So many times people question whether or not they should even get involved with someone who lives with mental illness, is a recovering addict, has a dark past, or just plain carries baggage. If you’ve met someone and instantly felt an attraction and believe that you can see through the person’s problems, then yes you can both make this work. But work, it will be.
Getting involved with someone knowing about their issues is not lost on the person you are dating. They understand very well that you are not in for a simple relationship. There will be times when they struggle and know you will too. Just knowing that you have made a point of being there and walking with them every step of the way whether they overcome their problems or not does not go unnoticed. People who have gone through trauma or an experienced that has heightened their sense of awareness are sensitive to the fact that you don’t have to be here. They know they could lose you just for being the way that they are, and the love they have for you can be quite genuine – probably more so than someone who wouldn’t know the difference.
Here are some tips on how to help make things easier for you as a couple. Just as any couple, both parties have to work together to make a relationship work. Your partner who has experienced anguish and using their pain as a crutch to get away with not working on your relationship is not acceptable, in my opinion. However, not every couple is the same and some will find tips that may or may not work depending on their commitment.
Auntie Ozanne’s Tips on How to Heal Within Your Relationship
Have patience. Whether you are the one dealing with issues and didn’t feel as though someone would care enough to love you, or you’re the one who’s entering this relationship knowing there is work ahead, both of you need to practice the art of patience. No one deserves it more than the other. Your loved one needs to know exactly what is needed to get them through tough times and to allow them to find their footing in the relationship.
Communicate. Every great relationship is talked about -- by the two people involved! Try waking up together, having your morning coffee, and spending one solid hour alone just talking about light things and having that bond before the day begins. One hour before bed, same thing. If your day has some rough spots, make a commitment to have light conversation when you wake up and before you sleep each day to remind each other that you are there from beginning to end.
Learn about their issues. Read books on their problems. If you’re dating a recovering alcoholic, go to your public library to read about recovery and co-dependency. If you are seeing someone who has an abusive past, look for materials on the type of abuse they incurred or were part of to understand why things might have gone wrong. Just the fact you are investing the time to learn shows that you truly care and you may even be a stronger support for your partner when you can see tell-tale signs that can bring on rough moments.
Offer to join them in counselling. If the therapist welcomes your partner, sit with them to gain insight on what they go through. While they are in the environment of a mediator, more information can be shared and understood. Feelings from both partners can be made clear of what the intentions are to help get through than what they might not believe if they are alone during pillow talk. Sometimes declaring how you feel with someone witnessing your words can mean a lot more.
Use humour. If self-help books seem silly, humour them. You never know if you stumble upon something that might actually work as an activity to try together. Include your partner in your decision to make things work instead of going it alone. If things don’t go as planned, it’s okay to laugh about it and start over. Making a mistake with your partner as opposed to on your own behind their back is much more forgivable, and someone who loves you is willing to see your vulnerable side as they too will be showing theirs to you.
Make sex great. If one partner struggles with intimacy because of something hard to live with, my advice to that partner is not to punish your new partner for the abuse of someone in the past. Your partner is there to love you and show you pleasure the way you were meant to feel it. Instead of shutting them out (or shutting them down completely), find something new to enjoy with your partner to make it your own experience between only the two of you.
To the person who is taking on someone who is dealing with pain, remember that this is your relationship too. You don’t need to go without feeling that you don’t matter. Your partner was aware that a relationship is a two-way street when they met you, and in their own way will show you love. No one said that these relationships needed to last if they simply don’t work out, but without a doubt, some great love can come from it too with some perseverance.