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Percolated Happiness

February 14, 2019

I heard of a study conducted with longterm couples, pairs of over 15,000 people who had been together for 40 years or more (yet to find its source). What the majority experienced was that after the initial years of being in love, in lust, in the process of infatuation that easily slips into conflict and toxicity- it’s a fine line between love and hate, excitement and anxiety etc- comes a mellowing, a balance that only time ultimately strikes, a sense of ease, peace that gentle humour and processes of validation help achieve. That’s perhaps not particularly surprising.

More interesting, the majority had also experienced 2-3 meaningful relationships, prior to settling down with their longterm pairing, where they fed-back: the experience of being with any one of their partners, longterm partner included, was essentially the same.

Once the initial excitement settles, and the steamy love goggles clear, you end up facing the same intrinsic conflicts with whoever you end up with.

Reflecting on my own experience, when in conflict with my longterm partner, I essentially face the parts of myself I struggle most to accept.

Imagine a mirror that magnifies all the little bits you usually are quite happy to skim over. The same mirror, when things are flowing and there’s laughter and play, reflect the parts that make you feel on top of the world.

With a personal example: I can struggle to think of myself as hard, insensitive, even potentially intimidating and exclusionary. I know I’m kind, empathic, patient, warm and loving. So to accept someone else’s experience of me, without defence and judgement, can be a very bitter pill to swallow. And when that someone is the one I hold dearest to me, it’s doubly painful.

To actively listen, accept the other person’s experience, to honestly look inwards, reflect on the situation, to accept whatever insights that might arise (no matter how ugly), and to be ready to experiment in order to engender some kind of change… ‘this is where the work is’, as my psychotherapy teacher used to say.

I draw comfort from other studies, which point towards a milder relationship, where much of the tempestuous excitements and toxicities percolate into a smoother, gentler flow.

Meanwhile, find joy in the ride, and happy St Valentine’s!

From → Random, Therapeutic

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