“Are Ghosts Haunting Your Relationships?”


In my last article “The Calculus of Relationship”  I talked about how simply pointing fingers at who is wrong in a relationship not going so well, does not make things better. In this follow-up article, I talk about how what may be wreaking havoc in a relationship may not even be present. Yup, could be a ghost haunting your relationship!.

So what do I mean by ghosts haunting a relationship? Simply this-a lot of the battles you find yourself in with people close to you– your partner, your children, your parents or even yourself–can have little to do with the current situation and a lot to do with your past. Past humiliations, past rejections, past traumas all lend themselves to becoming ghosts haunting your life when they have not been resolved. I call them ghosts, for while the event was in the past, it’s wielding a LOT of power in your present life.

For example, your parents believe/d control was next to God and a good child was a controlled child. Emotions? To be controlled with your parents deciding which ones you were permitted and which ones were punished. Fast forward to the conversation you are now having with your husband who keeps asking if something is wrong. You answer “nothing”….so why do you feel like crying-or throwing the glass you are using at his head!? Ahh…the ghost of emotions not permitted or punished is haunting your relationship with your hubby..

Or you hear yourself berating your daughter for an A- (vs an A) on her report card and become aghast as you realize you’ve become possessed by the ghost of your father who found “imperfections” unacceptable. Yikes! Or you make the opposite choice of allowing your teen to diss you, patting yourself on the back for not being a controlling parent. Notice the ghost cackling in the corner?

So what can you do when ghosts are haunting your relationships?

  • Call the Ghost Busters! No really, get some help. Ghosts can be hard for you to see as they feel and look familiar. What is familiar we are often reluctant to change for something unfamiliar, even if we are unhappy with the familiar.
  • Realize your ghosts can be friendly ghosts (remember Caspar?) trying to make life better for you. They are causing mischief to get your attention and where they are causing mischief is where they want you to pay attention.
  • There are common ghosts. The ghost of anger haunts most women; anger at their power and purpose as women having been dismissed and denigrated for generations. This ghost appears in women’s relationships with men as belittling men or women withholding from men, their power to inspire and uplift.
  • Ghosts can be tricky. It is not uncommon for someone I am working with to describe the detested behavior of a parent and surprise! find that same behavior alive and well in themself! Argh. Ghosts remind us there is a difference between not liking a behavior and not having it haunt our behavior as well.

People are busy and time is precious. We are taught to ignore what is bothering us and to simply exercise more control or reach for our drug of choice. But “shoulda, woulda, coulda” are no match for the ghosts haunting our relationships or our life. As the Ghost Busters knew, people who know about ghosts are who you need to call when your relationships are being haunted by ghosts from your past.

Want some help exorcising ghosts in a relationship or life? I offer a free 60 minute consultation by phone for you to explore with me how to stop ghosts from the past from messing with your present and future. To schedule your free 60 minute session CLICK HERE .

“The Calculus of Relationships”


Relationships can make your life feel like heaven and a relationship can make your life hell. You cannot avoid relationships and how happy you are in your relationships, impacts your family life, your career, even your health. Relationship skills are not considered important learning for life and mostly left up to default learning from your family growing up. The result? Yeah, you’re living it.

In college, I found calculus to be very confusing until I realized the correct answer would only be obtained when I solved more than one factor. Once I learned calculus was not a linear process, solving calculus equations become a challenge I knew I could solve. Solving relationships problems is a lot like calculus-there’s always more than one dynamic to solving the problem.

Here’s an example of what I mean by the calculus of relationships. You know those fights you have with people where what you are fighting about isn’t really what you are fighting about? Yeah, on the face of it, you’re arguing about whose turn it is to take the dog out. When really what you’re arguing about is how you’re mad at him for going out with his friends instead of you last weekend and he’s mad at you for paying more attention to your friends than him. Grrr.

So what to do when you’re in relationship trouble?

1. Control does not equal strength nor power when it comes to relationships. A common mistake in relationships, this one will get you in trouble every time. Control in relationship presumes power over another person and no relationship will last nor be happy without mutual respect and sharing of power. Control takes many forms-from controlling the information you share with your spouse to controlling what your child is allowed to make choices about. Relationships need trust, respect, and courage to flourish or they become prisons the person being controlled will make a break from.

2. Change your channel from complaining to creating what you want. Complaining may make you feel good, even powerful at the time, and can become a bad habit you indulge in. Complaining has the additional bonus of making it seem as though you are doing something, but in truth, you are keeping safe on the sidelines instead of taking action for making things better. Instead of complaining about how the romance has gone out of your relationship, make it your personal mission to make date night romantic again. It takes just as much effort to be miserable as it does to be happy!

3. Speak up! The power of small is in voicing what matters to you. By this time in your life, you’ve most likely been told to speak up, that others cannot read your mind. Yet I bet there are still times you hold back from sharing with your best friend or your spouse when they’ve hurt your feelings, or speaking up about where you’d rather go to dinner. You tell yourself it’s not a big deal, stay silent and then find yourself in a funk or being a bit bitchy. Yeah. When you don’t speak up for yourself or what matters to you, your relationship with those near and dear to you will suffer as will your self-respect. That voice within you telling you to stay quiet is not your friend!

4. While it’s true it takes 2 to make a relationship heaven or hell, playing chicken with who “should” make things better, who should change, is a dangerous game. Relationships may initiate through chemistry, but what keeps a relationship happy and healthy is maintaining trust, respect, and empathy with each other. If you find yourself distrusting, disrespecting, or not caring for the other person, action is needed for tending the relationship before lasting damage is done. All healthy long-term relationships-be they personal or professional-go through cycles of change and renewal. To expect a person or relationship not to change is to not only invite unhappiness, it invites the death of the relationship.

Look for my next article on relationship ghosts. If you find yourself in an unhappy relationship, don’t despair nor cast aspirations on yourself or the other person. Not unlike realizing your body is unhappy, choosing to take action for tending and mending yourself is what makes you better, not blaming others nor berating yourself for being sick.