Relationships: Hanging in Through the Hard StuffBy Dr. Margaret Paul
April 26, 2021
Do you have the courage to hang in through the hard times and do the learning and healing we all need to do to create a loving relationship?
Are you committed to working through the difficult and painful issues that inevitably arise in relationships, or do you run when things get hard? If you want to have a long-term loving relationship, you need to learn to hang in through the hard stuff.
When Isabel and Lloyd met, they both felt that this was the relationship they had each been looking for. They could talk for hours. They were each deeply interested in learning about and getting to know each other. The chemistry between them was incredible. They had both been through previous marriages and both felt they were ready for a loving relationship. They enjoyed reading the same books and they both seemed open to learning.
For a few months, everything went well. But the first few months of a relationship is the honeymoon period – the period before the deeper fears of rejection and engulfment surface. These issues will inevitably surface, as everyone has them to one degree or another. Problems arise, not just because issues surface, but because of how each partner responds to - or reacts to - these issues.
Relationships provide a wonderful arena for healing our issues when both people are willing to do their own learning and hang in through the hard times.
If you are a person who knows you are courageous, tenacious and willing to learn through the hard times, then your challenge is to be open to knowing whether or not your partner is on the same page.
Isabel and Lloyd ran into problems when Isabel's fears of abandonment surfaced and she started to pull on Lloyd to make her feel safe, and Lloyd's fear of engulfment surfaced and he started to pull away from Isabel. It's a chicken-and-egg situation that is not caused just by one person. As people become more attached to each other, their deep fears of rejection/abandonment and/or of engulfment surface. It's not about one person moving into their wounded self and then triggering the other – it's about both people moving into their wounded selves and triggering each other.
As Lloyd started to shut down out of his fear of losing himself, he triggered Isabel's fears of abandonment, and as Isabel became more needy and made Lloyd responsible for her feelings, she triggered Lloyd into his fear of engulfment.
If both of them had been devoted to learning and healing, they could have gradually healed these issues within the relationship arena.
But Lloyd was a runner. First he would give himself up, over and over, and then he would end the relationship. He did not have the devotion to his own growth, nor the tenacity to heal his fears, that is required to build a loving relationship.
After Lloyd left and then came back a number of times, Isabel finally realized that the relationship had become unsafe for her to do her healing work. Isabel was very dedicated to healing her fears of rejection/abandonment, and was very open to learning in her sessions with me. She was heartbroken that Lloyd did not have the courage, devotion and tenacity that she did. She knew they loved each other, but she finally had to accept that Lloyd was not going to hang in through the hard times. He was more interested in 'peace' and 'safety' than in learning. Sometimes learning is tumultuous and anything but peaceful. True inner peace and a deep sense of inner safety come from healing the underlying fears of rejection and engulfment, not from avoiding them.
I encourage you to go inside and be honest with yourself. Are you willing to hang in through the challenging times, or are you a runner? If you discover that you are a runner, ask yourself these questions: What are you so afraid of about hanging in and doing your inner healing work? What are you afraid of learning?
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
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Today, think about what you do that makes you feel invisible to others. Do you give in to others rather than stand in your truth? Do you avoid asking for what you want to avoid rejection? Do you act like everything is okay when it isn't? Do you agree with others to avoid conflict? Do you ignore your own feelings but attend to others' feelings? If you sometimes feel invisible, notice what you may be doing to create this.
By Dr. Margaret Paul