While most intimate relationships may be based on love and a commitment to enjoy life together, it is quite natural to experience conflicts.
We each hold distinct character traits and come from unique backgrounds and experiences. If we do not respect the differences these engender or allow space for expression, conflicts will develop.
Our intimate relationships bring with them many wonderful opportunities for joy and happiness. The companionship. Someone to share our passions with. Experiencing the myriad of life’s pleasures together. Creating a family or the bringing of families together.
However, because of the closeness of our intimate relationships, they can bring us face to face with misalignments from our True Self and the unconditional love it holds. All issues and conflicts are a result of this disconnect from this love inherent within us, but that is latent.
Connected to the unconditional love within, we respond calmly rather than react aggressively, or submissively, to what might otherwise feel as an affront. We do not need to be right, validated, or to prove ourselves worthy. We communicate with others in calm, respective, and compassionate ways because this connection allows for a sense of peacefulness within our being.
Disconnected from the unconditional love within, we may be aggressive, defensive, or controlling, and we may be driven by neediness. These will surely show up as issues or conflicts with our partner.
(This article/blog post is based on concepts in my book Your Journey to Peace, Bridging the Gap Between Religion, Spirituality, Psychology, and Science. Book Synopsis is found here).
Neediness causes push-and-pull scenarios. The needy one will want too much from their partner emotionally causing him or her to pull away. He or she will then become more demanding causing the other to pull away even further. Conflicts and hurt feelings will surely ensue.
We may have a deep-set fear of intimacy. Of being vulnerable. Of loss. Our intimate relationships usually challenge us to address these, as the highest purpose of our relationships is to bring out our fears – so that we can heal them.
Unhealed fears keep us living in mediocrity and on the surface level of our emotions. This keeps us distanced from our True Self and from the joy and true contentment it holds.
Coming up against our fears can cause us to behave in various ways within the relationship. Protective devices we put up create walls distancing us emotionally from our partner. Communication wanes. We may react with anger, aggression, or attempt to control the other or the situation. Or, we may become passive and further internalize whatever fear has surfaced without addressing it.
So there are many opportunities within our intimate relationships for one or both parties to feel hurt, misunderstood, or emotionally drained. These will create conflicts, and left unaddressed the issues can cause not only much frustration and unhappiness, they may well result in a break-down of the relationship.
People are only ever trying to get their needs met (whether they are real or perceived needs this is how the person feels at the moment) and these play out most easily in our couple relationships.
Like two out of control trains barreling toward each other on the same track,
couples often smash into each other just trying to get their needs met.
Differences that Often Create Conflict Actually Add Value
We are inclined to try to have our partners think, act, and feel the way we do. However, making a partnership work involves accepting our differences and embracing the qualities that each brings to the table.
Admittedly, this is easier said than done. Once the honeymoon phase is over and real life sets in, seeing the positive aspects of the other often goes by the wayside. As with everything else in life, we have to consciously focus on the positive. When we do this, we give the positive aspects of the other a fertile place to grow.
Along with our fears and defensiveness, our differences, idiosyncrasies, and various ways of navigating life that show up in our relationships can be a breeding ground for conflict – unless we deal with them calmly, honestly, and with understanding.
Any neediness, agendas, or protective mechanisms we put on the other will follows us until we deal with them. The highest purpose of our close relationships is to heal any misalignments we may hold.
A Course in Miracles considers any relationship where we get to work out and make peace with what comes up a “holy relationship.” Acknowledging, addressing, and overcoming what keeps us from being aligned with our True Self is a holy, sacred undertaking.
It is by working through any negative reactions or defensiveness that come up when in contact with others that helps us connect to our True Self. We then feel peaceful within our self.
Looking past our differences with others brings us closer to acknowledging the Oneness we all share. We then feel peace with others.
We often marry or choose partners with opposite personalities, but with many qualities we like and appreciate. However, what we like is only part of his or her personality make-up.
For example, the person who is organized and gets the bills paid may annoy us by being more focused on money, organization, or routine than we like.
Or, we might be partnered up with someone who is more spontaneous than we are and who brings excitement to the family, but their inability to keep to schedules may irritate us.
We are attracted to and partner up with another for many of the reasons I mentioned above, but also for practical every day ones. It may be to help and support each other in family or work life, or to balance each other out in practical ways. Bills need to be paid and budgets adhered to or chaos ensues. Spontaneity keeps things alive and fun.
We can choose to focus on the positive aspects of our partner and praise them for the valuable qualities he or she brings to the partnership, or we can berate our spouse for the aspects of his or her personality that annoy us.
It is easiest to be accepting of our partner when we can see the differences as a blessing, recognizing that as he or she navigates life differently than we do it adds value to our relationship.
Instead of seeing our differences as sources of conflict, we can see them as sources of healing. Making peace with and accepting the differences we share with our significant other brings self-healing, moves us closer to our wholeness, and helps us grow spiritually. And it creates more harmony in our life and around us.
Couples and Their Misalignments
All our relationships are opportunities to heal, grow spiritually, and become our Best Self. Our intimate relationships are the perfect vehicle for this healing because we are usually relating to someone with different backgrounds, character traits, and misalignments from their True Self.
Everyday life provides us many opportunities to make peace with whatever presents itself that causes negative reactions in us, whether outwardly or inwardly.
We can make peace with how the other person is behaving. We can make an effort to be patient and understanding.
We can attempt to understand the basis for any negative reaction we have had. And we have to forgive our self for how we may have behaved.
From time to time most of us default to some attitudes or behaviors that come from being misaligned from the unconditional love inherent, but often latent, within us. Attempting to forgive and make peace with the differences we have with others moves us closer to embracing that unconditioal love.
Couples with Similar Percentages of Misalignment.
We usually pair up with another person who shares a similar percentage of misalignment from his or her True Self as we do. These misalignments can show up as completely different issues or they may complement each other.
For example, one partner may be inclined toward anger and the other is judgmental. One may be controlling while the other succumbs to victimization.
Until we understand that the highest purpose of our relationships is to help us unearth and heal our misalignments, these different ways of being will bring conflicts into our relationships – unless we are an easy-going person able to find peace with every situation.
An angry, aggressive, controlling person who projects all this onto their partner must understand that their need to control is hurting the other, as well as the relationship.
If the aggressor truly wants their partner to be happy and to have a harmonious relationship, he or she must attempt to change and/or to work on the root cause. Finding their calm center will not only benefit their partner it will benefit them too.
Similarly, a submissive partner’s healing lies in the recognition of his or her passivity. They too must attempt to understand the root cause and work to find their own power-base.
When both parties understand what is happening and are willing to work together to figure out solutions, barriers breakdown, individual healing begins, conflicts start to abate, and the relationship will improve.
Couples with a Disproportionate Percentage of Misalignment
While most couples may have a similar percentage of misalignments, some people may find themselves partnered with someone who has a disproportionate amount of misalignment to them. This, however, is the exception.
When this happens, the one living more in tune with his or her True Self is meant to hold the light for the other to see what alignment looks like, what they can eventually aim for, how to feel at peace with them self, and what it takes to create a peaceful, loving, and harmonious relationship.
The one with the less percent of misalignment does not usually engage in or pursue conflict, nor live in a reactionary state. This usually causes much frustration for the one living from a negative Default Position as they usually have many Protective Mechanisms at play.
The reactive partner is often very frustrated with the peacemaker. They feel that cajoling, pushing, and demanding is the best way to go about life. And when others refuse to engage they are further angered. When questioned they often resort to defensive tactics.
They believe pushing against things is being empowered and see their partner’s easy-going attitude or non-aggressive approach as weak.
They are wrong, because pushing against life only allows for more frustrations and brings more conflict and push-backs into our sphere – as the Law of Attraction dictates. (See my posts on the Universal Laws on my blog. Link is below)
This article/blog post is an expanded excerpt from chapter 5, “Relationships” in my book Your Journey to Peace … Synopsis is found is found here
Rosemary McCarthy©, February 2018
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