-Republished from the Huffington Post
When we first fall in love safe space just happens. At the beginning of a relationship we automatically develop this intimacy. Safe space is naturally occurring. We let our guard completely down. We are open. There is access, access, access — all the time — 24/7. We tell each other everything. We want to know everything about them, and we want them to know every-little-thing about us. These first intense, undefended, open, honest and vulnerable conversations begin to form the bond that is critical to the eventual longevity of the relationship.
Over time, this initial bonding gets deeper. Layer after layer of trust is established. Your relationship becomes solid like a mountain. It becomes sacred space.
Sacred space is that sacrosanct condition where two people come together in innocence and openness in the name of love. Anything can happen in this space. Anything can be said in this space. Anything can be forgiven in this space. And, everything can be held in this space. It is this safe, sacred space that allows our hearts to bond, unite, and become one. This is what marriage is in its ideal.
But, if it happens that this safe space is breached by broken trusts, harmful acts or words, or un-repaired misunderstandings and arguments, these relationship problems that normally could be worked out — are not worked out — and eventually, they can become unpredictable land mines that can blow us apart. An erosion of trust begins to occur by things like dishonesty, secrecy, duplicity, apathy, indifference, resentment, anger, etc.
Just as water can erode away a mountain over time, so too can the safe space of our relationship be worn away. If it gets bad enough, this erosion can become like the Grand Canyon. It becomes insurmountable with no possible way to reengage or reconcile, because there are so many hurt feelings, and so many unexpressed wounds of the heart. The distance becomes too great to bridge. We get psychologically beaten up, until finally, all we can do is pick up the broken pieces of our lives and limp away.
What stops the flow of vulnerability and trust in relationship are all those unspoken things. And, there can be so many unspoken things when we stop sharing. We stop telling each other every-little-thing. We begin to guard our hearts, and keep things from each other. We have little secrets about big things . . . and little things.
And sometimes, it’s the little things that can do the most damage. The old axiom of marriages breaking up because someone doesn’t put the toothpaste cap back on is a sad parable on Love Gone Wrong. We are arguing about nothing. But it’s really not nothing – it’s symbolic. The toothpaste cap becomes emblematic of all those little hurts and oversights that actually represent the growing distance and the widening chasm that is occurring in the relationship. It’s a warning.
This is dangerous territory. As the distance increases and our feelings get more and more hurt and sensitized, this dynamic can begin to ricochet, increasing in velocity, until it feels like we have created a chasm too wide to span.
So, now what do we do?
Somebody has to throw a line across the chasm or it will surely further fall apart. It doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong. The one who is able to recognize the problem must be the first responder. Don’t wait until they do – they may never! Whoever is able to throw the first rope across the chasm — should. We have to put down our pride, or our need to be right, or our fear of rejection, and reach out anyway. Someone needs to start the conversation – and sooner than later. The more time that goes by disconnected, the harder it will be to reconnect.
The good news is, you can rebuild your safe space together. You can heal the breach and open your hearts to each other again. You can win back that lost territory by love and forgiveness, understanding and compassion. All you need to do is start the conversation – in vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the key. Otherwise, the chasm opens up all over again. In this safe space of openness and willingness you can start to repair the damage, build a new bridge, and anchor your love in an even deeper trust and vulnerability.
A successful relationship is based on trust, vulnerability, and intimacy. Creating safe space – sacred space – is how.
Where there is safe space there is humor, there is understanding, and most importantly there is forgiveness. Once sacred space is established, and then, protected, honored and respected, the love that is forged within that safe space can last a lifetime.
Diana Lang is a spiritual teacher and author of OPENING TO MEDITATION
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