The purpose of the midlife and menopause journey is to birth our Soul – the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment and through which we are called to contribute to the betterment of our world. In the process of birthing our Soul, we are invited to heal and sometime release any inner, as well as outer obstacles to enjoying the life of Soul. Our intimate relationships are not exempt from this invitation. It is not a coincidence that the Dark Night of the Relationship often surfaces during midlife and even becomes the catalyst through which real transformation can begin to take place. For the next few days, we will be exploring the Dark Night of the Relationship, its signs, symptoms and characteristics and where to get help during this critical stage of transition. Click HERE to learn more about Dark Night couples’ mentoring.
The Second Worst Movie Line in History
In yesterday’s blog, I called out the worst movie line in history (“You complete me”) as being the origin of relationship issues. Coming in as a close second is the famous line from the 1970 movie, “Love Story” starring Ryan O’Neil and Ali McGraw (I know, no one under the age of 40 even knows what I’m talking about!), which boldly states, “Love means never having to say I’m sorry.” WRONG!!!!! What I have observed is that authentic love, especially love which is directed at cultivating healthy relationships, is all about learning to say we are sorry….and meaning it! In fact, I contend that the health of our relationships is dependent upon our ability to acknowledge our failures, take responsibility for them, apologize when appropriate, make amends and then learn new behaviors. Every single relationship, without exception, is made up of two imperfect human beings with their own fears, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, unhealed wounds and emotional baggage. As such, it is guaranteed that sometime in the relationship, if not often, we will mess up. We will say or do something that will hurt, disappoint or harm the other, and they will do the same in return. If we move through our relationship believing the “Love Story” lie, and never apologize for the ways in which we have failed, then all we are doing is creating an environment in which resentment will take root, fester and grow.
Resentment – The First Horseman of the Apocalypse
John M. Gottman in his book, Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, calls resentment one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Resentment, especially harbored resentment, is one of the key destroyers of relationship. Resentment is a natural response to our needs not being met or feeling as if we are not free to express how we are really feeling in our relationship. When resentment surfaces, it is our job to acknowledge its presence and inquire within about what need is not being met or what truth is not being spoken. If it is about our significant other (and it usually is), then our job is to speak up. Unfortunately, many of us were taught to ignore the voice of our truth, or to suppress our needs, so instead of opening our mouths, we clam up and resentment begins to take root within us, it festers, it grows, we feed it with ruminating thoughts and eventually it turns into outright hatred. Not a recipe for success in the goal of healthy intimacy!
Love Means Saying We are Sorry
If we have been hurt, disappointed, wounded, by our partner, it is our job to say so and it is their job to take responsibility for their actions and to say they are sorry. And, this goes both ways. If we have hurt our partner, it is our job to take responsibility for our actions, apologize and make amends. Please note, it is also our job to find out why we were hurt. Is it because our partner’s behaviors triggered unhealed wounds from our childhood? Did we misunderstand their words or actions? Did we project our own unrealized self into the situation? Missteps in relationships are usually owned by both parties equally….it is our job to own what is ours, make amends and it is their part to do the same. And that is a whole other topic for discussion. 🙂
A Quick Note on Abuse
Please note: if you are in an abusive relationship and have been “trained” that it is unsafe to name and claim your needs or express your truth, the rules here are a little different. If you believe your emotional, mental or physical health will be in jeopardy for speaking your truth, then PLEASE GET HELP. Seek outside support through the local domestic abuse shelter/services or find a counselor who has experience with abuse. You are not alone. You need not suffer in silence. There are resources to help you understand abuse and be freed from it.
Lauri Lumby collaborates with Ted Balser to provide Dark Night of the Relationship mentoring. Contact Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.