Getting Along or Getting Known
An interesting article was posted in the New York Times a few weeks back entitled "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person" (read it here - http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/opinion/sunday/why-you-will-marry-the-wrong-person.html?_r=2&referer=). The heart of it was "nobody's perfect" and for a couple to be truly happy neither of them should try to be. In my office I've been encouraging people to show up as their unpolished, imperfect version for years, so I naturally want to blast this public encouragement through a megaphone, or at least blog about it.
Everyone seems to grasp that a honeymoon phase in a relationship usually exists, and is glorious. This phase, where your unique fantasy of perfection overlaps with your partner's, can last months or even years. Everyone also seems to (reluctantly) accept that the only constant is change and honeymoons eventually end. However, what seems to not get as much acceptance is that true intimacy is knowing both those giddy-glorious times as well as the raw-rough-real ones. Deep connection runs the full spectrum.
Yet, as this article quickly calls out, "...before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities." They usually show up later with family-of-origin issues creeping up around the idea of having kids or not, living in one area or another, and choosing what to communicate based on a preference of getting along or getting known. Whenever complexity finally shows up it's a choice to engage, learn how to fight well and share instead of holding back and being infected by all the things you don't say. It's not often easy, which is why therapy can be a helpful way to do this. And a big reason why it's not easy is because of this Romantic view of a perfect person:
"We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them."
In other words, there's no prize for being "perfect" in fact, relationally, it's a loss to leave out the difference and difficulty. Don't hide in what isn't working. Instead, invite your partner to your mess, your realness and have disagreement and honesty. Commit yourself to employing the compassion you (work hard) to give yourself, to you partner. Then see what happens. There's no map. It's not easy. But it's how, I believe, people truly get to be known and have the most meaningful connections.