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Intimate Relationships

When my daughters were small, I used to read them fairy stories, and when we came to the ‘happily ever after,’ I created a different ending as follows: ‘So they got married and had many wonderful times together and sometimes they were sad and sometimes angry and had big fights, but they always found a way to talk about whatever it was that made them angry, so they could understand and trust each other and feel close to each other again.’ When they could read, they protested, as they could see that my ending wasn′t the ‘real’ one in the storybook. I think like many of us, they preferred the promise of the fairy tale.

Joseph Campbell believes ‘that one of the problems in marriage (intimate relationships) is that people don′t realise what it is. They think it′s a long love affair and it isn′t. Marriage has nothing to do with being happy. It has to do with being transformed. And when the transformation is realised, it is a magnificent experience. But you have to yield. You have to give. You can′t just dictate.’

We all come to relationships with expectations which reflect our past experiences. When we ‘fall in love,’ it seems for many of us, that at last we have found someone who really loves and understands us, and therefore will want to support us in ways that will keep us happy. This is an illusion and can never last.

Of course if we love someone, we want to be generous and loving towards them, but this needs to flow from a place of choice rather than obligation.

The only person responsible for my well-being and happiness is me. Living intimately with the ‘other’ is an ongoing challenge, offering an amazing opportunity for self-reflection, healing and growth. Thinking that if the ‘other’ really loved me, he/she would know what I need and give it to me without my having to ask, is demanding the impossible.

If we look outside our self for happiness, while tempting, we are on a painful treadmill to nowhere. If we think our partner should but isn′t making us happy, we often try to badger them into being the way we want them to be, which is doomed to failure. Alternatively, we leave the relationship and start the same fruitless pattern with someone else.

Happiness, like any other feeling, comes and goes. The inner peace that lasts a lifetime, can only come by taking full responsibility for our own well-being, while at the same time refusing to accept any form of abuse.

If we remember to take responsibility for our own happiness, it will be a great gift to both ourselves and to the people we partner.

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