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Relationship Struggles are Powerful Teachers

During this quarantine, all the extra time with our loved ones is such a blessing, but let's face it, sometimes too much of a good thing can be… uh… well… not so fun. Compound all the closeness with the stress and uncertainty of our days and it creates a perfect storm, as one of my friends said, for “heads to roll.”

She was joking about needing to get away from her husband for a run, and I laughed so hard when I read her words. Why? Because I was feeling the exact same way about my husband!

Even the strongest relationships are tried in times like this.

Ours certainly was this weekend. At one point I found myself wondering if I could live another month with this man, let alone the rest of my life!

Which is odd, because he’s amazing.

Perfect? No. Amazing? Yes.

It made no sense to me that I was feeling so insanely irritated by someone I love and respect so much.

So, I did what I do in times like this. I wrote.

And wrote.

I journaled so long my pen literally ran out of ink and I had to get another one.

And then I wrote some more. (A strategy I HIGHLY recommend)

And when I was finally out of words, I re-read what I had written, and I discovered something crazy powerful-

Everything I was complaining about with regard to my husband were things I DO TOO!

I was blaming him for not listening when I spoke, but I haven’t been listening when he speaks. Our minds are both going in so many directions right now, it’s completely understandable.

I was blaming him for being selfish, but I’m selfish too.

I was blaming him for so many things that are, for lack of a better description, perfectly human.

I was not only finding and fixating on his faults, I was projecting my OWN faults onto him too.

Relationships can be such powerful teachers. It’s not a novel idea that the things that annoy us most about the people we love are usually things that annoy us about ourselves.

Relationships are mirrors that reflect back to us the places in us where WE need to grow.

Yes, growth can be messy, but without growth we stagnate. And then we stop living and merely exist.

So how do we use this new (and sometimes uncomfortable) information to grow?

First, we have to be brave enough to open our eyes and our minds to what we see reflected back. We have to be willing to see our darker parts with honesty.

And then?

We love the hell out of those parts.

We don’t deny them. We bring them into the light by acknowledging them, and then we accept them as parts of ourselves. Parts that result from our fears and wounds. Parts that need HEALING, not PUNISHMENT.

Think about it. If a child came to us crying in pain from a cut on her arm, would we yell at her? Call her stupid or flawed? Of course not. So why do we do that to ourselves when we see our own hurt?

No, what we would do is kiss her wound and hold her, let her know she's safe and loved.

And THIS is the lesson I learned this weekend.

I wasn’t angry at my husband. I was angry at MYSELF.

The things he did were just reminders of things about ME that I didn’t want to see.

These experiences are a chance for us to practice love. Yes, loving those closest to us. But more importantly, loving ourselves. Like we would love an innocent child.

SELF love.

SELF acceptance.


Because that’s where love begins. With US. We have to get to that point of truly loving and accepting ourselves unconditionally, dark parts and all.

We can’t deny those parts, or they will make themselves known very loudly in our relationships, reflected back to us.

Instead, we have to bring those dark parts to the light. Inspect them, turn them over and really SEE them, and then love them as part of the perfectly imperfect souls that we are.

Just as you would love that child with the bleeding wound, love yourself so you can share that love with the people you care about most. And with the world.

Because the world needs our light and love now more than ever.

Xx Jen

P.S. Sorry Mike ;)

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