Reframing Marital Problems as Gifts

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Reframing Marital Problems as Gifts

Depending on where you look, the divorce rate in the United States is right about 50%. Half of all couples who exchange sacred vows to be with each other forever don’t make good on that promise. Before God, before the Divine, they have said they take this woman or this man to be their forever partner in the journey of life. At one time, they do this willingly, openly, from a place of deep intention. So, what is taking HALF of us off track? Why do half of us say, at some point, I can’t do this?

You can point to a lot of reasons: Social media, perhaps, for interrupting intimacy and distracting partners from each other as a central point of importance, the stresses of modern life, financial pressures, and emotional imbalances of all kinds. But we’ve always had stress. We’ve always had emotional and financial pressures. And distractions come in a thousand forms. There’s something deeper at work here. And because we’re a ‘fix it and move on’ society, we aren’t really looking for solutions.

My perspective is that we look at problems differently today, with a sense of urgency to fix or remove them, absent a deep reverence for the promises we make to ourselves and to each other. It’s almost like, well, if this man isn’t making me happy, I’m out – I can find someone else. If this woman isn’t attractive physically to me anymore, I’m out – I can find someone else. Sometimes it’s deeper than that. But underlying our divorce rate I think is a sense of impermanence and a lack of accountability for the choices we make; we forget that all the things we have today are things we once wished for upon stars that held space for our longing. I’m going to make a bold statement: I don’t think most people really want to divorce. I don’t believe it. Divorce is really hard on everyone involved, and no one really wins in the end. Money, time, energy, beauty, and magic are lost. If people knew how to fix their marital problems without defaulting to divorce, I think they would choose to do just that.

I’m here with one possible answer.

It’s time to reframe marital problems as gifts. Gifts? Gifts. When you are struggling with your partner, what if you took a step back and saw those arguments as opportunities to shift. We as humans are here to grow and develop, and we are emotional creatures who bond to others because we are meant to grow and develop together. When we experience discord in a relationship, it’s a sign that the energy is off – one or the other partner is growing alone and is struggling to find the support they need, and balance has been lost. Instead of walking away, going silent and ignoring each other, or fighting, something different needs to happen – we need to be brave enough to say out loud: “I am changing and I want to change with you. You are changing and I want to change with you. Can we talk about where and how we are changing and find a path to walk that allows us to grow and change together?” How magical would it feel to hear those words if you think your partner doesn’t really see you or what’s happening in your life? You’d feel SEEN and loved because the reality is, love is nothing more than being seen and accepted just as you are.

We end up hiding stuff from our partners we think they don’t want to see. And maybe they actually don’t want to see it. But we need to show it to each other. We need to teach each other that it’s all okay to be seen, whatever “it” is. All is welcome here. Men and women both need a soft place to land in life, and over and over I see couples unable to find soft space within so they go looking without. When in most cases, if the other partner knew they could save the relationship by allowing you to be seen and accepted, they’d do it. Most people want to stay together.

Are there exceptions to this? Yes. Abuse in a relationship cannot ever be tolerated. Ever. I’m talking emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse. Not ok. Your sovereignty dictates as much. In cases of abuse, I believe divorce is warranted. But most cases of divorce come after circumstances that could have been avoided through open communication and SPACIOUSNESS in the relationship. Room to breathe and be. Room to reflect and grow. Room to become.

I speak from a place of knowing. My marriage is rock solid and better than ever, but not because it’s always been easy or perfect. We’ve had rocky moments, times when I wasn’t sure we’d make it. I’m a Type A overachieving, hyper-educated, double fire sign, mother of two who has a chronic disease, aging parents, and I co-own a company with my husband. If that isn’t a recipe for stress, what is? I am a challenging person to have a relationship with because I’m picky, demanding, vocal, confident, strong, and discerning. I notice everything. I have high expectations. But I’m also someone who understands human nature on a nuanced level and my gifts of discernment are balanced by compassion and grace. I see the Divine and the human in you, in my husband, in the world. I make mistakes but I’m very willing to own them and talk about them openly. That is what makes my life work for me. I communicate, I reflect, I apologize, I grow, and I make space for others to do the same. I don’t always receive the same compassion and grace in return but that’s ok – there’s a reason I am a spiritual teacher and others are not. They aren’t obligated to find the beauty – I am. If you are doing deep spiritual work in the world, or want to, then I think you are obligated as well.

And from that place of feeling like my first responsibility is to look for beauty, I enter my marriage with a sense of allowing and grace, wanting him to have the freedom to become his fullest self, whatever that looks like. I try to make space for him to communicate his needs. He does the same for me, because one of the Universal Hermetic Laws is reciprocity – what you give to others freely will always return to you. I give freedom, and I receive it. I give compassion, I receive it. I give space, I receive it. I give support, I receive it. I give benefit of the doubt, I receive it. My partner is able to see the Divine in me, to give me space to grow and breathe, to see me and hold me in times of challenge, to celebrate successes and wins with me, and share a space of silence with me. We have taught each other that not only is it safe to be together, it’s beautiful to be together. I know for sure I am in the right place. And he does, too.

It’s not always easy to give grace and space. Some choose divorce because it’s easier to sign paperwork than give what is needed. But in the long term, it’s not easier. We have to choose the long road, not the quick fix. We have to lean in, not drop out. And we have to remember that others learn from our example. If you’re in a place of challenge in your primary relationship, ask yourself this question: When was the last time you asked him/her what they need right now, and how you might be able to create space for those needs to be filled? Hard to do if you’re frustrated or feel like you’re not getting what you need but here’s the thing: If you can’t be the bigger person, the one to ask first, the one to give first, nothing is likely to shift. You have to be the change you wish to see in your relationship. Lead by example. It is the only way. The only way I know, that is.

May you be blessed by the entire process of allowing and becoming. And may your partner rise to the occasion of your love for each other. It is what you both once dreamed of. Somewhere in your eyes, in his eyes, in her eyes, is a river of love calling you back home. I hope you’ll answer the call, or at least float in that river for a moment. Let it flow downstream and don’t fight against the rhythm as hard. Trust it a little. Soften a little. The worst possible outcome is that you’ll feel more tender in your own heart, and from there, miracles can happen.

May it be so for you. Amen, A’ho, So it is.

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