Thursday, January 18, 2007

Companionship and loneliness

"Do you know what its like to be in a relationship and still be lonely, and if so, do you know how can I fix it?" a friend asked me. He is struggling in a 15 year marriage with declining intimacy and sharing. He loves his wife, misses her, misses the relationship they once had. They've grown complacent and in some ways, too like-minded. They've little left to talk about. I tried to think of what to say to him, and then I rembered something I sent to someone I love in a card:

More often than we are willing to admit, we find ourselves alone with others. In order to understand about how we can be with others and still feel alone, it is important to understand that we can only be comfortable with others when we are truely comfortable with our selves. And by this, I do not mean by developing a solid mental-view of ourselves as immutable entities and then going out looking for others whose similarities will not jab into our comfort zones. What I mean is first developing an idea of the integrity of one's identity aswirl in this continually transforming world. Then developing an understanding that we are each integral parts of a dynamic, inter-related whole; and from there, seeking others who will challenge and nudge us out of the habits and patterns and ruts we stumble into.

True companionship, the companionship that we all long for when it is missing in our lives, is more than the presence of someone in your life who shares common values and accepts you for who you are. A companion is someone whom you trust to be compassionate when it is necessary to help you refine your understanding of what it means to live your life, who will guide you without force or manipulation, who relieves the pain of daily life simply by being 'there', and who acts as a midwife to your soul, drawing forth from you that which was always within you, and is simply awaiting the moment to be born.

I asked him if perhaps he needed to work on being a true companion to his wife. I asked him if perhaps he needed to stop looking at her through the eyes of the past and see her for who she is now, in this moment, and love and value that person. And I asked him if perhaps his restlessness and marital dissatisfaction were external symptoms of an internal issue. I invited him to spend some time alone, to look within, to discover the person he is now--to have an internal dialogue about what he can do to meet his own needs, and how he can approach those he loves about getting their help fulfilling those needs he cannot meet himself. I asked him if perhaps he is lonely for himself, and that maybe, in re-learning to enjoy his own company, he might find his feelings of loneliness in his relationship will fade.

I hope I asked the right questions and said the right things.

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Blogger kujmous said...

I think part of the challenge of learning to love is not to judge. When you have spent such time with someone, no "new evidence is submitted to the trial." It is hard not to judge when you think all the facts are in.

It is this judgement that stands in the way of acceptance.

It is sad when your partner has shared all that s/he is willing to share. That is the point when learning stops and judgement begins.

I don't believe it can be rekindled with situational surprises. It is challenging, but you have to start from scratch and realize that you only thought you knew your partner, when in fact you did not know your partner at all.

Accept this truth, or realize that you have passed judgement.

5:30 AM, January 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My God such powerful explanation of a universal truth of men with women. your expression is appreciated dear lady.

10:08 PM, January 23, 2007  

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