How can we open up to our partners completely and without fear? Ray Rivers brings the “off limits” topics front and center.
Are there any topics in your relationship which are “off-limits”—those that you want to discuss but just can’t, because the idea of bringing them up with your partner makes you feel like you’re walking on eggshells?
That is not okay.
The single most important condition for relationship/marriage success is that the two of you can talk about absolutely anything and everything: the past (especially upsetting stuff), the future, sex, parenting, incompatibility, ex-partners, bathroom habits, hygiene, in-laws, money—without
exception. Without fear.
With love and care for how both partners feel.
If this is not the case, then don’t kid yourself: you are not yet in a mature relationship.
In life, and in relationships, it is definitely better to focus on the positive or constructive, and not dwell emotionally on the negative. But when unresolved emotional needs are present, the love that you are, which drives you into relationship in the first place, is blocked; dammed up and devalued, and you will never be authentically happy until it is allowed to really flow, by being supported, validated, and honored.
“Off-limit” topics are not really “out-of-sight, out-of-mind.” They are actually front-and-center; they are active pain-points that suck all the energy and happiness out of the relationship. They can only exist at the expense of deep trust and intimacy. Until you address this issue head-on, you are living with an unspoken tension that makes true fulfillment impossible.
Of course, painful situations and conflicts come up frequently between partners, and learning how to navigate these with care and love is one of the most meaningful benefits two lives shared can provide. This is an essential blessing of intimate relationship: to provide a safe space for such issues to be confronted and transcended.
A relationships is a living organism
Looked at energetically, a relationship is a living organism, and just like any other it has a growth trajectory. Just as a seed becomes a tree, or an infant develops into an adult: when two lovers come together in body and spirit, the natural movement over time is that both partners open to each other more and more, creating an energy system more significant, more sublime, than the sum of its parts. This cannot happen if certain topics are “unsafe.”
Some of these “triggering” topics may seem silly or frivolous, so you might try to minimize them. But in an intimate relationship, any lack of communication is quite significant. The truth of this is demonstrated in the fact that when a partner feels they cannot comfortably discuss something —no matter how minor—the experience is one of emotional isolation and anxiety. This violates the very purpose of being in a relationship: to create a nourishing union of unconditional love and care, where both can thrive.
Should we have to walk on eggshells?
Of course, other “eggshell” topics are overt in-your-face challenges, such as when one of the partners has physically or emotionally betrayed the other. But even from this misery, a stronger partnership can be forged, if both are sincere, which means that this can never be an “eggshell” topic (e.g. Will you stop bringing that up! I apologized, what more do you want?).
For a worthy life-mate, there is no “sacrifice” to being contrite, grateful, and humble in word, deed, and effect, until the “wronged” partner heals. That is, in fact, the true demonstration of sincerity.
If this or any topic becomes “off-limits” than healing has not—and will not—occur. (That being said, there must, in the example of betrayal, also be the ultimate intention for a similarly sincere and absolute forgiveness on the part of the “victim”). If sincerity is present for both partners, the incident will authentically lose its charge anyway, as opposed to being suppressed on the surface through bullying and avoidance, while still boiling away beneath the surface.
Some marriage and relationship programs designate a period of time when “negative” topics are avoided for the express purpose of establishing mutual trust, intimacy; and playfulness. This is an effective approach for sincere couples, but ultimately—once they become more grounded—both partners must be able to share whatever is in their hearts, no matter how “triggering,” and receive their partner’s support, or the relationship can never reach its full potential.
Every difficult topic is an opportunity for healing and personal growth, because it is difficult; this is a primary way we were designed to grow and improve as human beings. “Off-limits” topics are the very ones that lovers should make a point of discussing; with gentle care, but also with great determination. This is how they learn to really honor both their own truth as well as their partner’s.
In the process, they will develop all the highest qualities of their human potential both as individuals and as a union. As the emotional needs of both partners are honored and fulfilled through mature, generous discussion, long-held patterns of limitation are released into this space of safety co-created by both partners.
If you and your partner can support each other while confronting all sensitivity, around any topic, by being gentle, and caring for each other’s heart, as you continuously open up the dialogue, then you will break through to radical new levels of joy and inner peace.
In the best relationships, each partner is in surrender to the other—and thus, each receives everything they need.
It is through our relationships that we learn what it means to truly love.
-Photo: Ariadna Bruna/Flickr