We go into suffering with each other based on expectations.
And, in our intimate relationships, expectations are developed early and unconsciously.
As kids we watch our parents, friends’ parents, movies, and we unconsciously create our roles and ideas of what intimate relationships should be. Which are largely developed when we lack insight and more complex information.
We take it to each other and then get into conflict because the way things are don’t mesh with what we think they should be. We don’t even sit together and share these expectations or the feelings and thoughts of navigating them in the context of what truly is going on…which, is one reason we divorce. Our respective fantasies were never examined, discussed, or agreed on and reshaped. We tend to inflict our beliefs on one another.
I find intimate relationships to have a far greater element of challenge and learning than I consciously wanted. I find them to be more of a challenge than they are fulfilling in the ways I always wanted to be fulfilled. And there’s the conflict I create.
But that is how it is for most of us. We all meet this conflict in ourselves. Those of us who stay in relationship talk about it, fight about it and find a way to work through our challenges together. Maybe even with humor. And at the end of the day, the one place we have to get to (many times) is asking:
“How can I appreciate what actually is (instead of how I think it should be)?”
Or for grad students
“What gift is my partner bringing me?”