More often than most people realize, we bind and limit ourselves in order to preserve our primary relationships. Sometimes we actually choose to remain the same and, in various ways, encourage our partner to remain the same in the mistaken belief that this will protect our relationship. The thinking goes something like this: Even though I am not being emotionally fed or stretched in this relationship, I won’t ever leave, because I would rather be safe here with you than on my own.
Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’
The second illusion, and the flipside to wishing our partner were our ideal parent, is the tendency to see and hear our literal parents when we look at and listen to our partner. When our spouse behaves in ways that even remotely resemble a parent’s behavior we can forget who is standing in front of us and react not so much to our mate but to our parent and all they ever did to us. The psychological term for this phenomenon is transference.
The light of awareness, the third principle of love, is the tool of tools for emerging out of the swamp of emotional struggle and suffering. It is the simplest of tools, for it is our birthright, yet it is also the most difficult of capacities to master.
Until you are deeply confident of your capacity to relate under stress, do not even think about having children. Children are major stress-creators. Raising them requires a whole set of difficult skills and even then leaves most people, at least occasionally, bewildered and bedeviled.
If you want to enter the heart of relationship – and enjoy the abundant fruits and riches to be found there, marry for the right reasons. When you marry for the right reasons it is as if you have already passed Go three times and are leaping immediately into the fourth truth of self-care.
Many of us would be better off devoting years to developing relationship tools and practicing more manageable sorts of relationships, such as friendships and separate-abode romances, rather than to become pulled into the vortex of a traditional, committed marriage. (If you truly love someone, Katherine Hepburn once commented, live next door to them.)
If love and committed relationship is not what means most to you, don’t expect much to come of either, anymore than you would expect to become an Olympic gold winner, a multimillionaire, or an astronaut without giving a great deal of yourself to the process.
Sex and Communication
Despite widespread rumors to the contrary, poor sex and poor communication do not ruin relationships; poor relationships ruin sex and communication. If communication skills made the difference specialists claim they make, then therapists and communication specialists would excel at marriage. They do not.
At the heart of the couple relationship is the eternal dream that our partner will be the wonderful mother or father we never had. We desire nothing more than that our partner give us the love, care and protection we didn’t get enough of as children. We never had the perfect parents, but we are still looking for them.
One flipside to awareness is denial: closing our eyes to what is in front of our nose. Often the first response to relationship trouble is to turn over in bed and ignore it, hoping it will go away. Life gets so busy and it is so unpleasant, even scary, to acknowledge that something isn’t working. If we just keep moving along, looking forward, the hope is, problems will disappear. Then the more we look away, the larger the issues become.