A theme in therapeutic work is the way relationships can rupture and repair. Both for couples, and for individuals, this is often a challenging theme. How do we differ, how can we argue, and yet stay in connection? How can we move past a difference and regain our intimacy? How do I be me, and be we, and allow the ebb and flow between and around each?
Socially we have myths about what a good relationship is like. One where we never argue? One where we are as one, views synchronised, never a cross word? Always happy, always harmonic? It would be easy to be seduced into this idea of an idyll and to forget it’s not desirable, even if it were even possible.
We are each unique individuals. We come with our own life experiences and history that shape our perceptions, our values and beliefs, our identity and our purpose. When we enter into relationship we become a partner, we choose to live life alongside another, to share challenges and successes, joys and sorrows. We do not, though, become half of something. We retain our wholeness, our integrity, and also benefit from the wholeness and integrity of the relationship that we are integral to. There will be compromises and accommodations. We will grow a new sense of we, and discover who we are in this relationship. Hopefully, this adds to our sense of ourself and enriches our ways of being, becoming more of who we are knowing we are secure and supported with the love of our partner.
When we have a difference, the relationship is ruptured, if you like, it suffers a tear. This tear then takes time to heal. We must bring the edges together, and find a mutually agreeable way to weave them once more into one. It may take many strands, many weaves, but done well, the site of the tear will be a stronger part of the fabric of life together when it is finished.
It’s understandable to sometimes want to skip over the pain of repair, to quickly feel the relief of togetherness and to imagine we can sweep under the carpet what was broken. Do this again and again though, and the relationship will have many weak spots, many small tears that break down the strength of the fabric of your life together. Relationships take work, and we can make that work joyful and wholesome, knowing that it’s an investment in a fulfilling future, in which each partner can be utterly themselves, and deeply connected.
Take your time when you argue or differ. Sit with it. Explore it. Take care of yourself and each other. Gently, gently repair and strengthen. Invest now, and your intimacy will blossom.