“I and We”
"Here is an infallible test. Imagine yourself in a situation where you are alone, wholly alone on earth, and you are offered one of the two, books or men. I often hear men prizing their solitude, but that is only because there are still men somewhere on earth, even though in the far distance. I knew nothing of books when I came forth from the womb of my mother, and I shall die without books, with another human hand in my own. I do, indeed, close my door at times and surrender myself to a book, but only because I can open the door again and see a human being looking at me.”
— Martin Buber, Meetings: Autobiographical Fragments
June has traditionally been a big month for marriage. Without doing the sociological research I cannot tell you if this remains modern day fact. I do feel confident however, that coupling continues to offer endless opportunities for practice and refinement no matter the month or style of uniting.
Relationships grow and flourish when the dance between “I” and “We” stays in relative balance. To complicate the performance, the development of the “individual” is a unique path and pace for each person throughout life. Thus, the journey of “self” growth and “couple” growth involves complex choreography.
As humans, we yearn for connection and within “the couple,” we also seek periodic “responsible” independence. To feed the emotional and physical intimacy within “the couple,” we must also develop two self-fulfilled individuals. Add children to the mix and imagine the challenge.
Keep the following thoughts in mind as you seek to find a relationship, begin a new and hopeful relationship, restore a fragile relationship you are residing in at this time, or refine a relationship that is moving along with relative ease.
Tend to yourself often. Tend to your relationship often. Without taking time to restore your personal energy, kindle and sustain interpersonal relationships, and cultivate hobbies and interests as an individual, you will not have the energy or fuel to tend to your “primary relationship.” The “couple” works the best when two individuals are complete and fulfilled individually.
Find the level of emotional “elasticity” your primary relationship can manage and allow that flexibility to enhance your togetherness. A relationship that cannot tolerate reasonable and responsible “separateness” cannot build increasing and sustained emotional and physical intimacy.
Recognize the natural and inevitable intrusion of life’s unpredictability and build the relationship’s resilience to change. We can never know as humans what may be around the next corner. Committed relationships that build quick “recovery time” during times of ease are more likely to rebound during or after crisis or uncertainty. Practice relationship resilience.
Protect the “goodness” of your self-image and that of your relationship. Misunderstanding, conflict, depletion take a toll on the spirit of individuals and couples. Holding your sense of self and your view of your relationship in an honored and protected “stance” will increase your capacity to survive and thrive through the growth of two people and one couple.
"Love is responsibility of an I for a You: in this consists what cannot consist in any feeling - the equality of all lovers…”
— Martin Buber, I and Thou
Now go out and enjoy the lusty month of June!
To schedule a mind wellness retreat/experience, contact Laurie Morgan Silver.