Angus and I have been working with several couples recently where the subject of deal breakers has come up. They thought it would be a good idea to clarify deal breakers in service to deciding whether or not to move forward with their relationships. When I look back on my relationship with Angus, I realize there were many things that I would have considered to be deal breakers early on in our relationship if I had thought this way, but they turned out not to be.
One that comes to mind is that I was absolutely committed to being a stay-at-home mom. However, the universe and our finances had other plans. I am so grateful for this because I might not be doing the work I am now, and I don’t think our daughters have suffered from me working. In fact, I am grateful that they got to experience a family environment in which both parents participated equally in the hands on aspects of raising them.
I think about how grateful I am now that I did not delve into the exploration of what Angus’ and my deal breakers were before we got married because surely we would have never have got married with that level of analysis. And, what I would have perceived as deal breakers at the time have been the foundation for my growth and learning.
In regards to being a stay-at-home mom, I was very comfortable with and committed to motherhood, but I was clueless about making money. I had an MA in Cultural Geography and then spent several years modeling. When we had our first child my modeling career was on the wane, and I ended it abruptly with the birth of our daughter because I did not want to travel anymore. After eighteen months of staying at home and navigating significant financial limitations, I decided I couldn’t bear the financial uncertainty any more and got a job.
After we had our second child, I kept that job and went back to work after three months because that was how long they would hold that job open. I felt extremely resentful about going back to work full-time. And, it made it worse that Angus wasn’t enjoying his role as photographer/stay-at-home dad. The discord between us nearly ended our relationship, but ultimately we refocused on the love and our family and committed to figuring things out. It was this clarity of intention and commitment that allowed us to tap into the inner resources to figure things out. Previously, even though we were married and had two children, I had always been one foot out the door. This stance prevented me from really seeing the possibilities that were available to me in the relationship.
Once I was committed to the relationship, and recognized that the choices and lifestyle we were living required both of us to contribute financially, I stopped using my innate creative potential to look for ways out of the relationship and to reveal everything that was wrong with it. So instead of undermining our relationship, I focused on how I could earn money in a way that was meaningful and felt good to me. My righteousness and resistance got in the way of me looking in that direction before. I was so focused on my long-suffering experience that it obscured other possibilities.
Once my two feet were firmly planted in the relationship, I became open and willing to figure out how to make money and live a life I love. It did not take long before the way forward became clear. I went back to school, got my counseling degree, and became a psychotherapist. I was able to find jobs that gave me flexibility over my schedule before I became a full-time solo-preneur. This allowed Angus and I to share the parenting. As a daughter who grew up with out a father, I feel blessed to witness the close relationship our daughters have with him that is, at least in part, a result of his hands on involvement in their day-to-day lives. This is not how I envisioned it would be, but what emerged is far greater than the limited vision I had for our relationship and myself. And who knew Angus and I would be working together coaching couples now!
Rather than focusing on deal breakers, it seems that listening to the deeper wisdom and guidance rather than the analytical mind is what supports relationship. In our relationship now, I am committed to focusing on the love I have for him, and what I appreciate in our relationship so that is in the foreground as much as possible. It helps to shrink our differences and my annoyances down to a manageable size, and I know I can always turn inward toward my true nature and listen for answers to emerge from the unknown for any challenges that arise. I don’t need to do this ahead of time. I can trust that answers will be available for me when I need them.
For example, even if Angus were to engage in acting out behavior, my hope is that I would be able to see that as a consequence of his suffering and not take it personally. My intention is to stay connected with my love and compassion so I can see beyond the human behavior to the truth of who he is. I am human and may not be able to do this all the time, but I know enough to recognize more often that he is innocent, as am I, and we can both only ever do the best that we can given our understanding in that moment. That is enough because our true essence is love, and the natural state of our relationship is love, so we will always come back to that.
Looking toward the wisdom of your loving nature is the way forward in any relationship, including your relationship with yourself. Your deeper knowing will build a love far deeper and far wider than anything your analytical mind can construct. Take a jump into the unknown and see where you land because ultimately the only true landing spot is love.
Rohini Ross is a psychotherapist, a leadership consultant, and an executive coach. Rohini facilitates personalized three-day retreats for individuals, couples, and professionals to help them connect more fully with their true nature and experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. You can find out more about Rohini’s work on her website, rohiniross.com.