relationship WILL suffer.
Here are the 9 relationships in your life that you’ve got to deal with before getting boo’d up:
1. Your Relationship with Your Body
This is where you live and how you feel about it will affect how you relate to your significant other. Be insecure about it, and it will show in the relationship. Worship it and will show up in your relationship. Loathe it and it will show up, too. It doesn’t even matter which gender you are. Men have body image issues, too (very much so) and could have terrible coping mechanisms for that. Women could have body insecurities that can show up in trust issues and so on.
The impact is not automatically positive or negative. It’s all about how you manage it…but make no mistake it is there. It is a thing.
2. Your Relationship with God
A relationship with God affects everything, especially your love relationships with other people. No matter how compatible you are with someone, once this “God thing” becomes important for you, it becomes a unit of measurement by which you measure A LOT of things. It also depends on what faith. I’ll speak from the Christian perspective because that’s what I know. In a healthy context, what we have is a love and dependency relationship with God. We don’t have religious activity (even though activity is a part of the relationship). We have a relationship. Thus, the deeper your relationship is with God in a Christian context, the more that will influence your relationship with the other person you love. The impact is not automatically positive or negative. It’s all about how you manage it…but it is there. It is a thing.
3. Your Relationship with Money
Oh yes. Let’s keep it 100% here. Your relationship with money will certainly affect your relationship with the other person. Are you kidding? Big time. Are you a person who defines him/herself by how much money is in the bank? Or feels your hard work is your badge of honor in life? Or maybe you come from a particular social class? If you are not careful, you will indeed have a hard time listening, loving, empathizing with others, making time for your family. This will also tie in to your self-image. It’s interesting to me that, many times, it’s people who have a lot who are the most sensitive to how they are perceived, how they look, and all that. In fact, this article in the Washington Post talks about a combined study by researchers at Stanford, University of Toronto, and Renmin University (China) that (among other things) shows that money is addictive.
The impact is not automatically positive or negative. It’s all about how you manage it…but it is there. It is a thing.
4. Your Relationship with Your Parents
Sure…you’re in your own relationship now (or so you think). Sure…you no longer live at home and are making your own decisions (or so you think). Make no mistake, though…that relationship with them (no matter what state it is in now) is likely to have an impact on your current relationship or marriage. How? The ways are potentially endless.
-The things you admire about them
-The things you dislike about them
-The things feared for them or about them
-The promises you made to yourself based on your experience with them
-The things you’re trying to fix about dad or mum vicariously through this person
-And on and on. It is a thing.
This stuff affects even the best of us. We even often become attracted to people for what they represent not for who they actually are.
5. Your Relationship with Food
Funny right? …Wrong.
Sounds so basic. But it is not. I once had to counsel a young married couple (that eventually split) and, after weeks of speaking with them, I identified a moment that took what was lurking into negative overdrive.
The wife had come back from work after a long day anticipating that she would eat her leftovers from the night before. She gets home to find that it’s gone. Her husband is asleep. She loses it. You see, she was an only child and he was one of almost 10 people in a blended family. In that moment, for her, the fact that he ate that bit of leftovers was inconsiderate, hateful, and vindictive. For him, it was one of a few things to eat. It was no big deal….and everything else…and that took the lurking separation into overdrive. Neither of these are bad in of themselves. The impact is not automatically positive or negative. It’s all about how you manage it…but it is there. It is a thing.
If you have an emotional relationship with food, the relationship crises is coming. If you use food as a punishment and reward system for yourself, you’ll use it for others.
6. Your Relationship with Your Last Breakup
OK…yeah yeah. Yes. You’ve moved on. In fact, you’re not even really checking for him/her. I am not really even talking about a relationship with the PERSON but a relationship with THE EVENT OF THE BREAKUP. Get it? Just because there is no real/tangible relationship with the person doesn’t mean they (or the event of the breakup) don’t still have an impact on you. Understand me correctly here. I am not saying that there are still romantic feelings or that you are still interested in them. I AM saying that as long as that last relationship still affects how you see the opposite sex, how you see yourself, how you process vulnerability, or affects your self-image….it is going to affect your new relationship or marriage. So whether you are single, in a relationship or married, have a conversation with yourself and really process the last breakup, and make peace with it. Drop all baggage and know that this is not an animal you want to show up in your current or next relationship. The impact is not always immediate. In fact, typically, it is a delayed impact….but it is there. It is a thing.
As long as that last relationship still affects how you see the opposite sex, how you see yourself, how you process vulnerability, or affects your self image….it is going to affect your new relationship or marriage.
7. Your Relationship with Your Friends
I’ll cut to the chase on this one. It is very naive to think that you can keep your relationship with your friends separate from your love relationship or marriage.
To think that “Your friends are your business” and “he/she” doesn’t have to like (or really know) your friends, is immature at best.
Now, it is possible for a relationship to survive under these circumstances, but it can’t thrive. Why? Because this kind of scenario provides unhealthy temporary escapes from the relationship. In other words, it provides a breeding ground for mistrust.
Think about it…
When your significant other frustrates you, or when you don’t feel understood or prioritized, friends can provide an unhealthy escape in that we run to them to fill that gap, instead of working on the relationship. We talk to our friends instead of talking it out with our significant other. And the thing is, the moment your significant other perceives that dynamic with your friends (every time you argue, you want to go hang with Mike, Kemi or Stacy), s/he will trust those friends less, trust you less and nothing good comes from that. It’s not that you shouldn’t have friends you can talk to or find support from. It’s about having the healthy version of this.
The healthy version of this is to have friends who support your relationship, not just you. Friends who would rather see the relationship work (minus abusive situations) and not just focus on yessing you and preserving their own place in your life.
8. Your Relationship with Your Failures
It’s like weed among crop. It has an impact. It is a thing.
This one. Understand this: How you fail in life will affect how you love in life.
You’ve heard all the quotes on failure…”fail forward,” “failure is learning what doesn’t work,” and blah blah blah. Lol. Don’t mind me…they are all true. But what about when you “feel” like a failure? What about when it’s not about failing at something you tried to do, but failing at WHO you were hoping you were. That’s deeper…and more dangerous. Because we then look for coping mechanisms that don’t do us any good. We go looking for a certain type of relationship, or we start putting certain pressures on our current relationship, or we start looking outside our relationship for ways to cope with our overwhelming sense of “things not working.” Any way you slice this tomato, how you relate with your failures or your “feelings” around failure, will affect your relationship. This is subtle and powerful. It is a thing.
How you fail in life will affect how you love in life. - Tobi Atte
9. Your Relationship with Self Image
Yea. I came for you. lol. I touched on aspects of this above but really…
Aside from the externalities of society, culture or your environment, from within…do you feel empowered, motivated, hopeful, intelligent, purposeful, worthy, capable of making a contribution to the world and to your relationship? That stuff matters. That stuff affects everything. That relationship with your self-image CERTAINLY affects your relationship with your significant other. Think about it. Perhaps more than anything, that is what you bring to the relationship. If you don’t have a healthy relationship with yourself, how do you expect to have a healthy relationship with someone else? The impact of this can’t be understated. It is a thing.
So, what can you do to start on the road to recovery?
Be honest with yourself and have honest and meaningful conversations about this.
Ask for help from your significant other.
Take responsibility for how you cope and ensure that your coping mechanisms don’t make the initial issue(s) worse.
Pray for yourself…but like a prayer of someone that takes responsibility not someone who is only a victim. Meaning, pray for grace to change from within not just grace for things to happen for you.
Pray for strength to change your character not just strength for others to change for you and so on.
As always…I am here for you. Hopefully you have just “met” yourself…and hopefully you met a potentially new version of yourself.
They take each other deeper. Each person recognizing the other person’s vulnerability and effort, and rewarding each other for that.
Really…where are you in this? Where was your last relationship? Where is your marriage? Which one are you on the path to?…and what are you going to do about it?
Tobi Atte is a certified Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, motivational speaker, pastor of Ignite Church NYC and the writer behind IJustMetMe, a lifestyle website for young adults who need a good dose of daily inspiration to tackle tough life issues. Tobi is also the author of the new book How to Make Sure Your Values are Aligned: A Guide to Avoiding Relationship Frustration. For more on relationships, motivation, fresh perspectives on faith, personal improvement and more, read/learn more at www.ijustmetme.com, watch him on YouTube HERE and download his free e-book HERE.