This is the second post on my HUMANOLOGY FOR COUPLES series. Many people ask me how relationships should be handled so they can remain solid and stable. These posts offer you some ideas and tips that I hope will help you understand some of the important aspects involved in relationships.
When human beings are born, they are born without beliefs. Beliefs are deduced from the experiences they then start having: from what they see, hear or live.
Thus, many of the beliefs that a human being has stem from childhood, from the person’s environment and from their families. For example, having grown up in Spain, loud voices were the common thing and quite accepted; but when I lived in Russia, loud voices were considered very rude.
All human beings need beliefs. They constitute our foundations and lead each of us into seeing the world the way we see it. Strong beliefs represent solid foundations. Questioning beliefs results in uncertainty, insecurity and doubt. Beliefs exist in every field of life and can be grouped into different basic topics:
- Family beliefs: the ones shared by the family members
- Social beliefs: the ones shared by the social class and social group that we grow up in or live in
- Religious beliefs: the ones derived from the religion we are taught at home or at school
- Cultural beliefs: the ones derived from our national or ethnic environment
- and many others
The beliefs a human being has lead him or her to see the world a certain way. Some of those beliefs, we’re not even aware of; in time, they become subconscious and we just assume that the world is the way we happen to see it. We internalize them so much that they become the normal thing. Then, when relationships are established, the set of personal, religious, social, cultural and other beliefs that each partner has will affect the way in which the relationship is approached and maintained. So, if one of the partners believes that free, open relationships are the only way to go and the other partner’s beliefs are that only complete devotion to the other is the right approach, they will sooner or later encounter difficulties.
When beliefs are not obvious, some people just neglect them and move on. This results in unsolved issues within couples.
For a couple to be strong and balanced, each partner should know his or her beliefs and share them with the other, in an attempt to make understanding easier. Knowing what your partner believes, even if different from your own beliefs, will help you understand their position and opinions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner will be convinced by your beliefs or by what you’re sharing. But understanding where you’re coming from is a first step in the direction of shared growth.
How can you know what beliefs you have, if some of them are subconscious? I recommend the following, very simple exercise, that can be done individually and its results, or some of them, then shared with others.
For a couple of weeks, carry a small notebook and pen with you wherever you go. You can also use your recording system on your phone. Every time you hear yourself say anything that begins with any of the following phrases:
- I think that…
- I believe that…
- I suppose that…
- I can/can’t…
- I should/shouldn’t…
- and similar ones,
write whatever it is that you said on your notebook. You can also note down all your thoughts beginning with those phrases. After two weeks, go over your notes. They will represent many, if not most, of your beliefs.
Once you know what you believe, feel free to share that information with your partner. Try and find where your beliefs are different. Don’t question them, though. As a first step, just acknowledge your beliefs and your partner’s beliefs. Understanding how we see the world is a big step forward in human growth. Understanding how your partner sees it can help you explain why the two of you sometimes clash so much.
Based on your discovered beliefs then ask yourself: how do I expect myself to behave in relationship? What do I think is the “right” behavior? What do I expect my partner’s behavior to be like? How does his/her behavior differ from my expectations? Can I live with that difference and accept that my partner is behaving the way he/she thinks is correct based on his/her own beliefs? How do I behave that clashes against what my partner expects from me? Can my partner live with the difference between what is expected and my real behavior? The answers to these questions will give you a very clear understanding of where you and your partner are in your relationship.
Most beliefs can’t be changed at will. They require a more complex process. That’s why I’m just recommending that you acknowledge your beliefs and those of your partner and try and work together on acceptance. If you happen to come across a belief in your partner that you can’t live with, you can try and explain your reasons. Your partner can accept them or not. By discussing the beliefs that are limiting your relationship, you might both come to a deeper understanding of each other. That usually is enough to help a relationship move forward.
If it is not, whatever belief is blocking the way, be it yours, be it your partner’s, it won’t just go away. It will constantly create friction. Being aware of this is also very important. Once you know it, you will both have to decide what else you’d like to do. At that point, the help of a humanologist can be very useful. The work we do includes helping other human beings identify, question and change beliefs of all types.
So, work on your beliefs while your partner works on his or hers. Then discuss them. That might just do the trick. If you discover that you’re still truly stuck, contact your humanologist to get some help. After all, beliefs are personal and not that easy to handle 🙂
Meanwhile, remember to enjoy life… ALL of it,
Jessica J. Lockhart – humanology