The story of the “white picket fence” family, riding off into the sunset with Prince(ss) Charming, or living Happily Ever After with our one true love is changing. The truth is that it has already changed.
Old stories, like the one that has defined divorce as a failure or the one that led us to believe that we are somehow “less than” if we are single, are begging to be rewritten. Dear reader, resistance to these changes is futile and this is your invitation into the New Relationship Paradigm.
Just look at the paradigm that existed in the “Beaver Cleaver” era, with its roles, labels and expectations. How different is that to today when so many more ways of living are now acceptable, there are so many more choices on all levels of modern, western living and we have exponentially more information awareness available to us?
The invitation is to shift your perspective on the role a significant, romantic relationship plays in your life and to objectively and authentically create your own truth around what you want and why. This shift does not mean that the ’til-death-do-us-part is extinct. It just means that there are more “colors on our palette” right now.
In my own journey, I have experienced leaving the “picture perfect” life, divorcing when my three kids were in elementary/ junior high school and being faced with the choice to believe that I had just screwed up my kids and ruined my life, or to believe that I was creating new opportunities for all of us to grow and learn. Was I conditionally loved, loved only if I “followed the rules,” or could I expect to find unconditional love that allowed me to be fully, completely me?
As the world around me echoed these musings, watching so many friends divorce and struggle with the right and wrong of it all, I committed to doing everything I could to birth a new story—one that was more reflective of our truth and the nature of modern living today.
The 3 Top Characteristics of the New Relationship Paradigm
1. Relationships are where we learn our greatest life lessons
Relationships are no longer about filling a void or completing yourself. We are ATTRACTED to another because they mirror for us something that we want to embody ourselves. We want to learn from our new partner how to be more… adventurous, compassionate, wise, funny, courageous, spiritual…. The attraction is there so that we engage on an intimate level and receive, just as intimately, an awakening, within ourselves, to a new facet of who we are and how we can express ourselves. We learn.
How long is the relationship meant to last? Depends on the nature of what you have come together to learn. Sometimes the learning is over. The opportunity to separate will make itself available. No right or wrong, just a new beginning presenting itself with your new lessons ensconced in your heart. What if that was all exactly as it should be?
2. Relationships are not defined by fear, but love
In her book Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert explores the history of marriage. It may not be what you think. The origins of “’til death do we part” have more to do with securing land rights and basic survival than it does to any intrinsic human standards of a “good” or “successful” partnership. One could argue that the contract of marriage is fear based. It is an illusive guarantee that you are now safe, will be loved forever, and will never have to be alone. As we all know, there are no guarantees.
In the new relationship paradigm, our most intimate relationship is with ourselves. Our “beloved” is ourselves. We now understand that it is only when we love ourselves unconditionally that we can love others unconditionally. That means that I will love you no matter what—including if our life paths seem to be diverging. You love yourself enough to not fear being alone and you love your partner enough to want what is best for her/ him. There is no scarcity of love and no need to hold onto a relationship that has become toxic, unsupportive, depleting or an obligation.
If you knew you had only more love to express and discover in your life, would you hold on so white-knuckled to a relationship that you honestly wished was different? LOVE motivates the new relationship paradigm, not fear.
3. Relationships never really end, they transform
A lover can become a best friend. A spouse can become your greatest teacher, your co-parent and a source of support. Just because the romance ends, does that mean the relationship does? Or does it just change? Do you recognize the significant role you played in each other’s lives and continue to honor that bond in infinite ways?
Are you changed because of this romance? Are you wiser, stronger, more compassionate, or more loving? What have you learned? And is it so horrible that you now each have new lessons to learn? What if your most significant relationships became like a family? People you could count on or ask for support or ask to listen because they know you well; they know your strengths and your weaknesses? How much of your “story” around your “ex” has been written by someone else, from a fear based perspective, or by an out-of-date picture of what a “successful” relationship looks like?
The New Relationship Paradigm invites you into a new level of trust. Can you trust yourself to love you the best way possible? Can you trust that life is always guiding you into new opportunities to learn and grow? Albert Einstein said that the most important decision you will ever make is to choose whether or not you live in a friendly or unfriendly universe.
If you choose to live in a friendly universe, I am challenging you to open up to all the ways you can create a new image of what the relationships in your life are truly here to offer you. You are creating your reality in each and every moment. The New Relationship Paradigm is a new “canvas” on which you get to be the artist of your heart and express love, acceptance, compassion and wisdom…no matter what.