Relationship can be a bit like a game of cards. There is the art of sussing out what cards the other person has. Then there is power and bluffing, like poker, trying to make the other person think we've got a great hand. Or maybe it's like bridge, we partner someone, and try to make a strategy together for the future. We have all these cards, and we have these ideas of how to use them to get points, make tricks, to "win". We hold our high cards proudly, so they don't get wasted. Or maybe we sit, holding some junk that we hope will become a royal straight flush. We drop hints about our cards to the others, but we never show them. We get stressed when it looks like we're gonna lose, and gleeful when we get points.
Imagine we sit down at a busy card table, and it's a mess, because no-one is playing the same rules, or even the same game. Everyone is just playing the version they learned in school or that their parents and ex's taught them. Expectations get broken. Everyone is arguing about who is playing the game right or wrong.
In truth, the best game for us to play here is one where the goal is simply to get rid of all our cards. If we see someone across the table who is playing this game too, take the invitation! When it's our turn, we just put down whatever card we feel like. They do the same. The secret rule is that there are no rules of which cards are better or not. And there are no cards that let us win.
Initially there is a lot of fear in doing this, because in games we played before, there were rules and tricks and points and good cards and bad cards. The Ace of Hearts is surely a really good card to have, can we just put it down, now? What if they trump it? But we do. And it's met with a warm, knowing smile from them, and another card. The four of spades. Panic! What does that mean? But we see the lightness on their face which tells us that the four of spades didn't mean anything at all, and we relax into silent laughter together. Everyone else around the table can play whatever game they like, but the we and our partner keep playing this crushingly simple, non-game. We just accept whatever card they put down, and put our next card on top, just whichever card feels right. And all around us the table is chaos, chips are flying, yelling, people want to know the rules.
And soon enough we find ourselves sat facing our partner and we each just have one card left. There is some resistance, fear maybe, about what this means. But by now, we know we don't want play the other games, simply because they look like hell, so we gaze into their eyes, softly, no more trying, no more bluffing, and we put down our last card. We see their tears falling and so their last card comes down too. And with that comes relief, joy, more tears, bliss, the fullness of love. The rest of the table keep playing, playing at God knows what, but we sit across from our partner, in absolute stillness, totally lost in each other, crying and laughing about how needless all the cards even were. We have won, the prize is absolute love.