Genogram: How your family patterns affect your relationships

June is traditionally a busy month for couples preparing for their wedding day. But busy as you may be getting ready to say “I do,” it is also a time to take a few moments to reflect on the unspoken assumptions we all bring to our most intimate relationships…assumptions that are best discussed before the relationship becomes a fully committed one or before certain challenging situations arise.

No two people are identical and difference is unavoidable. How do you deal with it?

When we find our “match” in life, it’s  natural to assume that our partner is someone who will generally feel and act in ways that are familiar to us. We are likely to expect our partner to show the same kind of behaviour we grew up with, including how we related to our mum, dad, siblings and friends.

One of the great aspects of falling in love is discovering all the things we have in common with this new person in our life. But though your interests, tastes, or sense of humour may be similar, there are also bound to many areas where you are not the same.

It finally dawns upon us that our partner is from a completely different background, with different personality, habits and beliefs. Not only that, but they in their turn expect us to conform to the image of love and relationships they formed as children, watching and learning from their family.

We all want the familiar and assume it to be healthy, because after all, our family is our origin, our foundation and primary grounding.

The result is that we come at times to think that our “mates” are incompatible, unsympathetic, and impossible to comprehend, because they don’t act the way we are expecting them to!

Take the time today to think about your relationship to your family. Are you assuming that your partner will react and behave in the same ways your mum, dad, sister or brother did when you were a kid? And does your partner fail to match that assumption?

On the other hand, when something your partner does bothers or offends you, ask yourself if the negative intent you see in that behaviour may actually be based on something you remember from familiar relationships of your childhood. It may not mean or reflect the same  things in this situation.

Take the time to examine your relationships in the light of what you came to expect as a child and how it differs from what you are experiencing with your mate.

Open-mindedness is the key.

Ask yourself, how do your relationships with your family of origin, partner, friends, and colleagues enrich you? Build on the enriching, and enjoy it. And if you find areas where the results aren’t positive or enriching, think how you can make changes so that the relationship feeds you, and you feed it in return.

genogram maps a family tree and  helps visualize the hereditary patterns and psychological factors that punctuate your current relationships, whether with your partner, kids, friends, colleagues or extended family.

You can then identify repetitive patterns of behaviour and  recognize hereditary tendencies that you may want to revisit… to better understand yourself and your mate.

Author: Pascale Aline

Psychotherapist & Performance Coach, I specialize working with tools for self enhancement, growth, productivity and healing (Biofeedback, EMDR, Mindfulness training)

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