Welcome fellow souls to « The Human Family Crash Course Series», a new project collaborated together by empress2inspire.blog and sensispirit.wordpress.com. Together we will be working on a different topic for each crash course; our fourth topic is focused on «Relationships.» Each topic will have eight posts with posts on Mondays and Thursdays. We hope you enjoy our series and we look forward to knowing how our posts have inspired you!
Once you’re in a relationship with someone, you’ll always be in a relationship with that person. It’s like the Hotel California, you can never leave. I don’t care if you never speak to them again, if you move to the other side of the world, and put up a dartboard with their face on it; you’ll always be in a relationship. There will always be a corner of your brain, I dare say, a corner of your heart, that has her name on it.
This is doubly true if you’re in photos on Facebook together. This is triply true if she met your parents. It’s quadruply true if you were married. It’s doubly, triply, quadruply true if you have kids together. You’re hitched.
Love may not be eternal, but relationships are not. The legal end of a marriage is not the end of a relationship.
Relationship, at its minimal level, means that your partner rents space in your head. You think of them sometimes, happily or unhappily, with fondness or regret. They are a part of your story and you’re part of theirs. You have to account for them if you’re honest. You’ll be flooded with memories, good or bad, after the most trivial cues. They’ll affect the way you relate to anyone else. They’ll always be an item to compare and contrast.
Usually, there are more feelings. Many more. They may be negative feelings. You might hate her, but hate’s a feeling. At some point, time and time again, for the rest of your life, when the right buttons are pushed, you’ll be transported by your passions.
By the way, love and hate are not that far apart. They’re both intense. They are both very, very far away from indifference. You’ll never be indifferent about a former partner, no matter how hard you try to fake it.
If you agree that you will always be in a relationship, then the question is: what kind of relationship will it be?
The re-negotiated relationship
Once a relationship is made for one purpose it’s possible to change that purpose to another. When you get together with someone to hang on Friday nights and you end up having sex, you are re-negotiating the relationships. When you decide to be exclusive, you’ve re-negotiated it again; and again, when you give her a ring. Before you know it, your relationship is all about raising kids and paying off a mortgage. Hopefully, you still enjoy each other’s company on Friday night and the sex. In long, vibrant marriages purposes accumulate. In ailing ones, old purposes die off.
If you have lost some purposes, but others remain, then it may make sense to re-negotiate the relationship. People do this all the time when they get a divorce, but cooperate with each other to raise kids. They say their union is finished, but it’s really not; it’s been converted into another kind of union, working together towards a different purpose.
The couple might not achieve authentic reconciliation this way; they never go back to the fullness of their relationship as it existed before. You don’t need to trust that your husband won’t sleep with other women, for example, you just need to trust that he’ll bring back the kids. These can be very satisfying and valuable relationships, nonetheless, for both of you and, especially, for the kids.
The long way to reconciliation
When someone has been harmed in a relationship and the relationship is re-negotiated into something more limited, we can’t really say the partners have achieved full reconciliation. It’s not like they’ve gone back to the way things were before; but they have negotiated a peace, so to speak. They instituted a demilitarized zone that none can cross. Having this understanding is so much better than all-out war, but the partners still warily patrol the border for violations and incursions. In time, if the DMZ is respected, it can turn into an ordinary boundary that requires no special defense. Then you might say there’s reconciliation, if only because the two parties simply don’t need to fight.
It’s hard to believe that two former British colonies, the United States and Canada have, several times in their history, fought wars against each other. The issues between them have long since passed away and only historians remember why they fought. You could say that the two countries have reached reconciliation without ever uniting. This is the long way to reconciliation, which is achieved, not by the members working it out, but by agreeing to leave each other alone.