Naked Shadows Appearing in Relationships

It’s not always sunny and warm.

It’s one of those days here on the Canadian prairies with cloud, wind, showers, and a temperature hanging around 9 C. This is a sharp contrast from yesterday when it was in the mid-twenties, sunny, and enough breeze to keep mosquitoes hiding in the grass.

Of course, this is all to be expected. Nothing stays the same for very long. Though appearances may be deceiving, change is constant, and that includes pyramids, stone castles, and old Roman structures found all over Europe. So why do we expect anything different when it comes to people?

Sunny, sunny days bring out smiles.

So often I hear the complaint from either or both parties in a relationship – “He’s/She’s not the person I married. She/He has changed.” And always, without exception, that is stated with the belief that the other has betrayed them by changing. For the most part, the biggest change that happens in terms of the “other” in a relationship has nothing to do with the actual changes in that “other”. Rather, it is how the “self” changes their perceptions of the other. The rose-tinted glasses clear up and we now begin to learn about this strange person we’ve committed ourselves to in a relationship. We withdraw projections, those unconscious things that come from within us that somehow attach to another person with whom we find a compelling attraction. We then come face to face with the reality of the other person. With hard work and commitment to make the relationship work, both parties can remain relatively happy and satisfied with their lives joined together. That is, until midlife seems to open a Pandora’s box within each of us. And believe me, the box will open whether you want it to open or not.

Taking a leap of faith at twilight.

What emerges once passed the crest and sliding into the downward journey towards death, the ego begins to crumble. All of the barriers that hold the dark contents within oneself begin to crumble. Long lost aspects of oneself: the good, the bad, the ugly; begin to leak out and contaminate and confuse our sense of self. To survive, and even perhaps thrive following this dissolution of the old self, one must acknowledge what emerges and somehow integrate what emerges in a psychologically healthy manner. Too many abandon their partners, throw themselves into causes and lifestyles that anaesthetise the psyche. Meaning becomes invested in stuff, in dollars, in a new partner where the focus is projected outwards rather than face the facets of oneself that begin to emerge.

So what then happens to relationship when one, or both parties, begin to honestly deal with the shadows that begin emerging within themselves, and correspondingly, within their relationship? I think I will leave answers to another post. I invite you to respond to what appears here in this post. What resonates? What grates?

4 thoughts on “Naked Shadows Appearing in Relationships

  1. I’ve been dealing with my shadows for the last 15 years. My actions during my “mid-life” crisis caused plenty of unintended collateral damage. I sentenced my myself to purgatory for several years until I realized that my hell was self-made and I had the power to leave it behind me. During that time, I reevaluated our relationship and learned a lot. I forgave myself and moved forward. Now I think our relationship is stronger than ever.

    I’ve learned that relationships are about compromise, acceptance, forgiveness, taking care of each other, and doing things for each other rather than to each other.

    By the way, my shadows are still with me but I’m becoming more comfortable with them and I no longer fear them. Sometimes rather than wrestle with my demons, we cuddle.


    • Well spoken, Rick. I agree with your strategies for moving from being a victim to taking ownership of your life. Thanks for adding your voice here.


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