I Trust You to Keep Me Safe

“There’s this thing,” a client says to me.

Mark looks up to the heavens as if he’ll find the word there. He’s 51.

“It’s happening with me and Felicia. I’m not sure what to call it. It’s… a lining up of sorts. Love… and yet something else…” He looks up again.

“It’s like she knows what I’m thinking. Not like seeing into my brain or anything creepy like that.

“More like when I say something… and then she responds… it’s like we speak the same language. But it’s different, you know. She has her feminine wise-woman way of saying things.

“And it expands me. The connection I feel in those moments. It’s like a part of me lives in her. The tone of her voice. The way she speaks.

“The other day, we drove on the highway… Well, I was driving, going 75, and there was a bend on the road. We had a drink or two prior.

“And I asked her, after we came out of the bend if she felt nervous at all with me driving as I was. You know what she said?”

I shake my head.

“She blew me away. She said, ‘I trust that you love yourself enough to not put me in danger.’”

He goes silent, a smile emerging on his face.

“Isn’t that cool?” he says.

I nod.

“It’s things like that. I feel bigger in her presence. We have this… again the word escapes me.” He looks up. The skies fail him once more.

“Congruence,” I say.

“Yes,” he says.

And soon our time is up.

Congruence, it’s a word many of us first learned in 7th grade geometry. Two figures or objects of the same shape and size, as if the mirror image of the other.

The mirror image of the other. It’s what people, my clients included, say they are seeking in relationship.

“If only I could find someone who likes Dave Matthews, Black Eyed Peas, enjoys fine dining…”

“If only I could find someone just like me.”

In both, the sentiment is the same.  Be more like me, so that I can love you.

Neither is congruence. The first is a wish list. The second is narcissism.

Congruence is often mistaken for conformity, allegiance, and yes, even obedience.

We imagine that if someone would just change or show up in the right configuration, we’d have the perfect partner.

Congruence is much bigger and expansive. Think communication, harmony, connection, compatibility, Eros, rapport, and the ability to repair after conflict.

All are key to having an energized and fulfilling partnership. So then, how does congruence happen in relationship?

First, each person begins cultivating congruence within themselves. To begin to live in integrity with their values, beliefs, desires, wants, and life vision.

A congruent person doesn’t spend years in a relationship or marriage, hoping their partner will conform to their desires.

A congruent person would sooner risk losing their partner than demanding they become someone they are not.

“I love you so much that I want you to be you, authentically one hundred percent, even if that means losing you.”

This is Mark and Felicia’s backstory.  Two people in their early fifties, who have lived through a lot of relationship experience.

And in the years since their marriages ended, they worked hard on themselves to avoid repeating prior relational patterns.

They know the simple rule – To cultivate congruence in relationship, you must first begin to cultivate it within yourself.

Whether you’re in a twenty-year-old marriage or in no relationship at all, you can work on cultivating congruence in yourself or your relationship now. Just ask yourself…

  • Am I clear in who I am – my values, desires, beliefs, life vision?
  • Am I clear in what I want from relationship?
  • What are my absolute yes’s?  My non-negotiable no’s?
  • Am I mature enough to communicate them to my partner in a loving way?
  • To  navigate relationship as an intimate adult partnership and not just a list of childish demands?

“Hmmm…” Mark says to me in our next session. “Yeah, it’s like we just line up right. We’ve both lived a lot. As if we lived it all, to be together now.”

Originally Published on stuartmotola.com

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