do young people in love ever stop and ask each other the really important things about marriage? Do any of them ever ask whether you like to sleep with with window open or closed?*
With Conscious Speed Dating on the up, and dating apps more popular than ever, the trend is on for people being clear about what they want, before they even have a partner in mind. One friend said to me “I’m done with first meetings. I’m asking potentials to apply and then they have to get past my detailed questionnaire.”
Unromantic as it is to put one’s desires in bullet points, when I think about my windows open/closed wants in a relationship…they are all about the SHIT.
Honestly, it’s not that I want shit, it’s just that the good stuff doesn’t tend to need stipulating. That stuff just works. I don’t want to specify. Let it be a lovely surprise! But what I’ve learned is that living in small van (as I do) and relationships share a similarity: in both cases, the key to happiness lies in what gets done about the shit.
I’ve got my shit, and you’ve got yours. Point 1: Accept that.
When we get together the shit will hit the relationship.
I’m not looking to the impossible task of getting over all my shit so that I can have a shit-free-relationship. I’m not looking for the non-existent person who has no shit themselves.
Having shit is called being alive.
When we get together the shit will hit the relationship. Point 1: Accept that.
Ok we love each other. I’m going to take that as a given otherwise I doubt we’d want a relationship. We probably have a lot in common and like doing stuff together. Great. Sorted.
Now for Point 2.
In my ultimate relationship, we both have the desire and ability to:
- Look at our own shit when it comes up
- Look at each other’s shit when it comes up
- Love ourselves and each other in that.
This is harder that it sounds, right? It’s ok. We don’t have to get it right all the time. The point is for this to be the number one aim. It’s what we’re striving for. When one or other of us gets off track, or gets lost, we know that between us we want to find our way back to that.
Essentially, it’s this: “I want our relationship to be a place we can heal and grow,” because that’s what looking at the shit is. Like I said, we’re not always going to get it right, but we’ll get better and better at it if that’s our common goal. Another way of putting it is “since we love each other, AND ourselves, we’re putting our healing paths at the centre.”
One of the most important realisations I’ve ever had is this: we’ve all got trauma and we tend to repeat patterns. BUT this isn’t because we want to punish ourselves, it’s because we want to heal. We’re trying to do it again until we get it right, until we properly look at the shit, and heal it.
We can’t just do this by ourselves, or in theory. We have to do it in practice, with people.
So yes, the draw to repeat patterns is strong, but that’s only because the drive to heal is strong. It’s the drive to be free after all. It’s life calling us to be more alive. What could be stronger?
The key is, not just accepting this as a downside of falling in love, but cherishing it as the most precious gift in having relationships. Let it not be something we’re dragged kicking and screaming into in an oh-god-the-shit-has-hit-the-relationship way, but something we’re consciously inviting in. Let’s say to each other “I’m so grateful that I have this wonderful love with you which is so joyful that I feel safe to go through the pain of healing.”
When I look at any close relationship now, romantic or otherwise, I ask myself two questions.
- Which parts of my loved one’s healing journey are most present now and how can I best support them in that?
- Which areas of my own trauma are coming forward to be healed as a result of this person loving me and how do I bring all of my awareness to those?
When the shit hits the relationship, rather than saying “this means it isn’t working,” I’d prefer to say “this means it IS working. Our love must be strong or the shit wouldn’t have hit.”
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