Choosing to be in a couple is a powerful path to enlightenment. Initially our lover illuminates previously undiscovered parts of ourselves and we feel intensely pleasurable and sustaining feelings. Over time, our lover also brings light to parts of ourselves that don’t feel so good and overwhelm us to the point where we question the relationship. This is a natural phase of an evolving couple. We can learn to attend to these more difficult phases skillfully and successfully.
If you are asking yourself any of the following questions:
Why does she need to do/say this?
Why does he have to be this way?
Why does she always have to….
Why doesn’t he ever do… ?
Why don’t we ever…?
Why do we always…?
Let us first ask these kind of questions:
Why am I so triggered by this?
What is happening inside of me that makes this seem so intense?
What makes it so important that s/he be different?
How is my reaction benefitting the couple?
Who is my reaction benefitting?
What happens to me when I ask myself these questions?
Just like the Venn Diagram above, the issues we are experiencing in couple bring light to what is going on with us as individuals as well. When we are in conflict as a couple, we are also in conflict with parts of ourselves. There are parts of ourselves that will be in conflict when in a couple no matter who our lover is. We can learn skills that help manage ourselves while we are in a couple. These skills will not only make us a stronger team, they will make us better people:
- Create a unified front.
- Develop effective communication skills.
- Identify emotions and mental states before projecting them onto your partner.
- Learn about the unconscious patterns you typically choose to feed when in relationship.
- Learn how your unconscious emotional patterns collude with your partner’s to create painful cycles of unwanted behavior.
- Create a relationship mission statement that you can feed in the moment rather than feeding your unconscious fears around relationship.
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course , the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house." The old woman smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."