Safety in relationships sounds like something that occurs between two people. Logically, it would make sense that the way we find safe relationships is to make sure we vet who we hang out with - and certainly that is an element of the process.
But safety is created as much by what we do on our own time than what happens in the real time of conflict. I have a deep-seated fear of conflict because I experienced conflict in my family system as such a risky proposition. I could go into endless details about this, but suffice it to say: we as a family did not manage our conflict well.
When I got married, I had neither the skills nor the courage to fight with my husband - whether it was a fair fight or otherwise. This is not good. Conflict is inevitable and it is healthy if done skillfully. When we were younger we often ended up making decisions that neither of us was happy with because we were so busy trying to guess and give the other person what they wanted!
Today we have more conflict than ever - I think we are playing a game of catch up. But this is also a gift. It means that we have both realized the value of honesty with each other. We capitulate less and actually resolve issues more. This is all good.
I cannot speak to what this required of Pete but for me, I had to grow out of my old ways of being and into new ways of seeing. It helps that we have been married 40 years and he’s never once left me. It helps that we have never had an argument in which either of us threatened divorce or dismemberment. But what has really, really helped is me taking responsibility for me.
I have learned that I owe it to my grown up self to have preferences and state them in real time rather than asking Pete to read my mind. I have learned that conflict well managed in the present increases the chance that both of us “win” at getting what we want.
I am trying, and it is really hard, to take responsibility for myself. My thoughts, feelings and actions are my own. I have no one else to blame nor do I have to defer credit to others when I do something worthwhile. I am trying to figure out how to stand on my own two feet with my arms wrapped around all those I love. This is a dance of balance and it is not easy. But the old way was much harder.
Are there any ways that you need to learn how to take more responsibility for yourself?