It is actually a blessing when the fall from grace happens.
Most people are upset and troubled when they experience difficulties in their intimate relationships. There are a few, however, that see the difficulties as a gift.
Firstly, to have the gift of an intimate relationship in which the pressure comes off to be perfect is a huge blessing. We can often keep it together at work or in social situations through the willpower of self-management driven by fear, and some people even maintain this facade in intimate relationships, but it is a real blessing to be in a relationship that is not driven by fear where the social mask of good behavior comes off. It means there is real trust, safety, and intimacy.
But this must not be mistaken for your true self. It is just one layer of the mask being shed.
When the social niceties dissipate and insecurities come to the forefront and it is usually with our intimate partners that these get revealed and acted on. Someone might appear relaxed and easy-going at work but behave like a control freak at home. Someone may appear confident with friends but become needy and clingy with their partner.
The person you met at the beginning of your relationship was positive, optimistic, generous and loving, but now you are two years into the relationship it looks like you were duped. He is now a negative, complainer who only thinks of himself. It can look like these are his true colors. And the shift looks more like a curse than a blessing.
I think most people who have been in a long-term relationship can relate to the facade coming down. And when the blush of the honeymoon period ends, we can feel at a loss for how to continue in the relationship. Often times the relationship dies even though the form continues, children, financial entanglement, financial burden, or shame are what keep the relationship intact, but it becomes more of a perfunctory business relationship than one of love and depth. Couples go through the motions until one or both find someone new who makes them feel alive again, or the pain and suffering of such an empty relationship become too much and the form of the relationship breaks down. Some, I would say less fortunate, find a way to maintain the status quo. Hopefully, they are able to find fulfillment elsewhere in life.
There is another way. Yes, the honeymoon phase ends in a relationship, and there can be a new beginning with even greater depth of love and connection. The flaws of our partner and ourselves require us to look beyond the personal to get there.
Love relationships are one of the greatest vehicles for looking in the direction of the impersonal. They are not seen this way because of romantic notions of happily ever after that promulgate a fantasy of living in the high of the honeymoon state if you have a good relationship. And when the impossibility of that is realized, couples are given strategies and techniques to try and rekindle what was originally there or tools to become civil with each other to make the relationship work.
What is missed, however, is the depth that is available through understanding the relationship journey. In relationships we get to eat dessert first. We are given a taste of paradise where we lose our inhibitions and are free from our insecurities. We dive deep into the heady waters of personal love. This seems to be required for us to be willing to get close to anyone. Without this intoxicating experience risking intimacy would not look appealing.
But the intoxication does not and cannot last in the way we think it should. That is not a bad thing.
On a personal level, it is always going to run out. After dessert, we are then left with a main course that may have much more bitter than sweet included. You no longer see your partner through the lens of a free mind and see them through the lens of fear. From this perspective, their humanity usually doesn’t measure up. You see their weaknesses. Not only that you are reminded of your own. But now you are close. There is nowhere to hide. This stark view of yourself and each other can suck the passion and enthusiasm right out of you and the relationship. From not being able to keep your hands off each other and making love at any time and anywhere sex becomes a need to be fulfilled or a chore to be completed. Criticism seeps into communication eroding goodwill like rust eats away at metal.
The bait and switch element of relationships can feel disappointing, but this is where real intimacy begins.
We feel the pain of realizing our partner can never satisfy us in the way we thought they could. We opened ourselves up to the heights of bliss thinking they were the one. Only to come crashing down and realize they have feet of clay. Now what?
First, realize the bait and switch has nothing to do with your partner. If you take a step back and look at what opened up inside of you at the beginning of the relationship, it had nothing to do with your partner in the first place. The honeymoon period is not something that they did to you or caused in you. It is a state of being you fell into. It is a peak experience that shows you what is possible when you are set free from conditioned beliefs about yourself and live in the possibility of the moment.
It is a gift that remains a gift even when you come back down to earth when you realize it is a reference point, a true north showing you what is possible.
And when all of the conditioned beliefs of limitation come flooding back in and you no longer feel invincible and you see everything wrong with your partner, this lets you know you are close. You feel too close for comfort, but you are in intimacy. You are seeing each other beyond the facade of social niceties, but you are not seeing the truth of who you are.
The pain and disappointment of this experience can be a catalyst to see beyond the personal in the relationship to the impersonal to the love that is not about you or them. To the love that simply is who you are. You felt that at the beginning but misattributed it to them. You personalized the love, but that feeling is impersonal. It does not belong to anyone, and it does not come from anyone or anything. It is what is true and real. But misunderstanding what it is and thinking it is about the other causes great suffering. However, it is the door to awakening.
If you surrendered to the feeling of love at the beginning of your relationship, you have a reference point for recognizing who you are. The feeling of peace and contentment never came from your lover. It came from you feeling your true nature and melting into that experience. When this is misattributed to a partner, disappointment is always going to ensue. The state of being doesn’t last and then the partner is blamed. All their faults are seen as the cause, not because they weren’t there before, but because they weren’t seen as a problem.
But this second stage, the fall from grace. That is the real gift. You are no longer going to be able to misattribute the bliss to your partner. And the more you look to them to make you happy, the more dissatisfied and discontented you will feel. It won’t work anymore. There is no going back. But there is a reference point for that experience. You just can’t get there in the same way. The smoke and mirrors trick of romantic love is no longer available.
But now you have human intimacy that feels unbearable without the state of consciousness of love. How do you be with someone and yourself warts and all without that feeling? And nothing you do to try and improve your partner or improve yourself will make it better. There is no substitute.
Some will naturally find a way to love impersonally, many will not. But everyone has the capacity to find their way there.
The gift of the post-honeymoon period is to find the love that is within you. That is your true nature. To find it consciously and recognize it does not come from outside of you. It is within. It was always this way, you were just not recognizing that previously. It looked like your lover gave it to you. They did not. You simply woke up to who you are. You can stay awake to that. You can understand what happened initially and use the feeling as your compass point to guide you to who you are beyond your conditioned beliefs and ideas. You have a reference point to who you are.
When you realize that the second part of the journey is a solo trip, all of a sudden your partner cannot hold you back, and when you make the journey you get to see life and your partner with new eyes. You get to see through the eyes of love consciously. This is not an all or nothing journey. It is a waking up to who you are that is often gradual and tentative. It involves remembering and forgetting. But, the remembering is worth the forgetting. The waking up is worth the letting go.
That is the gift of intimacy. You get to feel your most vulnerable and insecure with those you love the most. That is not who you are. The pain of this is the reminder that you can wake up to what is true. Those who suffer most in their intimate relationships have the greatest opportunity to use the pain to wake up to their true nature. They are not able to settle for a numb existence of practical relationship management. They are alive and aware that their experience is painful. You don’t have to settle for the pain. Instead, use the pain to wake up. See the gift in the pain of not letting you stay asleep to who you are.
Come back home to the love you visited at the beginning, this time with understanding. Know it is you. From there you will live life from love. You will not need love. It will simply be who you are. And if you are suffering, know this is not against you. It is for you. It is your reminder to remember. Let your suffering be your guide to look inward. That is the best gift you can give yourself and your relationship will benefit.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, a regular blogger for Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1) available on Amazon. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. She is also the founder of The Soul-Centered Series: Psychology, Spirituality, and the Teachings of Sydney Banks. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.