We are attracted to and repelled by relationships. We long for intimacy and connection and we run from it at the same time. Most of us want the feel-good part of the relationship but get skittish when it comes to the you gotta work at it part. Relationships are not always easy but when we are with the right partner and we are present to the relationship, we can experience healing.
Harville Hendrix says, “We bring wounds from our childhood into our adult relationships in order to heal them.” This is not just about love relationships but about all of our relationships. How we relate to our families, our friends, the cashier at the corner market, the hairstylist, and the paper-delivery person is how we do relationships.
Unconsciously, we create our family of origin in our relationships, thereby setting the scene for us to do some deep healing work. Invariably, if we stay in a relationship long enough, stuff will start to surface so we can resolve unresolved issues.
How long is long enough? There are three stages of relationships and if we make it to stage two and choose to stay, we will be in a prime place for doing healing work.
Stage one: Prince Charming or Cinderella. Everything is about romance. We are usually in a state of lust and wonder at the magic of this person we have met and we are spending time with. They are perfect and though they may tell us their flaws we refuse to believe them. We know they’re perfect and they’re the one we’ve been waiting for all of our life.
Stage two: Stuff starts to surface. The blinders come off and we start to recognize the imperfections in our partner. We experience disillusion and disappointment. Sometimes, we leave at this point because we realize this other person is not going to “complete” us after all. They have too many flaws. (Please understand that many do leave at this point, even though their body remains in the relationships. Some stick around for forty or so years, but they actually are not present to the partnership.)
Stage three: Commitment vs. emotion. If we reach this stage it means we’ve gotten through stage two. This is where we get to do our healing work with another. At this stage, if we commit to being present, not because it always feels so good, or it’s a nice day, or we feel like it, but because we say we will be present. We stay put and we enter into a deeper place of knowing and being with ourself and our partner.
Who we are when we live together day in and day out is different from who we are when we’re dating We lose the need to always be pleasing, to look beautiful or handsome, or to behave perfectly. We’re in the trenches now and we’re ripe for healing.
If we are willing to be present, and are ready to grow and mature in our Self and with another person, we usually will experience four variables in our relationship:
Variable # 1. We get to face and resolve our patterns if we so choose.
Patterns are behaviors that are a result of our basic belief system and how we’ve chosen to deal with life. Patterns include our primal law which is our most negative, dominant consciousness factor, our context or perception of life and how it works, and our ingrained attitudes and behaviors.
Our patterns dictate how we respond to different stimuli in our relationship. We may stay silent when inside we’re fuming, we may find a closet or a room with a door to retreat to when we’re sad because we don’t know how to talk about our pain, we may throw things or scream vile things when angered, or we may play the victim and retreat to lick our wounds when things don’t go our way.We each have our own way of dealing with life when it doesn’t go the way we think it should. How we deal with it in our relationships may be totally different from how we deal with it in public.
Variable # 2: We get to make a choice whether to stay in the process or leave.
For many, when the going gets tough we pick up and leave. We want to shut out the pain so we run from it. There are different ways of leaving. Sometimes our body stays in the relationship but we have already left. Let’s be clear that because we choose to stay in a relationship, it does not mean we’re present. It just means our body is there but we fail to show up.
We leave by:
Silence. We keep everything to ourself instead of talking about it. Keeping it within usually leads to pouting or brooding. This is called withdrawal or shutdown. We keep secrets. I remember one of my spiritual teachers telling me, “We’re only as sick as the secrets we keep.” Keeping our stuff bottled up inside can destroy a relationship with our Self or with another. Secrets create fear and anxiety because we have to protect our Self and our space less someone uncovers our secret.
Anger. We distance our Self through keeping anger right under the surface. When we do this we wall our Self in and the other person out so we don’t have to get close. Our anger can be directed towards the way our partners chew their food, talk, laugh, dress, socialize, etc.
Withdrawal or Shutdown. We become a workaholic. We leave early in the morning for work and come home late at night. We bury our self in the TV or other forms of entertainment. We find ways to not have to be alone with each other. We escape through alcohol or using recreational drugs. We move to another part of the house.
Variable # 3 We get to learn effective and honest communication.
If we are willing to look at our manner of speaking we can see how often our communication is based on our unresolved issues. We can get caught up in talking about what we’re not getting, blaming and making wrong, fault-finding, and being right.
Variable # 4 The opportunity to learn how to have nurturing relationships will be there.
Since the topic of relationships is such a big issue, and to not make this post unbearably long, I will continue on this topic next week, Monday, July 30, and will cover the following:
- Three ways to learn how to stay in the process and not leave
- How to create a forum for better communications
- Relationship-rules for how to communicate with your partner
- Ways to nurture the relationship so it can heal and grow and be fun again
Recipe for a healthy relationship:
1 large cup of understanding
A healthy dose of willingness to listen
2 large heapings of respect
Mix all together and skim from the top:
expectations, the need to fix or change the other and power struggles
10 Ways to Have Peaceful, Loving Relationships
I Love You..10 Ways to Live It.