Your Relationship is your Greatest Asset
“Goodnight” Christian said.
I didn’t want to say goodnight. I didn’t want to say good morning, I didn’t want to say anything.
This was the night after our last argument. (I wrote about it a few months ago.)
I didn’t want to reconcile, I didn’t want to keep talking about it, I just wanted it all to go away.
I had just been editing some of Christian’s writings and remembered this:
Forgiveness is distinct from reconciliation; you don’t necessarily need to be back in relationship to forgive. With your love-partner, however, you need to reconcile. It’s part of the deal. Otherwise you can’t go on living together comfortably. Without reconciling, you’re in a stand-off, a cold war; the relationship virtually ends: sure, I forgive you, I just don’t want to talk to you anymore.
Part of the deal? Really?? (It is so annoying to be married sometimes.)
I also had a proverb going round and round in my head. I had been at a meeting at a service club during the week and we had to write a piece of advice in a card for one of the members that was getting married. About one third of the members had written:
“Don’t go to sleep while you’re still angry with each other.”
Far out! All these “shoulds” screaming in my ears. I hate “shoulds” and spend most of my life getting rid of them.
To stops the “shoulds” I started thinking about what we were arguing about and tried to make sense of it. Christian had said some things that hurt me and I said some more hurtful things that surprised even me. They seemed to come from left of the Nullarbor (a huge, flat, arid desert in South Australia).
Why would a person who loves you want to hurt you? In most cases, they don’t. They don’t mean to. But something inside them “makes” them do it: conflicting emotions, strong desires, unmet needs, unfulfilled ambition, greed, selfishness, jealousy or some other inner conflict. Something. Rarely is someone just mean.
Sometimes, you, their love-partner, become collateral damage in a desperate struggle happening deep inside their head. Your relationship mirrors what’s going on for them:
People who criticize are usually very self-critical
Hard task-masters are usually very hard on themselves
People who lie often, often lie to themselves
People who say they hate you, often hate themselves
People who push you away, often feel unworthy of love
People may hurt you to hurt themselves: self-sabotage
People who are insecure will test you to see if you are loyal
People who manipulate are usually deeply insecure
OK, so something was going on inside me and I was working it out on Christian. This needed much more thought. But right now I needed to do something to reconcile. Even though I didn’t really want to, I wanted to at the same time. (Humans are so complex and contradictory.)
“Goodnight” he said again … I begrudgingly gave him my hand.
There’s something powerful about touch. In the soft pressure of his hand I realised that Christian was my greatest ally … against myself and my own sometimes terrifying thoughts. As I was his greatest ally against his own terrifying thoughts.
“I’m sorry and … I … forgive you for what you said.” (sort of.)
It was a bit strained, a bit forced, a bit artificial, but there was a huge part of me that wanted to reconcile. (After I said it I felt my temperature go back to normal.)
“Me too” he replied.
At least we were talking again.
Love. It will keep getting up and trying again. It will work hard to forgive when hurt (even if it doesn’t want to). And it will wake up in the morning with fresh eyes and a heart that knows that its greatest ally is the person walking beside you.
We only hurt the ones we love the most.
Welcome to our blog. Each blog contains an insight into your relationship and how to mend or grow it drawn from Christian's 18 years of clinical experience working in psychiatry. They are told as stories. The central ideas are in bold. All the pictures are originals. We post once a month. Looking forward to travelling with you in this amazing journey called life.