When I run across someone who expects to have a perfect relationship at all times, I feel sad for them. Life is not like that. Babies are perfect – and then they cry and mess their diapers. Relationships often seem perfect in the beginning and then something happens. What is it that happens?
Life happens. And the emotional reactions you each have to it often cause friction. For example, you’re married for a year. You couldn’t be happier and then you lose your job. You’re fine about it. A little scared maybe but you’ve watched your father bounce back from business failure a number of times and you somehow know all will be well. He, on the other hand, only feels really comfortable when he knows what the future will be. Uncertainty brings out a controlling side you never really noticed before. And the budding entrepreneur in you who kind of likes the challenge of creating something out of nothing, DOES NOT WANT TO BE CONTROLLED.
Well, imagine a few more years of like reactions – now experiencing the other person without stars in your eyes and 5 years down the line, you both want to walk away because your relationship is now so painful. There are so many unexpressed feelings that resistance has now turned into rejection.
Is there a different way? What if you both decided to use your relationship as a personal growth or personal development journey? You know, like what you might see on Oprah.
Picture the same scene as above, only now you and he have agreed that you are both committed to the relationship journey. Also, you both know that on the relationship journey there will be bumps on the road, detours and maybe some things like that last driver who gave you the finger when he didn’t like what you did. But you have agreed to be committed to the success of this journey knowing all that.
Semantics? I think not.
I entered my first marriage with the traditional lack of awareness. I was supposed to be married, so I was. I didn’t really know myself, so my relationship was mostly reaction. I reacted to him. He reacted to me. It was a mess.
Then I went on a journey similar to the one you are probably on if you are reading this. I went on a journey to find myself and I met a man who was on a similar journey. In 1986 we decided to journey together. We were married.
We do look at life as a journey and our relationship is a major part of that. Here are some of the things we’ve learned along the way:
1. We learned that we had to walk a kind of joyful tightrope between putting ourselves first and putting each other first. What a learning! How can I put myself first, my needs and at the same time have one eye noticing if he needs me a little bit more than usual at this particular time? How can I not overdo either way? Too much attention on me to the exclusion of him; or too much attention on him to the exclusion of me. A joyful tightrope.
2. We learned that instead of committing to each other, we needed to commit to the power of the relationship. We all have bad times and jerky days or even weeks. So when he’s like that, do I want to be committed to him? But if my commitment is to the power of the relationship, I can get outside the current situation and remember that it’s usually great.