From group participant Jeff: “I wanted to share this with you it is a question Jeff Brown is asking…
Whenever I fell in love in 7 seconds, I was sure I was seeing the soul. And then the stuff came- the defences, habits, patterns. And then it was like, wait a minute, how do we get back to the soul? Where did the real person go? Why can’t we just live in this bliss forever? And then it was like, wait a minute-whose the real person, the one we meet in the triggers, or the one we fall in love with? When is love REAL?”
First, I will share a piece of my own love story…I had been ‘in love’ before…possibly at times even thought that I had found my ‘true love‘. At those times in my lives, I was not emotionally healthy and did not know what an emotionally healthy relationship looked and/or felt like….so, I found that, after around the second year in those relationships, the love, passion and even my respect for the person began to fade…
In retrospect, I was able to reflect on the relationship and the person and realize that what I fell in love with was simply an illusion…a reflection of what I wanted to see, rather than the truth. In my first marriage, my illusion was busted open the first time my ‘lover’… my ‘true love’ beat the living daylights out of me…uh, yeah, not the prince charming I thought he was. What a wake up call that was!
In some relationships…the illusion is closer to reality. Maybe the person meets many of your needs, but not quite all, or maybe they are a fantastic person, but the sex leaves you feeling less than satisfied…possibly you are a perfect fit for each other, but there are some external blocks that you just can’t seem to overcome. These relationships are really common.
So, how do we navigate all of this and how do we decide if the love we feel is real? Simple…you know you could be healthy if you had to live without the other person, but you would prefer be together. Feeling like you can’t live without one another is actually not a healthy state of mind…desiring to be with your lover because they enhance your life and you enhance theirs it’s what it’s all about.
You are able to communicate openly with each other and work through challenges..I don’t mean that you won’t ever fight…in fact, some of the deepest lovers have intense fights. For my lover and I, we tend to have one heated fight at least once every few years….but the difference between our fights and the fights of less compatible couples is that we work things through and become stronger after the fight…rather than walk away feeling frustrated and less connected.
When Mountain and I first met…the cards and odds were stacked against us. Things were complex and we each had our own substantial amount of emotional baggage. So, we were really quite systematic in our approach to deciding whether or not we had what it took to be life long lovers… part of the reason we took our realtionship ossibility so seriously is because he already had two kids, I had two babes and a step-daughter from my first marriage…After reflecting and talking into the wee hours of the morn, we decided that we:
2. Loved each other deeply
3. Had similar life goals
4. Had similar parenting styles
5. Both desired a monogamous, long-term relationship
6. Were able to communicate openly with each other even about the dark stuff
7. Both were fully committed to working through the challenges we knew we’d face…and knew we would face them together
8. Both enjoy a certain amount of alone time, but also deeply enjoy a partnership approach to life
9. Had enough similar interests to be able to entertain one another, but we also had some major differences, which we felt would keep it interesting
10. Although we both knew we ‘could’ live without the other, life seemed a lot more beautiful when we were together and we were both willing to continue to work on our relationship…
I realise this is not the stuff in fairytales…but it is real. Together, we have survived the challenges of mixed families, being from different countries, crazy extended family dynamics, the death of my first husband, who was also the bio-father of 2 of our kids, job loss, huge life challenges, near death experiences, the fear associated with the possibility of a life threatening disease, surgery, financial stress, 5 miscarriages, lack of life planning and a list of additional challenges that would blow most people’s minds. We not only survived these challenges, we faced them together and only occassionally let the stress come between us for brief peridos of time before we reunited our efforts…
The biggest mistake I see couples make is letting their idealistic view of what a relationship looks like fool them into thinking he is not Mr Right or she is not Ms. Right…that they are just not ‘right for each other’. Also, finding that, over time, if they haven’t done the work and continued to communicate effectively…they are more like strangers living under the same roof. Relationships TAKE WORK, PEOPLE!
The bottom line: As long as love is in the cards and you have addressed at least some of the above-mentioned relationship questions…LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH!
I would love to have this turn into an on-going conversation because I think many of you in this group are struggling with related questions and challenges.