Don’t Expect Your Intimate Relationship to Downplay Your Personal Issues.

The happily ever after story of marriage is a fairy tale, and it’s told often. Even to this day, people believe it.

The truth is, a loving relationship is not a fairy tale. A loving relationship won’t make bad stuff go away. It won’t downplay issues we harbor, or things that trouble or challenge us.

To live happily ever after takes some skill. Awareness. It requires some serious chops…

…because an intimate relationship will, in fact, bring anything on our learning curve front and center. Our issues tag along like little lambs wagging their tails (and tales) behind them.

I’m not saying one should forget about being in an intimate relationship or that it won’t help or delight.

I’m saying that our cultural expectations about partnerships tend to be off track. Unrealistic. Idealistic. Let’s be honest here — our happily ever after expectations are ridiculous, really.

I’m not stating this because I’m calloused, jaded or bitter.

In fact, I’m enthusiastic about intimate relationships, even a cheerleader of sorts. It’s just that we have dreamy ideas about long-term commitment that cause us to miss — entirely — the true and everlasting value of being in a love relationship with another human being.

With that, why not go ahead and have a few sips of that wonderful coffee sitting next to you?

Maybe you’ll saunter toward a donut-muffin-croissant to go with that coffee. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

But do come back. Here’s why.

We’re about to have an eat-your-croissant-length talk about the nature of relationships in a way that — if we humans knew this one thing — it would make such a difference in the quality of relating to one another. Everywhere. Forever.

Would what I’m about to say dash the romantic hopes and dreams of those getting married?

I don’t know. It could.

More likely, though, it would provide a proper container for saying “I do” or being life partners which could hold the reality of the challenges that come with relating to another person day after day, for months and years.

Common Secret Belief

I work mostly with women, and I’m going to tell this one on us. I cannot begin to count how many women I’ve spoken to in the last forty years who (secretly) believe that being in a relationship will take their biggest, naggiest, most daunting pile of trouble away.

That being in a relationship will remove loneliness, for instance.

Or worry. Or fear. Or confusion.

Or that, surely this time, the person they meet will be more agreeable than the last one.

They are certain life will improve with someone else around. They believe they will (suddenly and magically and because of this partner) be a different person, especially, a better person, a finer specimen of human.

They believe they will have more fun.

Any of these things could possibly be “true” to start. This is why we invented the honeymoon.

However, at some point, what has been hibernating begins to stir and make noise. These sleepy issues yawn, stretch and walk out of the cave, one by one, to create events unique to your relationship with another.

Because?

Your relationship with another works the way you (personally) work.

Your relationship with yourself guides every other relationship you have. Your partnerships, connections, and friendships with others are built and maintained the way you treat yourself and take care of yourself.

They would have to be. It’s what you know.

How you view yourself, how you understand yourself, the leeway you give yourself — all of these play out with another. Your ability to love yourself no matter what you do or don’t do paves the way to how you include and love another person when they do or don’t do.

Your relationship moves forward the way you personally move forward. Your relationship grows if you do. Your relationship changes if you do. Your relationship evolves in a satisfying way if that’s how you roll.

From your point of view, this is what an intimate relationship is about — you, you, you. Not in a selfish way or an “it’s all about me, let’s forget about you” kind of way, but rather in a powerful, open and blooming like a spring flower kind of way.

Your relationships with others (even that person you just yelled at for cutting you off in traffic, or the person you dissed in the parking lot for thinking you took their space) — all your relationships are about you and your building materials.

Your intimate relationship is about your belief in yourself, your vision, your practice of loving and honoring who you are and expressing that fully and freely no matter who’s around.

It would have to be.

In Care of Relationships, Terri Crosby

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