By Chandrama Anderson
E-mail Chandrama Anderson
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ... (More)
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background in high-tech is helpful in understanding local couples' dynamics and the pressures of living here. I am a wife, mom, sister, friend, author, and lifelong advocate for causes I believe in (such as marriage equality). My parents are both deceased. My son graduated culinary school and is heading toward a degree in Sociology. I enjoy reading, hiking, water fitness, movies, 49ers and Stanford football, Giants baseball, and riding a tandem bike with my husband. I love the beach and mountains; nature is my place of restoration. In my work with couples, and in this blog, I combine knowledge from many fields to bring you my best ideas, tips, tools and skills, plus book and movie reviews, and musings to help you be your genuine self, find your own voice, and have a happy and healthy relationship. Don't be surprised to hear about brain research and business skills, self-soothing techniques from all walks of life, suggestions and experiments, and anything that lights my passion for couples. (Author and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Calif. Lic # MFC 45204.) (Hide)
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I am often asked by couples, "What does an inter-dependent relationship look like?" I tell them, and have written a blog here, about it being like a bridge: each of you needs to be solid in yourself (a bridge foundation) in order to have the structure to build the span between you. Then the give and take is supportable by your relationship with yourself and each other.
I came across an expandable back scratcher recently and it jumped out to me as a great inter-dependent metaphor: You can scratch your own back with it, or you can scratch each others' backs with it. In other words, you can do it yourself, or you can ask or allow your partner to do it for you. I also like the expandability of the back scratcher; it is a great reminder to be flexible and expand your skills for a happy and healthy relationship.
It is not surprising that you wonder how inter-dependence works. I see a lot of independent individuals in a couple. For all manner of reasons, s/he grew up knowing s/he had to count on him/herself. I hear phrases such as:
"I don't need him/her for anything."
"I have to do it myself [or it won't be done right -- or at all."
"My mother/father was at work/drinking/unavailable."
"I learned early on that I can't count on anyone."
Therefore, growing up to be independent makes complete sense; it is a coping strategy you needed. It is a tremendous strength, and a trait that has made you as successful as you are. It has made you resilient. You need this trait. Even today.
If you think about it, every one of your strengths is also your weakness. Being independent is fantastic. On the flip side, it may show, say or feel to your partner that s/he is not needed and/or valued. And being needed is a core need for most people. Remember there is a difference between being needy and needing your partner.
So next time you're itchy, think about your opportunity to build inter-dependence.