Relationship guidelines for grown-ups

If you wonder what’s gone wrong in your relationship, examine how well (maturely or immaturely) you are functioning in terms of the following guidelines:

  • Are you able to recognize when you (and/or your partner) are functioning from the “infant”, “child”, “adolescent” and “adult” emotional state?
  • Do you habitually deconfuse the childlike parts of yourself (which say, “I don’t understand”) or do you give in to it?
  • Do you replace the historical/judgmental messages (all those outdated “shoulds” and “musts”) with your own, well considered value judgments?
  • Do you educate the adult part of yourself about your current reality and what makes the most sense given the life you have now — not what made the most sense for your parents?
  • Do you filter out your “childlike” and “judgmental” states in new or difficult situations, so you are better able to sort out the facts?
  • As an adult, are you aware when your inner “child” is talking and able to consider what it is feeling and needing? (Maybe it is time to go out and play, and maybe it isn’t, but think about it.)
  • As an adult, are you able to protect and guide your “childlike parts?” (The natural child is gullible: he believes everyone; it’s your child who is susceptible to every salesman and seducer.)
  • Are you sensitive to the childlike parts in your partner, that needs affection, attention, recognition, stroking and protection?
  • Are you able to be “childlike” close without fear that you will soon lose your “adult” ability to function?
  • Are you able to speak from the adult “I” position, taking responsibility not only for your mistakes but also for your feelings?
  • When you are in conflict with your partner, do you take responsibility for handling negative feelings nondestructively?
  • Do you negotiate for what you want, being aware of your partner’s needs as well as your own?
  • Can you listen with understanding and empathy and speak with awareness of how you will be heard?
  • Are you able to avoid sarcasm and dirty-fighting?
  • Are you able to hang on to your sense of humor? (The ability to laugh, especially at yourself, can save many a situation.)
  • Can you enjoy each other, appreciate the positives and let each other know? Ride the pony, don’t just clean the barn!

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