Love in a relationship is like a flowing river. Trust, experience, and mutual positive regard form the riverbed that supports love in flowing freely. Obstacles will arise when two egos interact and it is the work in relationship to recognize ego entanglement and to witness it with curiosity rather than judgement. Aspects of the ego do not withstand scrutiny; this is what is learned in mindfulness meditation. When applied to relationships, the inevitable (and quite natural) conflicts that arise between partners will dissipate under the light of recognition.
Sometimes, much to our continued surprise and disappointment, the obstacle to love is the current relationship agreement. If two people are no longer healthily served by the agreement, removing the obstacle to love may mean removing the romantic arrangement and transitioning to a friendship or even to no contact at all. This may be how the love is best preserved and supported. In fact, many partnerships end in pain and suffering because the parties are unable or unwilling to recognize that the current relationship structure is itself the obstacle to loving each other. So they ignore it until eventually, love stops flowing. They perceive the resultant lack of love as the reason for the breakup, perhaps even feeling stagnant, empty or “dried up”. What has occurred is that their fixed idea of what love should look like does not support the reality of what’s being experienced. They see that the river has stopped flowing and blame the river, not the dam of their own unconsciousness.
The loss of a romantic partnership is no more a failure than death is a failure of life. It takes courage and vulnerability to remove the obstacle of the relationship in order to allow love to flow again. In turn, the success in any relationship or friendship is to preserve the energy of love that a union creates. It’s to find a way of relating to the Other with continued generosity and warmth, so that love can flourish in whichever context it finds itself.