When it comes to relationships, the single most important thing for it to thrive, in my opinion, is communication.
Regardless of whether it is a romantic relationship, a platonic one, a relationship between parent and child, boss and employee, client and agent, or any other kind of relationship, communication is what allows the relationship to grow. Relationships thrive on good communication, and suffer greatly when there is lack of communication.
I tend to incorporate numerology into my tarot interpretations, and in numerology, the number 3 represents communication. In tarot, Swords are the element of Air, and Air corresponds with communication as well, so it makes sense for me to look at the Three of Swords for representing ideal communication in a relationship. Also, my first tarot deck was the Dragon Tarot, and in the guidebook, the divinatory meaning for this card is, “Heartbreak, unless you can communicate with others more effectively.” I used the Dragon Tarot exclusively for many years, so this meaning about the Three of Swords for communicating effectively has sort of been ingrained into me.
A Positive Three of Swords?
It wasn’t until I started studying the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and system that I realized it’s often considered one of the most negative cards in the tarot deck. Traditionally, the card means heartache, loss, anguish. It’s pretty bleak, and many people dislike seeing it turn up in a reading, especially a reading for romance. I mean, look at it, with its three swords impaling a heart.
It seems brutal, but it doesn’t have to be so all of the time.
When I teach my tarot courses, I tell my students that all cards have negative and positive meanings. I’m a Libra, so I try to see both sides of the story, it’s the Justice in me. There’s also the Temperance in me that believes there has to be a balance between “good” and “bad”. You wouldn’t appreciate the “good” if you didn’t know anything “bad” in your life, you wouldn’t grow if there wasn’t any “bad” to challenge you.
But let’s go back to the Three of Swords. What positive meaning could there possibly be with the heart being impaled by three swords?
Well, in an exercise during one of my tarot classes, I asked my students to come up with both positive and negative meanings for some of the cards. In the case of the Three of Swords, some of the positive things they came up with were that, even though the swords are stabbing the heart, there isn’t any blood, and if you look at the positioning of the swords, they form a tripod. This means, they said, that the things that hurt you before are in the past, you have healed and are no longer bleeding. Also, these things that hurt you only served to make you stronger, they have become the tripod that allows you to stand taller.
I think that is such a beautiful way to look at this card. I think of my own “tripods” and I know I stand taller because of them.
Communicating for a better relationship
What does this have to do with communication in relationships though?
First, how about we officially decide that any heartbreak message from the Three of Swords always comes with the caveat, “unless you can communicate more effectively.” Let’s make it a mandatory thing.
Then let’s acknowledge that the happiest relationships are when each person feel that they are heard and their opinions are respected.
I have a friend, someone whom I’ve known for more than 20 years. We were close as girls and we’re still friends today, in that we keep in touch, but we’ve never really argued about anything.
We hang out, we talk about pleasant things, we laugh and gossip and giggle like girls, but we’ve never really talked about the important stuff. We shy away from deep conversations. If one of us is unhappy with the other for whatever reason, we ignore it and pretend everything is okay. If one of us is really down and depressed about something, we pretend we don’t notice and act like everything’s okay, talk about other things.
It was hard for me because I was always an expressive person, and I would tell her everything while she seldom confided in me. When I got mad at her and would want to confront her, she’d avoid me until mutual friends told her I wasn’t mad anymore, and then we’d pretend nothing had happened. When I did confront her about anything, she’d get mad and shut me down and wouldn’t talk to me for days. I learned that it was best to pretend that everything was fine around her.
I mean, it’s great to have friends you can laugh with, dance with, drink with, and have lots of fun with, like the Three of Cups maybe, but if that’s all there is to the friendship, it’s kind of a shallow relationship, don’t you think? That’s why the deeper you get into a relationship, the more the Three of Swords makes more sense to me for relationship growth.
We have many acquaintances, people that are our Three of Cups, and then we have the really close relationships; your best friend, your lover, your family, people who are your Three of Swords. The ones whom you fight with, and then make up with, and your relationship gets stronger.
But here’s the key phrase, again, “Heartbreak, unless you can communicate more effectively.”
When you fight, you communicate, when you make up, you communicate. The difference of whether these fights lead to heartbreak or a stronger relationship, relies on how effective your communication is. Do you yell and scream at each other, or do you listen and respect each other’s opinions? In fact, if you are communicating effectively, these “fights” become only disagreements, or maybe even great discussions between two people who respect and enjoy each other’s views.
Remember how the Three of Swords look like the swords could be a firm tripod for the heart to stand taller and stronger? Well, that applies to relationships too. It takes a lot of communication; arguments, disagreements, miscommunication, frustration, anger, and tears, before you learn to communicate effectively with each other, but once you do, your relationship will stand taller and stronger.
So I wish you great communication in all of your relationships.
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