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Why Relationships Are Risky Business

When I was a young child, I dreamed of growing up and finding my perfect husband, enjoying a beautiful wedding, and then moving into a house with a white picket fence and sharing life with my family. I had read Sleeping Beauty and knew for certain that someday the future would bring to me my guy who would sweep me off my feet and we could live happily ever after. My parents had a troubled marriage, yet I clung to the hope of a fairy tale relationship. I married in my twenties with the promise of that romanticized version of relationship, without having any grasp on how my parent's relationship had become my marriage blueprint. We had two children and as life would turn one of whom had a significant disability. The challenge of all my unexamined beliefs coupled with my lack of skills to negotiate the turbulent waters of both marriage and parenthood eventually took its toll on me and the marriage sadly ended, although we now are friends. My second marriage began to run the same course. We struggled with a blended family and had difficulty finding a solid foundation that would support a relationship that could nurture both of us as a couple and us as individuals. We were fortunate enough to participate in Terry Real's Couples Experiential Intensive where everything shifted. Remarkably in the Relational Life model that was created by Terry Real, we learned to address our individual barriers to true intimacy, while at the same time working to make sense out of the patterns and behaviors we adopted from our own family of origins. As individuals committed to a newly defined "we" my husband and I began to use our relationship as a sacred place to share vulnerability and generosity of giving. I was no longer stuck to being right in an argument or left protecting my feelings behind a wall. I developed a relational muscle that allows me to take care of myself but also include the thoughts and opinions of my husband. I found as I unraveled my own patterns of behavior, I could develop new healthier ways to be present and "risk" love with my husband. I use the word risk because the word itself means exposure to the chance of injury or loss. I know that every time I open my heart to another, whether with my husband, children, or a friend, I risk the possibility that this love will not be fully appreciated, reciprocated, or even accepted. I am now old enough to have endured the loss of family members and friends, yet oddly feel even more determined to love even more fiercely. Life moves by so quickly. Having the confidence to fully show up for my loved one is a powerful affirming experience. I practice my relational and parenting skills every day. I am willing to accept the relationships will not be forged out of fairy tale myths that promote happily ever after endings without the grit you must commit to in relationships. I accept that I will experience pain and disappointments in my relationships. I accept that I blow it from time to time and understand that relationships don't need my perfection but rather my authentic humanness. I accept that being fully alive is risky business and on a great day go to sleep with my awareness that this is absolutely amazing.

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