A friend recently asked me this question. I could have said lack of communication, affairs, money, addiction, clashing personalities and all the usual suspects, which I often see in my office.
But I thought a little deeper, both about the couples I have seen and about my own marriage, over the past two decades. And I replied,
Underneath it all, I believe the truth is most of us don’t realize the true meaning and purpose of relationships, and we certainly don’t understand the spiritual opportunity that our friction and differences afford us. If we could only see that with every hurt, every feeling of unfulfillment, every button our partner pushes, we are being given a chance to grow and this can completely change our lives.
The path of least resistance is not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s easy to give in to the temporary gratification of being reactive (whether that’s to shout or shut down or grab another beer). And when we let temptation win, we create distance from our partner and everyone loses. It’s like we receive a winning lottery ticket, cloaked in difficulty, but through our fears and laziness and lack of awareness, we can’t see the winning numbers and so never cash in.
Why don’t we see clearly? We use our physical eyes, and they are limited. All we see is the annoying habits, the wrongdoing, the hurtful act, the list of faults, the wall, the unrealized dream, the unmet needs. Most of us don’t realize we have been given spiritual eyes too. These are the ones we need to find and use to create a marriage that is lasting AND fulfilling. These are the eyes that will help us see where we need to change and grow, and help us rise above the gravity of blame. With these eyes, we can see and appreciate the dozens of opportunities we are given to earn real fulfillment.
Anything real and lasting must be hard earned, the challenges we face only come to us because, on some deeper level, we asked for more … more of the good stuff. And we can have it all. But we must work for it. Simple yes, easy ... not so much.
Whatever tempts us to create distance between us and our mates, even if for all the right and justified reasons when we learn to activate our spiritual eyes and use them to fight against our own reactive nature, this allows us to expand our capacity for more and more fulfillment. Then we begin to see that space is really an illusion upon which many divorces are made.