Many of us try to get rid of some thoughts and focus on others—perhaps more positive ones. And if you have tried this then you know how very hard this can be. All of us have wished our minds would just let go of some of the things it thinks about.
But how many of us are truly successful at it? We can’t do it by force. But lately I have noticed something quite remarkable. Here is how it happened. My husband has been cutting carbs to reduce weight. He has become very devoted to this new way of eating.
I have seen him withhold foods before, but there is something different about this time. He is very focused and dedicated. So when my workout trainer who also knows my husband said to me, “Your husband is really talking more.” The following memory arrived.
How do we learn to be in a relationship? This is a question people have been grappling with for centuries. Some people come to earth just knowing what is the right way to treat another human. Some of us are taught, and then there are others who just struggle.
I used to struggle in my relationship with my husband-to-be. In the early days (20 years ago, before I was a therapist) I was pretty unhappy. And he was unhappy too. We didn’t know what to do to get better, so we went to a counselor.
Most of us in a relationship often focus on what we are not getting. We might remember the early days with our partner when everything felt so perfect, but now things are not the same.
This is very common with couples. All of us stay intoxicated with our new mate in the beginning. And as time moves on we start to feel that all-over love feeling slipping away. Then we might even question if we are with the right person.
When sorrow hits us it often feels like a ton of bricks raining down upon us. The bricks wipe out everything we thought we knew and not only that, but the ground also shifts, and we can’t find where to put our feet. Our earth, that solid foundation we have stood on forever has vanished in an instant.
When grief rips us apart we have nowhere to turn. There is no safe passage back to where we once lived. There is nothing before us, behind us, to the side of us, underneath us, there is nothing left. We are alone with our deep pain and nothing, absolutely nothing we can think of can change that. We are living with a hell inside us that will not budge.
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.