by Gideon

July 19, 2021

Social media is flooded with eduinfluencers or coaches giving relationship advice that often sounds quite neat and tidy… maybe because they often lack time spent in the arena.

Relationships are not neat and tidy.

They are messy at times and seriously frustrating when you least expect it.

Throw kids into the mix and you end up with a recipe for chaotic times of frustration, fatigue, feuds, fights, and frequently feeling like an utter failure, balanced out with moments of overwhelming bliss and transcendent happiness.

Nothing is simple about it.

And no amount of studying or research prepares you for the lessons this experience will teach you about relationships, emotions, inconvenience, commitment, perseverance, love and mostly, yourself.

I have learned that there is a limit to what you can learn about yourself by yourself…

Mike Tyson was right about everyone having a plan until getting punched in the mouth.

You’ll discover things about yourself, triggered by your spouse or children, that you never even thought of or knew existed.

So why do any of it?

Because it forces growth.

Every past failed relationship prepared you for the real thing, hard as those were and it seems.

Sadly, many end up being crushed by their past and never make it past training.

We don’t grow in comfort and in the absence of pressure.

Learned knowledge is great but experiential insight is superior.

And that comes with the possibility of pain in some form.

The ancient Gnostics knew this, so did many mystics and celebrated historical spiritual teachers like Yeshua or Buddha.

We cannot be liberated from our limited models of living without a renewed (es)sense of being which comes about with new insight.

Love relationships function like pressure chambers – rather than causing us to become someone else, they reveal who we’ve been all along and renders us a choice of succumbing, leaving, or evolving.

That seldomly happens in a vacuum where we can escape the pressure when (in)convenient or avoid it altogether and opt to learn from afar.

We don’t learn how to be a gladiator from the stands, only by stepping into the arena.

Love relationships… YOUR love relationship… offers you the gift of growth.

It also teaches you the art of self-regulation.

Self-management.

How to take personal responsibility, even for things you’re not directly responsible for.

And in the messiness of your pursuit of marital bliss and peaceful days, you must learn a lesson echoed by the ancient Stoics, that you only control yourself.

You would think that 15 yrs of marriage would have taught me that lesson by now, knowing that learning is merely remembering.

But I’m a slow learner and don’t remember that well, it seems.

Control of others in life does not work.

Control of self is a better strategy… the only logical strategy.

So, forget about a 50-50 marriage.

Instead, take full responsibility for your love relationship for it requires constant attention and adjustment.

There is frequently not enough time to plan, discuss, and decide.

You must act rapidly, even when it could cause an even bigger mess.

You must pivot, shift, adjust, adapt, discard quickly.

That’s the nature of the love arena.

Thus, care about your thoughts, mindset, actions, and words.

You don’t control your spouse’s.

Believing that you do simply reveals your level of delusion and probable current waste of focus and energy.

For the real concern is not – is this a 50-50 marriage?

The only important question is – am I giving our relationship the time, input, and care needed to create the possibility of a growing and fulfiling marriage?

Am I being the best I can be in our arena?

About the author 

Gideon

Gideon is the Owner of The Relationship Guy, a top-100 marriage advice blog that helps married couples create happier relationships. He is a trained professional counsellor (DipProfCouns., DipMSHT.), has been happily married for over fifteen years and is a dad of two.​ He also holds Bachelor and Master degrees in the field of Theology and is currently studying Psychology at Massey University (New Zealand).

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