The Mission of PAIRS is to teach those attitudes, emotional understandings and behaviors that nurture and sustain healthy relationships and to make this knowledge broadly available on behalf of a safer, saner, more loving world.
For example, a young man grew up in a home filled with strife and tension. He left home early, married young and learned to fill all his time and avoid being home. He is about to marry again.
For his fiancée, home is where you restore yourself, enjoy warm fires and conversations that matter.
For him home is only where you go to sleep. He made a decision early in life that home is not happy place to be.
She is wrestling with why she should marry someone who isn't going to be there.
These decisions can be changed but we have to bring them into our awareness and think about them. It is useful to track decisions made in our early family that we are still acting upon, particularly those that may have led us to see life as joyless, mindless or loveless.
Joyless: "I can never have fun and relax until all the work is done, which never quite happens, so I never play."
Mindless: "Thinking doesn't work, I'm stupid. So when I have a problem, I go blank."
Loveless: "No one ever loved me; no one ever will. I will do without. I'll never trust anyone. I'll pretend I don't need love anyway."
Children of alcoholic or dysfunctional parents often have unique challenges that experience their adult lives.
As a child it is dangerous to comment on the alcoholism or dysfunction of a parent.
A specific early decision is made: "Don't say anything. Don't try to figure out the truth because you can't ask questions."
They learn not to confide, not to acknowledge their feelings, and frequently to not even feel them.
Bright kids of parents who are alcoholics or addicts often fail at math because when growing up there is no way to can make anything equate. No logic. Nothing makes sense at home. Children of alcoholics may make an early decision that you can't make sense of life, so why try.
Family experiences also get passed down as expectations of ourselves and others. For example, in a family in which reading was highly valued, an adult may believe: "In my home you always had to have a book or article in your hand to read. I feel guilty if I'm not reading. If I am what I should be I should be learning all the time. If I'm playing or not productive, I believe that I'm wasting my time."
What early decisions did you make?
Do they make sense now?
Is life less meaningful if you're not good or not productive all the time?
Consider the difference it could make to know it's okay to say and accept: "I exist. I am me. I have my own identity. I have my own needs. I am entitled not to be perfect, to pursue happiness and to fill my needs. One of my needs is for human closeness. I can't live by my grandparents' or parents' decisions. Their decisions were for their lives and their time."
It can be helpful to practice the beliefs: "I am entitled to be me, to take risks, to make mistakes. I am still lovable. I am good enough. My need for closeness is a pleasure to others as well as myself. We all need closeness."
Meeting the need for closeness and bonding should be emotionally and physically pleasurable for both people. We need to share ourselves in terms of intimacy, of bonding.
If that doesn't feel like a pleasure, it's important to ask yourself: "What is in the way?"