Doing our own work means not being preoccupied with our partner’s perceived flaws, deficiencies, shortcomings, or foibles, no matter how obvious they may be, and directing responsible and conscious concern instead to our own feelings, reactions and responses. In this way we are able to prevent the accumulation of unacknowledged grievances and maintain a clean playing field that will promote greater honesty and trust between us. These practices neutralize the conditioned patterns that otherwise tend to diminish the trust-level of the relationship. Staying current with regard to our unmet needs, unexpressed feelings and unfulfilled desires and frustrations, without holding our partner responsible for fulfilling them is as important a practice as that of giving love and appreciation to each other. Interrupting the daily routine with a getaway, whether it’s to a beautiful vacation destination or an afternoon that we have carved out of our busy schedule isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. And for us and many others these breaks have meant the difference between having a thriving relationship and getting a divorce.
A wise sage of our time, Woody Allen, once said, “A relationship is like a shark, if it doesn’t keep moving, it dies.” Because we tend to underestimate the complexity of human relations, we may expect deep fulfillment to come quickly and easily. This belief inevitably sets us up for great disappointment, as well as the likelihood of feeling either resentment (toward our partner) or inadequacy (toward ourselves). In a world that promotes the expectation of immediate gratification, it’s easy to forget that most of us enter marriage not yet having fully mastered the art of being a loving and authentic human being. The many facets of marriage furnish us with the experiences necessary to complete the job.
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This is the work of a lifetime. But when both partners are willing to share fully in this process, concern about time fades into the background, and we become entranced by the thrill of the process. Well, maybe it’s not always joyous. But it is what is necessary to grow us into the wise, loving and lovable beings we are at our core. You get what you’re willing to pay for, and in this case, the value of the benefit far outweighs the cost of the effort.