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rOs's avatar

Tips on helping my relationship reach spiritual potential?

Asked by rOs (3531points) June 8th, 2011

I’m 22. In short- my girlfriend and I bicker too much because she is emotionally scarred by her father. Usually that is THE red flag but she truly is an inherently caring, funny, and smart girl. She has stuck with me for over a year despite my faults, the mistakes I’ve made, and my indecisiveness. Only recently have I woken up to what is important; I guess I could say I’ve reformed. She is happy for me, but is having trouble because, in the last 10 years, she watched her father go downhill. He was talented and successful in the early years, but due to a crippling injury, he turned to drugs and ultimately took his own life about 6 months ago. I’ve been improving my life exponentially, and I want to take her by the hand and take her with me to the stars, but she has this mental injury holding her back. I’d love to get her in therapy but she doesn’t seem to want to face the issue, and I won’t force her. How do I help her deal with the negative attitude fostered by her father’s mania and encourage her to seek her potential? I only want the best for her. I want to bring balance to our relationship if possible. Please help me help the one person who I can’t seem to reach.

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11 Answers

WasCy's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

The only advice to give you here is the same response we give to countless other questions about “How can I get him / her to…?” You can’t. You can’t change anyone else. You can’t change her. You can only change your own attitudes and behaviors, and maybe set an example that she can emulate if she wants to. But you can’t make that happen; the best you can do is foster it, encourage it and enable it.

It’s never enough for you to see that “she is emotionally scarred by” this or that thing. She has to see it; she has to recognize it, and she has to deal with it… or not. You can’t force any realizations on her; you can’t even express them to her in a meaningful way. That’s a journey she has to make on her own.

Forget about “to the stars”, dude. If you can live with her, and if she can take your own imperfections and give you room to grow, then hold on to her and go where you can and enjoy the ride. You have to decide whether she’s worth having “as is”, as “damaged goods”, if you view her in that way, because she is who she is, and change will be incremental, if she even attempts to do that. There are no ‘eureka!’ moments and dramatic theme music cues and instantaneous brightenings outside of a movie.

If you like what you have, then have it. So, look at yourself. Can you accept her as she is, and as she will probably be for a long time, if not always? Can you make allowance for her emotional scarring and injury? Can you live with that? Can you back off wanting X for her and just let her find her own way? Decide whether you can or not, and choose accordingly.

marinelife's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

Your girlfriend has to see the need to change herself. She has to recognize her part in your bickering and want to improve it.

You can’t make her see it nor can you make her change.

You could perhaps get Harville Hendrix’s book Getting the Love You Want (a copy for each of you) and suggest reading it and doing the exercises together.

Alternatively or in addition, you could suggest couples therapy.

Good luck!

Hibernate's avatar

Change yourself so you won’t argue to much with your girl.

You guys could try living alone if you feel like it .. this way you take a huge step but you’ll show her you love her .

But then again do not rush her into anything and just be there for her as a support.

Coloma's avatar

Everyones motivational force is unique unto themselves.

She has to WANT to change, grow, heal, and, as others have said, there is nothing you can do except accept her as she is, or move on.

This is why so many people have to hit their own version of ‘rock bottom.’

It took me 22 years in a dysfunctional marriage to finally wake up and make the changes necessary for my personal and spiritual growth and healing.

I spent the better part of the decade of my late 30’s to mid 40’s doing a lot of growth work.

When the student is ready….

Some wake up sooner than others, many not at all, their bodies mature, their minds and emotions do not.

If one is not dead there is always space, hope for change and growth, but, in my observations and experiences, if one has not found the need to go on their healing and growth journey by their mid-life zone, probably won’t happen.

Being so young you must accept that your girlfriend may not even begin to go where she needs to go for many years to come, if ever.

You can lead a horse to water…..

Living your truth by example is all you can do for her.

blueiiznh's avatar

This is certainly a difficult area.
While you can see things that may be reasons that are holding her back, she is ultimately the one that has to see them and act on them.
Standing by her through thick and thin is certainly needed, but your rush to the stars way take a more winding path.
For now, focus on keeping yourself healthy in spirit and supportiveness.
Ensure you keep supportive lines of communication without pushing the subject.
Enjoy life and time with her and hope she see that living spiritual and peaceful is a way to move past the pain. Certainly therapy can help, but she has to want to do the hard work it takes. Forcing this will only lead to resentment.
If she was traumatized by her fathers spiral and his manic ways the sad but positive side is she is no longer seeing those attitudes from him. She however may either be paralyzed by them or herself deals with life in the same way.
I know you want only the best for her, but you also deserver the best for yourself too. Make certain that any unacceptable behavior is discussed openly. One should never have to walk on egg shells because of the fear of another persons actions or reactions.
She is the only one that can do the hard work. You can certainly be supportive or become a codependent, but try to not loose yourself or your dreams.

So a few things you can do to help foster this is setting some time aside to just talk about what bothers each of you. Make sure you put some ground rules in place on time, etc.
Make sure you each retain your own outside friends and activities.
Stay open, loving, caring and most of all respectful of each other.
Read books or watch some movies with spiritual themes: The Ultimate Gift, The Blind Side, The Secret.
Good luck!

seperate_reality's avatar

What is important is the present. Bringing up a person’s past in therapy just bums the person out for a few days until the person goes back and gets bummed out again reliving the past. Oh, and of course, this usually leads to “legal-drug” use which is oh-so politically correct today. Harmful drugs are still harmful legal or illegal with both types sold on city street corners. What is important is to do those things that helps the person be in the present and not stuck in the past. When you think about it, there is really only the present, with the past and future in our Mind. The most happy, healthy, and successful people are normally in the present where their attention belongs.

6rant6's avatar

“I want to take her by the hand and take her with me to the stars”

Get over yourself. This is a relationship. Ergo, she has as much to say about where she wants it go as you do. That’s the fun and the pain about being together.

Be honest, humble, and forgiving.

rOs's avatar

You all have given me a lot to think about. I’ve let this issue fester for a long time, and I think I have enough information now to put it behind me. I’ll only make it worse if I don’t.
My ego was contributing to the problem all along. I owe my patience to her for putting up with my mistakes. Thanks for the perspectives people!

CaptainHarley's avatar

We cannot “fix” other people unless they have a burning desire to BE fixed. And even then, said “fixing” is usually way beyond what we can do, regardless of how much we love them. She needs psychological help.

Kardamom's avatar

Tell her that you love her and that you want her to be in your life, in a happy, content and mutually beneficial relationship. Acknowledge that she has suffered a tremendous loss and trauma, but tell her that for you both to move forward in your relationship, you both need to learn new ways of coping. Tell her that you realize that you two cannot learn these techniques on your own, nor can you continue in the same mode of negativity (bickering, fighting, disagreeing etc) that you are now in. Before you have this conversation with her, do some research into couples counseling (especially with regards to having one of the members of the couple having suffered a trauma). You should talk with your primary care physican to give you a referral, or if you are in college, you can talk to someone at the health center to give you a referral. Then once you’ve got one or two therapists in mind, find a nice quiet time to talk to your girlfriend and let her know that you think you should both go into therapy together to learn how to succeed as a couple and move forward. If she says she doesn’t want to to, let her know that you are going to go, because you need it as much as you both need it. Then go.

You will learn whether or not this relationship is worth it over the long haul, and by your going, your girlfriend might want to join you after a few sessions. If she doesn’t. You have to decide whether you can tolerate a lifetime of problems. Unless, she makes some changes, you are in for a lifetime of pain and difficulty (and so is she).

If you guys end up going into therapy, you should also discuss the problem of your girlfriend’s brother and try to find out what you can do to help him, as well. Maybe family therapy is what is needed for everyone. Good luck. You are a good guy, but don’t take the weight of the world onto your shoulders, let people help you, to help them. : )

cheebdragon's avatar

Spiritual potential?...Wow, I have no idea what that even means, but I do know all about daddy issues. You can’t force her to get over it, she has to want it for herself, without you pressuring her.

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