I guess most people will be familiar with the heady sensations of the early days of an affair of the heart. That time when our lover becomes our world. We see the object of our desire in everything and everyone, it is as if they fill our senses and we are somehow conjoined.
While gorgeous, this experience can be deeply disturbing. If you’re used to your own company and find yourself in a new relationship it’s a big change. Even if you move from one relationship to another, there is an intensity particular to that early, hormone driven intoxication that unsettles our sense of self, and of what is normal.
“Sometimes to lose balance in love is part of having balance in life.”
When watching Eat, Pray, Love I smiled to hear these words from Ketut, the Balanese sage. They resonated deeply with my experience of working with couples, and not just at the start of their relationships.
Like the first flush of a relationship, these last few months of lockdown have added an intensity to many relationships that was not there before. Increased time together, coming to know each other in different ways, not knowing how to relate in the different context, having lost your old grooves and sense of normal... there are many parallels.
It is not always possible to be deeply in relationship, and to maintain the balance we had in life before this was so. Life is full of change and evolution is continual. Maintaining balance is about having a flexibility and grace to be able to move with life, and to become an expression of it.
Afterall, we are life, life lives us as much as we live it. We each are complete, and unique, just as we are. When we meet someone new, or we find ourself more intensely relating, we inevitably lose some of our self into the newness. We are changed. We lose balance; if we did not no relationship would really get going, or last.
As relationships mature and evolve, balance is re-found in different ways. We learn that we need distance as well as closeness, separation as well as togetherness, otherness as well as oneness. As Kahlil Gibran puts it:
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness. Let the winds of the heavens dance between you”
As we find and allow this space, we can begin to feel the benefit more sustainably of loving both our own self, and the person we are in love with. Love enriches and changes us.
As John ODonohue comments:
“When we love and allow ourselves to be loved, we begin more and more to inhabit the kingdom of the eternal. Fear changes into courage, emptiness becomes plenitude, and distance becomes intimacy”
While we each have our own ways and means of keeping our physical, emotional and spiritual balance, relationship challenges us and causes us to adjust. So long as this adjustment process is open-hearted, equal and voluntary, it can be the stimulus to both new growth and a deep sense of togetherness. We can find balance even as we feel its loss, because balance too is dynamic.
If lockdown has you worrying about the balance or its lack in your relationship, seek help early. Couples counselling tends to work far better when a relationship strain is in its early stages than it does if you wait until things are at crisis point.