Remember the movie Titanic? Such a beautiful, state of the art ship that seemed perfect; able to contain an enormous amount of life! It was filled with so many wonderful stories, new and lasting partnerships, and an incredibly bright future.
The Titanic seemed unsinkable and indestructible; it was as if nothing could stop it. From the outside it looked like it had everything it needed to succeed, right? Unfortunately, it wasn't the design of the glorious Titanic that brought it to it's demise. The real threat to that amazing ship was underneath the waterline; that which was unseen.
Had the captain been able to navigate in a way that he would have known what was below the waterline, the course could have been changed, and the ship, as well as many lives, could have been saved.
We can liken relationships to the Titanic in that the idea of them is absolutely amazing, giving us a sense of joie de vivre (enjoyment of life), a sense of pure happiness. Through relationships, we create new and lasting stories where we celebrate partnerships that provide both unconditional love, as well as a sense of hope for a brighter future.
Yet, while relationships seem like they are indestructible in the beginning, they are quite vulnerable to that which is unseen. Along with this, if we are ill-equipped to navigate through our relationships in a healthy way, we are at risk of losing what we have worked so hard at creating.
Many people want to avoid talking about or looking at the unseen. Most people would rather brush it under a big dusty rug than address it. However, it is in having information that we have the ability to respond, hence responsibility, and can navigate through our relationships in a healthier way. We can be the captains of our own relationSHIP.
I am a huge proponent of relationships and believe that ANY relationship can work void of any sort of violation of anthers' human rights (i.e., domestic abuse that includes physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual assault).Even when there is an addiction, including an intimacy disorder (sexual addiction), I believe that if the unseen is known, then the relationship can navigate it's way to a safe and healthy shore. The caveat to this is that both parties (addict and partner) in the relationship must be willing to do the work to re-stabilize and re-learn the rules of the new couple-ship.
Take a moment and think about the issues in your relationship that you might be avoiding, sweeping under that big dusty rug, or that are or have been unseen for awhile. Are there issues that you know are problematic that you and/or your partner is not addressing? Or, are there issues that you believe are your partner's problem such as an addiction to alcohol or porn that you think they need to solve without you being a part of the recovery process?
Regarding this last question, whenever there is an addiction, our clinical team strongly encourages both the spouse and addict to get therapy so that they can both learn new tools for navigating through their relationship in a healthier way together. Both get to be the Co-Captains of your RelationSHIP. If one person learns new tools and the other doesn't, it often creates even more unforeseen challenges and frustrations in the relationship that in some unfortunate cases, cause the relationship to sink.
Along with looking at the unforeseen issues in a relationship, many folks often struggle to see the good traits and qualities in their partner because their own past trauma and pain clouds their vision.
Therefore, they point the finger at their partner, continually blaming them for their pain. If you are someone that does this, I encourage you to recall who you fell in love with in the beginning of your relationship. As Deepak Chopra says in one of my favorite books, The Path to Love (1997), "The goal of the [path to love] is to transform your awareness from separation to unity. In unity we perceive only love, express only love, are only love"(p.35).
It is through awareness of the unseen issues both challenging as well as positive, and a commitment to navigate through those issues in a healthy way, that relationships can remain steadfast and strong, unbreakable, unsinkable. Today, this week, this month, forever, I encourage you to be the Captains of Your RelationSHIPs. Acknowledge the un-seen and make a solid commitment to work to create safety, intimacy, and health with your loved one.
You are Worth It.