I have been in a relationship with my partner for 39 years and I can honestly say that for almost 37 years I have struggled to be truly honest and real with him. You might be thinking how can that be the case as you must know each other so well. Although this is true, the honesty and realness I am talking about here is around sharing exactly what I am feeling even if he may react to it or not understand it.
You know those times that feel you want to express something but are frightened to because you fear people can’t handle it or respond in a way that you or they won’t feel rejected or squashed. It’s simply those moments when you just want to say it but you hold back and this does not just have to be with a partner. However, in the last 2 years, this has begun to change to the point I would say I now have a very honest and real relationship with my husband.
So you may be wondering, what happened and how can a pattern of 37 years (or probably all my life as I often held back what I felt with my parents) can be changed in 2 short years? Well the first thing I did was to know true change only comes with taking responsibility for me and that I was the one choosing to be not allowing anyone to see the real me that at times felt fragile and very delicate. With this understanding, I started to allow myself to acknowledge that I was fragile and that there were times I wanted to share what I was feeling even if I still didn’t feel confident to do so instead of my old pattern of ignoring it or overriding it and brushing it under the carpet.
This process took some time to develop and as a first step the only person I was expressing to was myself as I needed to bring my own self-understanding as a first step in building an honest and real relationship with myself as the starting point before all others.
After period of this self-awareness, there were times when I would test the waters and share what I was feeling which was sometimes met with the reaction I feared. For example, there were times that the way I was spoken to didn’t feel so great or loving or that I didn’t feel like making love (in preference to making an issue to avoid it) where I had a go at saying what I was feeling to my husband. As this was a new way of being together, he found it challenging to allow me to share with a level of fragility we had not shared at before, because this is something he too had also stopped sharing with another as well, thinking I was saying I was rejecting him.
There was also an element of feeling out of his depth in how to respond so he went into a pattern of wanting to fix it instead of just being open to listening and holding a loving space. Of course, I would often retreat and get back in my box or up on my soap box and justify to myself that it was not safe to share what I was feeling especially if that involved expressing that I felt hurt.
There was a continued fine tuning of this as we learnt to express without any holding back or protection, which often made it more difficult for him to ‘hear’ what I was feeling. I also discovered that what I was feeling wasn’t always fact or the truth, but it was a first step in simply being willing to express it, which often allowed me to ‘hear’ and understand what was really going on for me.
Although this process was messy at times, not to be one to give up easily, I would eventually understand and know that this way of being together was a relearning for both of us and was offering a deeper level of what I would call true intimacy that we hadn’t experienced together before. So, with my trainer wheels on and with the amazing support of Universal Medicine Practitioners including Natalie Benhayon and Relationship Counsellors Annette Baker and Gabrielle Caplice with whom we had been doing relationship counselling with, I continued to commit to my own self-awareness around my own protections and hurts which slowly enabled me to express what I was feeling without the fear of judgment, reaction and or fearing I would be hurt again.
In the last year, our relationship has changed incredibly and is completely unrecognisable from how we were together in the first 38 years of our marriage. The turn-around is such that more often than not, I am able to share what I am feeling including how much I appreciate and love him as well as the things that need to be addressed between us.
As a flow on, he is now feeling more able to be this way with me. Incredibly after 39 years together we are truly letting each other in and building a deeply honest, intimate and real relationship that was always available to us but for which we didn’t have the hand rails and self-awareness to live in our relationship, until we started taking the steps, including seeking the support of Relationship Counsellors that had come to live this way themselves.
Read about the recent WIL Brisbane Workshop on
Getting Real In Relationships
Presented by Annette Baker & Gabrielle Caplice