We are all broken by the time we start to seek partners. Real love heals us, and it grows as we heal. Maybe the trick to romantic relationships is finding someone who understands this, who will stay in the trenches with you as you both fight and kill your own demons with each other’s help. Maybe a true partner is our “wing man” in our struggle to heal ourselves, which is our life’s work.
In my experience, there are many hurts that we can only heal with a partner’s help. I think a lot of conflict in relationships is “just” one partner becoming aware of a problem (an unresolved hurt) in the other and making the other aware of it through the mirror of relationship, while the other’s ego reacts in self-defense.
After the conflict, with that particular battlefield clear, when the healing is done, maybe we can go about enjoying a deeper love and connection than we enjoyed together at the beginning, when we chose each other—before our inner battles became shared, when new love was easy.
Maybe this happens in steps, again and again, over a long time together, until all our hurts are healed together—both the past ones and the ones that happen along the way.
Not all old couples are just living out their marriage contract. There’s something powerful there, in being with someone who knows you thoroughly, scars and all. But to get there I think there are some uphill battles to fight along the way. That’s where commitment comes in. To me, commitment is faith—faith in yourself, in the other, and in the togetherness you share.
I think we only find what we’re really after when we see and accept each other’s pain and ugliness, and resolve to accept each other completely in spite of it. We can’t do that if we try to find a mate who is already perfect when we are not.
(written in 2008)