Happily ever after can be a reality, but you need to be in reality about what it takes to create a happily-ever-after relationship. Are you willing to do the inner work necessary to create a truly loving relationship? Even soulmates have to do this inner work to live happily ever after with each other.
Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul and Dr. Erika Chopich here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Erika and I were talking about how many people we come in contact with who think relationships should be easy and leave as soon as it gets hard, and she said, “Let’s do a podcast called “Happily Ever After.” So Erika and I had a conversation about this.
(Erika)Having recently overdosed on a huge serving of holiday movies, the one thing I notice that ties them all together is the theme of happily ever after. Every one of those movies end with a happily ever after, so I started thinking about that. Does happily ever after truly exist? We’ve all had the experience of falling in love and being completely infatuated with someone, and then going through the honeymoon period with that person where everything is perfect and flawless and flowing. And that honeymoon period can last three months, or six months or maybe even a year, but is it permanent?
I’ve known from people in my practice that they believe the infatuation is the seed of happily ever after. But if the other person – the person they’ve chosen – lets them down, well that means they weren’t the right person and then you naturally move on and try to find the ‘right’ person who you hope will give you happily ever after. That part is fantasy! I can tell you with some certainty that happily ever after does in fact exist! But as in all things in life, there is a caveat, and the caveat is, if you are willing to do the work you can in fact create happily ever after.
So, what is the work? The work is that both parties must deal with the baggage they bring with them to the relationship from their own childhood. No one escapes that. No one. No matter how wonderful your parents may have been, or how loving your family was, you will still bring the wounds of the maturation process with you into that happily ever after relationship. At that point, it’s up to you whether you deal with those demons, or you just dump the relationship and move on to somebody who you hope will bring you happily ever after.
The work can be difficult depending on how much wounding you carry inside of you, and how much wounding your partner carries, but if you’re willing to walk the path together hand in hand and are committed to exploring what that baggage is and doing your healing work – if you’re committed to walking that path together, then yes, there is a happily ever after. Happily ever after is never easy and the myths we are given in our culture through movies and music and TV shows that happily ever after somehow magically erupts the moment you meet the ‘right’ person is the confusion between a true happily ever after and infatuation. Most people are not clear on the difference between the two and mistake infatuation for happily ever after.
In many of our childhood stories and movies and the love stories we absorb at the theater or our music, happily ever after always looks effortless and easy and magical. It’s so magical it must be that it was meant to be. That is the lie that we buy into, but that part of happily ever after simply does not exist. That part is in fact infatuation.
I can offer you an example of this. Have you ever gotten a puppy? In the beginning it’s all love and cuddles and cuteness and infatuation with your new puppy and aren’t they a delight. But slowly after that, reality sets in with the dog chewing on things, or problems with potty training or having to go to puppy school or teaching your gigantic dog how to walk with you without dragging you down the street with your arms flailing. The infatuation isn’t the reality. You have to work to create a dog who will be your partner who will live your life with you at your side.
it’s the same thing in our relationships. We fall in love, we get infatuated, and, oh isn’t this cute isn’t this sweet and lovely. Oh I’m so happy, and then the work has to begin. Do you walk away or do you go to puppy school and in this case partner school?
Maybe that’s why they call it puppy love!
(Margaret) I love what you just said. I think maybe that IS why they call it puppy love because we all fall or most of us fall in love with puppies and then we have to deal with all the hard stuff with dogs, but even with that most people expect that they have to house train. They expect to get up at night. They expect all the things that are going to happen with the puppy. But I’m not sure that people expect that when they have puppy love with each other, where they are infatuated and fall in love. I’ve had so many couples as clients who believed that this time, because they were so in love and because they’d done their own individual work or they’re in a spiritual group together, that this time it would be different. And it isn’t because the relationship touches off everything that’s unhealed, and that didn’t get triggered in their individual inner work.
(Erika) I’m not so sure about that. During the shutdown of COVID the animal shelters were emptied out by people rushing to adopt dogs and cats and bringing a new member into the family to fill their lives with love when they were confined to their homes. Then, as soon as the restrictions were lifted and we were living more in our normal lives, those dogs and cats were then again surrendered to all the shelters who are now bulging with unwanted animals. The reality did not match the fantasy and that’s the point.
(Margaret)Many people got the animal because they were lonely and they wanted the animal to in some way fill them up and make them OK, rather than because they really wanted to share their love with an animal. And even if they ended up having to go back to work, they would have found a way to keep their pet if they loved it. For example, there are dog-sitting places. They would have found a way to keep their pet if their intention had been to love the animal rather than to get love.
(Erika) So you’re saying it was a failure to make the commitment to see it through to the end.
(Margaret) Yes, and I think that’s what often happens with people. They get into a relationship to be loved rather than to be on the journey of sharing love and doing the learning that they need to do in order to be able to share their love.
(Erika) So when they’re not getting what they want, they leave. It’s searching for something outside yourself that will bring you happily ever after instead of realizing you are the architect, and you are the builder. You determine the outcome. Happily ever after is an outcome and a process. it’s not a gift that someone bestows upon you. Leaving before doing your inner work is like taking the puppy back to the shelter.
(Margaret) Our conversation ended there and I want to offer you some more ideas about creating a happily-ever-after relationship.
One of the major pieces of advice I give people who are dating and looking for a partner, is to make sure that you are truly open to learning about and healing the false beliefs of your wounded self, and open to learning to share love rather than trying to get love. When you are open, it’s easier to discern if a potential partner is open or closed – to look for a partner who is already dedicated to learning, healing, and growing, and who truly wants to learn to take responsibility for their feelings.
How important is it to you to love, as opposed to getting love and avoiding pain?
There is nothing so wonderful in life as deeply loving and feeling deeply loved. We receive much strength and support in feeling deeply loved, but it takes much courage to love deeply, and to do the inner work necessary to love deeply, and this is what it takes to live happily ever after.
Loving is likely the most vulnerable experience in life. To love deeply and receive another’s deep love means that your heart is completely open – open to both love and loss.
Which decision have you made?
That it’s better to love and lose than never love at all
That it’s better to not completely love and not be so vulnerable to the pain of loss
When my second son, Josh, was 13 years old, we did a transition ceremony for him – which we did for all three of our children. In the year before he was thirteen, he had to pick a theme, study on the theme, and give a 20-minute speech on the theme to all our friends and relatives at the ceremony. His theme was about discovering himself.
During that year, his beloved cat died. One of the things he said in his speech that I was so proud of him for, was that he learned, through the loss of his cat, that it was worth loving even through the pain of loss – that it was better to love and lose than never love at all.
Being openhearted enough to learn to love fully is a journey – not just a decision.
In my experience, it’s practicing Inner Bonding that gives us the strength and courage to love fully. The more we learn to love ourselves, the more we know that we can manage the loss of someone we deeply love and feel deeply loved by. We won’t love fully and experience happily ever after if we hold back due to a fear of the pain of loss.
Often, when two people love each other deeply, the loss isn’t through rejection or divorce – it’s through death or debilitation such as accidents or Alzheimer’s. Loss will eventually occur because death is inevitable. And we never know when.
That’s why it takes strength and courage to fully love. And that’s why it’s so important to practice Inner Bonding throughout each day to develop the strength and courage of your loving adult.
Sometime, people believe that if you have a soul connection with your partner, that will result in living happily ever after, without having to do the necessary inner work. Nothing could be further from the truth.
All of us have had the experience of feeling more connected with some people than with others. Sometimes we even feel an instant connection with someone we just met – like we’ve known them before. What many people don’t realize is that soul connections can be challenging.
One of the important things about soul connections is to not think that just because someone seems to be your “soulmate,” this is a relationship “made in heaven,” and will naturally lead to happily ever after. Often, soul connections create huge challenges in our lives. It may even be that these deeper connections more often trigger our control issues, because deeper connections more easily activate our fears of rejection and fears of engulfment. We may have more fear because we feel we have more to lose.
For example, one of my clients, Syd, met her husband, Don, on a blind date. It was love at first sight for both of them and they married within six months of meeting. They both knew that they were soulmates, but within a few months of getting married, they were both on Zoom with me, questioning whether or not they should be together. They were fighting almost every day and their passionate lovemaking was gone.
Because they were so connected, they were constantly triggering each other’s fears. Fortunately, they were both interested in learning to take responsibility for their own feelings and devoted themselves to learning and practicing Inner Bonding. Through hard work and dedication to their own healing, they were eventually able to get back their original in-love feelings.
While soul connections can be gifts in our lives, the true gift might be the challenges they bring, which motivate us to learn and grow. To learn and grow – to create happily ever after, we need to be open to learning about the truth regarding our wounded self.
Part of my job in working with people is to offer them the truth that comes through me from my higher self. It’s not always easy.
When I work with someone, information from higher self is constantly flowing through to me. I don’t censor the information that is coming, because I do not assume that I know what this person needs to know. I assume that my higher self knows what it is doing in bringing through the information.
No matter how gently I offer it, sometimes the information is very difficult for the person to hear, such as, “Right now, you are pulling on me for love and approval. You have handed your inner child to me to take care of you. There must be a good reason you are doing this. Are you open to exploring this?” or “There must be a very good reason that there is no loving adult present here. There is just a wounded child. Are you willing to open to learning about this?” or “I cannot feel you when you cry like this. This pain is the pain of a victim, trying to get someone to take care of you. This is pain that you are causing by your own self-judgment and self-abandonment. This crying is a pull on me to take care of you. You hope I will feel sorry for you and have compassion for you because you have no compassion for yourself. There must be some very good reasons that you are abandoning yourself right now. Are you willing to open to learning about this?”
When I say these things to a client, they are often furious with me.
They think I am judging them rather than offering them a truth. They do not get that truth is love – authentic radical love. Without knowing the truth about their intention and their behavior, they cannot heal, and they cannot love. The truth opens the door for them to start loving themselves instead of spending all their energy trying to get others to love them.
If you find yourself angry with your partner, family member, or friend, for telling you a truth, then you might want to notice that your intention is to get approval or avoid pain, rather than to learn about loving yourself. If you respond to the truth as if it is a judgment, you might want to notice that you are not in the intent to learn. The loving adult hears information about oneself as a gift, while the wounded self hears information about oneself as an attack. If a partner or relative or friend has the courage to offer you a truth about yourself, you may receive great benefit if you open as a loving adult with an intent to learn.
This does not mean that you need to agree with what the person is saying about you. When I offer what I am receiving from my higher self, I have no investment in the person accepting it. If it does not resonate with them, we move on. People are often afraid to open to learning for fear of being controlled by another person. But being open as a loving adult does not mean just accepting everything another says as truth. If you are open to learning and have your inner loving adult present, you can go inside and see whether what is being offered feels right to you or not. But if your wounded self is in charge, you will just feel attacked or controlled by what is being offered, and you will defend or go into resistance, missing a wonderful opportunity to learn. Only if you are willing to be a spiritually connected, open-to-learning loving adult will you know whether what is being offered is really true about you, or whether it is the other person’s projection onto you.
This can be part of creating a truly loving relationship. When your partner has the courage to offer you a truth about your wounded self, I hope you open to learning about it, because healing our wounded self is what’s necessary to create happily ever after in your relationship.
Change occurs when you know the truth. If you think you are open and loving but are really pulling on your partner for love and approval, you will stay stuck in self-abandonment and may end up feeling empty or depressed. Even if you have done years of work on yourself, you might still be pulling on your partner if you have never been confronted with this and have never done the Inner Bonding work of developing your loving adult.
Truth is one of the greatest gifts your partner can offer to you. I hope you recognize it when it is offered and receive it with an open and grateful heart.
However, offering your loved one the truth is not the same thing as being your partner’s therapist. A committed relationship is NOT supposed to be a therapeutic relationship. We can help each other to learn, grow and heal, but this is very different than a therapeutic relationship. In a marriage, or close committed relationship or friendship, we can help each other, but in a therapeutic relationship, one person is helping the other. This doesn’t work well in a partnership.
Caretakers often enter relationships to ‘fix’ their partner.
Caretakers often see themselves as healthier or more evolved than their partner, and they go about trying to change their partner – ‘for their own good.’ This puts the caretaker in a one-up position, which may make the other person feel one-down. I often hear from a client whose partner is trying to fix them, or who sees themselves as the ‘healthy one’, “My partner is much healthier and more evolved than I am.”
Since we come together at our common level of health or woundedness, I know that this statement isn’t true – that it’s indicative of an imbalance in the relationship and is what is causing some of the problems.
Sometimes one person expects the other person to listen the way a therapist would. A client in this position asked me,
“What should I do when he vents on me and expects me to listen to him like a therapist might listen to a client?”
Many people have a misunderstanding regarding what loving partners do for each other.
Do you expect your partner to be a dumping ground for your upsets? Do you expect your partner to be a trashcan for your anger at your boss or your co-worker? Do you expect your partner to lovingly absorb your frustration? Do you believe that you should be the trashcan for your partner? This will not lead to happily ever after.
It’s not loving of you to avoid responsibility for your own feelings by dumping them on your partner, and it’s not loving to yourself or to your partner to allow him or her to dump on you. There is no learning in this because there is no intent to learn.
If you are the dumper, you need to learn to take responsibility for your own feelings.
If you are being dumped on and vented at, first you need to make sure that you let go of taking responsibility for the other person’s feelings and focus on taking care of yours. If it isn’t feeling good to you to listen to your partner, then you need to decide what is loving to you. You can move into an intent to learn with your partner about why he or she feels it is okay to vent on you, or you can lovingly disengage, letting your partner know that it isn’t feeling good to you to listen.
If your partner comes to you like a client comes to a therapist, you can let your partner know that you don’t want to be their therapist – that you want to learn and explore equally, with both of you open to learning about yourselves and each other.
It’s often best for processing to be done alone or with a therapist since it’s very hard for partners to not get triggered in each other’s processing.
Some couples believe that this is the way to connect, but if they are honest with themselves, they will see that processing about their relationship often leads to distance rather than to intimacy.
There is a difference between sharing your learning from your own Inner Bonding process with your partner and trying to process your relationship with your partner – which often has a covert intent to control. When each of you processes your own end of the system with your Inner Bonding work and then come together to share and continue your learning, this can lead to connection, intimacy, and eventually to happily ever after.
The real issue is – what is the intent? What is the intent in dumping or in processing? If the intent is to avoid or control, then it’s not loving to participate. If the intent is to learn, then it will lead to intimacy and connection.
If you want a happily-ever-after relationship, being aware of your intent is crucial to doing the growth and healing that you can do together when you are both open to learning about yourself and each other.
The wounded self wants to hide to stay in control, but there is no healing in hiding. Happily ever after results in healing your wounded self and developing your loving adult who is capable of sharing love, intimacy, connection, fun, laughter, and joy. I hope you have the courage to do the healing work you need to do to live happily ever after with a beloved partner.
You can your relationship with my 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
You can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:
- And, How to Become Strong Enough to Love: Creating Loving Relationships Through the Six-Step Pathway of Inner Bonding
And we have much to offer you at our website at https:www.innerbonding.com.
I’m sending you my love and my blessings.