Many of us seek love from another person. That kind of explains why we couple. We look for the right kind of mate so we can feel good about ourselves. This is very human. But the more I learn about myself and other people, the more I understand that when we are fully ourselves, and only ourselves, that is when we can feel love.
Let me explain. When we find our partners we feel complete in some way, as if we have been missing something and after finding them we now feel whole. But if we always need to feel this feeling with our person, when we don’t feel it, we might start to feel less than—like we lost something important.
It’s not often that we get a chance to observe a successful couple in action. And when we do see one, we might not even notice it. I had the chance to be in the presence of such a couple and this is what I witnessed.
I was at a conference led by two people who have been a couple for many years. What struck me is that they clearly love each other. It was so soft and tender in certain moments, I was really amazed by it.
I started to think about what we all want in our relationships. We want to feel safe, and happy, and taken care of. I think that’s about it. But often we go about trying to get these things by telling our partner what is wrong.
It’s funny to think of not being good at “living” life. All of us, as humans, pride ourselves at being effective. Every one of us does things to the best of our ability. And yet, many relationships are not satisfying to the people in them. And many people wonder why being in a relationship is so hard.
Well, there are good reasons for relationship challenges. For starters, where did you learn how to be in a relationship? Maybe you saw some movies or watched other people. Maybe you saw examples of what not to do and vowed to do something different. Or perhaps you had examples that you thought were good but they are not proving to work in your current relationship.
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.
All of us have a young part that never grows up. In psychological terms it is called the “id”. It’s the part of our experience being human that remains a seven year old and always wants ice cream. You know that authentic joyful part that screams for happiness without hesitation.
We all have it, but many of us have put this organic, beautiful, spontaneous part away so we can be the adult that we must be for our life. Now, this is important too. We can’t be a kid all the time and I am sure many of us know people who are still children even at older ages.
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.
I had this idea recently and it came to me while walking my dog. She is an old girl, a small white little one. I was noticing as we were just wandering down the sidewalk that we were in sync. Both of us were stride by stride.
And that’s when it hit me, we have cultivated this ease at walking together by doing the same thing over and over again. And in that moment when I was noticing it, it felt like the best thing in the world. Just the two of us, just us.
Then I flashed to other habits that I enjoy in my life, and I immediately thought of the time I spend in the morning with my husband, just sitting in our den, reading the newspaper, drinking tea or coffee and just being.
I know this couple. They are friends of mine. I have known them for many years. A while back the husband came down with a severe condition. It required a lot of rest and a procedure.
He is healthy now. He is fine. And he felt something about his wife that helped him be happy again too.
“How much love is enough?” I was thinking about love recently and this question popped into my mind as I pondered. I wondered about this, because I see so much hunger for love every time I meet a new couple in counseling.
A couple will come in and they will tell me their issues of what is usually wrong with their partner. They often have very great details of how much their mate has hurt them. I will listen to these stories and I am always left with the same feeling. They are all hungry for more love from the other.
All of us at some time in our lives have received something good from someone who really knows us. Look back on your experiences in your life, especially the ones that formed you into who you are now. See if you can find those special people who you felt understood you. These are the ones who really know us.
All humans want to be accepted for who they are. But most of us have many experiences where people did not fully accept us, in fact many of us were formed by people who had strong opinions that clashed with ours. If you got in trouble a lot, this happened to you.