Understanding your part of the avoidance cycle in your relationship means taking a close look at your family history. In order to change your relationship patters, you have to get clear about your contributions to the problem and where they stem from. Let’s turn first to your upbringing. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, it may be helpful to use a journal to record your responses to the following questions. Go through these with your partner and share your reflections with each other.
Look At Your Family History
The process starts by examining your nuclear family—you, your parents, and any siblings. Your childhood home and the people in it will have had a strong impact on your beliefs, expectations, behaviors, and coping mechanisms. Take your time discussing the following questions with each other or reflecting on them on your own:
- What were each of your parents like, if you knew them? How was your relationship with each of them then, and what’s it like now?
- What type of relationship did your parents have with each other, if they had one?
- Are they still together? If not, what do you know about their separation, divorce, death or other reason for not being together?
- Who are your siblings? What are they like? What is your relationship like with them now and how was it when you were young?
- What roles did you each have in the family growing up? How are those the same or different now?
Go over the same kinds of questions for stepparents, stepsiblings, and any important extended family members.
In my next post, I will ask you about power dynamics in your family.