An empty, endless journal couldn’t capture all the dreams, fantasies and wishes we have for our relationships. Because when we meet “the one”, we know, deep down, that we are connecting with another soul that really understands us, loves us, and will fulfill us.
And for the most part, this is true. Upon marriage, our partner accepts explicit and implicit vows to nourish our shared love, which includes giving to us in the way we need. To provide for us, to protect us, to hear us in our moments of pain. And, to share laughter, intimacy and celebrate our successes. This is the beauty of our eternal bond.
Along the way, however, we begin to realize that as much as we want to be there for each other, we are, in fact, two separate human beings. Even though we were blinded to our real differences in the beginning, ultimately they exist. And with those differences come our limitations–our inability to show-up for each other in the full way our partner wants and even needs.
For some, this disappointment becomes the turning point in their relationship. Unable to feel satisfied, loved and cared-for, this chasm of frustration widens and the relationship spirals downward endlessly until there is no love or goodwill left. This can happen quickly, or take years of time, but once on this path, the result is inevitable.
Yet for others, while this disappointment is also a turning point, it does so in the other direction. Because for some, realizing that our partner cannot give us something we need becomes a challenge to re-evaluate our perspective on the meaning of life, love and our own personhood.
One of my most powerful interventions is when I challenge my clients by asking “Who would you be if your partner never gave you this ‘thing’ that you so desire? Could you still love them? What would it say about the way they love you?” For many, we have to work through some negative feelings and beliefs before we reach the truth – that in almost every case, it says nothing about their love, your relationship, or even about you. Our limitations are merely a consequence of who we are as people, and our inevitable differences as human beings.
“Things” can never make us happy. Not physical things, and not even emotional things. Because by definition, things are outside of us, and can never really connect with us. Yes, they may temporarily soothe our external, physical constitution–that part of us which inhabits the world as an independent, isolated being. But they will never touch our spiritual essence, that part of us which is at one with every other creation.
On a deeper level, learning to let-go of our relationship disappointments – of these “things” that we crave, be it a certain type of affection, or communication, or support – frees us to connect with our partner on a much deeper plane. Because by nature, “things” separate us–they are outside of us, and stand between us as expectations and litmus tests of our love. When we move past our need for these things, we can connect on a level where our souls unify, in spite of our differences; where we can lean-in hard to gratitude for the way we do show up for each other, and experience a brand-new level of appreciation and commitment to our relationship.
This is the point where our souls unify, and the purpose of our entire marriage.
The irony of this transformation is that in most cases, after the difficult emotional work is done, my clients turn towards me and quizzically exclaim: “I can’t believe I made such a big deal over NOTHING. Once I let it go, I realized how small and inconsequential this need really was. And I’m shocked I almost allowed this simple nothing to destroy my marriage.”
I wear what I have given-up on in my marriage as a badge of honor, courage, growth and commitment. Because the more I let go of these “things” that I’ve defined as “me”, the more I can see and love my partner for the beautiful woman she really is, and connect with her, soul-to-soul.
And in truth, this is the marriage I’ve always really desired. And needed. ❤️