I am wrestling with ambivalence about an intimate relationship~ whether I should stay or leave. It's not easy because I absolutely love this man, and he loves me, and we are faithful to one another endlessly. But we have some issues in our relationship, mostly what I think is built-up resentment. We argue often now, most of the time over perceived needs that are not being met and little things that trigger anger. There are insecurities on both sides, and we are both flawed and human. Sometimes I feel so unhappy and have a lot of sorrow and guilt because I don't want to make my beloved or myself unhappy. He has issues with depression, and I feel like I might be enabling him by feeding his complacency with my own energy because I feel like I've fallen into a rut. Sometimes my gut tells me to run and sometimes it tells me to hold fast. Anyway, it's very complicated and I am aware that I am whipping myself into a frenzy as my monkey-mind pathologically chatters on... I'm just so confused and weary to the point of feeling profound failure at times.
I'm going to start counseling for myself, and I'm hoping that if we go as a couple that it might help. I just want to do the right thing for both of us, but I'm not sure what that is. Any advice on how to proceed?
In Loving Gratitude,
I'm so glad you wrote. What you're asking about here is indeed a universal scenario; that is, ambivalence in relationships. Kudos right away for the level of awareness that you're bringing. This is the key.
You write that you know that your monkey-mind's chattering is perpetuating your spinning, questioning mind. That's brilliant. All you have to do is notice.
You can always tell the difference between when the thoughts and ideas are coming from the mind (sometimes called the ego or unconsciousness) and when they're coming from stillness and intuition within.
It's as if the noticing, the observation, creates a ribbon of space, like the thin line of the Earth's atmosphere. In this sliver of silence, wisdom can arise.
I am always saying the same thing, aren't I?
You're not always going to be able to quiet down the churning in the moment. And so your job is to observe it -- without judgment -- as best as you can, being a human being who's pretty much always judging and assessing, like the rest of us. Observe all of it, as gently as you can.
Another thing to watch for with our intimate partners is the inevitable arising of old habit patterns. I mean, we're talking ancient habit patterns, that are surely and perfectly instigated by our partners' own brand of the same.
I have experienced in my relationship moments when mine and my partner's stuff are activated and no one can tell who's went off first (chicken? egg?) but there we are, reacting. And so, if I'm really paying attention, I have the opportunity to recognize my own old habits (I get pompous!) without having to get on board with whatever story they're telling me about why there's a problem with [any] relationship.
Or if I think I'm seeing some unconscious behavior in my partner, if I'm conscious enough not to get swept up in my own old reactions and posturing, I can notice it happening and hang out in a neutral position that is ultimately one of tender compassion.
And this seems to be one of the great miracles made possible through intimate relationships: the ability to be still or have someone be still enough for you that the unconscious patterns that we developed eons ago are not taken for who we really are. So much healing to be found, universally, every time we rest in that compassionate knowing.
And we have to have that compassion for ourselves. It's the only way this works.
So, should you leave your partner? I don't know, and I don't know that it matters. You don't need to know either. Opening up space -- and using the difficult times as catalysts for creating those slivers of space -- will allow life to flow naturally and for each moment's actions to become obvious to you as they arise.
There is no right or wrong scenario. There is only the opportunity to shift from the sleepy game of the mind, to the peaceful space of stillness that is who we really are.
If other questions arise from this writing, please email