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Why We Don’t Surrender To Pain In Romantic Relationships

Posted Feb 03 2009 10:52pm

In many ways, pain teaches us to surrender.  If you sprain your ankle, you have to slow down, attend to it, and adapt to it.  It will not allow you to continue walking or running as you were!  Until it heals, you must surrender to the healing process

The people who talk about cancer being a gift are those who surrendered to the reality of the disease and met it on its terms.  Even the common cold allows a person to practice the art of surrender!

When it comes to romantic relationships, one type in particular sets a couple up to learn surrender from pain.  That would be the sadomasochistic relationship.  Humiliation and pain leading to surrender is the basis of that kind of relationship.

The Difference in Romantic Relationships

However, in most romantic relationships, pain doesn’t necessarily teach us to surrender.  For many people, pain in their relationships causes them to go to war, to dominate, or to conquer their partner or the situation. 

Why is that?  When your partner dismisses you, why do you want to take her head off?  When he looks at another woman, why do you want to clobber them both?  When he or she treats you like a child, why do you want to rebel?

The answer may be found in that last question.  Surely, the reason the pain of our relationships leads to war instead of surrender is that our romantic relationships are the number one place we work out our issues with our parents.

The Family Connection

When we are born, our parents (or primary caretakers) are everything to us.  Truly, we love them passionately, jealously.  They are extensions of us.  They answer all our needs, sometimes without our even asking. 

They are also the first to put boundaries on us.  The first ones with whom we experience power struggles, with us usually on the losing end of those power struggles!  Furthermore, parents are not perfect. 

Knowing which buttons to push in order to control us with the least amount of effort expended, they will use rudeness, put-downs, dismissals, and disappointment to keep us under their control. 

There is the rub.  In whatever way your romantic partner, husband or wife, treats you rudely, puts you down, dismisses you, and shows disappointment in you, whether purposefully or by accident, mom and dad did it first. 

They did it first and you could not fight back.  Now you can.  Not only can you dish it out as good as you get it, the impulse to stop the pain by any means necessary rises involuntarily, making dominating and conquering your partner seem absolutely necessary for survival. 

What Would Surrender Look Like?

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