Are you with someone (dating someone or looking for someone) that makes you feel happy or someone that challenges you to be a better person, while loving you for who you are?
One of the most meaningful relationships I had was definitely not the easiest. But it was one of the most rewarding because I was fully accepted; and yet, it still encouraged me to face myself and grow to be a better person.
Your partner isn’t your happy manager. They can’t meet all your needs and they can’t ensure your happiness…. blaming them for your lack of happiness only forces you into the belief system where you look outside your relationship for happiness.
I am a counsellor, so I obviously fight for happy marriages and I am always hopeful about helping couples stay together. As divorce and separation are becoming more and more common, it is becoming clearer and clearer to me through talking to people that the very beliefs that individuals have and that are largely shaped by societies values, are sadly, usually the same ones that end marriages. I want to challenge those reading this, we need to reshape societies values, instead of letting society hand us values that don’t serve us. We need to mature our views of love. Here are 3 common beliefs someone might hold and how this sets them up for a difficult relationship:
1. The “ONE”. I do believe there is someone out there for you. I don’t know if there is just one or multiple, but fixating on the “one” leads to fear of “what if I marry the wrong person?” or “what if I made a mistake and didn’t find my right “one””. This leads to over-analyzing your relationship and when you face challenges the likelihood of believing you’re with the wrong person increases, leading you to abandon the relationship and any efforts to fix your current relationship. I truly believe that any two people in the world can choose each other and have an amazing relationship if they treat each other with love (notice how I didn’t say if they love each other – read belief 3) and respect and put each other first.
2. “Compatibility”. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “we are just not compatible”, you know how painful this one can be. Compatibility is a nice way of saying “I don’t choose you.” It doesn’t matter who you marry, you are going to marry someone with flaws and vulnerabilities, and that can be so beautiful. They won’t be perfect. Sorry! When you choose someone, knowing they are a flawed, human-being, but you adore them no matter what, compatibility is understandably senseless. Something even more beautiful emerges in a relationship where two individuals can let go of the need to find similarities or be perfect. You get to be you, and I get to be me. It’s an amazing feeling, when you experience it for the first time you don’t ever want to let that person go. I choose who I am compatible with, but when we tell someone “we are just not compatible”, it’s extremely painful because it’s like saying “the powers at be” made us not compatible. It removes power of choice and thus the power of love. The problem with the idea of compatibility is that it goes against “true love” which is a choice and it diminishes the idea of “unconditional love” which is also a choice. The best choice you will ever make on your wedding day, is the person beside you, and it’s a choice, not a compatibility test. If you believe in compatibility and marry someone you believe you’re “compatible” with, as soon as you have significant conflict in your relationship you will see it as a sign that you’re not “compatible” and suddenly we are back to belief #1. I married the wrong person. Shit.
3. “All we need is love”. But what happens when the love runs out? Time after time I hear from people sitting in my office, “I don’t love them anymore” or “they’ve changed”. If love is a feeling, it’s going to run out. Feelings change and are impacted and influenced by what’s going on around us. You aren’t going to always feel “in love”, and that’s when you really get to see love. Love chooses to love always, even in the middle of a fight, or a rough patch in the relationship, even when the person changes (people change, love has to grow with us). When we think that the person we marry “will stay the same”, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Especially if we married them on the basis of compatibility. Suddenly, this person has changed and is no longer compatible with me. What do I do now? I must have married the wrong person! Abandon ship!