I didn’t realize that the gift in relationships is what you give, not what you get. Initially, it felt like I was getting a lot from my relationship with Angus. I felt loved and appreciated, and I thought he was giving me this experience.
I didn’t realize that the love I was experiencing was coming from inside of me.
The greater clarity of mind I had, thanks to all the neurochemicals flying around my system because of the newness of our relationship, improved my mood and quietened all of my anxious insecure thoughts. This allowed me to experience a depth of love I hadn’t felt previously. And of course, Angus was very attentive and caring so it was easy to think that I felt so amazing because of him.
When things became more challenging in our relationship, I felt unloved and unappreciated. If he had been making me feel good. It only made sense to blame him for my feeling bad.
In order to try and alleviate my suffering, I looked to how I could get my needs met more effectively in our relationship. So I looked at what Angus needed to do to change. I thought, he needed not to lose his temper so much. He needs to earn more money. He needs to appreciate me more for how hard I am working. He needs to be more attentive. He needs to have room to hear my upset. He needs to have more compassion. The list went on and on…
My focus on getting my needs met by looking at how he needed to change was experienced by him as criticism. Even if I wasn’t saying any of these things directly to Angus, he felt my judgment. He felt my lack of satisfaction. He felt my withholding.
The less satisfied I felt in the relationship. The more I looked for what I needed and the less I gave. Not intentionally, but I found myself not wanting to have sex, not being generous, and not being kind.
My behavior contaminated the feeling between us. The more resentful, critical, and judgmental I became inwardly or outwardly, the more removed and angry Angus became. And we each looked to the other to change.
Unfortunately, neither of us saw that our experience wasn’t coming from the other person and that the real issue was our individual states of mind that had gone south. We could only see the chaos of our marriage and what it looked like we weren’t getting from our partner.
The impact of my building resentment and ever-present judgment on our relationship didn’t occur to me.
Now I can see that the soil from which our love needed to be rewilded was contaminated. My state of mind was not conducive to creating a safe, loving space for learning, growth, and transformation. Neither was Angus’s state of mind. And each of us was waiting for the other person to change before we felt capable of showing up differently.
We were locked into a standoff, each nursing our wounds, feeling justified in our blame for the other person. We both felt like victims, and we resigned ourselves to making the best of it. On my part, the resignation came from fatigue and lack of inspiration. I didn’t have the energy to dismantle our marriage or to start again. I had tried that once before, and it went terribly. So I settled.
Fortunately, my resignation about our relationship freed up some bandwidth within me to focus on the rest of my life and follow my inspiration elsewhere. I found myself looking in the direction of my professional development and started exploring coaching. My exploration introduced me to the understanding of the Three Principles and the inside-out nature of experience.
I had previously learned about psychological projection, but the principles understanding helped me to see that I live in the feeling of my thinking more deeply. I didn’t realize it was true 100% of the time that ALL my experience comes from within.
This understanding turned my ability to blame Angus for my unhappiness on its head.
It took me a while to experience a shift in our relationship, but understanding where my feelings were coming from helped me to experience more peace of mind and well-being related to other areas of my life. I felt less anxious and stressed. I started to enjoy my life more. My health improved. And then lightning struck. Angus expressed his anger toward me, and I didn’t feel hurt. Not only did I not feel hurt, I actually felt compassion for him. I could see he was dysregulated and didn’t take his behavior personally. I wasn’t being a doormat. I wasn’t hurt by what he was saying to me and was not compelled to join in the fight with him. Instead, I expressed my love and compassion for him.
My kindness happened naturally. I wasn’t taking a technique or strategy out of my toolbox. I just felt stable and open-hearted in the face of Angus's upset. This was empowering and a life-changing experience of inner freedom.
My peace of mind in the face of his upset and consequent lack of reactivity was a defining moment in our relationship. It helped me to see that Angus was never responsible for my emotional experience, no matter how he was behaving. My kindness and lack of reactivity helped Angus see what he was doing so he could regain his bearings and de-escalate.
Suddenly, my contribution to the negativity toxins was removed from the soil of our relationship. He felt this in a profound way. He felt my genuine love, compassion, empathy, and goodwill. This was incredibly healing for both of us and was enough for our relationship to shift. Me letting go of my resentment and judgment toward Angus helped to create a loving container from which our love could grow and flourish.
I wasn’t working on our relationship when this happened. It was the natural by-product of me having a more profound experiential knowing of who I am and no longer buying into the misguided narrative that caused me suffering when Angus was dysregulated. Feeling safe facing Angus’s dysregulation was hugely empowering for me. I no longer felt like a victim. And in my empowerment, I was free to love and accept Angus precisely as he was, even if I didn’t like or condone his behavior.
This is the most significant gift I have received from our relationship. It was not what he gave me. It was the gift of feeling the truth of who I am in the face of him forgetting the truth of who he is. That was magic! It was healing, and I felt free.
Now I know that the love I feel in my relationship comes from inside of me, and the more I give that love, the more I experience it. This love gets reflected back to me from Angus not because I need it, but because we have the rich fertile soil of goodwill in our relationship that allows the love between us to flourish.
For any relationship, I encourage you to recognize how your experience comes from within you. If you are suffering emotionally, that is a reflection of misunderstandings in your consciousness that you are identifying with. That doesn’t mean the other person’s behavior is appropriate, but it is essential to recognize that your suffering doesn’t come from them. It comes from the painful misunderstanding you have about yourself that you are believing. This is destabilizing.
Understanding where suffering comes from allows you to care for yourself and to look within to find love, peace of mind, and well-being. Looking in this direction will never let you down. Looking to change your partner will always be disappointing.
Looking within to who you are and to what is true is resourcing and replenishing. It allows you to heal and transform so you can have a solid psychological foundation that will enable you to feel safe and remember what is true even when your partner forgets and behaves in unkind ways.
No matter what decision you need to make regarding your relationship. Having the foundation of knowing your truth and feeling the inner stability of your well-being will be supportive. This is an act of self-love and the ultimate gift that helps you know who you are in deeper and more profound ways.
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 the first 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 couple's intensive retreat programs 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 Rewilders Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.