Our intimate relationships teach us more than about the hearts of the ones we love. They teach us about ourselves. There is no greater people growing machine than that of love.
Our culture often views love as some fuzzy thing that gets passed around and 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.
Having problems in our relationships 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 growth to occur.
The feeling of disconnection from your partner can be used to find new horizons of communicating. Your sexless marriage can cause you to take a deep look at your integrity. It can teach you how to embody your deepest desires and how to truly want your partner and experience life-changing intimacy.
Your relationship 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 have profound life lessons if we let them. If you don’t let those lessons sink in, then you are likely to prevent growth from occurring, which ultimately will leave you stuck in an unfulfilling relationship.
My own relationships has caused me to face anxiety. To stand in the threshold of what I thought was happening and open myself up to see what was actually happening. My intimate relationship taught me how to let my partner tell me what I am doing wrong as I swallowed my defensiveness and took a step into a new realm of loving my partner.
Love has taught me eight powerful lessons. 8 Ways Intimate Relationships Teach Us
1. Happiness in our relationships does not come by finding the right partner, it requires you to become the right partner as well. This requires massive personal growth.
Your relationship gives you an opportunity to learn how to control your anger, your reactions, and your defensiveness, so you can find new ways of being affection, giving, and respectful of your partner’s differences. It causes you to let someone depend on you. To behave in trustworthy ways that prove your commitment and reliability in the relationship. To face the vulnerability of giving your heart to one person fully, without a secret life and without escape routes.
Being the right partner is not an easy journey. But the emotional depth and growth you will experience will bring fulfillment beyond what you ever imagined.
2. Facts matter less than feelings.
In an relationship, there are two roads of communicating. There is a fact and a feeling. As a guy, I have habitually clinged to the facts of what was going on in my relationship. But our feelings are not some fact we can fact check; they are emotions. When communicating with our partners the one thing you don’t want to miss is the feeling. Because the feeling is what really matters.
If your partner is angry, realize there tends to be a feeling of hurt underneath that anger. Ask your partner why they are feeling hurt. That’s how you diffuse anger. Once you can show your partner that you understand why they feel the way they do, even if you disagree, the quicker both of you can connect and find a solution.
3. There will always be a reason to reject anyone.
Every single person is imperfect and every single person will cause you to want to push them away. To dump them. To leave them.
“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
The trick to making love last is to discover – and to continue to discover – reasons for staying together.
4. Withdrawal is death.
A dysfunctional relationship pattern that emerged from 40 years of research in John Gottman’s love lab was withdrawal. When we turn away from our partners, the affection, shared humor, and joy goes out the window.