It’s a common experience to become overwhelmed and fearful in relationships. Something I hear frequently in working with couples is the underlying question, “How do I know that this person won’t leave me?”.
The truth is, we don’t know and cannot predict our futures. We don’t know if we or our beloved may fall ill, fall in love with another person, or undergo dramatic changes which create an incompatibility. Commitment and intentionality are certainly an important basis for lasting relationships, but the most fundamental underlying concept which truly creates a healthy relationship is when both partners are consistently working on themselves.
In the event that an airplane is going to crash, we are instructed as passengers that an adult should put on their own gas-mask before helping anyone else. There is no way to be truly there for others if you aren’t first and foremost taking care of yourself.
If both partners in a relationship are doing the things they need to do to feel that they are taking care of themselves, to feel grounded and whole, then they can also support one another in their own quests for wellness. This is the basis for a truly healthy inter-dependency rather than a co-dependency, in which we excessively caretake for others at the expense of our own needs.