Unmet Needs and Healing Relationships

It is our vision that couples can support each other in the healing of their relationship as well as in their individual healing by attending to each others’ unmet needs.

The prerequisite for this is to have a certain level of consciousness in the relationship, the willingness for each partner to consider their part in every given situation, and the commitment to make love bigger than fear.

How does this work?

The person closest to me, my partner, can most likely trigger old, yet unresolved childhood hurts in me, unfinished business from the past. It is important to note that the partner is often the trigger, not the cause of the re-experienced hurt. When the partner is seen as the cause I won’t be able to be vulnerable with him/her and will feel the need to protect myself. However, the closing off that happens in protecting myself is not only a protection, out of fear, it also prevents a solution.

First, we need to be able to imagine that it can be different. If, for example, we have not felt respected or cared for in the past, we need to imagine in our own mind’s eye what it is like to experience respect or care. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What do you see happening?

Then we need to imagine that we could have this experience with our partner. Becoming aware of our need, communicating it to our partner and then experience our partner meeting it, we now can finish what was unfinished.

We need another close person to finish a past hurt and to satisfy a still unmet need that otherwise lives in us and creates tension.

Often we might feel ashamed of the need. It might feel childish, wanting to be held like a baby, for example. We might stumble over our own self-judgements. We might project them onto our partner. We might have a partner who has difficulties giving us what we most need. This would then require him/her to grow too, extending themselves.

Our particular need might be a trigger in return for our partner, and we could easily end up missing each other all together. We may set each other up without knowing and get stuck in re-occurring conflicts. At that point counselling with a couple who know about healing relationship from their own experience helps to gain deeper understanding, greater clarity and a new set of tools.

Healing of childhood wounds together further strengthens the bond and deepens the trust and love.

Healing partnerships require mutuality, where both partners can be strong and vulnerable. Both can be the “child”, one at a time, and let their partner “re-parent” them. If both are “children” at the same time, we have the normal row that couples experience, each one screaming out, “what about me?”

We feel like a needy child as long as a vital need exists as unfinished business. This can only change when the need has finally been met sufficiently. No rationalizing, explaining or theorising makes any difference to our need. Healing comes with the experience.

Getting what we want most often frightens us. This is because it brings to the foreground all the misery and grief for all the times that this particular need had been frustrated in the past. There can also be tremendous fear, as if a part of us is dying. We identify very strongly with certain attributes, like unlovable, unwanted, ugly, so that it is shattering to our self-image to experience the opposite. The stronger and deeper the need, it seems, the stronger the resistance to having it met, the deeper the grief. Sometimes the fear is greater than the dissatisfaction. This then limits the personal growth.

In a healing relationship, the personal growth for both continues as the partners deepen the love of themselves and each other. This also deepens the being in the world, living real lives rather than a life of pretense and illusion. It becomes a fuller life, where we can feel deep sadness as well as great joy. Dissatisfactions, when viewed as stepping stones, lead to positive actions. The couple’s potential increases and with it comes humbleness and peace, happiness and success. When limits are reached outside support is considered.

Mirjam Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch


Copyright © 2/1999 by Rumijabu | Originally published in Southshore Beacon #103, Feb1999

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