I love to read, and I especially love to read anything pertaining to relationships and marriage. Maybe it’s because I am woman. Let’s face it, we’re just wired that way… as women we are relationship-oriented by nature, probably more so than men by virtue of our femininity.
One of the best relationship books I ever read was written almost 25 years ago. It’s called Journey of the Heart: The Path of Conscious Love, written by John Welwood, a transpersonal therapist and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. Now I am not a Buddhist (although I do find much wisdom in Buddhist thought), but there are things in the book that really resonated with me.
Welwood starts from the presumption that relationships are all about our growth as human beings.
He refers to marriage as a “container,” something like a vessel that conveys or contains our love and ultimately serves our spiritual evolution, however you define spiritual or spirituality. He points out that marriage is not based on the things it used to be based on, like survival or procreation or social rules.
It is only in the last few generations that marriage has come to be based on something different, and as such we are in uncharted territory. He writes that it is only the intrinsic quality of our personal connection that can keep us going in our relationships.
The point Welwood is making is that we must strive for new levels of intimacy which have been previously unknown to us and for which we are creating new ground. It is our ability to make this leap as individuals that will determine our collective ability as humans to evolve as conscious beings. Intimate relationships are thus an instrument for consciousness.
When we can learn to see our marriage in this light, we take a higher road that can accommodate us through the tough times.
We shift our perspective and ask the questions “What am I supposed to learn from this? How can I grow into a better person because of this?” We learn to see ourselves and our partners in a different light, and we begin to see that not only are we in the relationship to grow as individuals, but our spouses are too. At some point we can shift our focus from what we can get out of the relationship (or what we’re not getting out of the relationship) to what we can do to serve our partner’s growth.
This is much different than a co-dependent relationship where we deny our needs to yield to our partner’s demands. When two people mutually have each other’s well being as their number one priorities, everyone is assured of getting what they need out of the relationship and love can not only endure, but thrive.
Talk with your spouse about what they think their goal as a human being is. Ask them what they think you can do to help them become a better person, and listen with an open heart. Let down your defenses if even for just a moment to really hear what he/she has to say. Even if your defenses have been up for years, you will create a small opening for a new level of communication, and clear, heartfelt communication is always what it’s all about in a marriage.