Question: When I met my partner we were very much in love with each other. We now argue frequently, and sometimes can’t stand each other. How is this change possible?
Answer: There are many men and women who ask themselves this, and other similar questions, when they realise after a few years of living as a couple that their feeling of being in love and the enthusiasm for living together that the other awakened has now diminished until it has disappeared. This is a very widespread reality, which invites us to ask: Is this normal? Is it a fact of life?
The answer is yes and no. It is a fact of life that water always follows the course of the river, but if we build a reservoir and appropriate channels or pipes we can vary the water course and use it to irrigate plantations and/or supply towns and cities.
Therefore, if two people feel a mutual vibration that awakens their love and enthusiasm for living together and begin to live together, and do nothing to keep the flame of love burning, the flame will be consumed and eventually extinguished with time. This is normal; it is a fact of life. But things can be done, as in the example of the river I just mentioned.
Keep in mind that life is movement, it is not a static reality but dynamic. If the two people who decide to live together have different activities and there is not much communication between them, it is possible that over time they will evolve in divergent or even opposite directions. In this case it is possible that after a few years of living together they feel they don’t know each other, that the other has changed. It is true, since with time we all change, especially in our contemporary culture in which everything is changing at a very fast pace.
Dialogue and communication between a couple are therefore essential tools to avoid evolving in divergent or opposite directions.
What does dialogue mean? Is to dialogue to talk? Yes, of course, but above all it is to LISTEN. There are many couples who do not speak or communicate, and there are also many who speak a lot but neither really listens to the other, putting themselves in their place and trying to see the reality that is being spoken from the other’s vision and perspective. This is not dialogue and communication. This is just delivering monologues or accusations to their partner.
Something highly recommended for everyone, and especially for couples, is to participate in personal development activities. This is especially important when the couple have different jobs and tasks, as these activities can favour each person’s evolution in different ways, encouraging divergent or opposite interests.
Having a common integral development framework can help the couple to guide their evolution in the same direction.
This is true even though they travel along different paths, since each person has their own path of evolution. I’m not suggesting professional support for conflict resolution here, but simply to promote integral growth, in the absence of conflicts. A truly holistic framework of integral development facilitates transforming the love of initial infatuation, which emerges mainly from the emotional level, into a love that matures with the characteristics provided by the different levels or aspects that constitute us as human beings: the body, instinct, heart, head and spirituality.
The body brings a sense of reality, rooted in the here and now, putting feet on the ground. The instinct brings vitality, passion and creative vital impulse, since it is a source of life, and nourishes the rest of the levels. The heart provides perceptual and empathic sensitivity, beauty, diversity of forms and possibilities. The mind brings awareness, light, knowledge, projection, and the sense of what is experienced in everyday life. Spirituality is an open door to infinity which sustains and balances everything contained by the vital level, which remains undeveloped. The openness to spirituality pacifies the vital anguish caused by the fact of being depositories of potentials that circumstances do not allow us to develop.
Does participating in a comprehensive developmental framework solve everything? Again the answer is yes and no. If the work done in the group is truly holistic, that is, it takes into account all aspects inherent to human existence, including openness to embodied spirituality, it can be affirmed that it is a path that offers tools for dealing healthily with all life situations, both those that affect us as individuals and as social beings.
If we understand the expression “solve everything” to mean ensuring that each individual in the couple will not be attracted to anyone else, and that the couple will be for life, the answer is no.
Individual beings are repositories of a life potential, which we can call vital energy, life impulse, soul. This potential is received from the parents at the time of conception and constitutes the sum total of potentials, raw material, and talents that are ours to develop.
Developing our potential is what gives meaning to the life of each individual and is also the contribution that each individual makes to society.
Some of the potentials of which we are depositaries activate in interaction with the environment, people and things. It is similar to what happens with the mature ovum that emerges from the ovary, which is activated through interaction and fusion with an external reality, the sperm.
Structures are needed to develop vital energy, as with any energy source, such as electric energy. If electric power remained in the power station it would have no use. Structures are required for it to be useful: cables to channel it and light bulbs to transform it into light. We can therefore distinguish vital energy from the structures that transform it. Vital energy is perennial, eternal. It has no beginning or end, and it is not created or destroyed, as physics says. The structures, however, all, absolutely all expire. In the previous example, electrical energy is always the same. However the light bulbs are structures, and the most modern ones, leds, are replacing and rendering the old ones obsolete.
The couple is a structure, useful for as long as it serves what it should serve.
However there may come a time when it ceases to be a useful and constructive structure, and becomes an obstacle to the integral development of the individuals involved. If this occurs, we must do everything possible to heal it. If after repeated and different attempts the facts show that it is not possible, we must accept the expiration of that structure. In a mature and respectful way towards both individuals involved, it will be necessary to let the expired structure die and create another more adequate one. This does not imply that love dies, since true love is a perennial value that transcends all structures.
Although you live as a couple, it is natural that you feel attracted to other people. This is one of the wonders of life. This is what helps us to not get stuck.
When you are attracted to a person, man or woman, it is because the person who attracts you emits a vibration that activates and vibrates a dormant aspect of your vital level, and the two vibrations resonate at the same frequency.
This activates a part of your vital level, which no other person had previously awakened. The fact that this previously dormant part is activated offers you a golden opportunity to know it, recognize it, accept it and integrate it among your available potentials. It is similar to what happens when we cannot recover a document from a computer’s hard disk because it is not among the available saved documents. A computer expert can find it elsewhere in the hard drive and save it in the area of available documents where it can be used again.
Being attracted to a person does not imply going to bed with them.
We must learn to manage attractions in a healthy way, as a great opportunity and gift of life that boosts our integral development and keep the flames of life and love forever alight.
Ramon V. Albareda
Psychologist. Theologian. Sexologist
Creator of ESTEL, Centre for Personal Growth and
School of Integral Studies