If love never fails, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, then why does it? Why do men or women simply give up and walk away rather than choosing to work on themselves and their partnership? To say “I love you,” signifies that this other being holds value for you. That this person is significant to you.
However, just as a person says they are a Christian (or a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, etc…) does not mean that they hold this value as sacrosanct. Someone said to me that many people hold the word “integrity” as a shield in front of them. I know this to be true because the person who said that was holding a shield in front of them about many things. The concept of being fraudulent and not having integrity is a foreign thought to me. Being mindful about what I say and do is something I hold very dear. However, I see couples in life and in my practice who fall apart because they are stubborn, egotistical, fighting to be right, or they are just not meant to be.
I am reading a book right now by Polly Young-Eisendrath, Ph.D. which is called “Love Between Equals: A Relationship as a Spiritual Path.” She is a Buddhist and a Jungian Analyst. I bought the book as I realized this was something missing for me in life and what I wanted to teach in my practice. I thought I knew what this meant and then realized more recently that I obviously did not. I had fallen off the path toward relationship, when I had become trapped by someone’s blindness to another person’s lies. Though, if I am trapped than I was blind as well. Relationships are a difficult path to go down but they become more complicated when two people are not willing to work on themselves psychologically and spiritually. It is not enough to say “I am a Christian,” or whatever spiritual path you follow. The relationship must be a part of this belief, whether they believe the same or not – the two of you must create a spiritual journey together. It is not enough to say I have been in therapy. You both must be able to communicate your psychological concerns or challenges with one another. And feel safe that the other person will witness this aspect of you without making fun of you or taking advantage.
Communication about the deeper parts of the human self as they occur and not just those cute shallow “we have a lot in common,” shared interests but the values you hold dear together and what they mean to you. A relationship is not just about the physical, this is simply icing on the cake. Making love to your partner is a gift that you bring to them when they have brought you emotional pleasure outside of the room. It is difficult to think sex when they have been unsupportive of your efforts in career or say a critical comment such as “you are incapable of love.” Couples are turned on by each other, not just due to chemistry but from the very essence of their being that each gives to the other day in and day out. Words of appreciation, quality time with one another, gifts that are special and meaningful, acts of service and physical touch (Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman). Relationships are not about YOU but about US.
At the same time, when a person is criticizing, defending themselves as being right, using contemptuous language or stonewalling their partner (Dr. Gottman), they are projecting their identification onto the other. They have walked into the relationship with an expectation of what they have idealized onto the other and expect that this person will hold their end of the bargain forever. Not necessarily grow into another person or become the self that we did not see when we met them but continue to remain the fantasy we hold true of them.
When we are hit with disillusionment – the illusion of our honeymoon stage is over, this is the part where we need to become mindful of the other person and talk even more. This is the reality of the relationship that is unfolding right now. If your partner and you have a very passionate relationship sexually, the reality is going to hit you in a deep way. If you are passionate in bed, you are passionate out of bed as well. Give each other the space to unfold into who they are. Don’t push them away, examine this new reality because if you do, you have something very real between you. Allow this, don’t push them away.
The poem above will occur when two people are not mature enough to walk down the journey together; through thick and thin. When they don’t allow the other to talk, when they don’t ask questions, when they just give up and decide “this must be true.” Nothing is over if you don’t want it to be. Apologies are never too late, as it gives closure to the other – in the very least. If you really love someone you have to work hard to prove this. You (and your partner) also have to be committed to work on yourself psychologically and spiritually in order to have true love.
The bottom line is this. Do you want to be angry the rest of your life and bitter about past relationships? No, then search deep within yourself to find out what lessons YOU need to learn and then re-think what a future partnership might look like. What will you need to do to make things work and what do you need to look for in another person? When you find them, speak your truth out loud. The below passage will happen if you witness these words in each other and hold these words as a sacred bond between you, which you both uphold as sacrosanct.