The song from which I borrowed my title continues: “The one you shouldn’t hurt at all.” Yet it does indeed seem to be nearly universal that we hurt, and are hurt by, those with whom we believe we are “in love.”
When we are on the receiving end of the hurt we usually try to understand it in one of four ways:
- My partner doesn’t understand enough about my sensitive spots, and if I can just get him or her to understand where I am vulnerable then he or she will be more careful not to poke me in those spots.
- My partner is unconsciously angry at me for some reason, perhaps my gender, and is acting out that anger in a hostile way.
- My partner has some conscious anger at me for some way he or she feels I have been the cause of his or her pain and I need to either:
- explain that he or she took my words the wrong way and therefore should not feel hurt, or
- acknowledge the way I have caused him or her pain and promise to refrain from doing it again.
- I am just being completely paranoid and misinterpreting my partner’s loving behavior as something hurtful.
While all of the above theories may account for some of the pain we experience in intimate relationships, there is a larger perspective that encompasses all of them and can help us stop hurting each other. This perspective is the spiritual one. Much of it is outlined in Deepak Chopra’s book The Path to Love: Renewing the Power of Spirit in Your Life.
From the spiritual point of view each attempt at intimate connection with another human contains a projected spiritual component. We try, usually unconsciously, to experience intimate union with The Divine through our intimate human relationships. This happens fairly naturally and easily when we “fall in love.” The other is experienced as perfect in every way—i.e. Divine. Over time this projected image of the Divine collides with human reality—“the honeymoon is over”—and the real work of sacred union through a human relationship can begin. The trick is to realize that the glimpse of The Divine seen when falling in love occurs is something that can be sustained, but that it requires the real interpersonal work of the cultivation of intimacy. The deepest hurt comes from feeling abandoned by The Divine when the honeymoon is over. Without the conscious awareness that one was seeking to connect with The Divine one ends up blaming one’s partner for this terribly painful feeling of abandonment.
© Copyright 2009 by John Rhead. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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