There are so many ways that peace in our relationships can become threatened. Some of these challenges are external; they threaten the peace from the outside in. Other challenges are internal; they begin within the relationship itself.
When, for instance, relationships face a clear financial danger such as the national economic slowdown, there is an outside force threatening the peace between partners. Coping with the illness or death of a mutual friend is another possible stress that can potentially affect the serenity of the relationship. Many couples find it possible to work through their individual fears because they view the threat as if they are joining against a “common foe.” Thus they learn to be a source of support for each other.
However, when financial fears have developed in reaction to the spending habits of one’s romantic partner, or, when one of the partners’ physical ailments begins to negatively disrupt the couple’s normal functioning routine, the threats that these may pose are more internal.
Unfortunately, when the peace of our relationship is threatened from the inside, we tend to blame or attack each other. We look to blame him or her for the condition of our checkbook, or for the frustration we are feeling.
What does it take for one of us to channel peace back into our relationship when the threat is coming from the inside?
For starters, let us remember that no one can make us feel anything! That means that we must take responsibility for how we think, how we feel, and how we behave. As long as we see change in another person as the solution to our problems, peace will continue to elude us. When we look towards others waiting for them to change, we cannot be a channel of peace.
In order to serve as a channel of peace to our partner, we will first need to accept responsibility for the quality of our own life. If we can learn to take responsibility for how we feel, our problem is no longer our partner but rather how we react inside ourselves to his or her behavior, illness, or character defects.
When we do this, it is possible to remember that the “common foe” remains the partner’s behavior, illness, or perhaps character defect that the coupleship can seek to confront together. We can once again work through our individual fears and band together to support one another.
This article continues to explore how to use Step Eleven in our romantic relationships using the “Prayer of St. Francis” as our baseline. The article was written by John & Elaine Leadem, senior supervisors of the Leadem Counseling & Consulting offices in Toms River, NJ and East Brunswick, NJ. The content of this article is based on their book ”One in the Spirit: Meditation Course for Recovering Couples“.
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Last reviewed: 17 Jan 2013