The hard work of love

For some unknown reason, human beings have an irresistible drive to pursue the dream of loving and being loved.

  • Feb. 9, 2012 3:00 p.m.

For some unknown reason, human beings have an irresistible drive to pursue the dream of loving and being loved. Young or old, it seems well established in the life design.

The practice of relationship can be the most confusing and difficult challenge a human being undertakes.

Love and relationships are an endeavor in which the risks are great, the outcomes uncertain, the possibilities for error, disappointment, and failure plentiful.

Presently, the current success rate for first marriages in Canada is slightly above 50 per cent. Yet this is little deterrence.

People continue to flock to the altar to promise “til death do us part” entering the commitment of marriage with positive unbridled enthusiasm.

The challenges are many. We enter love and marriage with no preparation or prior training. There is no pre-screening or qualifying exam, no curriculum, reference manual or guide map for the journey ahead.

Drawn by the force of love and incurable romance, beginners face the uncertain future.

Choosing “the one,” and declaring a future together, must be either the most daring — or craziest — thing, a human being can do.

When you give your promise to another you’ve entered the laboratory of life-long learning. The lessons for you are found directly in the heart of the difficulties, the entanglements and challenges that relationships produce.

These troubles are your teacher.  Don’t avoid them. Face them and discover the lessons they carry.

Your job now is to remain a learner: open and curious. “What is relationship trying to teach me?”

When you remain open and curious, you grow. If you blame and find fault in your partner, avoid resolving the difficulties that appear, you miss the valuable lessons relationship is offering you.

A relationship requires commitment and courage.

The practise of a relationship requires us to see ourselves. It is not comfortable to see our shortcomings when they appear. Perhaps it is our reactions, our insecurities, our defensiveness or protection, our self-absorption, or stubbornness. This kind of learning is difficult.

Seeing ourselves openly, with love and curiosity, without avoiding or blaming ourselves is a unique kind of task and requires courage.

When you are discovering the mysteries of loving and being loved, you’re touching into the real heart of being a human being.

Whether you’re learning self-reliance, patience and partnership, learning about being satisfied, or the challenges of communication, you’re doing the most awesome and inspiring work that human beings on our planet can do.

Both risky and challenging, the work of love leads us home.

—Paul Beckow is an individual, marriage and family therapist on the West Shore. See


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