1998 – the first time I held my husband’s hands. We were 15.
Against all odds, we continued to hold hands for 22 years, and counting. Riding through pager times to Nokia phones to iPads to whatever is here in modern times. Hormones played a huge part in the early days. Laughter, excitement, euphoria, lust.
Then learning about communication, conflict management, jealousy, sadness, sacrifices, compromises, commitment – the foundation of a meaningful relationship. Love to me is willingness to put an effort and commitment to make it all work.
As the baby grows older, the fixation on obligations and responsibilities lighten.
There is space to explore – to make the choices to include each other. To respect personal space; to encourage personal growth. After more than 2 decades, possibilities and opportunities still present itself every day for the relationship.
Every day, even on a seemingly normal day, there are intentions to be set. Choices to be made.
It takes a certain courage to choose to say,
‘No. We will not leave this to tomorrow.’
It takes a lot of awkwardness to say,
‘Touch me here. Not there.’
It takes years of self-observation to cultivate openness and willingness to say,
‘I think we need to work this out.’ And not ‘It’s all your fault.’
It takes time to cultivate safety and space for vulnerability to express your soft needs, to say..
‘I feel scared when you..’ and not ‘How could you do this… ’
As we grow ‘older’, we learn to not allow external conditions or the waves of emotional and mental habits to dictate the state of the relationship. At some point of any relationship, you need to begin to build a healthy relationship with yourself if you want to maintain long healthy relationships.
As I practice and explore my relationship with myself, I learn to be loving and intimate with the self, and making it so much easier to be loving and intimate with others.
‘Am I relying on others to make me happy?’
‘This is so hard for me, but let’s not leave this to tomorrow.’
‘I acknowledge that I feel this shame about my body, let me begin to learn a different way’
‘Is it helpful to keep blaming myself?’
‘It is ok to feel scared, I let myself feel it.’
‘Practice easing into the challenging feelings, not pushing them away’
When I started working on myself, all I wanted was to be a better person for my partner and my child; not to love me. But then you realise that relationships have such universal dynamics, and you can’t ever truly be selective about it. It has to start with cultivating your relationship with yourself. This practice of self-observation, non-judgement, kindness etc – you can call it mindfulness, or you call it by any other name.
It might take months to years, but as long as you keep at it like any other skill we practice, we can grow increasingly comfortable with the self-observation, the self-compassion, and to be kind to yourself, to relax into our own inner challenges.
Possible for self; possible for others.
Now the ability to extend that same love and compassion to others becomes possible and easier when we experience it for ourselves. Our children, partner, parents, friends – To see their vulnerabilities and pain, to choose to be kind and not blame. To sit comfortably with conflicts and not see it as a fixed state of the relationship. To see possibilities for change and betterment and not resignation (and that might mean ending a relationship sometimes).
To develop the wisdom to discern and to walk the path of peace and lightness in your relationships, and not never-ending drama and pain.
To hold my husband’s hand and not feel tired of it, it’s a conscious effort and choice.