If you want to know love for the long-haul in any relationship, then you and your partner have to have the capacity and skills needed to use all your moral, material, financial, intellectual, relational, and spiritual resources to support each partner to be authentically themselves. True love comes with radically daring to be who you are and supporting your partner to do the same!
Most of us, started distancing ourselves from any sense of authenticity when we were young. We were taught our parent's, or our church's, or Hollywoods idea of what relationships were supposed to look like. Those definitions of relationships were pretty shallow and based on surface features of a relationship - what you looked like, what money you had, what job you had, what car you drove, what neighborhood you lived in or where you went to church.
External success by societal standards was the relationship game. If you were going to be loved, know you belonged, and be accepted you had to have all the stuff, sustain the stuff, and get more stuff all the time!
Most of us were taught (baby boomers and older for sure) that if you had all the stuff that was the guarantee that you would know love and live happily ever after. Yet, creating relationships where we live happily ever after are very elusive and hard to find.
91% of us have left one relationship and 64% of us have left two or more relationships no matter the stuff we had acquired. So regardless of the stuff we aren't growing closer together we are coming a part. What is that all about?
In the end, loving and being loved, isn't about stuff. You get to know love when the stuff, no matter how much or little you have, is used to support each individual to be who he or she is! A lack of love is what is experienced when we aren't able to be authentic. To know love we have to be who we are and we have to support our partners to be who they know themselves to be in our relationships. Authenticity equals love.
So what do you do when you are done with relationship being about stuff and want to get real and be authentically you? Answer: you and your partner have to decide if you want to do the work of using your combined resources to get real and be authentic or not.
First, you have to stop playing the exhausting acquisition of stuff game. Why? Because is not fulfilling nor will it by itself sustain your relationship for the long run. Yes you need some stuff, but what you really need is enough stuff to be who you really are. When it gets down to it, most people have way more than enough stuff and are taxed by the time and care it takes to maintain it all. Don't wait til you are old to down-size, right-size now and share what you don't need with others who don't have as much!
Second, you have to be willing to reveal who you are to your partner - to tell the truth. Getting real means accepting because you were playing the relationship in a box game - not being who you really were - you sometimes went along to get along. We've all been pretenders if we're honest. Truth is you didn't know what else to do. You didn't know there were other options. You really believed this is what you had to do to have a relationship with the hope that love would be the result.. Sometimes you said yes instead of no or you told your partner one thing and did another. It's tough admittting to our inauthenticity, yet sooooo relaxing to finally own up, stop keeping secrets, and let it all go to be real.
Third, you have to be willing to forgive yourself and your partner for your previous incapacity to live into the truth of who you are. You were both playing the same game and neither of you are any better than the other. You each did your part. It is true that it takes at least two to tango! Ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness - let the past go and create a real future that works for you to be who you are.
Fourth, you have to risk putting who you are on the table and learn to love again in deeper ways by creating a conscious relationship where your combined resources are used to support each other in being who you truly are. A bigger and deeper love is on the other side of doing this work!
Until we learn to love ourselves as we authentically are and use the stuff of our relationship to insure that each person (not just one or a few) gets to be supported to realize his or her inborn potential, the love we crave will never be fulfilled. We know the love is there to be had and we've tasted it here and there. Now is the time to dare to love in a bigger, deeper, and much better way.