There’s a common misconception that quality relationships should just come naturally and happily ever after springs into existence for couples who are just meant to be. Anything other than this utopian experience, any requiring effort is then construed as being malformed in some way.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
“As soon as we want to feel, decide to feel, feeling is no long feeling but an imitation of feeling, a show of feeling. This is commonly called hysteria…”
– Milan Kundera
No person is without flaw, without quirks and foibles, without deep seeded personal demons they have yet to extricate. Sure, more than a few of us would fool ourselves into believing we’ve reached some state of internal bliss and are more than happy to flaunt such notions as a front to others. There’s some notion that once we’re of a certain age we’ve stopped growing and there’s no more to learn or no more work to do. That is is who we are and everyone else should just accept us in the glory that we’ve become. It’s a big, happy lie we tell ourselves just because…
Bringing this immaturity and fear into our relationships then taints them. And, when this tainted reality clashes with the utopian dictum it gets ugly quickly.
People only learn the lessons they choose to learn, none more and none less. If it worked any other way, then the whole world would be on a much easier path to perfection (and we’d all probably get rather bored rather quickly). Learning the lessons of how to maintain a successful relationship are not easy. And this goes for every incarnation of a relationship, not just the romantic ones. Beings friends isn’t easy. Being a sibling, a cousin, a parent or other family member isn’t easy. Being a coworker, a boss, a subordinate or other business stakeholder isn’t easy. Being a real estate property owner, a pet owner, a vehicle owner and so on isn’t easy. Being a good citizen, a good human being isn’t easy.
Being a shitty one on the other hand, that’s a piece of cake.
A big part of the modern human condition is deflecting responsibility. It’s always someone else’s fault when bad things happens. Sure, sometimes it is. A child who is molested, a woman who is raped, an old man who is mugged is indeed a victim and should be (although unfortunately more times than not, not!) treated as a victim. But generally speaking the victim mentality is all too pervasive in too many other aspects of our lives, both diluting the times someone is truly a victim and creating a false sense of entitlement to bend others actions to suite our own perceived needs.
When we do have to put forth the effort and energy ourselves, acknowledge our shortcomings and issues suddenly this state of reflection throws us into hysteria. It drives us mad coming to the realization we might be contributing to the problem at hand and may have to take some responsibility toward resolving it. Humans are much better at criticism of others than they are at self-realization.
As far as I believe I’ve come in my own journey I know I have a long way to go. How do I know this? I don’t anticipate dying tomorrow! So long as I am alive this will be my mission, my goal: to be a better me.
One cannot love their mate, love their family, love their friends, or their job or their pets until they first learn to love themselves. And this must transcend the egocentric love, the narcissistic love, the self-indulgent love that’s all too easy to embrace. It’s about owning your blemishes not just struggling to cover them up. Showing one’s true self should not have to lead to histrionics and hysterical outbreaks ripping at the foundations of one’s self to be successful. Unfortunately, for all too many that’s exactly where things eventually end up after all else fails.
If we all went into relationships expecting to have to work at the relationship because we understand we are constantly working on ourselves then perhaps things would be different. We would be more in tune with what our needs and expectations really were, what our abilities and limitations really are and what we truly could accept from other people. We would be going in with a sense of realism rather than the manufactured, Disney Princess version of what being in a relationship really is.
I see this more and more the closer my own nuptials come. We’re more focused on laying the foundation to our marriage, addressing what we’ve discovered as our own issues within the context first of dating, then of living together and through engagement. We don’t believe that somehow once there’s “a ring on it” that all of the problems will mysteriously go away. On the contrary, we fully expect as the stakes in the relationship increase the types of issues and the depth of the responses will also increase.
The cliche to the effect of “nothing worth doing right is ever easy” didn’t become a cliche for no reason after all. The necessity to getting it right means putting in the time, effort and energy for this to happen. It means compromise, it might mean sacrifice in some contexts, it might be the long lost realization that what’s best for “us” might not always equal what would normally be best for “me” and allowing the me-centric need to be slothed away as dead skin falls from a healthy body.
No greater disservice to the self occurs than when a healthy emotional, psychological state is not reached. And, as such no greater disservice occurs than when an unhealthy emotional state is at the foundation of any relationship. It is what causes familial black sheeps, it is what causes divorces, it is what causes job losses and dead end careers. It is what causes the most pain a person will ever endure when they finally allow themselves to be confronted by their inherent lack of emotional health. If there was a true root-of-all-evil it’s more likely one’s own failings and not that of some mysterious cloven foot, horned, crimson skinned, pitchfork wielding, fire dancing hellion. You won’t writhe in the bowels of hell but rather in the hysteric frenzy of finally being exposed to your true feelings about yourself.