Do you suffer in your relationship?

Suffering is an interesting word. It is defined as the experience of physical pain and/or mental distress. The root of the word goes deeper and in many respects each and every one of us needs to understand the rela-onship we have with this word. I would be so bold as to point the root of the word being situated in biblical teachings and carried over through centuries of societal condi-oning to become a common experience we all link with either feelings of shame or guilt.

Suffering was historically always associated with wrongdoing. If we did “wrong”, it would be punished and this is a truth that is carried in every area of society to a greater or lesser degree. The degree of punishment may vary, but nonetheless the core of the experience is about using suffering as a means for change or realisation of the particular wrong doing.

This is by no means a debate about the rights and wrongs in life, however the role that suffering plays is obviously too central to too many individuals and especially couples around the world. I’m always left questioning the root of the suffering especially in couples. If there is no sign of physical suffering as a consequence of “wrongdoing”, then there will be clear mental suffering, which often leaves me with the thought of how unnecessary this is.

No experience big or small can be diminished by another because the experience is completely personal and subjective to the person enduring the suffering. But do we have a choice to diminish the length of what we suffer for? The answer is yes!

Humanity fears ending. This seems to be a given. The fear and panic attached to Y2K, global problems, and anything else the news is willing to broadcast has a flavour of panic and “the world is going to end”. Goodness, even a pamphlet given to you by a Jehovah witness tells you of the world coming to an end. How we interpret this is entirely up to us.

The earlier on in life we experience ending the sooner we can create a relationship with ending. The problem here is how our families or secure base have shown us how to relate to the ending. There are some op-ons but these are only ever told to us in our adult life when we seek help from a therapist or encounter someone with a bit more scope and perspective on the world and especially around ending.

The key here is that ending is a given in every context in life. Everything has a beginning and middle and an end. We choose to romanticise the experience by focusing on the happily ever after in life and apply this “flawed principle” to every area. We want the perfect life and the perfect relationship and the perfect existence and not have to face up to all the very real other areas of life, which are essential to acquiring scope and perspective.

Without it we are blinded into thinking the world is against us and we develop a mind-set that everything for everyone else is great and terrible for us. I invite you to please wake yourself up to reality. Everyone has problems in there life at some point. Life is a mix of 50% pleasure and 50% pain, but the key is that we experience a mix of this 50/50 throughout life so that we are not polarised.

When it comes to relationships, a deluded belief is the happily every after principle. We get roped into the lives of celebrities and Hollywood romance rather than actually focusing on the realistic and very rational side of relationships. I am not suggesting we avoid emotion and love and passion as these are central in maintaining and ensuring longevity, however when things shift for the worst in a relationship, it is here that we need to move into a rational state of mind and address the concerns rationally and not emotionally.

99.9% of the time when difficulties begin to arise in relationships, with deeper enquiry we find that these problems have been overlooked for extensive periods of time and each partner has built up resentment as a result of not addressing the concern sooner. The point that I am focusing on here is the point where a relationship is finished. There is potentially too much water under the bridge and the two people once in love are fixated on future and what they invested their hopes and dreams into rather than the reality of where they are.

This I call the “point of no return”. The PNR is a point where no matter how much therapy or intervention is administered to a couple, both hold on to a paramount degree of resentment and pain due to being disappointed for extensive periods of time. In addition to this, one or both of the couple is unwilling to budge and move past the resentment and have lost sight of where the relationship is going. They are in essence lost from the relationship.

I am not suggesting that couples can’t move past this PNR, and I very much believe it is possible. I am however speaking about a point where one or both of the parties involved has thrown in the towel and there is no longer any feelings of being “in love” and they have made the choice that they do not want to be “in love” with the partner any longer.

Taking the discussion one step further, there comes a point where it is very clear that the relationship has broken down but yet one partner is still holding on to the relationship. You will read this type of scenario in countless self-help books and “Cosmo type” articles about how to endure this period and the other person will come around.

This I do not agree with and hold quite firmly the belief that if a relationship has lost its flow and has come to an end, it needs to end for the greater good of both people involved. This is so we can heal and once again be open to the possibility of a future relationship, purely because we are relational beings and have an innate desire to relate to others.

There is often a feeling in the person holding on, that they cannot stomach the idea that all the hard work they have put into the relationship has been in vain and the newly equipped partner now knowing how to navigate a relationship will provide this “good new part” to another. The reality of most relationships is that when the relationship does end, there will come a point where another partner will replace them. This is because once we have healed ourselves we return to a point where life becomes about relating to others once again.

Its concerning to think that we hold onto a painful relationship, being constantly hurt because we do not want the other person to move on and find their flow and be happy again. Instead as the famous saying goes: Misery loves company. The company they choose to keep and try control is the person that wants to end the relationship.

Human beings all have the potentiality for greatness and to be wonderful people with integrity, good values and morals and who live a good and balanced life. We all have the capacity to see all these great things in others and the hope is that this will eventually come out in the person we love and they will be able to share that with us. A concern here is that if we all took the advice of the adage “if you love something then set it free, if it returns you know its meant to be” and focused on living our lives and embracing experience in the world we wouldn’t add so much pressure onto a relationship and find ourselves in a needy and smothering place.

Instead if we truly believed that the person we have chosen to be in a relationship with is meant to be with us, let them go and allow them to explore the world and their experience, because if there has been no pressure added to the relationship insisting that the person change, and you have enough insight into yourself and can allow this person to go and grow in the world, then you are not only advancing yourself in the understanding that we cannot control relationships and following Rumi’s beautiful quote “you have to keep breaking your heart until it opens”.

It is only once we have surrendered to the natural flow of a relationship, that we will be able to completely understand when the -me comes to end. In the mean time life should include you focusing on yourself and every day make a concerted effort to advance yourself for the greater good of yourself. This will not only add to the relationship and help you transcend the societal conditioning that underpins all our choices, but allow your to be less pained when an ending does arise… and they eventually will because life is always about a beginning, a middle and an end.