Transformations coach Liz Foglesong offers thoughts on how to mend the rift between our unrealistic expectations and our partner’s true beauty.
Man or woman, we’re all human. We’re all living, growing beings. And this life, our humanity, a humanity we all share at the depth of our souls, deserves respect.
Even if we refuse to admit that we want to open our humanity to another, we do want to open it. We want to love and be loved. We want to be touched in this intimate, human way. We want to create romantic relationships, to nourish and watch flourish. And within these relationships, we want to feel, to experience life at a heightened pitch beyond our wildest imagination.
In a perfect world, this romantic love would be less risky. There would be no hurt, only joy. We would all be respectful of our partners’ vulnerability. We would always be there to support each other—to strengthen each other when facing struggle or defeat and to celebrate together in moments of triumph and joy. We would set aside our own fears of abandonment in order to give each other needed space. By honoring each other’s beings in this way, we and our partners would be free within our sacred bonds to exist completely, to let shine the utterly pure and beautiful expression of our souls.
But a perfect world doesn’t exist. It’s an ideal—something towards which we can strive. Even if it did exist though, would we choose this perfect world? Would we want relationships with no challenges and, by extension, with no growth? As Richard Bach wrote in Illusions, “If perfection is stagnation, then heaven is a swamp.” It’s our humanity—our beautifully imperfect humanity—that allows us to live zealously; to feel deeply; to be cut, to bleed, and to heal; and to appreciate fully the richness of any given moment.
So we should challenge ourselves to embrace the reality of our shared humanity. For when we accept that we’re all experiencing the pain and joy of growing and learning, it becomes natural to form and nurture partnerships between two perfectly imperfect beings who are forever struggling to better understand the world in which we live and forever working through the unfinished business inside our souls. It also becomes natural to enjoy our and our partner’s beauty, as is, rather than lament what we are not or our partner isn’t. And miraculously, the flaws we used to see in ourselves and our partners become lovable opportunities for growth.
The imperfection of it all does inevitably cause us to confine and dismiss each other at times, and in doing so, we breach our partner’s trust and open a rift between our two souls. But this rift can be only momentarily destructive. We can share with our partner what caused our hurtful actions or words and what we’ve learned about ourselves and the world. We can take responsibility by saying “I’m sorry.” And we can appreciate our partner’s patience during these moments and their belief in our ability to resolve them by saying “thank you.” By doing this work, we constructively stitch the rift back together with even more strength than before. This newly strengthened relationship will then push our partners to grow. And when our partners grow, they will push us to grow even more. And when we commit to growing and to healing, when we open to the journey that growth unleashes, and when we trust this energy to flow, the beautiful exchange that is love will naturally continue and strengthen without limits.
Sometimes a rift becomes wide enough that our partners have to fight with us to help us understand how we’re devaluing or dishonoring them, and sometimes we have to return the favor by fighting with them. This conflict helps push us to better understand the world and to feel the internal pain that we were trying to avoid or that we couldn’t access. As imperfect beings, we don’t respect our own or anyone else’s humanity absolutely. So when we fight, our partners are actually asking us to raise our standards, to treat every being, including them and ourselves, with greater respect.
The discord, disconnect, and distrust within the rift is not comfortable, but we should challenge ourselves to value and cherish these fights, both the moments themselves and the end results. All of it is incredibly beautiful. The bigger the fight, the more our humanity is open to our partner. And this humanity is what we love most about our partners and ourselves. When we make love, we experience awe-inspiring beauty and the softest of connections; when we fight, we experience respect and appreciation. Either way, we’re there, baring it all, because we want to be. Whether we ascend to heaven or descend to hell.
If we or our partners choose to remain silent instead of being present, to close instead of opening, to stagnate instead of growing, and to fear instead of trusting, the love and energy between our two souls eventually ceases to flow. Be it death by a thousand cuts or the simple act of walking away, closing to love allows the energy between two beings to unravel back into the energy of two separate humans. Sometimes this separation is necessary to maintain our own standards of respect, but sometimes we close to the love we need, and in turn make the greatest mistake we’ve ever made, because we’re scared to show our partner our own humanity.
But as fear can evolve into trust and as misunderstanding can become wisdom, even our greatest mistakes aren’t always permanent.
So simply try to be real with yourself and your partner. If we can’t be real in these relationships, where can we be real? Allow yourself to exist with your partner, to live life as you are, not trying to change yourself or your partner to reflect an ideal. When you look in the mirror, smile and embrace yourself, without judgment, without worrying about what’s not perfect. And when you look at your partner, please do the same.