Bend Oregon Marriage Counselor asks: “How Did Childhood Shape You” Part 2

August 2, 2015 by

In this continuing blog about how our childhood affects our relationships (and us), let’s turn our attention to our models—parents, teachers, coaches, older siblings, stepparents, and other adults that influenced us in our upbringing. We are born with core energy, all parts on line, ready to develop this wholeness into our fullest potential. Along the way to adulthood we grow the parts our models accept and encourage. We may become a symphony conductor or teach music if our caretakers influence us to play music. We may become a professor or an engineer because our parents think we’re smart. Maybe we became an athlete because our mother encouraged us to play sports. We develop parts of our wholeness based on what is supported and modeled.

Unfortunately, not all of our parts are supported. Our parents had the job of raising us. They were in charge of nurturing and protecting us. Other adults assisted in our socialization process. Along the way we received repressive messages about the parts of us that our models found unacceptable. If parts of us weren’t acceptable, or approved of, we had to lose those parts in order to survive and stay connected to our adult models. They sent us either explicit or implicit messages about these unacceptable parts. Maybe we got the message that “boys don’t cry” so we learned to bite our lip and keep our feelings to ourselves. Maybe we heard “girls are bad at math” so we didn’t develop our thinking skills. Maybe there was very little affection given in our family and as an adult touch and affection seems like a foreign language. We learned to repress those parts that we received ongoing negative messages about.

In Imago Relationship Therapy we call these our lost parts, and they impact who we choose as a partner. We have all heard “opposites attract”. The office manager and the truck driver are attracted to each other. The homebody is attracted to an adventure seeker, and vice versa. The thinker is attracted to someone who is adept at expressing feelings. These are just a few of the many examples of complimentary differences. Unconsciously most of us chose a partner that has our lost parts. We do this because it excites us to feel so wonderful and whole in the beginning. Then, shortly after we commit, those lost parts frustrate us because in our childhood it wasn’t okay, or supported, to have those parts.

There is more going on here than we realize. Why would our unconscious mind be so drawn to someone who is opposite from us? It’s because our unconscious wants to couple with someone that will require us to grow our lost parts and reclaim our wholeness. We never really lost those parts. They just remained undeveloped, like an unused muscle. Our partner is a gift to us to grow these parts and experience our wholeness and fulfillment. But, the invitation to grow our lost parts often shows up in our conflicts and relationship challenges.

Gaining an awareness of our lost parts and growing these muscles brings us a key to our own aliveness and feeling of happiness. If you are ready to experience this profound sense of wholeness in your relationship contact Bend Marriage Counseling to inquire about the services and information that will get you there!