A metaphor is a figure of speech that is used to make a comparison between two things that aren’t alike but do have something in common.
I’ll be using the metaphor of a pineapple to explain how to realise the potential in your relationship just like the potential of a pineapple. When we take the humble pineapple and feel it, it is spiky and not really comfortable to hold. Yet, it holds the potential to have sweet juicy fruit inside. Even if you don’t like the taste of pineapples it’s hard not to find the fragrance intoxicating. It can transport you to an image of a tropical oasis in an instance!
Most relationships start off fantastic but then somewhere along the way it may change. Sometimes it is early in the relationship and sometimes it is after years. It is a point where things get uncomfortable, it may be awkward, it may be rough. There could be arguments, there could be silent spells, there could be days where you can’t even look your partner in the eye let alone be intimate. Just like a pineapple it is rough on the outside. But this is also a golden opportunity in your relationship. Just like a pineapple if you learn to manage it well you may get rewarded with some sweet juicy fruit. That is where couples find a deeper connection, they develop greater respect for each other and learn how to care for each other on an emotional level.
Unfortunately, in this social media driven western world – people are connecting more but lacking the deep meaningful connections. If we take the social media avenue in our private lives we find loneliness knocking on the door. Too often social media memes tell people ‘to find happiness on your own’ there is a popular theme saying don’t rely on anyone but yourself. Sounds good at the start but as Stephen Covey alluded to in his book – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People with a quote from Eric Fromm that being independent may not be the most rewarding way to be in a relationship.
Today we come across an individual who behaves like an automaton, who does not know or understand himself, and the only person that he knows is the person that he is supposed to be, whose meaningless chatter has replaced communicative speech, whose synthetic smile has replaced genuine laughter, and whose sense of dull despair has taken the place of genuine pain. Two statements may be said concerning this individual. One is that he suffers from defects of spontaneity and individuality which may seem to be incurable. At the same time it may be said of him he does not differ essentially from the millions of the rest of us who walk upon this earth.
Is your relationship one where there are two individuals existing but not connecting? Is it like living in a polite, social superficial way. There may be great sex, lots of social parties but lacking depth. It is very easy to spot – The feeling of loneliness and or feeling lost in a relationship.
It is easy to be distracted. It is easy to be confused about relationships if we are digital natives. Just do an experiment yourself on your instagram or facebook account. Post a picture of a cute animal or post an article on politics. Not hard to guess which will get the most engagement. Have we forgotten how to have meaningful relationships or did we ever know? Probably politics is not a good example! However, Covey taught us about the difference between dependence, independence and interdependence. I have a hunch that in fear of getting hurt (again) the social media pendulum has swung towards independence.
My edition of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is from 1997. I have been pondering about relationships for over 20 years now. I started questioning after my first husband left me. I questioned where I went wrong, what happened, how could I have made it better and what was wrong with me. My current husband put really clearly a few years back –
Honey, you know he wasn’t a nice guy.
It was a light bulb moment. It was there in that instant that I realised that my first husband never really cared about me. It was all about him and what he wanted. It was like all the pieces started to make sense. There was a clear pattern that appeared when I recollected all the incidences and arguments we had. I fought so hard in that relationship that he made out that I was crazy. I fought to be heard because I never felt supported. I never felt he ever wanted to know my perspective or what it felt like for me. In fact he made me feel that I was at fault because I didn’t want what he wanted. The final crunch was when I said no to starting a family. Sounds weird I know, but I wasn’t ready to have children. I knew back then that having children is a huge responsibility. I would have expected that a husband would respect and understand that I didn’t feel ready. It was a hard time in my life. I’m so glad I stood my ground, heartbreaking but worth all the pain of a broken marriage.
I can’t even remember our vows. What was a relationship? I didn’t have a clue back then. All I knew was to be authentic. What have I learnt in the last 20 years with 3 degrees later with another marriage with 2 children? Relationships are complex. There is no magic recipe, there is no secret formula. They are careful ongoing negotiations. There are trigger zones and potentially hazard zones. Nobody wants to be a fatal statistic of an ill fated love affair. They can bring out the worst in us and they can bring out the best in us. Sometimes they are culturally tainted sometimes they are empty spaces. This is one thing that nobody taught me when I was young. That is when we engage in a relationship with knowledge of our responsibility with each other it can make a world of difference.
Relationships are like Pineapples
Like I knew back then about the responsibility of having children the same is about relationships. Without thinking about the responsibility of engaging in a relationship the possibility of gaining a lasting meaningful relationship may be hit or miss. While with my first husband for most part we got on he didn’t reciprocate caring for me nor did he want to take any responsibility in this.
While there is never any guarantee whenever you enter a relationship that it will be successful, a little bit of prior knowledge goes a long way. With this metaphor of a pineapple I would like the word to get out that relationships can be a golden opportunity. If we have the basic understanding of the dynamics of relationships perhaps we can offset the potential of it turning into a traumatic experience (or another one). And also just like a pineapple if it is left too long can make repairs not impossible but a little bit more complex.
Overall I think western culture undervalues relationships. Humans are social creatures we are born and develop that way. Our first relationships with our caretakers are so important to our social development. The social pendulum also wants to forget our past and just move forward. Heaps of memes about only looking forward too. I hear people ask, ‘Why look back because we can’t change it?’ While we can’t change the past we can change our future. Our past gives us the wisdom of how we have coped, how we have survived in one way or another and our present relationship can teach us what doesn’t work any more. Better still from our past, a present loving relationship can heal wounds through coregulation. Empathetic listening of your partner is healing. Stephen Covey tried to teach us many years ago about interdependence – there is still a level of dependency in a relationship.
When things aren’t running smoothly and the pineapple turns up – instead of looking at the situation as problematic. Try to look at it as a time to know your partner better. It is the potential to turn an argument around to gain greater understanding. This takes some work and vulnerability – that is why we need to understand the responsibility of relationships. Our personal relationships are no joke yet ironically the more we feel safe, valued and heard in a relationship the more we can laugh and play!
And yes, it feels damn good when you know your partner has your back. It feels damn good when you know you can count on your partner and it feels damn good when you can feel safe enough to be yourself in a relationship. And this is all reciprocated back.
That is the sweet delight of being in a relationship.
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