Last time I took my daughter to the pediatrician, the TV in the waiting room was playing the same song over and over, the bane of many parents’ existence: “Let It Go.” Every time one version ended, another version would start in another language. Every time I hear that song, I think about how unhealthy the message is, with the narrator singing about letting her dangerous impulses go free and spurning human connections. This perspective almost led to the death of her sister: not exactly a healthy choice! This week, though, we are talking about a much healthier way of letting things go.
Letting go of the past is a vital part of a healthy relationship. The most obvious part of letting go of the past is letting go of the bad things that have happened in your relationship. Every relationship has rough patches, and everyone behaves badly sometimes in their relationship, so there is always something bad to hold onto if you want to. Once you’ve dealt with anything in the situation that could affect your relationship in the future, there is no reason to hold onto the past. Holding onto it will only cause unhappiness.
Letting go of the negative things in your relationship’s past is the obvious step, but letting go of the positive things in the past can also be important. Relationships are constantly changing, and if you insist on holding onto the way your relationship used to be, you will be continually disappointed. Clearly, there are times when you realize that your relationship is missing something important that it used to have, and you want to get that back, and that’s okay. Generally, though, you will be happier in your relationship if you roll with the inevitable changes as your relationship shifts over time. For example, many people find it difficult when a relationship shifts from the passionate, electric feeling of the first few months or years of being together into the more calm, settled feeling of a long-lasting relationship. Longing for that earlier feeling, they find themselves dissatisfied with their relationship, even if the relationship is positive and healthy; some people become so dissatisfied that they find themselves jumping from relationship to relationship in a constant striving to maintain that feeling of a new relationship.
Ultimately, then, a healthy relationship is all about appreciating the relationship you have today instead of clinging to the past, either the good or the bad. If something needs to change, work on changing it in the present, but realize that your relationship will never return to the exact form it had before, and that is okay. By adjusting how you look at your relationship, you may find that the relationship you have now, although different, has many beautiful aspects that have developed over time. Change is not always a bad thing.