1) A Relationship that's not growing at all
2) A Relationship that's growing apart
3) A Relationship that's growing together
In our last blog we talked about what a relationship that's not growing at all looks like. In this segment we will be talking about what "A Relationship that's growing apart" can look like. Susan and I both will be giving our ideas and experiences on these topics. I will start off by sharing my thoughts on the matter.
In the first segment of this three part blog I mentioned that I had been married and divorced twice. As I look back on my first marriage, I can see that it was a relationship that was not growing at all. I was not even consciously aware of it, I thought we had a great relationship and all was well. But I can see now that it was not.
Being in my early 20's I was young and learning what life was all about in a marriage relationship. Religion played a big part in our lives as we had met in our church. But even with the same belief system it is not a guarantee that all will go well. You have two different people with different life experiences, influences and teachings that have developed you into the person that you are and you are trying to put these two different people together for life in a lasting relationship of growth and happiness. Not and easy task for anyone to carry out.
I was not an abusive person but in some ways controlling. I was the typical provider while my wife stayed home raising the kids and taking care of life on the home front. I handled the finances and controlled that with a tight budget. My wife probably felt stuck at home to much and did not have much of a life outside of that and church. Our communication was for sure lacking and we didn't even know much about ourselves much less each other. But we did have some good times and we created two beautiful children that I adore to this day. As parents we will always love our kids no matter what.
I had two major blows, my first was losing my career job with just two weeks left of my probation period. I was called in to the office and told that I was being let go for over all unsatisfactory job performance. I was in shock, totally unexpected. My ego was hit hard and I felt lost. Had to downsize big time selling vehicles and getting out from as much payments as I could to make ends meet. Worked two jobs and my wife also went to work. It might have been three or four months of this when my wife decided she was going to quit her job and she wanted to go back to Oregon where we moved from to see and visit our old babysitter with the kids for a break. I thought that was a good idea and might be a good stress relief to get a break. So she packed up the kids and left. After about a week I had not heard from her so I called to see how things were going. She told me she was not coming back, that she had been planning on leaving me for the past three years and was waiting for the opportunity to do so.
I was in shock again and totally lost now not knowing what to do. I did the only thing I knew to do, that was to pack things up, move back to Oregon and try to figure things out with my wife. I asked her if she would be willing to get some counseling together. Her mind was made up, she knew what she wanted and that was out. It devastated me, 11 years over, I felt like such a failure on all levels. Losing my job and now my family. This was the hardest thing I ever had to go through. I honestly do not know how I even made it. The only answer that I recall why she left me was that she felt like she was not allowed to be herself. That she had to become someone else when she married me. She quit smoking for me, not because she wanted to. I was totally clueless and had no idea that she had any feelings like this. Like I said, I thought things were great. Young and naive I was.
I never felt like we were growing apart at all. It was a relationship that was just existing and not growing. Just trying to fit a good mold of what a family should be like the best way I knew how. And to be honest, at that age there is a lot to learn about yourself and each other.
Now my second marriage, that was a relationship where we grew apart. We were married for 18 years and we had some good times as well. We also met in church and knew each other back in high school. But there were bigger hurdles to overcome in our relationship. When I met her in church she had been clean and sober for two years from alcohol and drug abuse. She had lost three children to the state from her past life and was hanging on to another that the state allowed as she complied with what they wanted her to do and accomplish. She was doing well and came along ways from where she had been. She had a lot of pain and guilt to live with from losing her kids to the state. Something you never get over and can rationalize. Later in life after the kids grew up, they came back into her life again which was very healing for her.
I adopted the child that she kept and we also had two beautiful children together which I am very proud of. Our kids are all wonderful children to this day and she also played a big role in raising my first two children from my previous marriage. There were a lot of bumps in the road over the years with us. She relapsed twice back into her addictions which brought more pain and heartache. I supported her through this time and went weekly to her drug court appearances for a year until she completed it. She was the courts role model and most successful client that had attended up to date.
She later started going to karaoke bars with her sister and it became part of her life style with friends at the bar. She got into video poker machines and it got to a point where we lost our business because she lost our employees payroll playing the machines. (Another addiction that gets the endorphins and dopamine chemicals in the brain feeling good.) I tried for a while to participate with her going to karaoke but the bar scene was not my life style. I just could not do it anymore. We grew father apart little by little until I couldn't take it anymore.
I have never been one to smoke, drink, gamble or do drugs and this exposure to this lifestyle was killing me inside. I became very depressed having suicidal thoughts even though I would tell myself I would never do anything. I felt stuck, trapped and no way out. I eventually ended up getting counseling for spouses of addicts of gambling, drugs, alcohol etc... and it was during this time that I realized I needed to make a change for my own well being if I was going to survive. It was hard for me to deicide to divorce, as I always had the belief that divorce was not an option for me, but so far it seems to be my experience. I accepted that it was an option and I was supported either way by my counselor whether I wanted to try to repair things or move on. I chose to move on.
I want to say that all you are getting here is a piece of my side of the story. I am not without any blame or fault here, my two ex wife's have their side of the story that probably looks a lot different, but we have our own perspectives to it on our own experiences and how it affected us. I have much respect and unconditional love for both my past wives and even though we have gone our separate ways, they each have played an important part in my learning and growing as a human being. Every person that comes into our experience is not an accident but part of our learning to teach us and help us grow. I have much more clarity now about relationships, what I want and don't want.
Life is full of twist and turns, I can think of times when I would look at people and judge them because of who they appeared to be and where they were in life. It is easy to look down on people that struggle and judge, but we are all just one step from possibly being in their shoes or hitting bottom. Things can sneak up on us and change fast if we are not careful. Some basic things that relationships have taught me are this:
1) It is important to take care of you and never settle, sacrifice, or give in to something that goes against who you are or your conscious.
2) You cannot control or manipulate someone to be something that you want. If you can't accept a person exactly the way they are, then move on.
3) It is important to allow each other to be their true selves. We each need our space, our freedom, our voice and individuality. We are all unique and individuals, not carbon copies.
4) Encourage each others creativity and strengths.
5) Your love must not have conditions.
6) Become everything that you want to see in your partner.
7) Communication is more then being heard, its hearing.
8) Be aware that your ego is fear driven and when you get backed into a corner, let humility speak its truth.
9) It is wise to walk away from tough drama, allow time to cool you down so you can think straight again. You will always find a solution that is more favorable when you can talk peaceably again.
10) Let love have the final word in all things, it never fails.
When I think of relationships growing apart I had to really think back what my past relationship looked and felt like. I wasn't taught how to have or be in a healthy relationship so I learned how through my own experiences.
But what came to me while meditating was I want to touch on a very important relationship that really grew apart and that is, the one with myself. This is the most important relationship to have if we want to have a healthy relationship with or without a partner.
Growing Apart From Our True Self In Our Personal Relationship to
Growing back to Your True Self
My journey of my own personal relationship that I was developing started when I was awakening back in 2007. At that point I realized that I forgot who I was. And when I was young I never thought that a relationship starts with yourself. I just naturally taught myself how to have a healthy relationship with myself and others. Today I am still learning and growing my personal relationship with myself by paying attention to how I feel, my thoughts and beliefs. Learning is endless in our experiences. All of it can be the same as others, some very different or some similar. That is what makes learning about relationships fun.
Do you love yourself enough to create boundaries? Are you patient, loving, compassionate not only with you but with your partner or past partners in your relationships?
In my past relationship with my ex we were not close at all. I was not able to be open or vulnerable with my feelings nor felt safe doing so. I never thought of that back then. Every time I wanted to share my feelings with him about something I was shut down which created more distance between us causing our relationship to grow farther apart. He did not even want to know anything about me personally. All I heard about from him was who I wasn't. Frankly there was no feeling of a bond or connection when I first met him.
When I started to have a personal relationship with myself, discovering who I was and am, I felt our relationship continue like it always was, distant and growing apart. The more I was my true self the more he moved away from me. So if you have this experience, know its not you. You are becoming your true self and your relationship with you is far more important!
So if your in a relationship that is growing apart, start with learning and growing a relationship with you first. You will be happy, joyful and appreciative. Being in gratitude, loving, knowing how to make yourself feel good and loved, your self worth and self esteem will grow. Ask yourself Who Am I?
So what does your relationship that is growing apart look like to you?
Are you both so busy to find alone time or together time? How about finding time to connect with each other that also includes intimacy. Are you holding back feelings of frustration, guilt or anger because you don't feel that closeness together and you want more? Are you afraid to speak your truth and express it? Do you feel abandoned, ignored or lack of communication? Do you sit apart while watching TV with little or no interaction? Do you not go anywhere together? Maybe the trust is gone, not feeling safe anymore. You may be starting to feel lonely and alone. These can be signs of growing in opposite directions or pulling apart.
Maybe you feel you just don't have anything in common anymore. Maybe your interest are different and, or you both are not feeling supportive in your interests together. You know it is ok to have personal interests because we have our own personal journey of what we desire to experience, but wouldn't it be nice to be supportive and acknowledge what they want and talk about it to each other?
These are some examples of what I experienced in my past relationship. Some of you may have experienced the same or similar things as well or you currently may be going through it now. No matter where you are, you can improve yourself and be a better person for it.
How did I get through this? Well I started with, "I love being with me." I love who I was becoming and knowing that God, my angels, the universe and my soul are always with me.
So how do we avoid growing apart? Can we avoid it ?
When I wrote this question this is what came to mind. How do we avoid it? Do you ever think about how to avoid growing apart? Probably not. I wasn't aware in my past relationship that it was. I thought it was the norm just the way it was. But one thing that comes to me is this, I got this feeling something is not right between us. You know that gut feeling? We usually ignore it.
So if you and your partner are working together as a team in your relationship that is wonderful!! Both being self aware, the communication is awesome and so is the connection between you both.
You really want a partner who wants to grow with you in your relationship together. It is a partnership, teamwork that helps avoid growing apart. It is enjoying the interest you both have, talking about things in our individual lives each day. It is also keeping communication safe, open, holding space for both of you to express in a loving way about something that may bother you, or something about your self growth. It takes awareness, desire and choosing to keep it fresh and healthy. Keep communication and connection your number one priority. Your friends right? It is like having a best friend in your relationship. Talk about where your relationship needs to be worked on, and your personal relationship also.
If you have a partner who does not want to grow with you, love them, appreciate them and get yourself in alignment to loving you and start having a relationship with yourself. That is where all healthy relationships come from. We mirror ourselves, our desires. It always starts with us first.
It is all about you ! Take care of you!
So here is a very important piece of guidance I want to share with you. If you are in a relationship that is not growing at all or growing apart, start working on a relationship with yourself!! This is the most important thing to have even if you want to be in a new relationship.
Take time to reflect or maybe right down what you feel is not happening in your relationship that you desire to experience and live. Then write down what you do want to experience in your current relationship.
If your wanting to be in a new relationship write it down too!! You are creating when you write down your desires. If you cannot express it to your partner, you are expressing it to the Universe!!!
You will be happy, joyful, appreciative, in gratitude, loving and knowing how to make yourself feel good. feeling loved and wanted, your self worth and self esteem will grow. You will know how to fulfill yourself with everything you desire to experience from another person with yourself. And when that special soul mate comes to you, or your partner comes to you and holds a mirror up and is reflecting that to you, you will see who you are and open your heart to love. Believe me I did this in my past relationship! I did not need anything emotional from him at all. What came to me if it was a hug or appreciation it was a reflection of me. It feels like I have taken control over my life and what I personally wanted to experience in a relationship.
Here is how to start to align with love and grow a relationship with you!
Self Love Time
So Ask yourself Who Am I? What do I want?
Having a journal is so healing to our mind, body and soul. There you can write out your feelings, desires, how your day went, how did you feel, be and do, your intentions, what you saw in yourself that you want to let go of to grow more into your true self.
Meditation is very healthy as it helps you be still in the moment to listen to your inner voice, wisdom. Also praying before or after mediation. Ask for guidance, but also say Thank you, and what you are grateful for in your current relationship and with your partner. Set your intentions for your day. Keeps you focused and aware on those intentions you set.
Take time for you during your day! I know some of you might be so busy with family, job, but remember if you choose to take time for you, the moment will be there for you. Take walks, pamper yourself!
Be gentle and loving as you are awakening and begin your journey to self love. Best relationship you will ever have, and then with your partner. Whether he or she joins you when your true self or not, you will feel complete within yourself.
Susan and I would like to hear any feedback or comments that you may have from your relationship experiences in life. Feel free to comment and share your life experience and what it has taught you.
In our next segment blog we will explore in our relationships what:
"Growing Together Looks Like"
With Love and Gratitude,
Phil and Susan
Relationship Love Mentors