One of my favorite places to visit is Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah. Its dramatic rock formations are unlike anything else on earth, and if you can get there, you should. The concept I am most drawn to about the park is that it was created in large part by erosion. Erosion is the process of being "worn down" or "worn away." It's often a slow and arduous process helped along during times of major weather events. Mostly, however, it's a bit of chipping here, a bit of cracking there as, over time, the true beauty of the land reveals itself. Like nature itself is acting as a sculptor and creating wondrous works of art for all to see.
Time, as an idea, seems to have changed during the past decade or so. We used to wait for a letter, have to deal with "busy signals" on the phone, anticipate the morning newspaper to see the score of the game and hope our favorite movie would be on TV Sunday night. The new idea of time has us responding to emails almost as quickly as they arrive, sending a quick text instead of a "lengthy" phone call, and having an app dedicated to streaming us live information about two or three games holding our interest. We want things "now" or even "yesterday." Results are expected as quickly as we can type our inquiry into Google. And yet, how does this new idea translate to our relationships?
As human beings, we are tied to the rhythms and seasons of the earth. We are born and then spend years becoming a mature adult. A relationship, between two human beings, follows the same pattern. It is "born" the day you enter it and then takes years to "mature." It requires a weathering to soften hard corners, solidify areas of weakness and slowly reveal the beauty within. Without allowing our relationship time to simply be and exist we stand the chance of prematurely discarding a potential work of natural art. Sometimes people will ask me what to do about a certain situation and my answer will be, "Simply leave it alone and give it time, and (the problem) will either reveal itself as something that needs to be removed or it will transform into a beautiful piece of your relationship landscape."
To those used to having everything "now" this is a tough piece of advice. It requires patience, perspective, work and a degree of "letting go." Those who dig down deep and find these qualities within themselves and then apply it in their marriage usually discover even more hidden beauty than they previously thought was there.
Erosion is usually associated with something negative — the beaches are eroding, trust has eroded, or his mental faculties have eroded. However, in the case of Bryce Canyon, The Grand Canyon, and many other beautiful landscapes on the earth, erosion has proven to be a wonderfully positive thing. Would you rather visit a flat, colorless piece of ground or a spectacularly colorful and dramatic canyon? Our relationships can all benefit from a little, or a lot, of erosion.
So, here are a few signs that might mean your relationship is eroding, too:
1: You aren't wondering if perhaps there's someone better out there despite your partner's flaws.
2: You don't react immediately to seemingly small irritations.
3: You realize that the fight you had yesterday does not mean you're getting divorced, it simply means you had a fight.
4: You don't have to talk about everything "right now" or at all. There are just some things you can let time take care of.
5: You can remember all the things you've already experienced together knowing that you can probably get through another "storm" in the same way.
And then there are the times of dramatic change. A storm sweeps through the area, rain pelts everything in its path, and maybe there's a landslide or two. The landscape changes. Events like births, deaths, job changes, health crises or just plain old whoppers of a fight are some of the ways erosion can take place quickly in a relationship. These times, when viewed with perspective, can become some of our most treasured experiences because we see how our marriage changed and grew, as a result. We see ourselves and each other with newfound respect and awe and are blown away by the "new view" created. Erosion is a naturally occurring process throughout nature. When allowed to happen at its own pace and timing, great beauty is created, and incredible relationships are formed.
This week I celebrate 17 years of marriage, and I am really starting to see the beauty of our relationship revealing itself through time and weathering. Our landscape is colorful, has some jagged rocks still here and there, but also has some deep canyons and life-giving streams and plants. It's a relationship that is being built to last and, one day, may truly become as beautiful as Bryce Canyon.
Alisha is a Life Coach specializing in Sex and Intimacy as well as the co-author of a recently published book titled Real Intimacy; A couple's guide to healthy, genuine sexuality. Find her at realintimacybook.com.