When current divorce rate statistics like the following tell a sad story, when we are experiencing our own relationship struggles, it may be difficult to see a way out other than separation:
“Almost 50% of all marriages in the USA will end in divorce or separation”
“60% of second marriages end in divorce”
“73% of all third marriages end in divorce”
However, whilst many of these break-ups might well be for the better, I am a great believer that a struggling relationship where there is no sign of abuse, is often calling forth both partners into their next level of love and personal growth.
Our ego can hold us back from the love we are wanting!
Many of my clients come to me thinking that they are on the verge of separation but soon begin to realise that their struggle is stemming from their fear of getting hurt and this in fact is holding them back from creating the love they really want.
“Our ego is scared to feel more love and thus will use many a cunning trick to stop us opening ourselves up to the next level with our partner.”
No-one teaches us how to communicate in our relationships
Unfortunately, none of us have been taught to communicate in such a way that helps a relationship to grow and thrive in the long term. Instead we have received too many messages that encourage idealised notions of romance, which instil the belief that our partner is there to save or ‘complete’ us.
As a result, we often put so much pressure on our partner to be that perfect man or woman, just like in the movies. We make them responsible for the way we feel and in doing so hold a metaphorical gun against their head, which says ‘YOU made me feel like this’.
“Whilst our partner can trigger us in so many ways, we are ultimately responsible for our own well-being.”
When we do not take full responsibility for our own feelings, behaviours and responses & continually blame or criticise our partner, we are essentially allowing the ego to ‘run the show’. This can have many detrimental effects on our relationship and is usually a recipe for much unhappiness.
On the other hand when we take full responsibility & choose to show up with integrity, honesty and openness in our communication we pave the way for what I call a ‘real’ relationship. In this type of partnership, we feel accepted for who we are and we do not have to hide ourselves out of fear. To feel this amount of freedom in love is truly liberating!
How does the Ego show up in Relationships?
The Ego is usually the voice in our head that likes to tell us stories of doom and gloom. For example, it may tell you that your partner is not good enough; that he needs to be more passionate or more dynamic; that she is too controlling or negative.
The Ego likes to talk in absolutes and does not think to focus on the commendable aspects of your partner’s character. If you are not careful the ego can soon start to persuade you that you should find someone else who would be a far more exciting match! As a result, it is often easier to jump ship from your relationship than stay and face your fears around opening to more love.
The ego is the primitive part of us that lives in fear. It is addicted to fear based thinking and does not know how to live in any other way. One of its most destructive patterns of behaviour is to continually project our own weaknesses or faults onto our partner. This allows us to protect ourselves from possible rejection or feelings of abandonment by continually blaming or looking for fault outside of ourselves. This certainly does not create the environment conducive to a healthy, connected and loving relationship.
Putting the ego’s potentially destructive behaviour to good use can, however, take a relationship which once seemed destined to failure, onto a whole new level of connection and love.How we can use the Ego as a mirror to transform our relationship for the better!
- Take back your projection
Wherever you are thinking I wish my partner was more or less of something, this is an opportunity to ask yourself the same question and therefore take back your projection. For example, if you are thinking ‘I wish my partner was more passionate’ ask yourself ‘where in my life could you be more passionate or interesting?’ Taking back our projection does not mean there is not truth in what the ego is saying but it does mean that we should be less quick to point the finger of blame.
- Appreciate the good in your partner
The Ego tends to over focus on what is not working or where your partner is not meeting your needs. This can be an opportunity to start appreciating the good aspects of your relationship and all the things that you may tend to take for granted.
- Express yourself
If you are feeling unloved or not heard or seen by your partner, this can be a great opportunity to speak your feelings or ask for what you want. Of course, this means that we may have to take a risk in terms of expressing ourselves and this is scary to the ego, but this is where our relationship is given the opportunity to grow. I often encourage my clients to ‘feel the fear and say it anyway’ from a position of full ownership. The more we can do this the more we get to be true selves with our partner. This is the ultimate freedom in any relationship.
- Give yourself attention and love
If you have a tendency to feel hurt or unloved by your partner this is always an opportunity to take your attention away from them and what they are or are not doing and give yourself the love and care you are wanting.
- Surrender to ‘not knowing’
Lastly, anywhere that you are ‘waiting’ for your partner to step up, shows that you have an attachment to them acting a particular way. This is a great place to start surrendering to not knowing if, how or when your partner will respond. Again, this is scary to the ego, as it does not like the unknown, but it helps to give your relationship space to breathe. In my experience this also gives your partner the space to show up in their own unique way, which can be a wonderful surprise.
Taking risks pays off!
In my own personal experience and through my work with clients we all have the capacity to give and receive much more love. Of course, opening ourselves up to this does mean that we are taking a risk and one that might not work out if our partner does not show signs of wanting to meet us where we want to go. However, this all comes down to what you really want in your relationship. Would you rather be loved for the person you are and commit to exploring whether there is the opportunity for a greater love or would you prefer to hide, stay quiet or move into blame each time you are faced with tension in your relationship?
It is always worth remembering that the aspects of our relationship that we don’t manage to heal in our current situation are generally going to be revealed again in our next relationship. Committing to working through difficulties and being prepared to make mistakes whatever the outcome is always going to put us on the path of more love.
Taking risks in showing up in my own marriage has helped me create a ‘real’ relationship and this can be a beautiful thing. Relationships are precious and I encourage you to stand by your own vision of what you really want in love.