The Greatest Love of All
By Maryel McKinley
Do you feel as though you give give give to your relationship and are so exhausted that you have nothing left for yourself? Are you trying so hard to make things work that your own needs are not being met? Last month we discussed how to get out of the problem and into the solution. We talked about how we choose to perceive things, and how we need to take responsibility for feeling angry, and taking a look at what we are doing rather than reacting and blaming. Getting out of the problem and into the solution means taking care of yourself, so you can have something to give back to the relationship.
In the hit song ďThe Greatest Love of All,Ē Whitney Houston eloquently sings that the greatest love of all is learning to love ourselves. This does not mean taking love from someone else to fill up our emotional emptiness. What it does mean is learning to become the fully-faceted diamond that we are as Godís magnificent children so we might have something beautiful to offer our relationships. But do you think God would want His children to drain themselves to the breaking point, trying to serve anotherís insatiable needs and desires? Of course not!
It really makes my heart break when I see couples with this imbalance in place. One of the partners may be suffering from a lack of trust due to the other partnerís past actions. In attempting to rectify their misdeeds, and take personal responsibility for their own part in this mistrust, the offending partner takes action and turns their life around for the better. This usually works out for the best. However, this is not the case when the offending partner continues to hold guilt to the point of beating themselves up. It is though they are taking their previous behavior toward the mate and turning it inward on themselves, thus creating a new victim in the relationship.
In turn, if the wounded partner holds onto the mistrust and refuses to let it go, in spite of their partnerís new positive behavior, we are looking at two very unhappy people as the balance of power shifts. The partner who canít seem to trust again can subconsciously become the perpetrator in the scenario! I have seen this situation countless times in my private counseling practice, and the only way out is for each partner to individually learn to love and take care of themselves and their own personal needs before the union can be healed and become whole again.
The guilty partner needs to take inventory of their new actions and stay consistent, and say to themselves ďOkay, I know I did this harmful action to hurt my partner in the past, but for the past three months I have changed my behavior, and I am doing everything I can to be a trustworthy mate. I need to let go of this guilt and I need to learn to forgive myself.Ē And when you find yourself buying into that guilty feeling just because your mate hasnít forgiven you yet, take time for yourself and know that you are not responsible for your partnerís feelings. After all, you are now doing your best.
The offended mate who is holding onto the mistrust needs to be willing to move into a space of heartfelt forgiveness. Actively recognizing and acknowledging to themselves and their mate that they see a positive change and are grateful for that new behavior is a start. For both partners I would then highly recommend a personal practice of meditation, positive affirmations and prayer and time spent alone doing whatever pleasures them as individuals. Remember, Two halves do not make a whole and if you donít learn to love who you are and develop your own life and self esteem, you will stay stuck in this hurtful place that has been created by both partners.
For those not in a relationship, I remind them that this is a fabulous opportunity while they are alone to learn about who they are, and to develop a strong sense of self. Again, a spiritual practice of your own choice is externally helpful in learning about self-love. Finally, remember we never really ďarriveĒ at the perfect relationship, but it is a learning process.
Learning to love ourselves is the most poignant experience and the greatest love of all!
Dr. Maryel Mckinley is a Doctor of Philosophy in Metaphysical Counseling, an ordained interfaith minister, marriage counselor and licensed addictions therapist. For a free counseling session please call (949) 887-7957, or contact her at www.RelationshipSOS.com . If you would like her to perform you wedding vows call (818) 593-2007 and request her services.
Return to the May/June Index page