I used to think that my divorce was a sign of my own personal failure. But now, like many other divorced people, I know it to be one of my biggest strengths.
I used to think that it meant that I wasn’t good at relationships. But now I know that the decks were stacked against me. The units of measurement that I built everything on top of were entirely wrong.
I can now see know where the gaps were. And I know that at the end it wasn’t just my imagination. I was empty. I gave and gave and gave until I ran out things to give.
Distance and time have given me the gift of realizing this was my fault-but not in the way my then-partner had implied.
It took me years to admit that I was a full participant in my own demise. I’d long ago handed over the keys to my castle. I was the perfect co-dependent, running through hoop after hoop after hoop, never quite pleasing my partner in the ways that I used to.
Now I see that I actively chose to give myself away until I was nothing. I was terrified of losing the relationship but the more I worked at saving it, the worse it all became.
With years of perspective, I can now see where that went wrong.
And how I had no chance of saving it really! Because back then my attention was firmly placed on the wrong variable.
It was only recently that I came across the most radical piece of relationship advice I’ve ever heard.
Don’t work on your relationship.
I’m absolutely convinced that tiny bit of love-wisdom might have salvaged my personal emotional disaster. And although it’s much too late for me, perhaps it’s not too late for you.
The inherent problem in trying to fix your relationship is that it kills everything that made you work as a couple in the first place.
We’re initially attracted to each other for all kinds of reasons. At the beginning, being around each other just feels amazing!
But over time, the rose-colored glasses fade away. We start to see the cracks and flaws. The buzz wears off and we start to wonder where it went.
So, quite naturally, we start to think that these cracks and flaws are the reason that we’re not quite as happy as we used to be.
Then we go into action mode. We bargain with our partner. Change X, do Y? And they try to accommodate our strange requests, with varying degrees of success.
But those requests rarely do anything to fix the problem.
In fact, the more our partner tries to match up with what we now think they should be, the less remains of the person who we fell in love with.
The more you work on the relationship, the deeper the hole gets. And the more you try to change in strange and unnatural ways, the further you get away from your truth.
No one wants to be in a relationship where you need to wear a mask all the time. And asking our partners to change in order to make us happy requires them to put on a mask, over and over and over again.
Until the final day comes that we stop feeling that special connection that we once had. We’re exhausted from the effort of never being genuinely ourselves anymore.
At this point, the relationship is no longer between two willing partners. It’s between one partner and a mask at best, two masks at worst.
Of course, if you want someone to stick around in your life, you can’t just do anything you want to! You must always learn how to love your partner in the way they want to be loved. There must always be give and take.
But there must also be balance. You can never forget who you are and you must still actively pursue your own happiness, not put it on your partner’s to-do list.
Because of course, your happiness was never stemmed from your partner. It was always yours and in fact, it’s actually what attracted your partner to you in the first place!
So if you forget how to hold onto that happiness yourself, then your relationship is destined to fall apart because the attraction point will be gone.
Our happiness is always of our own making. So if there’s a problem in your relationship, the very first thing to concentrate on is your own source of joy. Don’t bother trying to “fix the relationship” and certainly don’t waste your time convincing your partner to become someone else.
Because a funny thing happens when you’re already happy. Moods are contagious. Feelings are infectious! (Thanks to our mirror neurons!)
So when you’re happy, your partner will literally start to feel happy too. And when that happens, all those so-called problems won’t seem so big and scary. When you’re already feeling happy, you’ll also have the feeling that you can conquer the world no matter what–together.Browse Front PageShare Your Idea