September 12, 2015

A Scary But Effective Way to Make Sure Your Relationship is Growing

man woman couple kiss love

To be in this relationship, I would like you to love the aspects of me that I don’t love yet.

In return, I will love the aspects of you that you don’t love yet.

What I just stated above seems pretty easy…only “happily ever after” doesn’t end there.

Happily ever after requires that a relationship evolve. For my relationship to evolve, I get to learn to love those aspects of me that are currently unlovable—and my partner gets to do the same for themselves.

That’s the rub. Because if the relationship doesn’t evolve, there’s no point in it. A relationship is really dynamic when it becomes a vehicle to meet those aspects of ourselves that we don’t love yet.

As relationships evolve and we meet those distasteful parts of ourselves,  it is often easier to imagine that they are in someway you, and not me. It’s easier to project them on our partner—which means that they become the problem.

And we become the problem.

But we aren’t really ever “the” problem—it is only certain aspects of us that create mischief.

And they are only a problem because we resist those aspects in ourselves.

We think:

I don’t want them to be part of who I am. I don’t want to be that _______ …fill in the blank: petty, scared, angry, jealous, possessive, indifferent, loving, wonderful, caring, etc.

I don’t want to experience these extremes, for they reveal that I am crazy.

If I can convince myself that I am crazy about you I may not notice that I am just plain crazy. So you, dear one, buffer me from my own insanity. Thank you. I bless you, and curse you for that. Now cut it out!

Relationships are these kinds of mirrors: I will imagine I am looking at you if you imagine you are looking at me, okay?

But the best relationships are built on the discovery that I am always looking at me, even when I am looking at you.

Jealousy and other Dramatic Internal Events

Imagine a relationship has gone sour—instead of being smitten by them, which we have been for three and a half beautiful years, we are positively possessed with jealousy.

Imagine feeling jealous about the possibility of a lover having sex with everyone at Burning Man.

The problem here isn’t Burning Man or them having sex with other people: it is that our mind would make up such a ridiculous thing and sell us on the idea that it would even matter if it happened.

I wish this example was theoretical.

I get jealous. So jealous. I actually think that they want anybody and everybody other than me. There is no evidence for this. The way that my lover looks at me indicates that they love me completely and utterly.

They obviously want to spend the rest of your life with me—and they say that too.

But here’s the thing: my insecurities can’t hear this. They think she’s looking for the next person, that she really doesn’t like me.

If only she liked me more, I would finally be fine.

Then I could settle down.

And when I am looking for a reason why she doesn’t like me, I become totally unreasonable. I will find a reason.

I will blame jealousy, rejection, or unequal distribution of wealth or attention.

But she can’t give me enough, because there is no such thing as enough between two people. I’m not going to find a resolution to what’s going on inside from her.

I have to find it in me.

But like mountain climbing, a relationship can offer support. She can be there for me if I’ll only let her.

Sharing Together

When climbing, which relationship certainly is, one of you needs to be fastened in. That way, the other one is free to take the necessary risks to gain more elevation. And it works just that way in a relationship.

One of you needs to be fastened in, and the person that needs to be fastened in must change.

Each partner must alternate between being at risk and being stable.

One of the two of you needs to remain grounded. If you’re both unemployed, or both unlovable, or both angry, are both jealous at the same time, too much trouble will result. But if one of you is and one of you isn’t, you can work it out.

That can contribute to growth and balance in relationship.

To bring about this degree of working together, there needs to be very open communication—communication of a certain kind. We need to learn how to speak about what is going on with ourselves, to talk about the particular kind of crazy our insecurities are offering this moment. We need to share with our partners the kinds of things that we’d rather not even speak of.

Being this open with someone requires practice, but it has huge rewards. Two people will continue to grow closer, more in love, more compassionate, and more loving.

All of this happens as each exposes aspects of themselves, bringing them to the altar of relationship so that the two embrace them as one.

And this helps us finally be at peace with ourselves.




More from Jerry: 

How to Tell if You are Having Enough Sex.

How to Turn Fear into Freedom.




5 Things Done Differently in Healthy Relationships.

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.



Author: Jerry Stocking 

Editor: Renee Picard 

Image: Andra MIhali at Flickr 

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