I was working with a couple recently and had a chance to reflect on how often I see a similar situation like the one they are going through. I am talking about couples who seem on the brink of ending their relationship and miraculously finding their way back to each other.
It’s so remarkable how some couples can rebound after something really terrible and yet I see this happen again and again and again. In these cases, I believe these individuals want to be with their mates more than they want to leave them.
We all want to feel connected to the person we love. So, why is it so hard, when we get our feelings hurt, to feel connected? Why does it feel as if we are miles away from that space and as though there’s no way of getting back to it?
Getting hurt by the one we love happens in all relationships. Look back at your family when you grew up. Did you ever get your feelings hurt by someone? Maybe this happened because you fought with a sibling. It might have happened because you disagreed with a parent.
Sometimes in our lives we feel exactly as we should. You know, that feeling from deep down inside us, when we feel alive, happy, and as if everything is right with the world. This feeling may only last for a moment, but when it occurs we can’t forget it.
You may also notice this aliveness when you meet someone that you connect with. It’s as if the other person feels you the way you feel you, and you both feel each other, and then—blammo, something great happens!
“What makes a good relationship?” Sounds like a trick question, doesn’t it? It’s like being asked what is beautiful, or what is happy. It’s one of those questions that might be answered differently depending on who you ask. There might be many answers to the question.
Every one of us who is in a relationship can look to elements in our connection with our person and say, “I like that part.” We might think of our mate and know that when they do that certain thing they do, we really like it. All of us have some things in our union with our mate that we cherish.
Everyone who is in a relationship has thought about leaving it. I don’t care how happy you are in this moment, there has to be some time, maybe in your past, maybe recently, where you felt so upset and you couldn’t figure out how to change the circumstances and you thought that leaving the relationship is the only way out. All of us feel this. This is human.
So if everyone in a relationship thinks about leaving when they get upset, why do some couples seem to figure out how to make their relationships last? These couples have worked on staying. This is the art of being in a relationship, and maybe the art of being a mate. It’s developing the skill of believing the relationship will get better.
If we are in a relationship and we ask ourselves, “Am I good to my mate?” I believe most of us would answer “yes.” I believe that we all think we are kind and caring and we do things for the person we love. I think we would all say “yes” with confidence.
But when I ask myself this question too, I know inside of me there is a part that could be better. I know there are times when I am not communicative and I just don’t say anything. During those times I could tell my husband that I love him. Or what about those times when we get our feelings hurt and we don’t even like the person we are with at that moment? Sometimes I live there too.
I had some relatives visit recently, among them a 5-year-old boy who loves “Frosted Mini-Wheats.” For those of you that don’t know, this is shredded wheat with sugar pasted on one side. When I was a little girl I used to live on sweet cereal. So when the relatives left and the box of cereal remained, I claimed it as my own.
For a couple of days I had this lovely cereal for breakfast, feeling like a child again. But on the third day when I went to grab the milk I knew there wasn’t enough for my husband’s coffee the next morning. There was a little left, but not enough for the two cups he drinks daily…
When people tell me how they are being kind to themselves they often give me a list of the things they do to pamper themselves; go to the gym, the spa, go shopping etc. I hear this often when I inquire of a person’s kindness.
I think we think of things outside ourselves like an activity or things we do to our bodies to stay in shape, or eating our favorite foods as real treats for us as humans. And I am glad people do this for themselves.
In our relationships, the little things can mean a lot to us.
This morning as I was making my tea and waiting for it to brew, I thought “I have 3 minutes. I could empty the dishwasher.” So instead of taking the teapot into the other room and relaxing into my chair to begin my day, I started to put the dishes away. I believed I could finish it in that amount of time.
As I was bringing the glasses over to their cabinet I thought of how much my husband does for me. He was the one who loaded the dishwasher and started it. He was the one who cooked an amazing dinner the night before and because I was very tired he offered to do the dishes, (normally my job) for me.
I was recently at a going away party for a dear friend who is moving away. It was a lively affair with food and wine and upbeat conversation. But the highlight of the evening was a gathering in a large comfortable room where we read or spoke our feelings about the person who is leaving. Our readings or poems were then put in a binder for the departed one to keep, a sort of “Memory Book”.
I knew this person because we have both been in a group that meets once a week. She and I have seen each other in this group for the last 15 years. Yes, I feel I know her. She has touched my life in several ways and I am grateful to have experienced this closeness…