Healing ourselves can often feel like a full-time job . Healing our closest loving relationships may seem like working overtime! It is odd but true that those people for whom we feel the most love, connectedness, and intimacy are also those same people who can push our buttons the fastest. Loving relation- ships can bring out the absolute best and worst in us. There are some who have chosen a lifelong path of celibacy and monasticism. Others, such as ourselves, have chosen the life of partnership, or as it is called in the East, the life of a householder. We have heard it said by some ascetics that a life of seclusion is the highest way to go and that it is those of us who are not ready for such full-time dedication to God that must still live in family life. We disagree. Monasticism has its plusses and minuses; so do relationships. Many people, including us, have the feeling that they’ve been ascetics many times in the past and that now is the time to learn to experience love fully and deeply with another person. To master the art of being mirror-like reflections of each other. To support each other in becoming all that we can be, individually and together.
The Being of Togetherness. Vern Wolf, the author of Holodynamics, whom we mentioned in our last article, defines “the being of togetherness” ( B.O.T.) as that entity, or energy field, which is created when two or more beings join together. The B.O.T. has its own unique purpose, mission, and lifespan. Some B.O.T.’s last for only a few days, weeks, or months. Others span many lifetimes. Each B.O.T. is unique and will blossom to its fullest if treated with love, patience, and compassion. Many of us become very confused about intimate relationships. We lose clarity about whether to hang in there or throw in the towel. It is essential to understand the mission of each and every relationship. How many of us stay in relationships for years without having a clear sense of why we’re in them, what is our highest purpose together, and when we are ready to move on? By understanding the intention of the B.O.T., we can be freer to engage in the relationship fully and to leave if and when the purpose has been fulfilled.
Loving Relationships as a Spiritual Path. Two of our greatest teachers in the area of relation-ships are Barry and Joyce Vissell, authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, and Risk to be Healed. Like all couples, they have had their ups and downs, joys and pains, but have always nurtured a very deep spiritual connection and shared purpose. Now, after twenty five years of marriage, through their books, workshops, and counseling, they have been an inspiration to many of us by showing us that a partnership can be based on seeking the divinity of life together and that such a union can really last.
We first met Barry and Joyce in l985 when we were asked if we would host their workshop at our Center. We had just started the Center and were in a somewhat rocky phase of our own relationship. Over the course of two days, the forty of us in the room became deeply bonded, emotionally and spiritually. Some of those we met there are still our very close friends. On the first day of the workshop, we felt squashed together with barely enough room to breathe. By the second day , the group was so close-knit that we found ourselves seated closely together inhalf the room, feeling perfectly comfortable! Our own relationship was nourished and deepened in the course of those two days. Towards the end of the weekend, Barry and Joyce asked who would like to participate in a mock marriage. We found ourselves stepping forward, somewhat hesitantly. We were pretty iffy about making the commitment to get married up to that point. Somehow the experience of sharing vows in the presence of such loving and supportive friends, and in an atmosphere of seeing God in each other gave us the courage to go for it. . Our fate was sealed. At the end of the seminar that afternoon, we asked Barry and Joyce if they would marry us the next time they came to Seattle. They did five months later. We have grown together ever since and Barry and Joyce continue to be powerful teachers of love for us.
Uplevelling Addictions to Preferences. Expectations are the greatest downfall of many a relationship. We think our partners should think, act, and be the way we want them to be rather than how they really are. If one of the partners is more weak and yielding, they’ll try to mold themselves to fit their partner’s expectations. They may end up with great resentment in the process. If they’re strong, the more the partner wants them to be a certain way, the more they’ll resist or do just the opposite, as they did with their parents. In either case, one or both of the partners is not allowed the freedom to be themselves and the relationship will either be unhappy or will end.
Ken Keyes, in his wonderful book A Conscious Person’s Guide to Relationships, points out that we all tend to want our partners to meet our needs and expectations. It is part of being human. In the extreme, we are continually disappointed by others who “fail us” and can never be happy with anyone else for long. He calls this overwhelming need to have others be the way we want an addiction. This means that unless they satisfy our expectations, we will be miserable. Ken recommends that we convert these expectation addic- tions into preferences. In other words, instead of saying, “If you don’t change, I won’t love you and I’ll leave”, we can say, “It would be really nice if you would change, but I’ll love you and stand by you anyway.” His point is that if our happiness depends on what our partners do and do not do, we’re inviting disappointment.
Another close friend, in a beautiful , spiritually-bonded marriage of thirteen years with three children attri-butes their happy and lasting relationship to “kshama”, Sanskrit for forgiveness. He explains that instead of tallying up all the ways he and his wife have failed to meet each other’s expectations over the years, they continually forgive themselves and each other , and work towards allowing themselves to be who they are.
Sticking Together for the Long Haul. Several years ago we were invited to join a few other couples to share about relationships. One couple’s marriage was on the rocks. Another couple, married for over thirty years, with several grown children, stated quite matter-of-factly that they planned to stay together for the rest of their lives, no matter what. This really gave a new meaning to the word “commit- ment”. Many of us will say, “Well, how can they possibly know what the future will bring?” or ” What if they fall out of love with each other? What if they fall in love with someone else? ” These two people knew each other extremely well, were deeply dedicated to the same spiritual path, believed that they could learn all the lessons of this lifetime with each other, and were absolutely committed to staying together. Having been together for many years, they made this decision on a very firm footing.
If we leave one relationship without having resolved the issues which caused us to separate, we are likely to recreate a very similar scenario in our next relationship. Certainly there are times to leave a relationship and move one, but many of us get in that habit without really seeing the ful potential of the relationship that we have. We went to an astrologer a couple of years ago to better understand the pur -pose of our being together and of our miscarriages. He told us that we had been together a number of times before and had separated. He firmly instructed us to stay together this time and learn all that we could together. Those words have been good reminders to us in the past during those rough spots where we’ve wondered if it wouldn’t be a lot easier to do it on our own. We’ve eventually realized that we could do it on our own and that it might indeed be easier, but not nearly as much fun.
Drs. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are naturopathic and homeopathic physicians and cofounders of the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA. They are coauthors of The Patient’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicine and Beyond Ritalin: Homeopathic Treatment of ADD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems. They can be reached at (206) 774-5599.