If we’re both suffering for having been set against one another by unconsciously identifying with opposing forces, then we have to ask – especially if we love our partner as we profess – why do we feel as if our pain is more important than theirs? 

When we really love someone, the last thing we want for him or her is to suffer. Who among us hasn’t thought upon seeing a loved in the throes of some kind of pain that, if it only were in our power, we would gladly take their pain away by agreeing to make it our own?

 And yet, though most of us have felt something of this higher wish – to surrender ourselves for the sake of love – regardless the personal cost – we’ve also witnessed our inability to do so; the truth is, when it comes to some trial by fire, little to nothing in us can remember what was foremost in our heart only moments before. And there’s a good reason for this kind of spiritual amnesia:

This kind of unconscious pain that lives within us needs someone, something to blame for it. And, in much the same way, blame must have pain in order to keep itself alive. These opposing sides are literally nothing without each other to maintain the misery that they create together. The more aware we can be of this unconscious partnership, the less tempted we are to want any part of it!

Any pain in us – that demands our partner pay for it – can’t heal itself; if it could have, it would have long ago. Add to this fact – as we’ve seen is true – that whatever “payment” we’d exact from our partner in these moments not only does nothing to heal their pain but also, in fact, only aggravates it further! Which in turn...then turns on us, re-seeding both of our suffering, and guaranteeing that same unwanted pattern is reborn.

The unconscious pain that pushes us into, and then through the repetition of any unwanted pattern with our partner is, in fact, not what it seems. It is not proof of some irreconcilable difference between us, but rather stands as evidence of something that lives in each of us, that we have in common.

Even the faintest first stirring of this higher awareness – ­that whatever pain divides us is, in fact, a single pain shared between us – makes it possible for us to open our heart and mind to embrace a new idea that can’t be reached in any other way.

We have but one, true hope of being able to rise above this unseen world of opposing forces that cannot heal themselves, let alone bring an end to the patterns they create each time they attempt to do so. It is time for us to learn how to call upon a “third” force: an altogether higher order of wisdom, compassion, and kindness whose singular power is not only to unify these opposing forces but, in the moment of their appearance, to complete the very purpose of their existence.

In truth, you already know this celestial force; its most common name is love. But, let me ask you to suspend, at least for a moment, all that you think you understand about it; for the “love” that we know, in whose name we call out what we now care for most, is to this higher order love that we’re about to discover as is a candle’s light to the light of the sun.

We’re not talking about the kind of love we have for a delicious meal, a beautiful day, a family member, or even for our partner in the most tender of moments. This level of love can flip-flop into its opposite at the drop of a hat.

We’re talking about a level of love that can neither be imagined, nor created. It can’t be made to change a single unwanted moment into one that we want, even though that’s the reason for its existence. And while we can’t cause this higher order of love to appear at will, we can learn to understand, and eventually have full trust in the following:

Whenever, and wherever two or more of us are connected by a shared pain of some kind – as in a fight with our partner, or suffering some misfortune with loved ones or strangers alike, there is – already with us in that same moment – a higher love waiting to heal it, and to help make us whole at the same time.