I have a theory about intimate relationships that is not very popular. I think they often bring out the darkest, worst parts of ourselves. It is as if a ghost child, comprised of both partner’s inner kids, grows up between them. Not everyone encounters this, but many do, and statistics report that couples get to therapy an average of four years after problems show their ‘ghost child’ faces.
When we fall in love, move in or marry, we have a clear vision of who we think we are and who we think we are marrying. No one tells us that — somewhere along the way — there may be dischord, serious dischord. They tell us half of all marriages fail but they don’t say Why.
I have a feeling it’s because people are so angry and disapointed when the ghost child appears, crying and insisting its needs are met. We often become selfish, demanding, entitled, needy, impatient… none of the things we were at the beginning of the relationship and we blame the Other, the Partner, for our woes. We have coffee with our friends and complain. We harbor resentment, we feed this ghost child on junk thoughts, junk food and resentment.
We could respect the ghost child. We could educate ourselves about our own inner kid and learn to listen to and respect our partner’s inner kid. Yeah, so it sounds really 1980’s to call it an “inner kid” but I haven’t come up with anything better — except for ghost child.
The only healthy way to get though and survive the birth and maturational process of the ghost child is to stop the fighting and blaming and have compassion for the defenses, the mistakes, the shame and vulnerability that long-term intimacy often brings. We have to learn that being right is a very lonely way to live.
Cultivating Jizo-nature certainly helps us to get grounded in the relationshp — to imagine Jizo hold this ghost child safely in spirit — while we manage the day-to-day parenting of this relationship’s inner kid.