The idea came to me recently that human relationships have qualities similar to the navigation of a boat. (Hmmmm….I wonder why I am thinking in marine terms these days?) Anyway, here is the point: to successfully keep a relation-SHIP afloat (see what I did there?), both partners have to be able to navigate the dangerous and challenging waters of Tolerance, Patience, Compassion, Forgiveness, and most of all, Difference. We all see and experience things differently; just ask most couples and you will find some extraordinary ranges of perception between them. So, how do we deal with these, often extreme, disparities?
I have asked friends and relatives about what happens when two people have diametrically opposed views on…let’s say…politics. The answer I have consistently gotten is: “we just don’t talk about politics in our home”. Sounded rather strange to me at first; but then, as I understood more about the give and take of a long term and deeply committed relationship, I got it. There is so much more than political ideology between the partners, that they can put that piece on the shelf, and go forward. Of course, there has to be a very strong bond in place; a bond that is built on many commonalities of world view, life goals, civility, respect, mutual admiration, and…oh, yes..LOVE. You have to really LOVE someone to make the kind of concessions required to steer this boat. Each of you has to be ready to give the other a break, take the helm, and move smoothly forward.
Not easy, you say? What if your husband’s kids are a mess? What if your Mother-in-law is a constant thorn in your side? What if you cannot stand your partner’s ex? All of these things are potential Icebergs in the Sea of Love. However, this is where the work lies. We all have be willing to regularly work on establishing more compassion and tolerance, IF we want to sail off into that wonderful Sunset of longevity with our partner.
I think we need to pull back, take a deep breath, and inhale the deep and resounding Truth that Love is all you need. Really. If you have enough of it, you will find the ways to accept the differences, respect the other person’s perceptions, and honor their spirit. All this is absolutely necessary to keep that vessel chugging along.