Saturday, 21 April 2012

facing the hard times together

When you're dealing with difficulties in your relationship there can be a temptation to go off somewhere alone and lick your wounds without talking about it. This could be because you and your partner are closed people and find it difficult to express what's going on inside. It could be because when you attempt to work through it as a couple you always end up arguing. Maybe you don't feel that your feelings are justified so you'd rather keep them to yourself because they seem stupid. An ex-boyfriend of mine once gave me a little nugget of wisdom that I've always carried with me. It's simple but it's effective. He said that arguing is productive and necessary as long as it's constructive. In other words, screaming and shouting is sometimes part of the deal when you're passionately opposed to your partner's point of view, but if you're not arguing with a desire to better the situation then you're just letting off hot air and not actually getting anywhere.

The romantic relationships we experience in life are always going to be among the most intense. It's natural to feel the need to put our points of view forward straight from the heart because, hell, it's really fucking important to us, right? But if you're not working towards actually solving the matter and moving beyond it then isn't it safe to say that you actually just enjoy arguing for the sake of it? The term 'conflict resolution' exists for a reason. It exists because conflict can lead to a resolution. But you have to be looking for it to actually find it.

Tarot can teach us so much about effective conflict. Sometimes it cannot be avoided, but it should be seen as a way forward, not a way to stay stuck in the present. Some of the key messages the cards offer us can remind us to be open to the other point of view, to respect and value the relationship even when it's going through a rough patch and finally, to know when enough is actually enough and the issue doesn't look likely to ever be resolved.

Here are some harsh but useful truths from Tarot.

- Arguing with The Emperor is like arguing with a brick wall
In Tarot, The Emperor is a strong-willed, independent character. He's in control of his environment, he's running the show, he knows what he wants and he goes after it. The negative side of this impressive figure is that he does have a tendency to be dismissive of other ideas. He can be domineering, he can be a classic interrupter and can find himself shouting ceaselessly over other people instead of listening to them speak. If this description reminds you of yourself then it's time to step back and reassess the situation. Is the problem actually worth solving? Do you love and respect your partner? If the answer to both of these important questions is 'yes' then you'll have to do a little less talking and a little more listening. Pin your ears back and I promise you, you'll thank yourself for it. It is not a sign of weakness to take on the other person's point of view. It's not impossible to have a civil discussion which takes both perspectives into consideration. Sure, you're hurt, you're unhappy, you feel justified in feeling pissed off and undervalued. But if the cause of these feelings was really so bad, wouldn't you have left by now and moved on? Clearly, there is something worth staying for, and if that's so then it's better to work on finding a solution than continuously pointing out the problem.

- The Page of Swords listens to everyone else before he listens to you
How many other people have 'stuck their oar' into your relationship? How many people on the outskirts of it seem to think that they have an inside track? Who is offering valuable advice and who is just 'stirring the pot' with a big wooden drama spoon? The Page of Swords is a fine figure of a man. He is ready for battle, he's charged up with passion and intention, he won't back down and he will defend his honour and the honour of those he loves. However, on the negative side, he can be quick to listen to gossip. He doesn't always see when people are manipulating him or acting in accordance with their own hidden agenda. He sometimes allows his friends to tell him what he should do instead of listening to his own heart or talking things out with the people who are actually involved. It's very easy to be a 'backseat driver' in someone else's life, telling them what they ought to do, what they ought to say and what their next move should be. It's a lot more difficult to be inside the problem. Of course your friends and family will express their opinions, but are you taking entirely too much stock of them or attempting to appease people who really don't actually count? In the end, there are only two people in a relationship (usually) and those two people are the people whose opinions come into play when the chips are down. If you guys can't talk openly and honestly to each other without other people getting involved, there's no hope. Cut out all outside interference for at least two days and solve the matter one-on-one. You've got to stand united if you're going to make it.

- The Devil will tell you anything except the truth
He's got blockages, and I'm not talking about plumbing. His emotions are stunted because he's in denial that there's an issue. This is often not his fault and most of the time he doesn't even know he's doing it. But he is doing it and it's harming his chances of enjoying healthy relationships. He may push the people who truly love him away and instead engage in fakery with self-serving fair weather friends, which could cause him in turn to engage in selfish behaviour. He may lie in order to continue living a life he considers to be successful or enviable on the surface, but if he has to lie to keep up that pretence how great can it really be? He may be hiding huge underlying problems and not allowing anyone close enough to help him. Temptation may be at the door but alone he may not be strong enough to combat it. Being truly in love should mean you enjoy the benefit of support from someone who has a unique relationship with you. That relationship should be honoured with honesty and transparency in order for this special kind of help to serve its true purpose. It takes a hell of a lot of bravery for someone closed, introverted or scared of their true self to peel back the mask, take off the disguise and put their issues out on the table to be discussed in the open. But if a relationship is not strong enough to process and deal with the truth, it is probably not worth having.

- The greatest gift Death offers is rebirth
If you know deep inside your heart that your relationship cannot withstand the problems it's going through and that it's causing more harm than good, letting go of it and releasing yourself from the pain is the logical step. Unfortunately, love is not all that logical. You may be able to see that you're suffering and that your partner is suffering too. You may be able to recognise that the connection is slowly strangling you both and identify too many problem areas to count, yet feel terrified of finally putting a stop to it, worrying that without it you'll feel alone or as though you've failed. Death is a positive figure in the Tarot in so many ways. He is the life-giver as well as the destroyer. Accepting the loss of something that once held so much potential is incredibly difficult and no one could blame you for finding it tough. However, regaling your friends with yet another woeful tale about the awful relationship you're in only to then slip back into it will leave everyone bored and exhausted after a while, yourself included. Ask yourself if you get enough good stuff out of it to make it worth the pain you consistently endure at its hands. If you don't, what does that tell you? Staying in a relationship for unhealthy reasons is nothing new. But realising you're doing it eventually leaves you with no excuse not to stop doing it. And if you're thinking of ending it, make sure you're not ending it to prove a point or get a reaction. Do it and mean it.

These messages are so valuable and there are so many more key lessons inside the deck that it's hard to imagine that a flailing relationship could be unaided by it. Stay positive, stay open and understand the value of self-worth.