A mountaineer’s guide to relationship success
To achieve the heights of what relationships have to offer you need to pack a bag for a long journey as there are many dangerous pathways and tricky sections to traverse.
You will ascend an easy pathway from the plains of singledom to an excellent outlook that provides sweeping views over the plains with usually a warm breeze present. This place is known as the ‘outlook of first love’. You may wish to take your time to enjoy the view and gather your strength because if you wish to ascend beyond this point the trail gets rough and demanding.
You will notice that the path leading to the summit takes a sharp turn into some overhanging rocks and then descends into some very unpleasant caves. Many travelers at this point are tempted to turn back to where they came from and rest back at the outlook of first love. However this is rarely possible and there is no way to reach the summit from there. To get to the summit you must pass through the network of caves. These are known as the ‘caves of conflict’. Many travelers spend a considerable period of time here trying to find a way through. Many give up hope and you may see many fellow travelers here despondent and dispirited. Some comfort themselves playing cards and finding cheap comfort in hard liquor. But the earnest traveler will persist.
Look for small shafts of light coming through from above. If you find a path that looks sturdy enough try to ascend. Look for the large archway, known as ‘the archway of acceptance’. You will probably need to drop quite a bit of the excess baggage you are carrying to get through the archway. You will discover that this is a place where the distress that was evident in the caves of conflict have disappeared and you have a fine view of the lowlands. However it doesn’t feel quite as warm or as pleasant as you remember the feeling when you were at the ‘outlook of first love’. Indeed, you are on the south side of the mountain and still some way from the summit. Your last challenge awaits you.
From here you must find some winding and challenging pathways that you will not be able to traverse without giving full trust to your companion so that you know her/him in a way you didn’t before. Only couples that can trust each other in this way can pass to the summit and now you will be on the north side of the mountain at a considerable elevation above the outlook of first love. You have achieved your goal at the summit of committed love and there is no need to come down.
Note of caution: Some reckless climbers try to go straight from the outlook of first love to the summit of committed love. There are even legends of some who have achieved this, but most fall and get quite damaged, they inevitably lose their companion and find themselves wandering the plains of singledom having lost heart for ever mountaineering again. The wise traveler is one who finds the true path to the summit.
It may help to understand the essential moves you need to make in your climb. There are essentially four places and four transitions. The first transition ‘falling in love’ actually is effortless and most can achieve this without any particular skill. However it is only by establishing yourself in love that you can ascend the path. The transition into conflict is again quite effortless. The major challenge and the one that defeats most couples is negotiating the caves of conflict. It is here that the tension and the bickering reaches its peak. It is only by starting to trust each other and find calm that you can detect the shafts of light. To achieve this you must appreciate the differences between you and your partner and love them truly as they are, not how you would prefer them to be. Letting go of the need to be right, accepting them as they are, you will be lighter and can ascend to the next stage. However although this is a vast improvement, acceptance by itself is not enough. The final stage requires being vulnerable. That means trusting the other person deeply and opening up to them in a manner that conveys a deep trust of them as well as providing that safety for them.