by Derek O'Neill
It is hard to have a satisfying partnership if your ego is out of alignment with love. What do I mean by that? As you sit with yourself, your feelings, your past experiences, and your self-image, it is common to want to deflect, avoid or ignore the things that cause us fear, lack of confidence and a feeling of being incomplete.
When you push away the part of your ego you’d rather not deal with, it is very hard to feel self-love and acceptance.
If we come to a relationship thinking we can align our ego “separate” from our partner, rather than “with” our partner, we are running from our shadows, which will manifest in disharmony. You must embrace who you are before you can enter a partnership. That’s not about being what you perceive as “perfect” or “issue-free.” It’s knowing that when two people get together they bring their baggage with them. Unpacking it is what a relationship is going to be about. You cannot hide the contents from your partner, and even more importantly, yourself. You also can’t dump the contents of your baggage at the feet of your loved one and expect them to deal with it. You must be willing to unpack, work at, and accept the issues that you will have together and individually.
How does your partner feel about themselves? Obviously, we are all unique and have different experiences at any given time, yet if a couple has a wide divide when it comes to self-acceptance and love, it will show up in the relationship as imbalance. When we acknowledge that we must love ourselves in order to love another, that’s a conscious commitment that becomes a very important part of a partnership. If your spouse/partner does not have that kind of emphasis on self-love, it can cause many issues and conflicts. There’s an exercise I have people do where they rate how much they love themselves on a scale of 1-10. Again, we are not all the same, and just because someone is grappling with feelings doesn’t mean that a relationship cannot be strong, but how your partner sees themselves on that scale can predict problems.
Just as you face the ups and downs of a relationship – hopefully together – another much less talked about element, is how you feel about yourselves. A strong partnership will recognize that as something that must be active and evolving. No matter what you go through as a couple, if one of you begins to try to fill an emptiness, or avoid deep-seated issues by expecting the other person to “fix it,” it is almost always a guarantee of trouble.
Accepting love is something you can only truly do when you know that you are perfect as you are. There is almost always work to be done, but you are meant to be exactly where you are at any given point. Surrender to the fact that there are things you cannot control and outcomes are never guaranteed. Your journey is your destination. In a partnership or marriage, we make conscious decisions – at the beginning in terms of who we choose, and throughout the relationship with every event and situation we face. However, forcing and reaching for certainty will only lead to suffering.
You must be willing to accept love, in all of its inexactness and different manifestations.
When it comes to a marriage, that may mean having to go your separate ways. Most people’s biggest fear is of being loved. When a loving human crosses your path, you should be ready to surrender your fear and feelings of self-doubt. If you bring them into the relationship, the push and pull of love will be difficult. If you begin with knowledge of your worth, your heart, and your ability to project the love you have found for yourself, however imperfect, you will have a great advantage in a true and sustained partnership.
Marriage and partnership may be versions of “togetherness” but it’s the attention and time that we spend on ourselves (and just for ourselves on a regular basis) that will ward off feelings of abandonment. Fear of love is tied to fear of abandonment. You must start by not abandoning yourself. If you don’t, you’ll unconsciously push away your loved ones and you feel the very thing you are trying to avoid – abandoned. Sit with yourself. Begin to love yourself warts and all. Though we don’t hear this enough, self-love – and your partner’s self-love – are the seeds for a good marriage.