Posted in Beloved Partnership, happily ever after, Relationships

Dark Night of the Relationship

The Dark Night of a Relationship is an important stage in any long-standing, committed relationship.  This is a stage that no one tells us about, neither would we believe it could happen to us as we stand doe-eyed awaiting the celebratory nuptials.  The Dark Night of the Relationship is real, it is necessary and when committed and aware, some relationships will survive it. Some will not have the knowledge, patience, trust or stamina to survive.  And some will find after the stage of the Dark Night that the relationship should not continue and termination or divorce is a necessary and supportive option.  The following is my current best understanding of this necessary stage in a committed relationship.

1)  We meet someone and fall in love.  We see the other party and the relationship through the eyes of idealization.  One or both parties are still carrying around with them the unhealed wounds of their past and are probably looking for the other party to be their source of fulfillment and satisfaction, ie:  “you complete me.”

 

2)  One or both parties begin to feel restless and the blinders of the early stage of the relationship begin to fall away.  We begin to see each others’ wounds, strange behaviors, etc.  We enter into a stage of disillusionment, frustration maybe even anger.

couplefightingpixabay

3)  If we are open, we might realize that part of the source of frustration is our own unhealed wounds and we might begin to do the work of healing our old wounds and work toward the realization of our own deeper truth.  If we are lucky, our partner has a similar realization and begins to do their own work as well.   This is the stage in which one or both parties does the work of shedding the ego and the false self (the person they brought into the marriage) so that their true self can emerge.  The old self has to die so that the new self can be born.

4) At some stage in the process (whether or not both parties are working toward their own healing), the realization is made that the marriage or relationship is not what it used to be.  Both, or one party has now changed and the relationship has to change as well.  This is the dark night of the marriage.  The marriage that was (or the illusion of the marriage) has to die so that a new marriage can emerge.  The marriage based on the ego-filled self cannot survive the newly born self-realized individuals.  This stage, like any other death, is a time of grief, sorrow, bargaining, denial and rage.    NOTE:  This is an especially difficult stage if only one of the parties in the relationship are doing their work of self-actualization, especially when it is revealed that for the self-actualizing party, divorce is a life-giving and supportive choice.  Divorce in this stage is often met by resistance, surprise and anger on the part of the un-realized individual.

5) Now….here is the delicate part of this process.  If the couple steps into this stage of the process with open communication, patience, courage and faith, and enter into it with no attachment to outcome….the new life of the relationship may emerge.  Unfortunately, most people bail before even trying to take this step.  Now, the trickiest part to this stage is to accept the possibility that continuing in a committed relationship may no longer be in the highest good of the individual parties.  After the dark night of the marriage, after honest renegotiation of who we are as individuals and who we want to be as a couple, we might realize that staying in a committed relationship is no longer mutually supportive and life-giving.  At this point, the couple ends their commitment and move on as individuals from a place of loving acceptance and compassionate support of each other as they go along their individual journeys.  In this place, divorce can be a beautiful ritual of supportive release.

6) Some marriages, after completing the process of the dark night, may discover that it is in the highest good of both parties to remain as a committed couple and enter into the process of allowing a new marriage to emerge.  The old marriage has died and the couple allows themselves to be open to a new marriage.  In this stage, an attitude of openness and detachment are necessary.  We are not creating this new marriage on our own, but allowing the universe to present to us the kind of marriage that will be mutually supportive and life-giving.  We allow ourselves to be free of ego in allowing this new relationship to emerge.

 

If you are looking for support through the Dark Night of a Relationship, or looking to build a happier and healthier relationship after a breakup or divorce, check out my new book, Happily Ever After – the Transformational Journey from “you complete me” to Beloved Partnership, available in print and Kindle versions at Amazon.com.  (Click on image below to learn more).

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Posted in Boundaries, codependency, Midlife Journey, Relationships

Dark Night of the Relationship – Undoing Co-Dependency

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 sometimes 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. In today’s blog, we explore the co-dependency that needs to be unraveled and undone.

dark night of the relationship

Damn, You Don’t Complete Me!

As I have mentioned before, many relationships entered into in our youth are established upon the illusion that the other person will complete us.  We look to the other to fill the emptiness and longing we feel inside.  Eventually, we realize that the other person is not completing us as disappointment and resentment rush in.   Now we have entered the dark night of the relationship.  We then begin to harbor blame, resentment and hatred against the other person for not being the fantasy we created in our mind.  It is this resentment that will eventually destroy our relationships unless we do something about it.

The Only Person Who Can Complete You is YOU!

Doing something about the resentment, many discover all the ways in which they have been socialized to seek outside of themselves for love and completion, along with all the ways in which they believe that love is something that has to be earned or that can be denied them.  What often arises out of these false perceptions is co-dependency.   If you are the one who has given away your power, hoping in return for completion and love, the invitation is to take your power back.  This means identifying all the ways in which you have remained silent, ignored or suppressed your needs or your truth, stayed in the background, forsaken your needs and tended to the needs of others at the expense of your own needs.

Welcome Perimenopause and Menopause

For women, compounding, hastening and perhaps even catalyzing this invitation to tend to ones own needs is the advent of menopause.  When women become aware (consciously or unconsciously) that their time for childbearing has come to an end, they begin to see their lives through a dramatically different lens.  During the vulnerable years of childbearing, and while the children are still tender, vulnerable little beings, a veil stands between a woman’s sight and truth.  All of the woman’s energy and attention is directed at the survival of the children.  Once the children become viable, and the woman knows she is done bearing children, the veil collapses.  Every personal need, creative drive, personal desire, wish, hope and dream that was placed on the shelf for the sake of the needs of the children and family come tumbling down.  And now, the woman’s inner drive is directed toward the rediscovery of her own truth, her own needs and the discovery of the vocation which will provide her fulfillment in the second half of her life.  Wife/Mom suddenly becomes a different person and the husband/children are left to wonder, “What the heck just happened?”  This is often when the threads of co-dependency begin to unravel and the rules of the household begin to change.  (please note that men have their own version of this midlife transition – as I understand it, it is a departure from the role of provider to the role of enjoyer…sadly our culture and our current expectations of gender roles does not do a good job of supporting this transition either!)

Undoing Co-Dependency

Whether it is the man or the woman who has been the partner bargaining their own needs for the illusion of completion and love, the process is the same.  Co-dependent behaviors are identified, and we begin the process of changing how we act and respond in our relationships.  We begin by identifying our own truth, our own needs, our own dreams, hopes and desires.  Then we begin to exercise these truths.  We name and claim our needs to those around us.  We set boundaries around our need for “ME” time.  We learn to say no to those things not supportive of our needs and we begin to make time for those things that are life-giving for us.  We stop rushing to the side of those around us every time they seem to be in distress, and we empower them to learn how to tend to their own needs.  We stop doing for others what they are capable of doing for themselves.

A Rude Awakening

For those who have been trained by our co-dependency to expect us to take care of them or to forsake our own needs for theirs, this is a time of RUDE AWAKENING!  We have trained our loved ones well, and now we are changing the rules.  The first response is often bewilderment which then turns into rebellion and often outright war!  “What do you mean you’re not going to make my breakfast?”  “But you’ve always picked out my clothes for me.”  “What good are art classes at your age?”  “You want to go back to school….for what!?”  “Why would you want time for yourself…don’t you love us?”  For those who have been trained to forsake their own needs for the needs of those they love, this can be a difficult transition as the demons of guilt whisper, and sometimes scream in our ears, “You are abandoning your family….they need you….this is your job…..”  In response to this, I will share with you a mantra that was once given to me by a great teacher:

The most loving thing you can do for those you love is to do what is most loving for yourself.

Every time you claim your own need, every time you set boundaries around your own time, every time you stop doing something for someone that they are capable of doing for themselves, you are teaching them how NOT to be co-dependent.  You are modeling for them healthy, interdependent behavior. And you are empowering them to be GROWN UPS!

Lauri Lumby mentors individuals and couples in their journey of birthing their Soul, which includes navigating the difficult transition of the dark night of the relationship.  To set up your own one-on-one session, call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.