Living Authentically in Relationships
Posted to Facebook yesterday, April 6, 2022:
In every argument there is a “topic,” and then there is what the argument is actually about. They are almost never the same thing.
I work with bright, successful people. And yet many keep having arguments that we usually learn to resolve as children.
Share. Be kind. Be helpful. Be polite. Be respectful. Compromise. If you don’t have anything nice to say… Don’t spew your feelings onto other people.
I’m not being critical, I’m trying to point out that many arguments are fairly easily resolved, so why don’t couples resolve them? Because they are not the point. They are simply stand-ins for, mere symbols of, what is really going on.
Power struggles. Fear. Insecurity. A need to be loved, but being afraid to say it plainly. Being so out of touch with our own emotions that we can’t even name our own realities, much less understand the realities of others. Egos wounded decades ago, the fragments and fusillade spilling out on our partner who wasn’t even there and had nothing to do with it. Projection, ascribing to our partner bad motives or intentions that are actually ours. A million other things.
A person recently said to me, “I just realized my problem has not mainly been that I feel unloved by my partner. My problem is allowing myself to admit how much I need her love, seeing myself as someone who actually needs this intimate connection to another person. My problem is I am terrified.”
This is a person in a position to, at last, know what’s really going on, because—for the first time—he’s looking in the right direction.
“Turns out after all these years it’s not her, it’s me.”
A statement like that doesn’t just casually fall out of a person’s mouth. They said it in 30 seconds, but it took them decades to see it, to know it, to understand it.
So often we are not living authentically with our partners, even with ourselves. We are noble tragedies, risking all in our bids for love and connection, but paralyzed by our fears and the depth of our need; terrified of finding and facing truth in ourselves so that we can finally stop acting as if the problem is whatever topic we happen to be clashing over in the moment.
What is the answer to this? It so happens the answer is love.
Which, of course, is also our greatest problem.