Relationships: Dealing with Our Partner’s Past
We all bring history into our relationships, and sometimes that history is difficult for new partners. For some, it is very difficult to accept the things that our new partner did in the past – and yet we desire to be with them. How can we learn to accept the lives that our partners used to live, and overcome the problems of history?
Getting used to the new person's history
This can put us in a difficult situation. We want to be with the new person and love them very much but sometimes our mind goes back to the things they have done in their past and to the people that they used to be. It can be too much – accepting the person that they are now, but also trying to accept the person that they used to be and the things they did. We feel inclined to try and have them tell us all the events of their history so we can become familiar with it, but we can quickly hear too much.
The trouble is, we are putting the emphasis in the wrong place. The problems with our partner's history are really problems with our own history. Although there might be things in our partner's history which really are hard to accept, the main problem is in the way that the events of our past have encouraged us to seek safety in certainty and control. Along the way we have learned to hang on to ideas and people for safety – and when we learn that our partner has a past, we can feel that safety is disappearing.
When people come to counselling or psychotherapy hoping to learn to accept the things from their partner's past, we need to turn our attention to their own past. It's only through a process of working through the events of our own past can we let go of the past of another.
– Tim Hill
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