The Journey

long-long-journey-19280606It has been said that life is a journey. So is love. We start out somewhat naively on this journey, and like anything we first try, we probably struggle at first.

What if we hadn’t continued to try when we were learning to walk, talk, use the potty, or read or write? We kept trying, and eventually we learned. We learned to do mundane tasks, like tying shoes. The struggle is how we learn. Though I can’t know for sure, I suspect that learning is the purpose of struggle.

At times, the struggle is painful and seemingly impossible. I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I gave up during a struggle, believing it to be impossible. Even that offers an opportunity to learn.

This is life, and it’s also love. In love, the fruit of all that labor is that we learn to love another. An other. Some other being who has different ideas, perhaps, tempting you to into the struggle. Simply put, learning to love an other — perspective differences and all — is the portal into our own growth. Another growth edge many of us experience is learning to let the love in; in other words, learning to live and love without defensiveness. Too many of us feel so uncomfortable with the vulnerability in intimacy that we would rather live without it. Have you ever heard the quote: “I would rather live in a predictable hell than have a taste of heaven and lose it?

Why is it so easy in the beginning?

The chemistry of romantic love causes temporary blindness to vulnerability as well as potential conflict. The differences create the chemistry. Then a short time later, when the chemistry fades, we begin to struggle. What is the learning opportunity in this?

The lessons are:

      Relationship is journey in which we eventually learn that we live with an other person (who is not us).

That person sees things differently from us, and this fact does not constitute wrongness on either side. No one has an accurate perception of reality.

What we fell in love with is usually what annoys us the most. It may also be a part of us that we only see projected onto our partner. Either way, it’s the code we need for growth and improvement.

We are lovable, and when we are willing to drop the defensive behaviors, we allow our partner to love us again. This can be scary; yet vulnerability is what allows for intimacy. Intimacy is that taste of heaven.

We must learn to love another in spite of our fear of intimacy. Courage is not an absence of fear; it’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Listening to understand (rather than defend, react or reply) creates connection. Feeling understand is powerfully connecting. Listening to understand also creates space in the relationship for more than one perspective. This is good, since there are more than one of you, and both are valid.

Love is more than romance.

Love is listening, understanding, supporting, advocating.

Love is willingness to validate another perspective.

Love is learning that we are not always “right”.

Love is patience when we feel annoyed.

Love is helping each other shine.

Love is indeed a journey in which we make many discoveries, and improve our self in the process.

Along the journey, focus on helping your partner feel loved and cared about. This will create the safety that allows both of you to experience true and lasting love.

Jeannie Ingram specializes in Couples and Marriage Counseling, Imago Relationship Therapy, Individual Therapy, and Coaching. 

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