Relationship Past-Relationship Future (Part 1 of 4)

Relationship Past-Relationship Future (Part 1 of 4)

Greetings and welcome to my post. The purpose of this post is to engage in conversation about how all of us do relationships. I believe that we are created for relationships and what gives us the most meaning in our lives is the significant relationships we have with people. When we have positive, growing, and happy relationships, then our life does become better and we are all happy. But the opposite can also happen when we have conflict, hate, and hurt in our most important relationships. Then life can become very stressful and depressing.

Recently, a study and book was published titled “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship” by Terri Orbuch. The theory and premise of this book was to ask divorced people to reflect upon their past relationships and to state what they think they did wrong as a learning lesson for building a better relationship. I thought this study and topic to be very good and right on, so I thought I would share some of my insights as it applies to participating in healthy relationships.

I believe one of the premises of this book is to begin by thinking and reflecting about our past. As you know, our past can either be a friend or an enemy. As a friend, we can think and reflect on what we did wrong, mistakes we made, finding a healthy conscious to remind ourselves that we will not do this again, and telling ourselves the truth about how we conducted ourselves in the past. For example, if all you did in your past relationships was investigate and interrogate someone about why they did what they did and you used this strategy to try to fix them, you now realize that did not work. Hopefully, all of us will find the discipline and the self-boundaries we need to stop interrogating others.

Our past can also be our friend when we want and desire to make better character choices for the future. When we look at our past and view it as a friend to learn from, we then can decide to invest in healthy character choices to bring about ongoing improvements in our relationships. For example, if you have discovered that getting together with your most important and significant relationships once a week for coffee and good conversation, then this would be an example of a good investment.


To begin, let’s think about the topic of revealing your true self by being honest. How would you describe yourself when it comes to being a revealing and honest person? Do you put on a mask and figure out what to tell people in order to satisfy them or impress them, or do you become real and honest about who you really are? At times, we all tend to cover up who we really are and put on the mask of trying to please people. We try to hide from people or attempt to only reveal the ideal or perfect traits. We all want to be seen as likable and our idea of being liked and accepted is to be ideal. For example, when someone asks you a question “How are you doing?” do you tell them “I’m fine” or do you tell them the truth about who you really are and how you are doing?

This is what the book and study is talking about. The author asked divorced people about their past and what they wished they could have done differently. And this is one of the biggest topics that divorced people reported in their reflection about their marriage and relationships. Basically, to reveal means to talk more and share more. Obviously, if you choose to be in a relationship, communication is vital. To talk means to share and reveal yourself, and not just give your opinion about something. People want to know you, not just facts.

The challenge in this is being able to trust, which for many people can be hard. The reason why this is so hard is due to mistrust. To communicate means to trust that what you have to say will be heard and understood. But if in your previous experience with communication and revealing yourself only resulted in hurt, criticism, or putdown, then you are probably not going to reveal or talk too much. As we all know, if mistrust is high, and communication is low, then honesty and revealing of yourself will go out the window. However, if trust gets established, and conflicts in communication get resolved, then one has a better chance of concluding that you can resolve and communicate so that honesty and revealing goes up.

To do this, each person must value time. To reveal and be honest with one another requires time. It means that both people must value turning off the television, turn off all electronic devices, and really want to look and listen to each other. To do this means each person wants to set apart a certain amount of time each day to talk and reveal themselves.

For example, let’s say two people set aside 15 minutes each day to talk to each other. Not about work, the kids, finances, current events, or about other people. Instead, take the time in these 15 minutes to tell each other about their lives, what makes them tick, what made them sad or laugh, what are their worries, what are they focusing on these days. By doing this, and each person doing active listening with caring responses, then each partner will feel understood and loved for who they are.

In the same way, to reveal and be honest also means that each person lays down some ground rules to follow if they are going to share with one another. For example, no is blame allowed. Each person needs to speak and share with one another in a calm and caring voice. If an argument arises, then each person needs to value seeking a solution to the problem, and not just using an argument to become angry and resentful.

So, reflect upon your past relationships and your current relationships. Do you see value to let the other person know who you are? When each person does not reveal, then the other person feels they are being evasive, secretive, or hard to reach. But when you communicate and reveal yourself with honesty and trust, then you are building a better and healthier relationship. Do things different and shake things up, and try a little revealing and honesty. It will do you good.

Phil Kiehl, LMFT, M.Div.
Licensed Therapist

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what ingredients you would put into building a healthy relationship. Share your comments and share this article with others. Thanks.