I’ve written about how I used to be super-sensitive in my relationship with Angus and how that created a negative downward spiral between us, with each of us adding more negativity to our communication with each other and slashing the feeling of goodwill between us in the process.
I would blame him for how I felt. I thought if only he were kinder and less irritable then I would be happier. I would voice my criticism. He would take my criticism personally and become less kind and more irritable in the process.
We managed to create a negative amount of goodwill in the relationship. It is not a surprise that from this feeling state toward each other our relationship crumbled.
What turned it around initially was a huge wake-up call. When I became attracted to someone else, Angus and I had to decide if we really wanted to be together or not. We were forced to make a decision. Because we decided to stay together we shifted our behavior, but it wasn’t sustainable. We had a temporary reprieve from our negative interactions, but the hurt surfaced again.
What allowed for more sustainable change to occur in our relationship was not actually anything to do with our relationship dynamics or communication. What created change was me having a deeper connection with my own inner safety and wellbeing.
I had an experience in which my mind got very quiet, and I dropped into a beautiful state of peace. I felt my okayness in an unshakable way. I realized that my well-being and peace of mind do not come from outside of me. Because of that experience, I became less afraid of my emotions. I knew that feelings, even intense ones, couldn’t take away my experience of okayness. I also realized my feelings didn’t mean anything about me. For example, just because I experienced the feeling of shame didn’t mean I was shameful.
This took the pressure off of my relationship with Angus. I was no longer looking to him and needing him to be different in order to feel better or okay. And as soon as I wasn’t looking for my relationship to improve, it did. I became less selfish and self-centered and saw his irritable or angry behavior as a reflection of his own suffering and state of mind and not a threat to me or condemnation of me. He in turn was less irritable and volatile as my criticism and judgment waned.
My dwelling within a space of greater peace within myself is what really made a difference in our relationship. It allowed me to be two feet in, fully committed, and allow myself to be vulnerable with Angus. Previously I had been too scared to really allow myself to experience deep intimacy with him because I was afraid if I loved Angus wholeheartedly I would not survive if I lost him for whatever reason. It was easier for me to be one foot out the door even though I was not happy rather than risk that level of potential pain.
I didn’t realize that I was suffering chronically in order to hold on to the illusion that I could protect myself from possible future pain or loss. None of this worked. All it did was have me behave like a critical, uptight bitch and experience dissatisfaction in my relationship. I had to learn the lesson the hard way.
Here are ten relationship basics I want you to know so your experience might be easier:
- The feeling of peace and wellbeing exists within you. It is always there even though you don’t always experience it. You can intentionally look within and quiet your mind. It is in the silence that you can feel the impersonal love of your true nature that will guide you and sustain you.
- You experience your true nature through presence.
- There is no safety or certainty in the world of form other than the certainty of change. Forget about chasing it or trying to create it. Instead, enjoy the present moment.
- Your partner is not responsible for your happiness.
- Your experience is created from within from the thoughts you identify with. If you are struggling with your experience, let yourself settle and then make decisions by listening to your own wisdom and common sense.
- Your partner’s upset is a reflection of his or her suffering. If you genuinely see that it will be natural to feel compassion for their suffering even if you don’t condone their behavior.
- Just because your experience is created on the inside, it doesn’t mean you have to stay with someone on the outside. You get to choose.
- Be kind to yourself. Intimacy can feel terrifying to the ego that has you perceive yourself as a separate self. Your partner can’t make the fear go away, but experiencing your wellbeing and "okayness" can. It will help you get to feel the truth of your resilience.
- Emotions just are. They don’t need to be explained or approved of. Do your best to stay open to them and let them move through you. This allows for natural healing to occur.
- Any time you are in judgment toward yourself or your partner you have lost your bearings and need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. Don’t waste time on your partner. Go straight to self-care.
I hope these points are helpful to you and save you from having to learn them the hard way as I did. But don’t take my word for them. Reflect on each point, and see what resonates as true for you. Let me know if you have any questions.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples' intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.