Falling in love is great. All the feel good hormones are flowing and there is a state of euphoria that can last for months and for some couples even a little longer than that. However, eventually, you discover their flaws and rediscover yours especially with the help of a complaining spouse. Falling in love takes having hormones; staying in love requires emotional fortitude, deeper vision, patience and a developing ability to let go of the negative to make room for even more love.
Staying in love means that there are times that you will feel uncomfortable and even painful feelings. You will learn things about yourself and your partner that are not pleasant. You can develop the discipline and strength to feel these feelings fully and then act with choice and preference as oppose to acting out or running away (fight or flight). It also takes some emotional muscle to listen to negative feedback or even make room for your partner’s inner world and get out of yours for a little while. Likewise, you need to insist that your partner learns to listen to you as well so that means your partner needs to develop that same emotional strength for you. There needs to be room for each person to express himself or herself. I have seen many single people who fell in love and the couple had great chemistry. The sparks were flying!!! However, at the first expression of emotional distress from one of the partners, and the other would have some sort of childhood temper tantrum and would be unwilling or unable to handle it. That is NOT love my dear reader; that is an adolescent type of- make me feel good at all times- kind of emotional setup; not the kind of emotional climate you need for a lifetime and ever increasing deeper love and self-expression.
When I married my wife, my emotional musculature was pretty weak when it came to hearing anything negative. We would fight and bicker almost every weekend as well as days during the workweek as well. As I developed my ability to listen and to make room for my wife’s self-expression, that was when I became more of a true lover. My wife was not and is not in this world to always make me feel good even though I love when she does. It is my job to handle my feelings as she expressing hers. As David Deida says in his book, “The Way of the Superior Man,” “ Her complaint is the beginning of her pleasure.” As I developed the emotional fortitude to stay emotionally present as she gave me some negative feedback, I discovered that he complaint dissolved into appreciation and warmth as she had a partner who allowed her to express all that she felt in that moment. (And it works the same way from the female to the male).
That is the kind of relationship I hope you can develop; one in which you and your partner can express all that you want to each other and sill maintain emotional contact with each other. That is what I help couples do every day in my office or on Skype.
Patience is also required because we cannot always have what we want immediately. Two people are just that- two different people with different wants, needs, strengths and weaknesses. Accept the interruptions, delays and disappointments that are inevitable when two people are developing a life together. Then find ways to let go and forgive yourself and your partner for those times when pain emerges. You need to feel and experience your pain fully and then practice letting them go; soften those tense muscles, quiet that racing mind, and allow love to reenter.
Developing a deeper vision means that you see beyond the flaws into the innate beauty of yourself and your partner. You develop a relationship with your partner’s soul as well as yours. You appreciate the humanness of your partner and appreciate the growing up process a committed relationship beckons you to experience.
Yes, relationships are difficult at times. The irony is that once you accept that basic truth and stop resisting it, relationships become far easier to navigate. The best news here is that as you develop the emotional fortitude, deeper vision, patience and the ability to let go and forgive, the rewards are huge. My 30 year marriage and well as what I have seen in thousands of couples I have helped proves that growing up and developing the abilities I am discussing here leads to a deeper joy and sense of meaning. Lasting love truly is worth the effort!