We continue here to discuss aspects of a mature relationship.
a. Expressing needs and feelings rather than blame.
One of the main causes of misunderstandings, tension, bitterness, unhappiness and relationship failure is our inability to communicate effectively. We have been programmed to criticize, blame and intimidate rather than express our real needs and / or feelings of insecurity, fear, inadequacy or rejection, which is usually the reality behind our negativity.
We have learned to cover our weaknesses and put up a strong and often aggressive face. We can develop alternative means of communication in which we neither suppress our needs and values, nor do we hurt or demean the other.
b. Clarifying and communicating our needs before we unite our lives:
Whether we want to see it that way or not, marriage is a contract between two persons who promise certain things to each other. Unfortunately for many, this contract is simply a formality for the religion or the state.
However, two conscious persons wanting to enter into a relationship have everything to gain by sitting down together and drawing up their own contract, independent of what the church or state may stipulate. In this way, they will discover if they really have the same goals, values and perceptions about what their relationship means. They can express what they expect of each other. This will be an opportunity to discuss lifestyles and expectations more deeply, to see if they are really meant to unite their lives, or if it is perhaps better to remain friends.
Couples already married can renew their contract every few years, making adjustments when agreeable to both which represent their present relationship needs. These contracts will evolve as their needs evolve.
A relationship needs to be kept fresh and alive. One way is for the partners to share various types of common activities. One basic common activity is bringing up children and everything that encompasses. Other possibilities might be attending classes, lectures or cultural events together, playing games, going for walks, working on some business or creative project together, singing, dancing, traveling or even reading together, and of course, expressing love to each other physically.
In these mind and body stimulating activities, we are brought into deeper contact and have new and interesting subjects about which to think and communicate. This is much preferable to limiting our time together to watching television.
On the other hand, we need to respect each otherΥs unique individuality and should not try to force the other to believe what we do, or pressure him or her into some activity in which he or she is not interested. However, we all have everything to gain by being open and experimental about life, allowing ourselves to try out new experiences and activities leading to mutual growth and enrichment.
KEEP LEARNING AND GROWING
The disharmony we experience in a relationship actually is a message that we have something to learn. We would do well to analyze what we need to learn and make the corresponding adjustments in our attitude toward life.
Learning and loving are the two reasons for which we have incarnated into these bodies. When we stop learning or loving, our life is less meaningful. The purpose of life is to evolve in our wisdom, love, inner peace, selflessness and creative abilities. Getting stuck and refusing to grow is the surest way to destroy the harmony in a relationship.
From a spiritual point of view, the other is our teacher. His or her behavior is exactly what we need at this stage of our lives to learn something about ourselves and free ourselves from some beliefs or behaviors that are keeping us back in our evolutionary process.
We will dedicate a significant part of this book toward clarifying what we need to learn from our partnerΥs behaviors that disturb us.
As our spiritual growth process is the basic reason for our existence in the physical plane, it is logical that it will be an important part of any successful relationship. Spiritual activity is seriously missing from the lives of most families today.
Families could pray or chant together. They could read and discuss spiritual texts together. They could meditate in silence together. They could serve the less fortunate in society. Each home can vibrate with love and harmony.
I have unfortunately throughout the years witnessed zealous spiritual aspirants who perceive their spouses, children or parents as obstacles to their spiritual growth, believing that their spirituality is dependent upon their following seminars or meditating many hours. It is true that these activities can help, but they should never be reasons to lose our love for those who might consciously or subconsciously obstruct us.
Love and selflessness are always the highest forms of spirituality.
Part 3 of this series will contain the following subjects:
Distinguish Between the Other and His Behavior.
See the Other as Your Teacher.
Reaching Out Beyond the Relationship
Develop Your Own Relationship with the Divine.