What’s an “unsuccessful” relationship?
This week, I encountered a beautiful poem a friend shared on social media that I would like to share with you:
“The right person will know how to hold your love. The right person will choose you just as deeply as you choose them. You will not have to quiet the way you care, you will never feel like you are too much. You will not have to beg for the love you deserve. One day, you will be met where you are. One day, you will be someone’s favourite thing, and you will not be confused — you will not feel like you are fighting for someone who isn’t fighting for you. One day, you will understand that it never mattered how tightly you held on to the wrong people, how intensely you tried, because the right people were always going to find you. The right people were always going to stay.”
– Shilha Madhuri
This piece of writing resonated with me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s reassuring to think that there are people for everyone. Note that I said “people”, not “person”. Often we get caught up with the notion that there is only one “soulmate” per person. This makes us reluctant to end relationships because we’re afraid we’ve already had our “one” and there won’t be anyone else. This belief is preposterous! Many people are destined to come in and out of our life for many reasons. They can be male or female. We may experience a “spark” of connection when we meet some of them, like “oh there you are!”, and others will gradually make their presence know in our life.
The other valid point this piece of writing makes is that love shouldn’t be hard. Sometimes we become so determined to make relationships work that we hang onto the relationship for the relationship’s sake: because we’ve invested a lot of time into the relationship, and “we’re not a quitter”. This is when we lose sight of the most important thing in a relationship – love.
Sure, relationships can be challenging in many ways. Take the parent/child relationship, for example. Your children will press your buttons in ways you’ve never know. In fact, they’ll find new buttons you never knew you had to press! But hopefully there are more magical days than there are challenging ones.
The same can be said for our relationships with our partner and friends. If every day is a struggle it’s time to take stock and reflect on what’s going on in the relationship, as well as the role each person is playing in the relationship. If one person is doing all the “heavy lifting”, such as assuming the role of “parent” in a romantic relationship, or always initiating contact in a friendship, then this indicates the relationship balance is off and something needs to give. That can include a heart-felt conversation about each person’s needs in the relationship, or in some cases, severing the relationship completely. Breaking up with friends or romantic partners can be incredibly tough, but it is sometimes the only way each person can move forward.
The end of a relationship often ends in an overwhelming feeling of “loss”, but if we have the capacity to dig deeper, we can observe the lessons a relationship taught us. Relationships teach us about respect, trust, empathy, compassion, compromise, forgiveness, communication, setting boundaries, and SO much more.
As with any challenge in life, when a relationship ends, growth will take place when we “look for the lesson” (once you have overcome the initial period of grief). There is a beautiful quote from Nelson Mandela that goes, “you either win or learn”. This is true for nearly every situation in life, including relationships.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as an “unsuccessful relationship”. Relationships are relationships, regardless of how long they last for. A couple of years ago I watched a documentary on Crocodile Dundee actor, Paul Hogan, who was discussing his previous marriages, and said he didn’t believe they were “unsuccessful”. In a Sydney Morning Herald article, he made a similar comment when he said, “How can you ‘fail’ after a quarter of a century…Failed marriages are when two people stay together even though they have long ago lost interest.”
Both of his marriages each lasted for over 20 years and resulted in children. Whilst there were no doubt challenging times throughout each marriage, I’m sure there were plenty of good times and lessons learned.
My parents separated after 18 years of marriage, and “unsuccessful” is not a word I would use to describe their relationship either. Firstly, they had me – I could just stop there, because it doesn’t get much better than that now, does it?! But they also travelled and lived in lots of different towns, built two houses, ran a business, and overcame countless challenges together. You learn a lot together in 18 years. They’ve both since gone on to have new experiences and learn new lessons, but all of these, I’m sure, have been shaped and influenced by their time together.
The message I hope to impart today is that no relationship is ever a “waste” or “unsuccessful”. Other people are instrumental in our personal growth and development in life, and our relationships with other people – no matter how brief – are what cultivate our character and expand our soul.
So armed with this knowledge, I encourage you to be bold. Don’t hold back in your relationships for fear of being hurt. Love fully and openly and look for the lesson in every situation.
An activity I find super helpful for working through all the feels relationships bring is journaling, and if you want some guidance with this I can help.
Joyful Journaling Journey opens for enrolments on Tuesday 19th July. This unique course is jam-packed with strategies that will help newbie and seasoned journalers alike by establishing a regular journaling practice, as well as taking your existing practice to the next level so you can journal your way to a life of clarity, intention and purpose. Check out the link in the show notes for more details, or drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or if you want me to add you to the waitlist and save your spot.
AND, if you want some inspiring journaling prompts to kick-start your journaling practice, you can grab my free Journaling Guide with 100 prompts, as well as some super helpful info on the benefits of journaling, along with tips on how to establish a consistent journaling practice right here.
I’ll leave you with today’s manta: I look for opportunities to learn and grow from my past, present and future relationships.