On The Reality Of Arguments In Close Relationships

by Michael Simmons on Jun 13, 2013

More than being a parent, more than being an entrepreneur, being a good husband has been one of the deepest joys and biggest challenges in my life.

I’ve noticed that my marriage / 14-year relationship goes in cycles between being so in love where I couldn’t imagine being in an argument and being in so many arguments that I don’t know what I could do to make things better.

Turning points happen when things are going so well that I stop doing the things that made it work well and when things are going so bad that I hit bottom, surrender my positionalities, and pray for guidance.

It is often stated that you should learn from your mistakes after the first time. The reality is that many mistakes in my life seem to be repeated over and over to different degrees and different ways until I somehow get it…hopefully.

In deep relationships, you can’t hide. You can’t get space. It is NOT humanely possible to ALWAYS have enough willpower to only share the positive parts of one’s self.

This is a gift and a curse. It is a gift because knowing and helping each other process one’s shadow side is deeply intimate. Being able to be ourselves makes us feel like we’re not alone.

It is a curse when there isn’t enough willpower to deal with each other’s shadows. In these situations, small problems can escalate in a matter of seconds as triggers rapidly fire.

Deep relationships can be one of life’s greatest engines for personal growth and also one of its greatest sources of tragedy.

I used to believe that life was like a fairytale. You reach a certain point and worries disappear and effort is not needed. You get married. You have kids. You make a lot of money. You donate to charity. You live on a tropical island where the weather is always perfect. You grow old peacefully.

My reality is that many of the most rewarding parts of my life have been the most challenging. There is no ending. There is just showing up every single day, giving my best, and appreciating whatever shows up.

LIfe isn’t just the beauty of a sunny, cloudless day. It is also the beauty of a rainy day and thunder that penetrates your bones.


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I'm the co-founder of Empact, one of the leading entrepreneurship education organizations in the world. I'm obsessed with understanding how we all can lead meaningful lives that have a positive social impact. I love probing into the truth of how we experience life. I believe that challenges are what make us grow the most, and I openly share my experiences. Continue reading…