Continual Renewal in Marriage Conversation
“Auto pilot relating” means you no longer believe that change and growth is an important part of intimacy. You may believe that your partner can’t or will not change. You may believe that you’re ‘too old to change’ or that your partner is too old.
Recently at a business forum when introducing the attendees, the leader asked each of us to talk a moment about our favorite holiday and why it was so. I said ‘well, I have 9 children so I suppose it should be Labor Day. But really it was Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day reminds me of my commitment to work on my own loving.
I once thought that my love problems were my wife’s fault. I was good at diagnosing and analyzing and in doing so I created distance that could then be used as ‘evidence’ that our love wasn’t working. Several years back I realized my thinking was truly dysfunctional and I started working on my own loving. It’s a big project and I’m a long way from what I believe my capacity for loving can be, but I’ve started and I use Valentine’s Day to remind me that it’s 100% my work to do.
To keep your bearings in any relationship you’ll need to stop focusing on what’s wrong with others and, instead, look within. Not ‘what was done to me’ but ‘how do I bring my love to the one I say I love.’ Focusing on your own loving should not be confused with being someone’s victim or with being passive.
Focusing on your own loving is simply becoming transparent to yourself, letting yourself admit your own blind spots, cul de sacs, and fears. When I move towards my partner in non judgmental openness, risking loving her without the protections of my dissecting her; when I admit to myself that I’m still not very fluid or fearless in my loving intentions – then my partner becomes (magically it seems to me) more open and loving with me.
Relationships need continual renewal and that takes competence, willingness and a deep recognition of your own capacity to love.