I feel that a relationship (or a marriage) is one of the most beautiful experiences of this life. And I’m not just talking about the relationships that are good ones! :) Yes, I’m even talking about the Relationships that face really steep challenges such as cheating spouses/partners, porn addictions, infertility, mental illness, ETC. And I’m even talking about a relationship that ends. You see, relationship offers a place to grow; a place to be face to face with your own weaknesses; a place to become a better man or a better woman. We think ALL of it (good and bad) should be treated and viewed as a sacred experience. Yet sadly, "relationships" gets blamed for a lot of unhappiness that people feel. Maybe it's because they feel stuck in a relationship that isn't loving or satisfying. Or they feel abused, neglected, unwanted, etc. I just see tons of people pegging the marriage or blaming the spouse for their unhappiness or difficulty, which is why I felt so compelled to write this post.
You see, when you rely on your relationship or your "other half" to fulfill your needs and determine your state of well being.....and they don't come through for you.....wellll, the relationship begins to feel really hard. And it begins to feel like a lot of work dealing with that disappointment, worry, fear, anger, neglect, etc. And it's likely that you may start to house your partner (and/or yourself) in a pressure cooker until your partner starts fulfilling your needs more and meeting what you deem as your expectations for a relationship.
So how does one prevent that cycle?
For me, instead of blaming "relationship/marriage" or the "partner/spouse" as the reason for all the hard work, the real work to make the focus of your energy is the work we need to do in OUR – OWN – HEADS.
The real work is tackling our OWN weaknesses in the way we react and handle things that come up (including even the most dysfunctional of situations.) Keep in mind, one situation may be a challenge to one person and yet not to another. So we really can't blame the actual trials. We can't blame relationship or ANYTHING for our never ending pain and unhappiness. We can only recognize that we don't yet have the adequate amount of strength, experience, tools or preparation needed to handle those situations. I just feel that relationship and especially marriage wrongfully gets a bad name...when it's actually just providing us opportunities to see what we need to work on IN OURSELVES....
For example, I love hiking and to climb mountains. I have a mountain I climbed daily over a period of time which most people would look at what I do and say......uhhh.....that mountain looks hard. But for me, it's easy. I have mastered it. I have put in the work, the personal training, and preparation that I need to climb that mountain. The mountain size didn't change over time (trying to change that mountain suuure would have felt like a lot of work). Instead, I changed and put in the personal work to make that happen. And so climbing the mountain became easier and doable. For someone who hasn't climbed the mountain and hasn't done the preparation and still thinks that the mountain needs to change in order for things to go smoothly, you bet it will feel hard. And sadly, sometimes people will resist that personal training and it will feel hard their whole lives.
Just like a mountain, we can't ever plan on a partner/spouse changing. A partner or relationship will be there - perhaps offering challenging situations and heights that stretch us. But WE can change, prepare, and be ready to face it... WE can learn how to climb those mountains better if we practice, do the personal work and learn how to better react and better handle situations. I learned this as I transformed within my own first long lasting relationship of 11 years. Things that were once extremely difficult for me later became easier to handle because I started to do the personal work. And I've seen it applied to even the hard stuff: partner with control issues, partner with extremely jealousy issues, jealous cheating partner, cheating partner getting pregnant, unemployment, mental illness, bad temper, etc., ETC. I know people personally that have experienced each one of these (and worse) in their relationships but have done so with the utmost strength. They did the personal training. They took accountability for their own reactions to these situations and how they felt. They chose to make climbing that mountain a personal triumph, instead of letting it destroy them. They learned to not blame their partner or their relationship for their unhappiness. The choices are; either accept the situation that you can't change but you can prepare for and accept and go on and be happy, or to leave and go on with your life and be happy. The right choice for what to do is personal, although the thing to do is the thing that makes you happy in the long run. The keyword there is self-awareness.
Want more nitty gritty? Well, when you are focused on strengthening your inner self, you will not have to rely on the whims and moods, compliments, attention, or loving or helpful gestures of your partner in order to feel whole and secure. The PRESSURE COOKER you house your partner in will be removed. And when challenges come along, no matter how great they are, you'll be in a better place to handle them with love, charity, strength, confidence and security, instead of pride, selfishness, insecurity, anxiety, anger, doubt and blame. Letting your relationship be a vehicle for reminding you what you need to work on IN YOURSELF will have the most amazing and lasting effects, you just couldn't believe it. AND....one really cool result......as you continue to master your inner self, things will always work out in the best way possible for you, no matter what state your partner is in....no matter if your relationship ends.
And is there joy in climbing a mountain that you are prepared to climb? You bet there is. More joy than you could possibly ever know. I have felt it. I have felt that joy climbing my own mountains in situations that could normally be characterized as the hardest moments of my life (such as the days leading up to my breakup, or the day I was home alone for the first time after I left my partner, or the days I had to tell friends and family that she wasn't coming back, the days I found myself single and having to face dating, the days I wondered if I would ever meet anyone, and loads of other situations that I am not able to share here.) They were the moments when I had to rely on my own strength, my own character, my own preparation...because those mountains weren't budging. Were there tears? Were those days "hard"? Of course. BUT, I felt triumphant. I felt like I knew what I was made of. I felt love. I was sitting on the summit. And yes, I felt joy.
I realize some people get thrown into Mt. Everest long before they ever could have been prepared. And some people are even born on Mt. Everest, right? So to all of you....I don't want anyone to feel weak or inadequate after reading this post. I do encourage you to start your personal training, no matter if you are on the cliff side or on some gentle rolling hills. And if you climbed a mountain already and ended up getting brought out on a stretcher (ha!), well......that's ok, because there are always more mountains coming. That is the beauty of this life. There are allllwaaays more opportunities to train and climb and reach the next summit.
A good friend of mine said it really nicely:
"Life isn't for wimps" and I do believe that you need to be strong to come through it. Even though; you will never come through it alive. -> That’s my morbid sense of humor…
Have any of you faced a trial that became easier, not because the trial changed but because you decided to do the personal work and change the way you handled it?