Coming to a relationship whole happens over time.
It takes a variety of experiences to define wholeness. It isn’t a one shot deal. It is an evolution that happens through relating.
I have dated all types from blue collar red-necks to eccentric artists. I have had my fair share of short-term wild-ride relationships. And I have been told more than my fair share to, “Love myself.” No matter the relationship, even the one with myself, I continually find myself wanting more.
When I was with the red-neck I thought, “I wish he could be more sensitive.” When I dated the artist I thought, “I wish he was more organized and responsible.” When I spend long streaks of being alone and without sex, I think, “I wish I were ridiculously rich so I wouldn’t have to worry about daily bull-shit.”
There is always more to want, have, be or do. I subscribe to the notion that convenience breeds apathy and there are no short-cuts in life. And I want a fucking short-cut because it seems like life has been one long string of recovering from something: The loss of my parents, the loss of love, the loss of money, the loss of youth, the loss of a dream and so on. Loss leaves a giant gaping hole that begs to be filled.
The Grand Canyon is beautiful just as it is and it is a bitch to get across. The same can be said when people enter a relationship with giant gaping holes in their life. The want for the chasm to be filled can makes it very difficult to get anything across to a partner.
Further, if the wish remains for a partner to fill the gaps then each individual’s personhood gets reduced to how functional they are at meeting each other’s needs. Further, there is often an obsessive preoccupation with getting one’s way to the detriment of the relationship as a whole.
I had a conversation with a woman the other day who dutifully took on the responsibility of monitoring the finances in the relationship because her husband was the creative type and so caringly said to her at one point in their relationship, “Why do I need to know how to do that stuff? You handle it so well.” Gag.
To be whole inside of a relationship means not dumping your shit on your partner. Delegation of tasks is a popular strategy that is long withstanding. It feels great when I have created a pile of dishes and then they magically get done because my partner took the time to do them. And those dishes are my mess to clean up.
It is amazing to be taken out to dinner and not have to pay for a thing and that is my bill to pay. The fantasy of being taken care of lingers long after we leave the nest and it each person’s responsibility to build and tend to their own nest. This is wholeness.
So often relationship is epitomized as the place where responsibilities are eviscerated and all dreams magically come true. This sentiment fosters neglectful, arrogant, codependent and stupid behavior. Coming to a relationship whole means never giving-up components of single life.
A single person has to do the work to provide a roof over their head, food to eat, income, friendships, hobbies, health-care including exercise, sexual satisfaction or the approximation thereof and spiritual ritual. Being single means knowing your schedule and prioritizing your time according to what is most important. Wholeness means being able to respond to life, participate and manage the highs and lows.
The healthiest relationships emulate secure attachment which is described as the ability to go out and explore the world and then come back to your caregiver and get your basic needs met. A healthy relationship acts as a support for exploration of desires and eradication of dysfunctional behaviors. Relationship is a classroom with advanced lesson plans.
Some people try to cheat their way past the hard stuff and the hard stuff is becoming and remaining a whole person. Being whole means never forgetting that the choices made were made by you. Certainly choices are influenced by external reality and informed by an internal hierarchy of needs. A whole person understands this and makes the best choices possible given the circumstances at the time.
A whole relationship is one infused with passion, perpetual communication, gratitude and stability. The worth of a person cannot be measured in utility alone or monetary success. It is true that money has the ability to cover many ailments and makes for a better life and it does not always guarantee wholeness. Further, there are those locked in corporate jobs who make money hand over fist and are as vapid as a black hole.
Wholeness is defined individually. It is a personal achievement and the sensation that one’s soul is in alignment with a greater good. Entering into companionship from this place magnifies each person’s passions, purpose and overall joy.
Again, wholeness is not a one-shot deal. So, come to a relationship as you are. Stay open to the person you are becoming. Be with that and you will be soulfully whole.
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Editor: Travis May
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