Oh baby there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough,
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe.
~ Marvin Gaye
I sing this song to my girls all of the time.
I love it, but I don’t agree with it, not when it comes to romantic love, partnership and marriage.
I have this theory about why most relationships and marriages end—because the individuals in the relationship are each on different elevations of the mountain of life, at the same time, trying to hike it together.
I believe all people are equal. No one is less important than anyone else. We are the same. However, two people equal in value can be on different planes of consciousness, intellectuality, communication, emotional maturity, life experience and perspective. Therein lies the rub.
Two people come together because of chemistry (usually). They are attracted to one another, and that attraction blinds one’s ability to logically evaluate how the other’s circumstance, characteristics and disposition will support his or her wellbeing, and day to day life over time.
Love is immature unless I invite the maturity of my critical mind into the relationship. Mature love is hard work, it takes effort and foresight (birthed from experience/collected life data).
So, back to the mountain.
Two people meet, they have chemistry, they have fun and they start to fall in love. Reality sets with the sun of rationality, and the couple finds themselves on the side of the mountain, in the darkness of pleasure and lust (pretty morbid, I know, but bear with me).
In the darkness, they begin to write the fantasy of their relationship—how the other person “could be.” Instead of accepting the person as they are in the present, they consider how their partner could change, grow or reach the potential they see in them. Then, their relationship would be perfect.
Time goes by, the sun rises, reality sets in, and one partner finds himself further ahead on the trail. He can see his partner down there, sitting, relaxing or maybe looking around with no idea where the trail continues. He calls to his partner, over and over, waving his arms, doing every thing he can to get her attention,“Right there! The trail is right there! Come on, let’s keep going, I’m ready to keep going!” Maybe she hears him and just doesn’t feel like moving, or she genuinely can’t hear him, and she’s lost.
He is ready to keep walking upward and onward. He’s exhausted from trying to get her to meet him where he is. He has a choice to make—backtrack and pull her along (which is dangerous because on this trail, the way down is not the same way up, doing so would put his own wellbeing at risk), even if she doesn’t want to keep going. Or, he can keep going, without her.
He’s been there, where she is. He’s done that part of the trail already. Going backwards doesn’t help him move forward on the mountain of life, it stagnates him and depletes him.
What would happen if he met another hiker along the way who was ready, just like him, to hike on?
A partner with similar physical, mental and emotional capacity who has climbed the route, too, and meets him right where he is. They encourage one another to keep climbing. They hold hands, and at the steep parts, one gives a little push, while another gives a little pull.
For the rest of their climb, they remain at arms length from one another. They can touch each other, see each other, hear each other, help each other, understand each other, and appreciate the view with each other.
Moral of the metaphor: I’ve learned through experience that no matter how much I love someone, I can’t fix them, and I can’t make them see what they’re not ready to see. I can’t force them to move from where they are. They need to do that on their own, in their own time.
It is tempting to backtrack, to go help them, guide them, but that’s not my job.
My job is to keep climbing the mountain, and have faith that somewhere along the way, I’ll meet someone who is on my part of the trail, at the same time, ready to climb on, together.