Why do we find it so upsetting when we realize we have partnered with a family member – a person just like the one we loved, hated, adored, fought with and have ended up doing exactly what swore we would never do?
There are many conscious and unconscious reasons for this very common and usual behavior. We hold within us many memories of what was familiar. Our brain stores this material, as does our body. We associate in the present to what we want and need now as well as previously. We search and we find that which will help us grow and develop. And, this may be with a person who forces us to face those very issues we consider problematic. A partner does not save us from ourselves, but helps us get closer to ourselves; whether we consciously set out to do so or not.
In fact, we usually hear people rebel against the idea of being with someone like their family member. Yet, why not? This is a way to learn about old habits and patterns and reactions that may have gone under ground. By being examined consciously, they can now work for us rather than hurting and then can be helpful to our personality development in conscious ways. After all, we want to know what works and what does not.
And, we also have to add that in every myth and fairy tale we find princes and princesses not just attaining a partner, but having to take a journey of self-knowledge in order to do so. This journey is usually convoluted and intricate. It often means leaving home either physically or psychologically or emotionally in one form or another.
The union with the opposite is what occurs over and over again in all these stories. One may be passive and one active, one blond or another dark-haired, one with prowess and the other seemingly not. Who we end up with is an opposite from what we thought is the result. Who we are might be different than what we think. We will discover all this by being in a relationship of intimacy. We will be surprised and we will be challenged. Because who we are with is partially unknown, we will grow, and our relationship will grow. No doubt, we will have started at one point and have moved and been developed by the journey and the crossroads that are part of it. Again, the surprise is that the opposite is there somewhere, whether on the conscious or unconscious level, but it is there. It is the glue that ensures viability and flexibility. If we can remain open to the mystery of our relationship, we can make it through the challenges of the crossroads to increased love and intimacy.
Susan E. Schwartz, Ph.D.