When I ask people to describe their perfect relationship I often hear “It would be a place where my beloved and I both get our needs met.” Why is that so difficult? It is so difficult that some people state “Relationship is too painful. I’m better off on my own.” Is giving up on relationship the best solution for some of us?
It has been said that we could go into a cave and meditate all day for years and be completely serene, but when we come down from the mountain and get into an intimate relationship, conflicts eventually emerge. These conflicts do not usually surface during the initial period of a relationship, when we feel bathed in the glow of new love. Later, we may find ourselves engaged in a power struggle, repeating old, negative patterns and getting our emotions triggered. It is easy to blame our own internal disharmony on our partner because it feels as if they are the source of our dissatisfaction in the relationship. We feel our needs are not being met by the very person who seemed to be all we ever needed and wanted just a few short months ago. We feel our Authentic Self is not being allowed full expression, and we harbor doubts as to the true nature of our partner’s Authentic Self. We find ourselves withdrawing from the relationship, either emotionally, sexually or actually breaking off of the connection. Sound familiar? When we examine our beliefs and concepts about relationship, we can create a space of new possibility for ourselves and for those we want so fervently to love with open, unconditional hearts.
Many of us find ourselves repeating the same patterns in relationships, sometimes over a period of many years and with many partners. As we mature, we start to question whether the problem really is because weâve chosen the wrong person to give our love to. We start to consider the possibility there may be something in the pain and disappointment for us to learn about ourselves. This recognition of myself as the source of my own feelings and emotions is my first step toward Spiritual Relationship.
Fulfilling the yearning for meaningful relationship is as slippery as the quest for the Authentic Self. Fact is, they are both “moving targets” rather than fixed entities. In a universe where everything changes, somehow we demand stability, consistency and agreement from our partners and they expect it of us. I don’t even know what I want for lunch tomorrow, let alone if I’ll want sex every Saturday, Monday and Wednesday for the rest of my life, and frankly, who I’ll want it with!
When I can let go of the notion that I, my husband, and our marriage are all a set-in-stone permanent way of being, I can begin to expand to accept all of him as well as all of myself. I begin to see relationship as a kind of Karma Yoga where we can both evolve as individuals supporting each other on the path, while not necessarily being in the identical place on the path all the time. If employed skillfully, our relationships are the fast track to Consciousness, not in spite of the fact that they flush up to the surface all our unhealed wounds, but exactly because they do just that. I don’t have to deal with jealousy and my abandonment issues while I’m safe on that meditation mountain!
Avoiding relationship may at times feel like the road to Nirvana, but my unfinished internal work will be an obstacle to my Self Realization whether I’m aware of it or not. The moment I want to blame my husband for my upset, I must attempt to be grateful to him for triggering the emotional experiences that point the way to my Self Awareness. When we bring this quality of gratitude and self-observation to our partnership, we experience genuine Spiritual Relationship.
Well, gratitude and self-observation are fine – but how am going to get my needs met? As I see it, the great challenge of the heart is to balance the lofty ideals of gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness and unconditional love with taking personal responsibility for my own needs being met. This requires accepting the fact that my husband does not “owe me” meeting all my needs. Just as he is not the source of my thoughts and feelings, he cannot be the source of my satisfaction. Nonetheless, I can learn ways of communicating my wants, needs and desires that do not insinuate blame or deficiency. This allows him to be the colleague who supports me in fulfilling my needs. The safety we create when we unlink blame from our needs gives our partner the freedom to communicate their needs. In this way, even our arguments and disagreements become a Holy Communion, and a warm, delicious flow of love and acceptance permeates the space of the relationship.