By Hedley Galt
In the past week I’ve become aware of four marriages that are ‘in trouble’. Not because of anyone having an affair, but because one person is questioning the status quo while the other person is desperately wanting to hold onto it. In all of these scenarios, the couples have been together for between ten and fifteen years, have children and are struggling with the decision: Do we stay together or do we split?
I get that this can be a tricky situation. Intimate relationships can be challenging at the best of times, but when one person starts asking the deep questions – Where the hell did the last forty years go? What am I doing with my life? Why aren’t I happy? What’s going to make me happy? – naturally this is going to cause a little friction in the kitchen… to say the least.
In many cases it takes a situation or event to trigger one persons quest to explore the meaning of life, in particular the meaning of their own life. It could be having a significant birthday, the loss of a job or the emergence of a traumatic memory. Or it could simply be a case of someone looking around at their ‘perfect-looking’ life and realising they are not so perfectly happy and wondering ‘why the hell not?’ Whatever the reason, when you embark on exploring your own expression of ‘authenticity’, it will upset everything that’s potentially not. Including, and especially, intimate relationships!
Now, I’m not one for giving advice. Ha ha! That’s not true. I love giving advice. It makes me feel all special and important and smart. I also recognise that there’s nothing more irritating than a know-it-all, especially one who doesn’t really know anything. Like me, in this case. I’ve never been married, and I don’t have any children, so I’m not qualified in this way to offer my two-cents.
But I do understand the complexities of being in intimate relationships, feeling like something’s not quite right and being compelled to dig a little deeper. Here’s a few things I’ve learned along the way:
1. Allow everything to be okay.
The alternative isn’t that great. Resisting anything gives it power. Plus it can really do your head in. May as well to surrender ‘what is’ even if it’s awkward and uncomfortable and inconvenient.
2. Be gentle and compassionate.
With yourself but also with your partner. Chances are your partner is shitting themselves at the potential of losing their ‘safe and secure’ life. Change can be scary for everyone but especially for the person not in favour of it.
3. Stay open and honest.
Again with yourself and with your partner. This can be difficult as fear causes people to shut down and want to do anything but engage in open and honest communication. In which case, refer back to the previous point.
4. Surrender to all possibilities.
Including the possibility of the relationship ending. Even if there are kids involved. I’m a child of divorced parents and other than a few ‘hiccups’ I like to think I’m doing okay. But of course that’s just one possibility. Relationships can weather the storm and be better for it. Surrender to all outcomes while being attached to none. And finally…
5. Trust yourself.
This is the biggie and essential to living a life true to your core. It can also be the most challenging part at which point my suggestion is to continue referring back to point number one. We can choose to see intimate relationships, or all relationships for that matter, as something outside of us that we need to figure out, manipulate and control. Or we can choose to see them as a direct reflection of the parts within us that we are either accepting or rejecting.
I’ve seen my relationships as both, most recently choosing the latter option as the only option. This has led to some miraculous healings within my own experience of intimate relationships which I will share here at a later stage…