I was listening to a friend talk about her childhood. She grew up in a city, surrounded by streets and buildings. She talked about how in the middle of a certain street there was a break in the concrete and a tree grew up through the ground.
This tree was so unique that if you drove that street, you would have to drive around the tree. That tree lived and thrived, even though everything was aimed against it. And that tree was full and amazing and it had to squeeze itself through cracks in the street.
All we really want from the one we love is to know that we matter, and we are special to our partner. It is a very specific feeling that we must receive from the person we love. Because we love them so much, we must feel they love us just as much. And we feel it so fiercely when we don’t get it.
And when that happens we end up feeling as if our mates just don’t care enough. I saw this recently in a client. She was hoping to see her beloved for a special day but the partner had other things to do. On any other day, this might have been OK, but not on this day.
I met a new couple recently. They wanted to see if I could help them “fix” their relationship. They had been estranged for a while, but were hoping they could work through their issues for the kids.
I listened to each of them and I was struck with the hardness they both felt for each other. Each had been holding on to what was done to them in the years they had tried to make their relationship work. She felt betrayed. He felt attacked. Both were sad and disappointed.
All of us like things the way we like them. This is a part of being human, where we have preferences. We like what we like and we don’t like what we don’t like. I notice this because I get really cranky when my comfort is compromised.
And I bet I am a lot like you. And I also know that I have to soften around my edges to make room for my person, my husband, the one I am walking the earth with. And this is hard. I especially notice this when I am sleeping. I am what is known as a “light” sleeper. I wake up easily when there is noise.
All of us have times in our lives when we don’t feel good about ourselves. Every human sometimes wonders if they are loved, or enough, or good enough. This is pretty common for most of us. And when we hold these low ideas about ourselves most of us get a pretty terrible feeling inside us, and we might even think we are alone in the world. And that feels awful.
But what if you could think of your partner, your mate, the one you love as standing strong for you when you have these low feelings? What would it be like for you to actually go to them and say, “I could really use a hug from you right now?”
We all have habits in our life. You know, those are the things we do almost automatically. Like our routine when we get up in the morning, or when we sit down to enjoy a meal, or when we get ready for work. These are our habits, the way we do something. It’s the way we organize the daily activities of life.
We all pretty much know how to do them for ourselves. Yet even when we are in a relationship, we are still individuals as we continue to engage in our own routines and habits. But what if we were to do some things with the intention of doing them for the person we love.
Humans are funny beings. We are extremely well equipped to tell instantly when something doesn’t feel right. We know immediately when we don’t like something. And we are experts at understanding what we need to stop when something bothers us so we can feel better.
We use these skills almost automatically, especially when we are in a relationship. We are the first ones to tell our partner, the one person we love the most, exactly what we don’t like about what they do or didn’t do.
It would be helpful if all of us in relationships knew exactly what love is supposed to feel like. If we knew, then we would know if we were in love or if we weren’t. We wouldn’t wonder about it. As a couples specialist I work with a lot of people in relationships who are often not sure about the love they feel.
Some people will be very angry at their mate and tell me all the things the partner does to make them pull their hair out. Then I ask the same person, “Do you think about ending the relationship?” Then they scold me as if I haven’t been listening and then they tell me, “I can’t leave, I love him.”