Angus and I have been hearing from people who are implementing the guidance we share in our Rewilding Love podcast and experiencing shifts in their relationships. One of the reviews said the approach is working like magic. We have also heard how the issues we discuss such as trying to change your partner or navigating anger feel like we are speaking directly to the listener. This shows how universal relationship challenges are. But one of the pieces of feedback that stood out to me was about how dire the relationship in the podcast sounds. And the question was, “Wouldn’t it be better for the couple to not waste time trying to work things out and just move on?”
I think this comment stood out to me because I have thought that about my relationship. And that is how many people feel in their relationships. They get to a point when it feels impossible to resolve the differences, and it looks like the only logical answer is to move on.
I am not against relationships ending. I don’t hold a position that people should stay together no matter what. But what I do recognize is that the decision to end a relationship is often taken from a place of upset and reactivity. This is not a clear perspective and couples can often feel regret when they finally see things more clearly. And no matter what, we bring the level of understanding we have about relationships and our blinds spots with us whether we stay or go.
Angus’s and my recommendation is that when someone is upset with their partner and convinced that ending the relationship is the solution to their upset, that is the time to recognize the role their state of mind is playing in their decision making process. This has nothing to do with condoning their partner’s behavior. It is simply a commentary on the power of state of mind to color how we see things.
When we are upset, we can’t trust our perspective and judgment. If I had done that I would have divorced Angus many times over because I saw him as an unfit partner and impossible to have a productive relationship with.
Perhaps that is why I have a soft spot for couples on the brink of divorce. I have been there and believed the story of my discontent. I have painted a picture with Angus as the villain and convinced myself that I would be happier without him or if he were different. I would have been able to convince you too. I had a compelling list of woes. If I shared them with you, you would have most likely agreed with me that I was insane to be married to him and asked me, “What was I waiting for? Get the hell out of there!” The would have been the common-sense response to my story.
But it was just that — my story. And it was a limited and distorted one. I wasn’t trying to distort my side on purpose. I believed what I was selling. But in my low mood and feelings of hopelessness, I was focused on the negative and acting in accordance to my own negative perceptions. This created a negative feedback loop in our relationship. I am not saying I was solely to blame for this. Angus was living in his own negative feedback loop toward me as well during that difficult time.
There was little goodwill between us. We didn’t give each other the benefit of the doubt. I was critical and condescending. I felt unappreciated and unloved. He was moody and angry, and he felt judged and unappreciated too.
If I had shared my side of the story it would have looked like a good idea to cut my losses and start over, but I was not seeing things clearly. I was seeing through a glass darkly. My lens was obscured by my past conditioning and limiting beliefs I made up about myself. I was actually in relationship with my thoughts and my self-judgments, not Angus.
I wanted him to make me feel lovable and worthy. I wanted his behavior to affirm that to me. Of course, he couldn’t do that. And because he couldn’t, he could never be good enough in my eyes. I didn’t pay attention to the good, and I was very focused on and vocal about the bad. I had no tolerance for his humanness because I had no tolerance for my own. It threatened my emotional equilibrium.
That is why I thought I needed him to change or I needed to be with someone else in order to be happy. It felt like my wellbeing was dependent on him behaving a certain way or not making mistakes. If he lost his temper, I could not be happy. If he wasn’t kind, I couldn’t tolerate it. I’m not saying he was always angry or unkind, but I had no tolerance for any of that. His low mood behavior became magnified in my mind. And that became my story of woe.
Now that wasn’t the real Angus or the full picture, but it was all I could see for a long period of time. I am very grateful that I woke up to the fact of my wellbeing being is found within, and this gave me the capacity to see Angus more clearly for the wonderful man he is.
We can now enjoy our relationship with each other and allow it to flourish even with our imperfections. We still have our human frailties, but they don’t bother us in the way they used to because we see them as a small part of the big picture. And because there is goodwill and understanding in our relationship our shortcomings aren’t magnified.
Because of what I have experienced and how close I got to throwing in the towel, I have a lot of hope for couples who have lost their way in their relationships. I have experienced and witnessed hopeless relationships come back to the natural state of love and be rewilded.
This doesn’t mean that every couple needs to stay together or that people should stay in harmful situations, but if you want to rewild your relationship, it is possible even when it looks like the seeds of love have disappeared.And please do not dismay if you are listening to the podcast and feeling horrified by the reality being presented. Remember the participants are initially speaking from the limited vantage point of their low moods. Our goal is not to get them to stay together. Rather, our intention is to guide them to a better vantage point that is based on love and understanding so they can make their relationship decisions from that perspective. And the learning that gets them to that point will serve them well whether they stay in the relationship or not.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In this season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couples’ intensives that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experienceand The Rewilding Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.