All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.~Proverb
Our relationships with the people around us are among the most important aspects in our lives. That’s why we go through such an emotional roller coaster ride when our relationship is in trouble and we crave to have that healthy relationship.
The possibility of losing the one we love and the relationship we’ve invested so much time in can be utterly daunting.
Take me for example. I consider myself to be in a loving, satisfying and healthy relationship with my partner. But from my perspective, it wasn’t always like that.
Even though this story contains life lessons from a broken heart (a painful break up), its lessons are applicable to many other life situations. I highly recommend reading this, even if you are not going through a broken heart.
We are all faced with a series of great opportunities
brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.~Charles R. Swindoll
Nine months ago, as I carted my meager belongings into my parents house–a move that was supposed to be temporary–my world came crashing down. It was an apocalypse I was anything but prepared for.
After envisioning a walk down the aisle, my relationship of six years came to a screeching, and quite unexpected, halt. My heart was broken. I lost several freelance jobs I had come to count on, and my already shaky income became non-existent. Worst of all, I endured a blow to my self esteem that left me curled up on the couch unable to do anything more than sleep and sob.
The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.~Theodore Hesburgh
In the past month I found out that three marriages of close friends are in trouble.
When I heard about the first one, a husband who recently left his marriage, I cried. It seemed worse than death. With death there is love. With separation or divorce, there is often anger, despair and fear.
I found out about the next one, a marriage in trouble for the second time (that I know of), and I felt sad. They had tried to improve a trouble spot, but it seems they fell backwards again. Why aren’t they holding on for dear life? I asked myself.
By the time I heard about the third one, however, I felt resignation. Or at least I didn’t feel as shocked. I suppose when you hear about something repeatedly, it no longer surprises you.
When it comes to relationships, we all want love, security and support—all can be fulfilled by a healthy relationship. Aside from wanting the security that comes with a healthy relationship, we also want to appear to the world that our relationship is in fact a healthy one.
It’s funny that to the outside world, we try to display an image of perfection… with roses, smiles and rainbows.
But in reality, no matter how hard we try to appear perfect and got-our-stuff-together, on some level, we are also flawed humans trying to cover up that we’re not perfect.
I am one of these flawed humans. I think part of the reality of being human is that we make mistakes, we lose our patience, and that we aren’t perfect. This is the basis for all relationships— healthy or otherwise.
It took me a long time not to
judge myself through someone else's eyes.~Sally Field
Recently, my husband and I had several arguments—one after another, each fueled by the prior. This series of bickering pushed me to examine marriage: both the societal conditioning of how relationships should be and a reflection on my own journey in the love department.
I have been married for five years; but up until this past year, I often hesitated sharing my relationship in much depth, beyond the fact that we had celebrated two proms together in high school and experienced a unique journey thus far. Although I knew my husband was my life partner, lover, mentor, confidant—my one and only now and into old age—I was self-conscious about the layers beneath our outer shell.
Lessons in finding love can hurt and they can be a steep learning curve. Sometimes I wish I had more answers, sooner, especially when it came to discovering the source of true love.
In my late teens and early 20’s, I thought I knew love, but was far from it. In a quest to finding love, I would always try too hard to make the relationship work. It was an effort based on social ideals, but nothing to do with myself. I feared I couldn’t live up to someone else’s expectations. My expectations–for both of us– would fall short.
Despite trying hard to find love outside of myself, I realized at some point I had become who I thought he wanted me to be, not who I really was. I made mistakes. In making up for them, I spent so much time trying… trying to please, trying to be happy, trying to make it work… I no longer knew who the real me was.
If someone who was important to you died abruptly, would you say to yourself, “I wish I would have . . .”? If something were to happen to you suddenly, wouldn’t you want those you care about to have known how much you appreciated them?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then expressing your deep gratitude to those who have made a significant impact on your life should not be put off any longer. There are several good reasons to start expressing your appreciation to these people now.
The sooner you tell them how you feel, the longer they will be able have to take pleasure in the message. Why wait until they’re old or dying? If they do die, there’s no chance at all that they will ever fully appreciate your level of gratitude.
You could miss the opportunity of having the pleasure of giving this gift of extraordinary gratitude to someone who has made a real difference in your life.
They’ll probably be inspired to help others; in fact, the ripples may very well be felt far and wide, and all because you made these individuals aware of how important they are to you.
I recently took my own gratitude journey and reached out to 44 people who had made the most significant impact on my life. I wanted to deliver my gratitude while I still had the energy and before it was too late and the opportunity was lost. I didn’t want to wait until any of our lives were compromised by ill health or imminent death. So I figured that I should tell these people how much they mattered to me long—hopefully, very long—before that happened and I was left with regrets.
This article applies also to those not currently in a relationship.
My husband and I had a fight over the weekend – on our date night, of all nights. We rarely fight, so when emotions escalated to shouting, I knew something had to change. I had to change. There was something to be learned here.
The thing about when couples bicker is that both people feel that they are right. Both people feel that their point of view is rightfully justified. So we try to make the other person understand. When we are arguing, what we are essentially trying to do is to show the other person our side – to show them that we are right (and they are wrong).
After all was said and done, underneath the problem on the surface, what we were really fighting for was to feel appreciated and validated. We, each in our own indirect way, were trying to let the other person acknowledge us, and to value what we contribute. But sometimes, we can be so stubborn.
If you dissect all the fights we’ve had in the past with our significant others, and through observing our friends, I think the desire to feel appreciated and recognized is a common theme.
What’s interesting is that in the heat of “battle”, when we are so consumed with wanting the other person to see our side, we become blind to recognizing the other person’s point of view – which is equally valid and understandable. It’s like trying to put out fire with more fire, you will just end up with a bigger fire.
While pain might be inevitable,
the suffering that comes from the pain is not.
Suffering is not a state of life, it is a state of mind.
Suffering is your response to an event.
Whether you suffer or not depends
entirely on your reaction to that situation.~Paramahamsa Nithyananda (Swamiji)
Today, I will get (more) personal.
I’ve debated about whether or not to share this information in a post. It was a quiet battle between keeping my personal life somewhat private, and the intense desire to share the lessons from this important chapter of my life. In sharing, I’ve surrendered to my fear of being judged negatively by you – readers of Think Simple Now.
My husband Jeremy was married once before. During the early stages of our romantic courtship, he was simultaneously battling the lingering ends of an unsettling divorce (things got ugly and someday I hope to share the details of this tale with you – perhaps in a book). Suffice it to say, it felt like it was never going to end.
For about six months, my inner stillness was disturbed and stirred up by the negative feelings revolving around this event. My “pain body” came crawling out in full, front-and-center view, and stayed with me while causing unnecessary suffering.
Even when his divorce was finally over, I didn’t feel much better. The feelings of resentment and hate (however subtly in my subconscious) for his ex-wife remained for another three months after the fact – until two weeks ago to be exact.
This article isn’t about forgiveness or complaining about my own self-inflicted pains, but it is about personal freedom. The kind of freedom from the massive mountain of stories we’ve piled onto ourselves that result in suffering.
Are you experiencing anything that is causing you worry, heartache, resentment or stress? If so, continue to read and allow me to share the story of my new found freedom… and how I got there.
While “How to Get Over a Breakup” was the number one requested article topic I’ve written on, it’s not surprising that a close second is the topic of How to Find True Love. Here’s an email from one reader:
“I’ve realized that one of my main goals is to find a worthwhile and long term relationship. I noticed you have entries on how to keep a relationship and on how to end a relationship so would you consider writing an entry on what you perceive to be the best way to find a worthwhile relationship. How to avoid making the same mistakes, overcoming fears, keeping up motivation after failure etc.”
– Gary (Dublin, Ireland)
Regardless of our culture, our level of education or economic status, at the depth of all of us are the same desires- to love, to be loved, and to be happy.
Of course we could add other desires to this list, like money and wealth and fancy things, but when you drill into these things, the reason for wanting them is so that we can appear more desirable, and will hopefully be loved and accepted.
If love is something so fundamentally important to us, then why is it that we have so many issues and misunderstandings in the area of finding it? I think the answer is simple, that most of us have never been educated in this fundamental area of our development. Chances are, you didn’t grow up with parents who were relationship experts, and we certainly didn’t study relationships in our high school curriculums. For most of us, it’s been an adventure in trial and error and learning through pain and heart-break. But is there an easier way?
In light of Valentine’s Day approaching this week, I am going to touch on one of my favorite topics of all time: finding love.