Relationships are wacky because each and every one of us is a little off. I've never met a perfect human being. I've never met a single person who wasn't nutty to some degree.
What is a normal person, then? I think you can classify a normal person as a person whose behavior patterns are positive and productive for the most part. And I believe that an abnormal person is any person whose behavior patterns are primarily destructive.
You might be seeking to get into a relationship with a person who is exactly like you. Trying to do that is a fool’s errand. There are certainly people who are very similar to us. We might be able to identify people whose bodies are similar to ours and who drive the same vehicles, like the same food and music, like the same sports teams, and have the same attitudes about life in general. If we get into relationships with such people, it will quickly become apparent that we are very different despite our similarities. And if we focus on those differences it will drive us apart.
It’s necessary to frame our relationships properly and interact properly within them. And the very first thing that we need to do is realize that we as humans are designed to be in relationships with others. It's in our DNA, and our brains are wired in such a way that they function at their best when we are participating in healthy relationships.
Having said that, factors in our lives can make it difficult to sustain healthy relationships. There are a great many such factors. Traumatic childhood experiences can complicate relationships with others long after those experiences occurred. Sometimes unmet expectations about life affect our relationships negatively. And regardless of our past experiences and character idiosyncrasies, the everyday difficulties of life continually threaten the health of our relationships.
Yet the difficulties of life comprise the circumstances that make relationships so valuable. In a relationship, a couple works together as a team to overcome life's difficulties and navigate its complexities.
A very good way to look at a relationship is to regard it as a meditation. It should be seen that way from the first kiss to the death of one or both partners. A meditation is a mindful practice: It's something that we need to be engaged in continually, present in it without distraction. This is of extreme importance in life in general and in relationships in particular.
To put it mildly, distractions are not in our best interests. And this begs the question of why we continually find ourselves being driven to distractions of various types. We distract ourselves, primarily subconsciously, because we are seeking diversions from things that cause us unpleasant emotions, particularly anxiety.
Anxiety causes us to do many things that are harmful to ourselves and harmful to others. We turn to distractions, diversions, and addictions to escape our feelings of anxiety. But it's important to understand that we must feel things in order to function well in relationships. We must feel our feelings and then deal with them in order to ensure our mental health and wellness strengthens our character. We must do that instead of tuning out our anxiety and other uncomfortable feelings through unhealthy and addictive behaviors—we must do so for our own sake and for the sake of our partners.
It took me a long time to recognize and understand anxiety in my own life. In the process of the practice of yoga, I learned how to analyze different feelings. I then began to do not only on the yoga mat but as I went through everyday life. As I did business, talked with friends, decided where to eat, and related to my children, I noted that there were specific times each day that I experienced anxiety. I recognized it as a low-level feeling of fear that just lingered within me.
I experienced various physical symptoms when I was anxious. I'd feel as if my organs were moving faster and I noted the increase of adrenaline. I'd talk faster, and I’d talk too much and in ways that didn't make sense. I'd feel the immediate need to take action and do something about a situation whether or not the time and circumstances warranted doing so.
In my relationship with my partner, I’ve found it to be the case that she knows how to “push my buttons,” and my anxiety increases when I’m in stressful situations in her presence. Sometimes my anxiety unearths other unpleasant feelings in connection with our relationship. At times I feel as if I'll be abandoned by her, even if that feeling is not based in reality. And at times I'll feel upset because I don't have the level of control over the relationship that I think I'm entitled to (although I’m certainly not entitled to it).
Over the last couple of years I've learned of my need to apologize to my wife frequently. I've had to humble myself many times and admit when I've been wrong. I've realized the necesssity to do that not only for the relationship itself but because the bad feelings that are generated if I don't deal properly with them will ruin other activities occurring in my life.
My wife and I are both works in progress. I must have compassion and empathy for her. At times I'll be right about some things and wrong about others, and the same will be true of her. But I have to have patience and avoid arguing with her. And I often have to stop myself when I'm beginning to say something that might cause a fight.
Relationships require maturity. You can fall in love, but you must engage in hard work to stay in love. You cannot expect to be smitten by cupid's arrow and be unendingly overwhelmed by joyous, happy feelings. You must make a choice to stay in love, and you must honor that choice even when it's very difficult to do so. And understand that mastering your own mind and dealing with the difficult feelings that you will often experience will be absolutely necessary in maintaining your loving relationship.