The unhelpful baggage that can come from seeing relationships fail in your childhood – one guy’s story

I heard about Jacob from his girlfriend Jade. Jade is a beautician, she’s 19 and has been going out with Jacob for 2 years. Day to day their relationship is great. Jade is chilled out and doesn’t make many demands on Jacob, unlike his mates’ girlfriends. But sometimes Jade asks about the future and things get a little tricky. You see, Jacob doesn’t really want to make plans. His mum “made plans” three times and where did that get her?

Her first husband cheated on her and left her with two small boys. Then Jacob’s dad rescued her from the daily grind of making ends meet and life was good. Jacob was born, and they were a family of five. But Jacob’s dad drank and eventually, he left too. Then Jacob’s mum was swept off her feet by a colleague at work who soon became husband number three.  But he had a temper. And anger turned to violence. The four of them ended up in a refuge.

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So when Jade said “Shall we talk about the future?” all Jacob could think about was how his mum had repeatedly made plans for a future with a someone whom she really liked and trusted. Yet what had it brought her but heartache and worse? Jacob’s natural response was to protect himself. Don’t share home ownership–you’ll lose what you share. Don’t make a plan–it’ll get spoiled. Don’t get married–it’s harder to walk away.

But where will this strategy really get him? Most relationships are like rollercoasters with highs and lows. Making plans gives us something to reach for during the lows. If we hang on during these times, we build relationship resilience and a sense of security. It’s knowing you can weather storms together that makes your relationship strong. By avoiding ties and plans, Jacob thinks he is reducing risk. But life is one big risk and the best way to survive it well is to have the right people around us, invest in them and reach for the future together.

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