The Breath of a New Relationship

September 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Relationship Space

iStock_000000795555 Two Hearts Parcel PinkThere is nothing quite like the moment a child is born.

The room has an air of tension and excitement as those final few contractions and exhausting pushes uncontrollably grip the mother. The feeling of expectation could be cut with a knife it is so present with everyone.

As the babe arrives, everyone in the room holds their breath as they wait for the child’s first cry, the best sign that the child is breathing well.

As the cry comes, parents sigh with emotion, midwives and doctors quietly sigh with relief.

In a previous life, I was one of those midwives. Unlike so many other tasks in my working day, birth never got stale and ordinary. It is a profoundly sacred moment every time it happens, and it’s an honour to be present and gifted with those sacred moments.

Sometimes now, in my work with couples, I get that sense of being present as something sacred happens.

When a couple choose to breathe life back into their relationship, it’s a little like being at a birth.

There has been a battle, a little like the involuntary battle a mother experiences as her uterus and its efforts take over her body.  So too, battles have taken over the couple’s relationship, wracking them with anguish and distress.

Will negativity and unhappiness win the battle? Or will two people choose to see the good in each other and in their “us”, enough to take that breath?

That breath is, in some ways, a surrender. Surrender of the high moral ground and a declaration of readiness to change.

There’s been a battle royal between them, as each struggles to believe in their own superiority, and absolve themselves from responsibility for their distress. There’s been a battle to take the position of “worst-done-by”! There’s even been a battle to pull others onto “their side”. (Me included, some times!)

But the biggest battle is happening inside them. A battle to be willing to humble themselves, enough to admit to their contribution to the mayhem.

Maybe she hasn’t been immersed in a secret affair/s! Maybe he hasn’t taken a position of demanding something better of his partner, and complaining when it hasn’t happened.

But well before those conspicuous signs of marital distress, they were each contributing to the environment that allowed those destructive elements to creep in and take hold.

With an ongoing relationship comes complacency; the distractions of work, children, financial pressures; the slow revelation of how different we are and how differently we see the world.

In the decline and absence of such fundamental but simple acts of love as:

  • conscious attention to the changes;
  • open honest and respectful discussion;
  • determined goodwill
  • appreciation of efforts made
  • acknowledgment of difference
  • a commitment to daily unconditional love

… both set the scene for the spiral down into disillusionment and unhappiness.

And eventually they end up in my office.

They face a decision to breathe new life into their relationship by choosing to move out of crisis, allow their relationship to evolve, and choose a revolution in their approach.

But first comes that breath of humility. When they both take responsibility for being complicit in creating the distress, they inhale the oxygen that the relationship needs to begin taking on a new life.

Just like the protected baby has had to leave the cosy world of it’s mother and begin a new way of being, so too does the relationship need a new life that comes from breathing out the surrender of an old way of being  and breathing in the fresh air of a new way of being.

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