If we no longer feel any love for our partner, if we fight continuously, or we live together in mutual silence, why shouldn’t we call it quits? If we are convinced that we are with the “wrong” person (different values, different goals, different parenting styles, different everything) why bother trying to work it out? Although research supports the economical, emotional and physical health aspects of being in a committed partnership and the adverse consequences of divorce on the partners as well as their children, research becomes meaningless when we are suffering. Embedded in a “quick fix” culture, our minds want an immediate alleviation from what we perceive as causing us pain. We become convinced that our partners cause us great distress and unhappiness. Divorce, we therefore reason, will free us from our pain and provide us with the motivation to take care of ourselves and be more available to our children. When the mind works this way, why would someone want to take the hard road, the road less travelled, to face relational conflict in order to get to the other side?
Joseph Campbell once wrote that what humans are seeking, “is an experience of being alive…so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” Many of our actions and dreams are geared towards arriving at a day when we will feel such glorious fulfillment. Some put the emphasis on outside resources to fill the emptiness that is gnawing deep inside. Some sustain themselves in “busy-ness” to drown out the silence within. Others may indulge in alcohol, drugs, or affairs to try to capture and sustain the peak moments of oneness they can temporarily (and falsely) bring. But the majority of us look towards relationship to fulfill a strong, personal goal of making us feel complete. We live and ache for love. And when we first fall in love, the deep yearning is momentarily satisfied.
But before long, the love chemicals that pumped throughout our body wanes. Soon enough, conflict appears. And sooner still, we find ourselves wondering what happened to the effortless experience of romance? Welcome to the second stage of relationships: the Power Struggle. But we reframe the Power Struggle as the opportunity to ask, “What is going on here?” not so we can question who we fell in love with but so we can understand why we fell in love. It is our fundamental belief that falling in love is nature’s design for us to heal and grow. Romance bonds us. Conflict awakens us. If we don’t seek to understand the why, it will only resurface somewhere else as a client once described:
“If we are willing to wade into the fire, it’s our best opportunity to heal. But we need to stay with or explore the reactivity. If we run from it, or we medicate it against it, it just keeps being stuck back down. It’s like those styrene balls. You’ve got all these balls under the water, and pretty soon you’re going to get tired and one is going to pop up and the other is going to pop up. The more I suppress them, the bigger they get so they really become a crisis.”
The road less travelled—the road to a conscious relationship—is, to us, the only way thru the Power Struggle. Otherwise, every aspect of our life becomes distorted and crippled under the weight of our own demons. Once we can love maturely and perfectly with our partner, we can tap into the pure and perfect love of the universe. Why choose relationship? Because love is our salvation. If you travel the difficult road beyond romantic love, thru the Power Struggle, and into a conscious relationship, you and your partner will experience “the rapture of being alive.”
To find out more on the path to a conscious relationship, read our book Getting the Love You Want; take a Couples Workshop by us or a Certified Workshop Presenter or see a Certified Imago Therapist.