Let’s talk about love connection, baby.
“Surrender isn’t about being passive. It’s about being open.”
— Danielle LaPorte
Remember when you used to play that game of tug-of-war as a kid? You willingly chose to place yourself in a situation where two people or factions fought to keep or obtain the same thing. Love can often feel like a game of tug-of-war. It’s that push-pull dynamic between a couple that usually causes more harm than good. But tug-of-war only works if both sides pull on the rope and struggle fiercely — if one side let’s go of the rope, it’s game over — there is no longer a tug-of-war.
The same rule applies to the game of love.
The inevitable moment will come when every couple engages in some kind of power struggle. We go from completely giving ourselves over to a new lover at the beginning of a relationship, to the sometimes-messy task of establishing a sense of equilibrium and balance.
Kind of like an emotional game of tug-of-war.
I was super young when I fell for the guy who eventually became my first husband. At the time, it wasn’t long before I was head-over-heels in love with him, spending every free moment together between the long hours working as an apprentice in a hair salon.
He didn’t hide the fact that he was utterly captivated by me, showing his adoration through attentiveness, surprising me with gifts and often talking about the future. He came across as thoughtful, gentle and kind, and he declared his love for me quite early on in the relationship.
It was the famous “honeymoon” phase in the love-game that precedes the power-struggle stage of a union.
Actually, this “balancing” phase of a relationship is necessary and important. Not only is this period the part when you get to fully work out your lover’s true intentions and motivations for the future of the relationship, but the push-pull dynamic is where you will truly find love’s foundations — the stability and security within the relationship that allows you to establish trust with your heart enough to carry it forward. Then, you can get back to your normal life after surviving the sexy love-storm (well, somewhat).
Not to mention that you might even discover a surprise or two about your lover during this stage. Like those personality quirks you didn’t realize existed until now . . .
Hmm . . . Why the hell does he flush the toilet 2/3 of the way through peeing so that there is still a little bit of pee left in the loo after it’s done flushing?
Such is the mystery of love (and men), but let’s talk about . . .
Author of The Love Gap, Jenna Birch knows that power-struggles in relationships can take on different forms: “Sometimes, they come from the place of believing you’re right and your partner’s wrong, and you both should get your way entirely — because it’s ‘the best way’”.
You know, the best way isn’t always the right way. Besides that, someone wise once said that “two wrongs don’t make a right”, right?
We all know it even when we pretend that we don’t.
As with every situation, we find ourselves in life recognizing when you are in midst of the power-struggle phase is the first step toward gaining clarity and resolution over said dynamic — provided that you’re both reasonable adults, of course.
The blame-game sucks, yes?
So, if you aren’t prepared, this rocky little path can fast lead toward ridiculous accusations, dumbass denial and multi-rounds of that dreadful blame-game.
I love you, for sure.
The dynamic usually reveals itself as the intrinsic need to self-affirm and assert oneself on the many levels encompassing the relationship. It can even eventuate as a long-term love/hate power-trip game if we’re not careful.
I’m sure you know how it goes — a certain whiff of self-centeredness rears its ugly head and suddenly, you’re going loggerheads with your beloved.
If you aren’t ready for and aware of it, accusations bordering on ludicrous may fly like doves on speed in both directions.
How it plays out is determined by the maturity of the couple. That, and how much each person has opened themselves to the relationship at the height of the “love-bubble” period.
If both people have the proper emotional tools at hand, this emotional war for power doesn’t have to be too draining — but “emotional tools” equate to a certain level of emotional maturity.
That doesn’t mean you or your partner have all the answers, but it does mean that you both have the skill-set to keep your cool when things become stormy, and that’s important in love.
Personally, I think that this “power-struggle” period of a relationship is the perfect time to flush out and recognize any “red flags” about your partner’s behavior and personality that you may have missed during the initial love-drunk stage.
Toxic and controlling behavior like treating you like a child, unpredictable outbursts, lecturing, blame and trivializing your feelings.
For instance, looking back at this period of time with my first husband, I can clearly point out those above-mentioned traits as well as his need to monitor my every move, treat me to unbearably long lectures and show his ever-growing jealousy.
I just wish that I had the sense of personal power and wisdom to follow my intuition at the time. As it was, I went ahead and married him despite the red flags.
More from Birch:
“Usually, relationships work best when someone takes the lead and the other person is more flexible or fluid.”
In other words, to truly love is to participate in a generous slice of give and take backed up with the ability to compromise and demonstrate the patience, empathy and tolerance that is required to successfully navigate the power-play stage — these rich human characteristics are a part of what it means to love with compassion, and all without slapping conditions and blame on your lover.
Birch says that if you want to overcome the power-struggle, “it’s important to recognize when it’s best to push and pull back”.
That way, your turn to have your way and say will come.
The real secret to winning the love game is how far you’re willing to surrender to love, not your lover.
Surrender to Love
Surrendering to love doesn’t mean that you give up your power and become someone’s doormat, or even placing yourself at the mercy of your lover’s whims.
What I am suggesting is that you take the philosophy that empowers you and enhances your own inner-connectedness — to yourself and your lover — the high road on the journey of love.
No one ever really wins at a power-struggle. There are only losers of the heart.
Every harsh word. Each accusation. Every single act of rage, gaslighting, emotional blackmail or punishment — all of those interactions contribute to slowly corroding the quality of your relationship and stripping the connection of trust over time.
Love is more worthy. You are more worthy.
You’ve got to remember that you always have a choice about how you respond to your lover and how you perceive any given situation, no matter how intense and emotional things become between you — you have a choice.
My ex-husband possessed neither the emotional tools nor mindset to overcome his toxic, argumentative ways of being in the world, never searching inside of himself to become a better person, father and husband. This is a man who took no responsibility for the hurt and pain he caused others. Nor did he make an effort to control his emotional agitation or even try to understand me — who I was or the way I saw the world.
That’s the complete opposite of surrendering to love.
It was a choice that limited him, broke our relationship and damaged the actual process of love. Love cannot be manipulated like a puppeteer.
Love cannot be shackled to a kitchen sink and controlled with brute force or intimidation, either.
Surrendering to love means both people commit to the process of loving, regardless of the circumstances. It means honor between souls enough to cherish the quality of the connection while choosing to deepen the bonds through seeking out the most valuable gifts in each other.
It means allowing love to thrive in its natural state — being who you are and accepting and relishing those differences, believing in each other, and choosing to love to a higher beat than ever before.
Surrendering to love is one of the greatest secrets of the meaning of life because the way and the degree in which you choose to love is what will reflect back into and enrich your personal experiences — it is the selfless act of giving and opening yourself to the wonders of your heart-space — the place where amazing bits of you awaits your personal discovery within your lover’s heart and soul.
Beautify your life journey through deeper connection. Surrender to love.