In my last column we saw how successful relationships are made — they don’t just happen. This column considers some of what’s needed to create relationships that work well.
Although relationships are complicated, what makes them work well is simple: the capacity to give and receive love and friendship. And the friendship part is especially important for long-term committed relationships, including marriage. Feelings of passionate “romantic love” are not enough to make a relationship work. Romantic love has a short season. As the famed philosopher Nietzsche wisely noted: “The best friend is likely to acquire the best wife or husband, because a good marriage is based on the talent for friendship.”
Two people who live at the surface of life from conditioned patterns and programs will inevitably have trouble keeping love and friendship alive in their relationship. Their relationship will become like a radio station that just won’t tune properly any longer, a station filled with static and interference. All the static and interference results from two basic things that block love and friendship. Let’s consider them together.
1.) If we’re identified with our conditioned self-image, it will shape what we think and feel about our partner and how we “react” to him or her. Without realizing it, we’ll be stuck in fixed and narrow views, often inaccurate, that will interfere with an ongoing exchange of deep love and friendship with a spouse or life partner.
2.) If we are not conscious of our past wounds, especially those anchored in our family dynamics, they will leak into our relationship as projections. Projections cause confusion and damage, and they can do a job on love and friendship. Projections are always unconscious and so especially dangerous, because we’re convinced what we are seeing in our partner is accurate, but it isn’t. Our job is to work on ourselves to become aware of our projection-making tendencies. With awareness we can “reclaim” our projections and begin to see our partner more accurately. Awareness opens the flow of conscious love and friendship.