In that moment, I had felt something I had never felt before.
Love? Yes. But it was so much more than that.
It was the first time I thought to myself, “I want to be married.”
Such a thought had never occurred to me before, and, I had never expected it to surface from my heart.
This is Life Transitions. Welcome to day five.
The world of relationships is not a race.
Many people feel a sense of pride or shame about the number of “conquests” they have or haven’t had. Others feel proud to have:
- Stayed single their whole life
- Stayed in one relationship their whole life
- Kept jumping from one relationship to another their whole life.
So, it’s important to understand that how we feel about relationships is how we feel about them. Our beliefs are our own, and they’re unlikely to be unanimously supported by our friends, family, peers, or otherwise.
Transitions in relationships can be traumatic, and we often underplay how significant they are for the sake of outward appearances.
American Psychological Association says 40 to 50% of marriages end in divorce. So, the sad cliché of “you’ve got about a 50/50 chance of making it” holds some water.
All relationships are for a season or a reason, and while it can be hard to accept the impermanence of some relationships, it is healthy to do so, just as it’s healthy to accept that change is the only constant we can rely on in life.
Peering into the Mirror of Relationships
You attract what you are. At first glance, this sounds like a woo-woo, Law of Attraction, “things will happen because you want them to happen” statement. But it isn’t.
As applied to relationships, we are always peering into a mirror. Seeing ourselves reflected in the ones we love as well as the ones we hate (which are often one and the same).
If there’s something we dislike in another, it’s because we dislike that quality (or “fault”) in ourselves.
If there’s something we like in another, it’s because we also possess that quality (though it can easily go unrecognized).
We live in a world of contrast, and while it may seem backwards, the people who do best in relationships tend to be those who love themselves fully. Those who first loved being single before committing to more.
Those who didn’t love being single, and were always in search of the next relationship, often ended up addicted to their partner because they were trying to fill a void, they felt couldn’t fill themselves.
The truth is this type of “void” is easily healed through meditation and the acknowledgement of past pain. It may take days, weeks, or even months. But considering how long one has held such torment (usually from childhood), it’s a drop in the bucket.
When people say, “there’s a lesson in every relationship”, this is true. But this statement is often said with a sense of resentment, when it should be said with a sense of wonderment (isn’t it amazing that we get to experience so many things in this curious world of ours?).
The deeper you dig into spiritual and religious texts, the more you discover that mirrors are a running theme. Because what we see on the outside always reflects what’s going on inside.
How to Handle Relational Transitions
We all approach relationships differently.
I identify with Phoebe Buffay from Friends. A quirky, spiritual lady who likes to play guitar. None of her relationships lasted longer than three months.
I’m a quirky, spiritual guy who loves to play guitar. And most of my relationships haven’t lasted more than three months.
The reason I bring that up, is so you understand I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about relationships. But I do know what has worked for me, and in my deep dives (hundreds of books, countless articles, podcasts, and videos) as well as my experiences, I’ve come across wisdom from the ages.
Here are some tips on how to handle relational transitions:
- Give yourself permission. Feel how you feel. Don’t try to change it. Don’t try to fix it. Acknowledge it. Love it. Sit with it. Cry it out if you need to. Give yourself permission to mourn fully — otherwise, you will store the pain somewhere in your body, and it will come up again at the least opportune moment. You will carry it into future relationships, where it may not have any business being.
- Express yourself. Journal. Draw. Paint. Write a song. Express yourself creatively. Allow things to come through you. Although this is not a time to force creativity out of yourself, some of the most beautiful works of the ages were borne out of heartache.
- Accept. As I shared earlier in the series, one transition can easily lead into another. Breaking up, for example, might mean moving. And two major changes one after another can feel like total chaos. Accept yourself. Accept that it may take time to heal. But as much as possible, be present with yourself. Your pain will not last forever.
Relationships, Final Thoughts
When a relationship falls apart, the temptation will always be to run to other addictions — shopping, eating, drinking, partying, social media, and so on.
Don’t judge yourself for turning to any of these vices. At the same time, if you can, recognize the inner child that’s screaming out at you, begging for your attention.
Sit with it. Be with it. Acknowledge it. Love it. You don’t need to change, fix, or survive any of it. Things only surface to be released. Whenever you feel heartache, you are staring down an opportunity to surrender what arises.
What are your thoughts on relationships? How have you handled relational transitions?
I look forward to sharing more about life transitions, and if you have any questions that need answering, don’t hesitate to let me know.
Leave a comment below.
Originally published at https://davidandrewwiebe.com on November 8, 2020.