Regardless of our certainty as to whether we or our partner starts or rekindles a quarrel, the real cause of the continuing conflict between us lies elsewhere. Which is why, as strange as the following insight may seem at first, the importance of working to see the truth of it simply can’t be overstated:
Despite any appearance to the contrary, it’s not our partner, nor is it we who strikes the first blow in any dispute: it’s pain that picks the fight.
No doubt this last idea challenges most of our familiar notions, especially when we’re sure we’ve been wronged and feel that it’s our right to seek whatever “justice” we might. But, putting all this aside for a moment, as we quietly study the secret cause of our struggles rather than being caught up in them, we should also be able to see, and agree to the following:
Just as it’s clear that we’d never hurt the one we love were it not for some pain pushing us to do so, the same holds true for our partner. So much depends on our being able to remember what our heart already knows is true: if love is that timeless divine force that unites and heals all that lives and breathes, then how can it ever be that which divides us? It can’t; it’s never love that fights. Never. With this last thought in mind, here are three main ideas to consider.
One: Let’s say we have a “bone to pick” with our partner. This should be easy enough to imagine! Is this because we feel good about them in that moment? Or, is it more likely that there’s a pressure and a pain in us that “knows “ who’s to blame for it, and what they must do to make things right? The answer to this question is pretty obvious, which leads us directly to the insight that follows.
Two: This particular pain that we feel in these moments doesn't exist without our partner being there – before us – either in body or in our mind. The same holds true for whatever pain our partner may experience in our presence; it doesn't exist without us being there in the same way. This means that even though there are two of us “there,” between us there is only one pain. How can this be so? As the next point makes clear, it’s all under celestial law.
Three: Whatever we oppose in our partner causes our partner to oppose us; for instance, any time we oppose something about our partner’s attitude, we can be sure our partner will oppose anything we have to say about that! Pain opposes pain. Which means that now we can see what we were unable to before: as long as we look at our partner as the one responsible for the pain we're in, we remain effectively blind to the one thing about this condition that we must see... if we’re going to stop hurting one another:
Half the responsibility for this unwanted pattern – including the pain that helps keep it alive – belongs to us, and the other half belongs to our partner. In other words, the pain that first sets us against one another, only to push us apart, isn’t his, or hers, or theirs. It’s our pain.
There aren’t words enough to explain how important it is that we feel the truth of the above summary insight. Only then will we be able to ask ourselves a question that unconscious pain is incapable of considering, let alone wanting to know the answer to it.
In truth, this is a question of conscience that may be less than one in a hundred million of us have ever thought to ask ourselves. But, for those who wish to know a healthier, more loving relationship with our partner, we must dare to ask it of ourselves, and even better... right in the middle of a fight with our partner: “Why is my pain more important than yours?”
If we’re both suffering for having been set against one another by unconsciously identifying with opposing forces then we have to ask – especially if we love our partner as we profess to do: why do we feel as if our pain is more important than theirs?
When we really love someone, the last thing we want for him or her is to suffer. Who among us hasn’t thought upon seeing a loved one in the throes of some kind of pain that, if it only were in our power, we would gladly take their pain away by agreeing to make it our own?
And yet, though most of us have felt something of this higher wish – to surrender ourselves for the sake of love – regardless of the personal cost – we’ve also witnessed our inability to do so; the truth is, when some trial by fire occurs, little to nothing in us can remember what was foremost in our heart only moments before. And there’s a good reason for this kind of spiritual amnesia.
This kind of unconscious pain that lives within us needs someone, something to blame for it. And, in much the same way, blame must have pain in order to keep itself alive. These opposing sides are literally nothing without each other to maintain the misery that they create together. The more aware we can be of this unconscious partnership, the less tempted we are to want any part of it.
Study closely the following pair of summary insights. Learn to look at them as a single lesson and you will see how it’s possible to turn any troublesome moment with your partner into a healing turning point for both of you.
Any pain in us – that demands our partner pay for it – can’t heal itself; if it could have, it would have long ago. Add to this fact – as we’ve seen is true – that whatever “payment” we’d exact from our partner in these moments not only does nothing to heal their pain but also, in fact, only aggravates it further! Which in turn... then turns on us, re-seeding both of our suffering, and guaranteeing that same unwanted pattern is reborn.
The unconscious pain that pushes us into, and then through the repetition of any unwanted pattern with our partner is, in fact, not what it seems. It is not proof of some irreconcilable difference between us, but rather stands as evidence of something that lives in each of us, that we have in common.
Even the faintest first stirring of this higher awareness – that whatever pain divides us is, in fact, a single pain shared between us – makes it possible for us to open our heart and mind to embrace a new idea that can’t be reached in any other way.
We have but one, true hope of being able to rise above this unseen world of opposing forces that cannot heal themselves, let alone bring an end to the patterns they create each time they attempt to do so. It is time for us to learn how to call upon a “third” force: an altogether higher order of wisdom, compassion, and kindness whose singular power is not only to unify these opposing forces but, in the moment of their appearance, to complete the very purpose of their existence.
Whenever, and wherever two or more of us are connected by a shared pain of some kind – as in a fight with our partner, or suffering some misfortune with loved ones or strangers alike, there is – already with us in that same moment – a higher love waiting to heal it, and to help make us whole at the same time.
To learn more about Guy Finley and his work with the Life of Learning Foundation, visit www.guyfinley.org. You can also check out his book, Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together, along with his other books on his website.
Excerpted from Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together by Guy Finley. ©2018 Guy Finley. Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.