September 5, 2011

How Jerry McGuire Didn’t Complete Me.

Part 3 in a series.

Okay, so we’ve covered the notion that relationship is the weak muscle of the spiritual practitioner, and how our teachers perpetuate that for us.

What if we also had a mistaken overarching context for relationship?

What if that lame-ass movie Jerry McGuire perpetuated our magical thinking about relationship as it did mine when I was 24? (I was that guy who kept looking for the one to complete me, which caused me and the women I dated a lot of unnecessary suffering).

Welp, let’s consider these possibilities by using a common Buddhist framework of view, practice, and result.

My wife and I after we married ourselves in the Utah desert

If our view (context) is that relationships are supposed to always be a safe haven, a place where we are fully met by our partner, or a “feel good” love fest where someone “completes me,” then the practice will be directed at trying to achieve this ideal. This view is a recipe for failure and disappointment.

If, on the other hand, our view is that relationship is an ongoing practice rather than a static destination, then we can create practices that support this more realistic view. Our expectations and results will then be very different. We also start to see “practice” as a place other than the cushion or yoga mat. We see it all around us.

So, let’s assume our view of relationship is outdated and a bit childish. The media and our culture inundates us with nonsense (such as Jerry McGuire) about how relationships are supposed to be. Many of us still think that when we find “the one” all will be well and they will complete us. Or maybe some of us think a “conscious” relationship means that we somehow transcend our issues, triggers, and neurosis?


When we don’t want to do the real work of relationship, we end up settling on these outdated views given to us by our parents, culture, traditions or teachers, thus perpetually avoiding the mountain of trauma, loss, hurt, anger, neglect, abandonment, rejection, that is living inside of us which comes up very naturally in relationship.

This outdated view is keeping us perpetually young and unsatisfied in relationship. It keeps us trapped in the belief that we are supposed to always be happy in relationship or that the “right” relationship or “dharmic” relationship will make us happy.

Just like when we project perfection onto our teachers, we also remain susceptible to projecting “relationship perfection” onto our lovers and friends.

The way out of this magical thinking?

  • *Change our view: Start seeing relationship as a vibrant spiritual path (the next post), ripe with possibilities moment by moment. With this mature view, we see any relationship challenge as an opportunity to grow and heal.
  • * Grow ourselves up by expanding our view of our relationship to include both the light and dark within each of us.
  • * Commit to stop acting compassionate when we are really feeling challenged in relationship. Let’s tell the real truth about ourselves with those we love the most, judgments and all. Let’s be vulnerable, open, and raw about how scared we get in relationship.

When we have the deep courage to be ourselves within a realistic view of relationship and intimacy, we change the game of relationship to welcome and include our triggers and traumas. We stop seeing them as a problem and instead use them as fuel for our own awakening.

When my wife and I finally got married it was clear to us our marriage was not about comfort of convenience. Our vows were inspired under the context of seeing our relationship as a spiritual path. This view, helps us deal with the everyday challenges between us and our children. There’s no longer room for blame. Ironically, having this view is what’s allowing our love and marriage to deepen over time.

Perhaps it’s time to learn this wild, amazing dance of real relationship. If we have the courage to do this, we then model and teach to our children what I believe to be the most important skill on the planet –relationship.

Here’s your bonus video of Jerry sharing how she completes him. Watch at 28 sec. Tom did a great job making this look awesome and very appealing, right?

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