For my column this week, I was planning to write about my 30 Days of Movement project, which started at the beginning of September. My partner Bill and I thought it was time to stop acting like frat boys on a restaurant patio as the summer came to an end. I noticed that as I squeezed every last drop of joy from the end of the summer, I was also squeezing and wrestling myself into my jeans and Bill was in the same boat. We decided it was time to move our bodies and start to treat them like beer-tasting amusement parks.
And that’s been going quite well. We’ve moved, and eaten better, and we’re sleeping better and I even took a photo of my “art” to include.
YAY FOR US.
And then I heard the news about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorcing and it’s all I can think about today, and the thoughts are plentiful and also jumbled.
I will preface all this by telling you that, no, I am not a personal friend of the Pitt-Jolies. (Although, I will say it out loud right now that I have a dream where I coach celebrity relationships. There.) I only know of them what I read and see on social media, and of course took a side when the relationship began in the first place, initially siding with Jennifer Aniston and wondering what went so wrong with the couple who exchanged quirky wedding vows in which they agreed to “split the difference on the thermostat” in their home.
What has shaken me:
- That relationships start and take off and also fall apart around us all the time, and I think these endings make me feel a little vulnerable. I tend to hold closer to what I have and make sure that I talk about it with Bill. We celebrate and frequently acknowledge that we are Team Awesome, and he tells me he adores me about 456 times a day, so I never doubt that, and guess I just make a point of connecting with him on a deeper level. I know that relationships are built on long foundations, but that they also can crumble in the same way that we fall in love and fall asleep; a bit at first and then all-at-once. The endings of relationships remind me how fragile life and connection really are and that they must be nurtured.
- I know that we don’t ever, ever really know what’s going on in someone’s relationship; they may have made agreements (with which they are both satisfied) about monogamy and what may or may not go on during a trip to Vegas, and they may be struggling behind-the-scenes, but able to put on the bravest face to the outside world. We don’t know because it’s not ours, and all we can do is witness what we do see. I don’t demand to know the truth from anyone, but this reminds me that we don’t have the whole story, and as sure as we are to vote and take a side in it, it is like an iceberg about which we know a teeny, tiny part.
- It’s easy to be in relationship when there’s harmony around us, isn’t it? But take away a couple who has been in our circle for years, drinking wine with us at dinner parties and throwing their kids into the mix with ours, and it’s suddenly really close and a little harder to be with. We start to feel less sure as we hurt for them and with them. We may feel like we need to take a side, and perhaps we mentally take some revenge. It shakes us all and challenges all the rings around a relationship, much like the ripples left when a stone is tossed in a lake. The edges move when the centre is rocked.
- As I research for an upcoming intensive I am running in November, I am learning that divorce rates are actually falling and now sit at around 40%, and while I know that relationships can seem fragile, they also have the capability to be strong and resilient and durable. And also supportable. A lot of the crap that does us in can be mitigated and prevented with regular care and maintenance. I’m certainly not saying that “Brangelina” could have been saved, necessarily, but that we can do things to keep ourselves on the winning side of the statistics.
- I think we all want to believe in the happy endings we see, don’t we? Brad and Angelina were up to good things as a team (or so it seemed) with the kid-adopting-and-rearing, conscious living and deep philanthropy. I wanted to believe that they would make it and that they didn’t shatters some cool illusions I had been carefully building.
I quite expect to be knocked sideways by shootings and unfairness and hatred in the world, but my quaking I feel from this is surprising to me.
Tell me, please, what does hearing about this sort of thing do to you in your relationship? What has you know that you’re on solid ground? What are you going to tell your partner when you see them next to connect in with your own Team Awesome?
Tara Caffelle is a Relationship and Communication coach. She is passionate about creating connected, almost-uncomfortable-to-watch relationships that are based in Sexy Communication and Big Lives worth rolling around in.
Tara is based in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver and offers custom-designed coaching programs. To claim your free 90+ minutes and see what might be possible for your own super coupledom (or persondom), find a time here.
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