Last week I got married.
The wedding itself was a bit of happy teary-eyed blur, but it was a threshold into another life chapter. So it seemed fitting to take stock and share what I have learned on this heroic journey into love and relationships.
Ten years ago I had a dream.
This dream was the seed that lead me on a heroine’s journey that culminated in my own wedding.
At the time, I was preparing to write my thesis for my MA in Counseling Psychology. I already had a topic that I had been preparing to write, but I had a major case of writer’s block, until this dream.
It was a dream about a wedding between two actors. It was full of pageantry and symbolism. It wasn’t my wedding, but I felt that this dream pointed towards my own desires to find my own romantic partner.
The work on this thesis shifted not only my final academic piece, it was the beginning of my own heroic journey towards finding romance. But more importantly, reclaiming different spokes of my own life’s wheel.
Meeting the Inner Other.
During those years before and after graduate school, my romantic life was nil. Cupid was not hanging out in my neighborhood. That dream and the thesis broke the dam, and I took up doing the inner work to meet my Inner Other — or as I affectionately call it, my “Inner Dude”.
As much as I tried, I knew I couldn’t date without first taking a deeper look inside. The external strategies just weren’t working for me, so I took to my dreams and fantasies as a way to go back to the drawing board.
Writing my thesis was the equivalent of me writing a travel manual for myself about this heroic journey towards love that I was about to undertake. I brought to practice what I had written about.
I took to working with my dreams with more gusto. I reconnected with my artistic self. I undertook Jungian therapy to help me dive deeper. I analyzed my fantasies and even celebrity crushes. I prepared my house for love. I painted the rooms, rearranged the furniture, and even created space in my closet to make space for love.
I made sure I was honoring Venus/Aphrodite as well, by doing what brought me joy and gave me pleasure. I reconnected with the yin/feminine pleasures that nourished my soul.
I brought my quest for love to every aspect of my life.
The best thing that came out of this was the realization that the search for love ripples through all other relationships in your life. Finding a partner is just the tip of the iceberg.
In our culture of swiping left and right, of instant gratification, judgments and lack of curiosity about learning and listening to another, doing anything slowly isn’t heralded as a good strategy. If it’s not instant attraction or love, we just stop the conversation dead in its tracks.
I’m not saying that we should stick with something that has no Eros for us, or has really passed its sell-by date. But there is something to be said about allowing time to slow cook the onions of our lives.
You can take the onions here to mean your rough growing edge bits. The parts about you, that honestly, you know you should be handling, but you rather project onto another and accuse them of not doing the ‘right thing’.
Once I met my husband and we said yes to doing the relationship dance, I quickly learned these three things.
1. You are your partner’s teacher when it comes to your emotional inner landscape.
Remember your partner is looking at you from their own foggy projection glasses. It’s your job to educate them about your own inner emotional landscape.
However, learn to be a motivating and engaging teacher. It may be a lot of work, and we all know that our taste for instant gratification hates anything that alludes to work, but this is a cultural flaw that has ruined way too many relationships.
Love is exciting, but like anything good in life it does take work – and it takes teaching. Embrace your inner teacher and educate your partner on your Inner Landscape.
2. Bring your beginner’s mind to the table. Be curious.
Get over yourself, because the world does not revolve around you.
We need to learn to re-engage our curiosity and beginner’s mind into our lives – be in our relationships, romance, work and politically.
The antithesis of engaging curiosity is our addiction to black and white, snappy judgments. Culturally, we have taken judging a book by its cover to the 9th level of hell. Having a gut feeling about someone or situation is one thing, but a lot gets lost because we fail to ask the questions, choosing instead to pronounce statements.
Less statements and judgments — more engaging inquiry and curiosity.
Your partner might as well be an alien that has just landed in your backyard. Ask questions. Learn about their inner landscape. Be open to understanding what makes them tick, instead of immediately dismissing it.
The key to a thriving relationship is about bringing curiosity and inquiry to the conversation.
3. Your partner is your Guru-teacher.
When we are looking for a romantic partner or we have found someone that makes us want to stay in the dance a bit longer, we are in essence, meeting someone that brings important information about missing aspects of ourselves, as well as clues about the story we are playing out.
The triggers that are brought about by the other are clues to our own growing edges. Remember, in any relationship, especially romantic ones, we are teachers to our partners. Passion may set the table, but love serves the dinner.
On the morning of my wedding day, my sister said, “The wedding is just the beginning, what matters is what comes afterward.”
Time to turn on the slow cooker again.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom.
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