The sun had just set. The couple sat motionless on the secluded beach. They were all alone in the privacy of their relationship. An hour or so ago, this beach was packed with other people.
When I took the photograph, he was staring pensively out to sea, she had her head resting on his shoulders. She seemed despondent. He appeared burdened. Despite this, there was a serenity to them. Their stillness offered them a moment of intimate connection.
Relationship is about the nature of the connection. On a fundamental level, energy flow and information flow determines the nature of the relationship between two people. Given this, every relationship is unique.
According to Gregory Bateson, a biologist, relationships are the essence of the living world and one of the best ways to describe and understand relationships is by telling stories. ‘Stories are the royal road to the study of relationships,’ he would say. ‘What is important in a story, what is true in it, is not the plot, the things, or the people in a story, but the relationships between them’.
There are no absolutes when it comes to a relationship. There is no truth that defines a relationship. Instead, perceptions are the creative building blocks of an evolving relationship.
Experiences in a relationship are interpreted and understood from at least two perspectives. And it is in the difference of these perspectives that a ‘pattern of interaction’ unfolds.
By nature, a relationship is a learning system. A healthy relationship is creative and should be evolving to more and more complexity. As part of this evolution, the challenge is to navigate through uncertainty and unpredictability. This may be particularly pertinent as a relationship ages, since old established assumptions may block new ideas from emerging. The ability to generate newness is necessary in order to (re)solve problems and struggles.
There is always more to a relationship than what may presently exist, just like there is more to who you may think you are. In other words, a healthy relationship is expansive.
All humans have an inherent desire and need for love, belonging, and harmony. A relationship offers the possibility for these needs to be fulfilled. For this reason, a relationship needs to be nurtured since there is also a fragility to it. Given this, nothing should be taken for granted in a relationship.
Besides having relationships with those around you, you have an even more complex inner relationship with yourself to deal with. What is the nature of your relationship with yourself? Do you feel comfortable with yourself? How critical are you of yourself? Do you care for yourself? Do you encourage yourself in times of difficulty? Answers to these questions emerge when you are all alone in your own silence. It is then that the true nature of your relationship with yourself becomes clearer.