Over the last few years I have coached many couples in their relationship problems and during my training I have observed the dynamics of many hundreds of relationships. These experiences have lead me to wonder if I can identify the one big issue that prevents two people from sharing their life in a way that brings them happiness and peace. At first sight this endeavour seems impossible – couples can present themselves with a vast range of problems, all of which seem unrelated, but on closer inspection patterns do emerge. So here is my take on why we struggle so much with our relationships…
The most obvious problem that couples have is that they have stopped feeling love for each other. Almost all the couples I coach speak of the wonderful time when they fell in love – an experience that brought them intense happiness and a myriad of other positive emotions. But as the relationship develops these feelings fade and are replaced by irritation, disappointment, frustration and sometimes downright dislike for their partner. In every single case of a broken or damaged relationship each partner is assuming that the problem lies with the other person. The relationship then spirals into power struggle or stagnates in the dead zone (see my website for more explanations of these stages of the relationship).
Although we all know that it takes ‘two to tango’ in a relationship, most of us do not act as if we believe this. We may pretend that we take responsibility for our own actions but we secretly blame our partners. Be really honest and think of any relationship difficulty that you have had in the past. Can you see that you held your partner more responsible for the problems than yourself? If you can you will also realise that you have the power to create a much better relationship - it's all about choice.
This principle is called accountability and if you can embrace it you will have the chance to dramatically improve your relationship. The trouble is that this isn’t always easy. Becoming truly accountable is something many of us shy away from because it means we have to look at the reasons why we want to blame our partners. This can always be traced back to guilt, and feelings of inadequacy or failure for letting somebody down in the past – and none of us like to unearth those feelings so we project them onto our partners.
During our childhood, there is much scope for us to feel that we have failed significant people in our life (usually our parents) or that we have picked up their pain, and it is always useful to work on these issues which rob us of self-esteem, but there is another, much more profound reason we stop being accountable. We have turned away from who we really are.
When we delve into the deeper parts of the human psyche and let go of the guilt and fear, we find that our natural state is one of love and connection to everybody and everything. This is our true state of consciousness and yet life’s challenges cause us to turn away from this. We hide our gift for love and connection and then have to create a whole new person that is highly defended of its emotions (so we don’t feel the loss of love and the spiritual homesickness) and separated in its relationships. We then try to form a close relationship with another human being!
Every single issue that I come across in my work can be traced back to this turning away from our spiritual reality - from an inadvertent denial that love and connection is our natural state of being. All the rows, arguments, withdrawal, affairs and hurt are a reaction to the belief that we do not have enough love and therefore have to look to our partners to love us. The solution then, at the deepest level of consciousness, to all relationship problems is to know that we have an infinite gift of love and are called to use that to help our partners. Don’t forget that you were in state of loving consciousness when you fell in love and had the relationship honeymoon, so there is nothing stopping you rediscovering that state today. The moment that you stop expecting your partner to give you love and behave better and realise that you are called to help, then both hearts will open in your relationship and the healing will take place. Why not give this a go – it’s time to remember who you are and step into the position of leader in your relationship…
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