4 Resolutions to Help Your Relationship Grow Healthier, Happier, and Higher, by Guy Finley
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
We all want to know a love that's whole and true, through-and-through; a relationship that never fails to renew itself—and us—no matter how severely life decides to suddenly "test" it in some unwanted way.
But, as we all know, this kind of unconditional love is very rare. It's far more common that over time—even in the best of relationships—resentments tend to build, so that irritability is never far from the surface. And we all know the drill: blaming one another becomes the go-to reaction in moments of conflict.
Sadly, in one respect, the above scenario seems natural to us. Being negative with our partner becomes part of a pattern that includes the process of "making up." But, "making up" only lasts until some reappearing problem makes it evident that compromises with our partner don't really solve the underlying problems between us.
It's hard to figure! If we all wish—as we do—for a perfect love, and we're willing to do whatever it takes to make it a reality, then where are we going wrong? The answer may surprise you.
One of the biggest reasons our wish for a perfect relationship rarely comes true is because we all carry around with us a collection of old wishes that tend to negatively "color" our experience with our partner moment to moment. On the surface of things these wishes seem natural, even necessary, in creating the love we imagine. But experience proves otherwise.
For instance, there's our desire to always be treated by our partner with patience and loving concern, no matter our actions, misplaced or not. Then there's that desire that our opinion never be challenged, let alone summarily discounted. And of course, it seems natural to wish that our partner always validate—without having to be reminded, let alone asked—whatever may be that image of ourselves we want them to constantly confirm.
Of course, many (if not most) of these wants become threadbare, passing away with the innocent aspiration that gave them birth. They are slowly replaced with a certain kind of cynicism that gradually casts a shadow over our hope for a love that's always light and bright with promise. Even so, these deeper wishes of ours die hard, so that anytime conditions allow, we sort through them again—seemingly against the odds—searching for the will and a way to keep love alive.
Here's the point: what we've yet to realize is that our disappointment, our agitation with our partner (or whatever reason we find to be negative with them) is an outgrowth of these old desires of ours that have morphed into a silent insistence that they meet and fulfill our expectations. In other words, we are only as happy with our partner as they play the part we've written for them...even before we met them!
And so begins a kind of painful pattern with our partner; "knowing" as we seem to do that the stress between us is their fault, our mind starts working on what to do to fix what we perceive is the problem: our partner! All of which leads to the creation of another set of desires that lead to more disappointment, and more plans to fix it. And each of these new desires is made by a lower nature (in us) that actually helped to create that unwanted, unhappy moment in the first place!
What's so ironic is that we all enter relationships with good intentions. For example, if we see our partner struggling, we wish—out of love—that our partner could outgrow their limitation for their sake. But it doesn't take long before our wish for their betterment turns into a bitterness that they're not doing as we wish...until almost all we see when we look at them is our disappointed feeling about them.
Again, to the point: we almost never connect the fact that a great measure of the misery we blame on our partner is the unseen effect of an old desire of ours: a secretly held insistence that they should be other than they are. But we can begin to become aware of the old wishes we've been carrying around with us and understand they're wrong...not just for us, but for anyone who fails our expectation of them.
If we can see our past desires are, in fact, a weight we carry, dragging both us and those we love down, then we are ready to start making and enacting a completely new and higher order resolution, as follows.
Here are four completely new resolutions that are always new and true because they are fulfilled in any moment we can remember to make and then hold them in our heart. Our willingness to see their higher wisdom is the same as inviting their timeless powers into all of our relationships, ensuring the presence of an unconditional love that keeps kindness, consideration, and compassion growing, as well as ever new.
- My new resolution is to be patient in and with all things with my partner.
The original meaning of the word "patience"—from days long gone by, when others weren't so quick to find fault with one another—is to suffer oneself, especially before we make anyone else suffer. So, the very moment we feel a conflict appear, where the resistance we feel toward our partner wants to push us to punish them in some way, this is when and where we must remember our new resolution. What makes this resolution so different is that it's meant to bring about a change in us, not in our partner. And the change is this: If our wish is for the will to be patient, to be able to suffer ourselves consciously, then we must be willing to place our attention on our irritation, not on the person we blame for it.If we can succeed at making and holding this resolution, even to the smallest degree, we will see something about ourselves that changes everything, including our relationship. We can see, perhaps for the first time, that the pain of this impatience was there (in us) before the condition that we want to blame it on! This impatience grew out of a host of desires that were never fulfilled, and is now "on the edge" all the time, ready to come out at the least provocation.
So that now, instead of asking our partner, "Why can’t you be different?" or, "Why won't you do as I ask?" we understand: if our desire is to change our partner or our situation according to our old wishes, nothing will ever change. Instead, we must long for the one thing that is in our power to change: to have the patience to quietly bear those parts of us that are so quick to find fault with anyone or anything that doesn't do as we wish! Our new resolution for patience shows us that our impatience is due to our demands, not the actions of our partner.
- My new resolution is to never again blame my partner for my pain or disappointment in life.
As we've seen, and hopefully understood, when our partner disappointments one of these old desires of ours, aka "some demand we've placed on them," we go into full blame mode. Judgment is passed almost instantly, and having found them "guilty" for our pain, we pass sentence on them...amounting to them having to do "hard time."Our old desire was that our partner could see him- or herself as they are (meaning, the way we see them), because we know that if they could, they wouldn't carry on like that. But, wishing to change another person does nothing to change the parts of us that can only blame others for our pain. And the fact is, the problem isn't the other person. The problem is our craving that everyone treat us exactly the way we want them to. And if they don't, we're sure to let them know about it. But all this mindset has ever led to is more disturbance, never a resolution.
So now our new resolution is for the will to bear full responsibility for how we feel in moments of frustration with our partner. That means awakening to, and then laying down the "will of the blamer" in us. Our resolution is to lay down the part of us that's always in the "right," and that knows it is...because of the infallible way it can find and point out what’s "wrong" with our partner. Our awakening to these parts of us that always want to hold others responsible for our pain is the same as seeing the real limitation isn't with them, but rather dwells within this unconscious level of self that would rather "burn" than learn the truth of itself, and be set free.
- My new resolution is to stop being so self-centered, insisting that the world revolves around me.
Our old desire—and demand—is that everyone act toward us as though we're the center of the universe. And when they don't (basically speaking) our tendency is to go ballistic. We may not say it out loud, but we find a way to make it clear: "I need to make you see that I'm the center of all there is in our world, and if you knew that, you'd fulfill my wish without my having to remind you that I come first."But, as we begin to see how this unspoken need to be the one and only goes before us to make a wreck of our relationship, we can also begin to see that everyone else feels this way, also! As a rule, most of us only get along with those who go along with our desire to be first and foremost in all things. However, awakening to this lower level of self—as shocking as it may be—helps us to see and understand just how out of order this kind of self-centered demand can be.
So, our new resolution is to at least try and consider the needs of others before our own. And that starts with understanding that every human being—including our partner—suffers for carrying the same bag of spent wishes on their back that we do. We must be willing to consciously lay down this selfish nature in us anytime it appears. The beautiful thing about this kind of resolution, in fact as concerns any higher new desire of ours, is that they don't take time to come true. We're not wishing "on a star" for some reward to come later; we're living our resolution in the moment, and by agreeing to consciously lay down our old self-centered self, our resolve to know and to live from a higher order of love is granted on the spot.
- My new resolution is to see beyond the limitation of my own painful reaction.
As we come to see and slowly realize a real need to transcend our own limitations, even the most difficult moments with our partner can prove to be a stepping stone to a deeper, more loving relationship between us. Let's examine how this is possible, and the work it would take to make this new resolution a reality.With our old desire, whenever we feel hurt by our partner, all we see in these moments is their limitation. It's perfect: without any effort on our part, we know what needs to be changed in them. And then, we go to work...on them.
But, the outcome of our seemingly faultless perception tells another story: not only is it not our responsibility to change our partner, but it's never been in our power do so!
What is in our power is to remember that our partner can't act differently toward us than what their present level of understanding allows them to do. In other words, our partner is doing the best they know how to do, even if we don't like it because we imagine we're "better than that." In this manner, our unconscious resistance to their limitation keeps us from seeing the fact of our own (limitation)...which, in this instance is as follows: in moments like these, all we know how to do is to look at our partner through the eyes of some self-limiting, love-wrecking, negative reaction.
Assuming we want to be free to love our partner unconditionally, our new resolution must be to see that our love is only as limited as we have been unwilling to see, and to meet our own limitations. Do try and see the secret beauty, the higher love hidden in this last idea.
If we understand, really see that each and all of us suffer from the same limitation of wanting the "other" person in our life to bear responsibility for our resistance to them, then our relationship, the world itself, can change.
Our goal, first and foremost at all times, must be to try and understand those we love, instead of struggling, in vain, to get them to understand us. And the only real way to understand our partner—or anyone, for that matter—is to see that our resistance to what they manifest does not prove we are better, or superior to them. Our resistance to our partner never proves, as it seems to do, that we are somehow different and apart from what we resist in them. Just the opposite is true: resistance reveals a secret similarity between and within us...that doesn't want to be seen!
Remembering this truth is the first step in being set free, not just from our insensitive reactions to the limitations in those we love, but from our own limitations that have kept us from seeing love is as unlimited as we are willing to love without limiting ourselves to what we believe is true, or not about others.
For the Love You Want, Always Remember...
If you sincerely want to reach the next level of yourself, and know a higher order of Love that will never fail you, there is nothing in the universe that can prevent you from getting there. On the contrary, the entire universe is set up to help you realize that intention. And Love itself put that desire in you to begin with.
Everything about your life, including your relationships, is designed to foster your transformation. When you understand the true power of relationships to change you, and allow yourself to be guided by your growing understanding of this truth, you will change as a matter of course. And that change will not only elevate you; it will elevate your relationships and open new possibilities of transformation for you and those you love.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018. All rights reserved.