Intimate relationships teach us about much more than the hearts of the ones we love – they teach us about ourselves.
Our culture often views relationships as some fuzzy thing that makes you feel warm inside. But as all of us know, this happens only part of the time. The other part is full of anxiety, confusion and frustration.
Relationship problems are inevitable; even our soulmates cause issues sometimes. According to John Gottman, couples disagree on unsolvable, never-ending issues 69% of the time.
While many see conflict as a sign of incompatibility, conflicts that most couples experience are signals that the relationship needs some room to grow. Feelings of disconnection between couples can be used to find new horizons of communicating. For example, a sexless marriage can cause partners to take a deep look at their integrity. These soul-searching opportunities can teach partners how to embody their deepest desires and how to truly want one another, experiencing life-changing intimacy.
Relationships can be a foundation of profound growth and vitality. Even Abraham Maslow, famous for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, argued that, without bonds of love and affection with others, we cannot go on to achieve our full potential as human beings. Our relationships can teach us crucial life lessons if we let them. If we don’t let those lessons sink in, then we’re likely to prevent growth from occurring, ultimately leading to unfulfilling relationships.
My own relationships have often caused me to face anxiety, and to stand on the threshold of what I thought was happening and open myself up to see what was actually happening. Intimacy in my own life taught me how to learn what I am doing wrong, how to swallow my defensiveness and take a step into a new realm of loving my partner.
“Every [relationship] demands an effort to keep it on the right track; there is constant tension…between forces that hold you together and those that tear you apart.” – John Gottman