Intimate relationships are our greatest teachers in life. Being in a loving and committed partnership allows us to put our spiritual ideals into practice by constantly facing us with new challenges that seek to perfect the quality of our love.
My clients all want to know the way into an emotionally stable and harmonious relationship. Ultimately, most of us crave a partner with whom we can have a deep emotional, intellectual and sexual connection, and for many of us, life is most fulfilling when we have someone that we love to share it with. Here are a few things to remember to keep your relationship happy and your inner emotional landscape healthy.
1. Love yourself
Before you can feel grounded in the open exchange of love with a partner, you need to love yourself. This is a long process for most of us and in recognizing this, we can work with our partner actively along our journey towards self-love. The importance of self-love lies in our ability to honour that another person is ultimately not responsible for fulfilling our basic emotional needs. We have to come into the inner strength of personal dependability before we can expect to find true joy with a partner. Co-dependency in your relationship is a symptom of not actively loving yourself.
2. Vulnerability is the gateway to intimacy
Often it is difficult for us to be vulnerable with our intimate partners but this is actually one of the most important things we must learn to do. Because a healthy relationship reveals all the areas in which we have to grow as an individual person, it brings up deep emotional responses within us as we recognize the imperfections of our own way of loving. This is often tied to our early experiences as children and the way we bonded with our mother and father. Releasing these emotions with a partner as they come up is necessary in order to remain connected. When we shut down emotionally, we isolate ourselves within our pain and disconnect from the love we require to move us beyond the pain we are experiencing. Vulnerability that is a reflection of self-love and self-awareness is strength and allows us to connect more deeply with our partner.
3. Communicate your feelings
This can be tricky for many of us but it's important to realize one of the roles that a loving partner plays in your life is a guide towards the expression of your truest self. Honesty is essential and communicating the way we experience certain situations and circumstances provides clarity in a relationship and allows us to really get to know one another. If we react to a situation negatively and try to swallow our feelings, you best believe they are going to show up elsewhere, and are more destructive when released after stewing inside us than immediately or soon after following the incident itself. Even if we feel our emotions are immature and silly (such as when experiencing jealousy), we still need to communicate them to our partner. Sometimes what you need is someone to hold the door open for you to process and release your irrational feelings. Let your partner be that person.
4. Recognize the other person is a mirror for your deepest insecurities
The intensity of a deeply loving and connected partnership initiates a process of transformation within us. Our early wounds and unprocessed experiences often come up fresh as a result of deepening our intimacy with a partner. It is important to know that your relationship will ignite insecurities within you, if you have not come to a place of complete inner peace. In a loving partnership, the insecurities and fears you are facing are coming from within. Be aware of projecting these issues into the relationship and putting blame onto your partner. Becoming closer is a process of healing and trusting, and it is only natural to visit both the valleys and peaks together. Consciously observe where the shadow in the valley is really coming from.
5. Trust your partner
People who have experienced betrayal will often question whether it is emotionally sound to fully place their trust in another person. The reasons usually involve contemplating situations that may happen in the future that will make your trust appear foolish and as though it were simply a setup for more devastation and heartbreak. There is no easy way of recovering from a betrayal of trust. It is one of the most painful circumstances to experience with a partner. However, fearing future acts of betrayal (with the same partner or a different partner) is emotionally exhausting and a sure way to place a wall between you and the person you are trying to love. Consider this: you place your trust and love in your partner's hands and maintain an open heart, and that person chooses to compromise your relationship for one reason or another. You will experience pain, that's for sure, but pain is in your experience either way. If you are fearing another's betrayal, you are already experiencing the pains of that betrayal, and will often create a circumstance in which your fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. To stay connected to trust and love despite the actions of another keeps you resonating with love and actually makes the healing process easier. We cannot control the actions of another person, we can only decide whether or not we will continue to give our love to that person. Having missed an opportunity to engage deeply in love with a partner is a much greater tragedy than betrayal. Your power is your choice to love. If another person cannot meet your level of commitment or investment, move on. Don't let it stop you from pursuing the love you deserve and desire.
6. Stop expecting perfection
Ideal relationships only exist if both people have the spiritual strength of saints. For most of us, there is still some progress to be made towards that end, and so, being more human than we are divine, we will have flaws and make mistakes. To move from relationship to relationship as soon as things get tough or another person's character traits are revealed to be difficult to handle is a sure way to dissatisfaction. There are always aspects of another person that will be more challenging than others. If you think there exists a kind of relationship where no shadows are explored and no pain is inhabited, than your ideal of a relationship is extremely superficial by nature. We can progress towards our own version of perfection together, forgiving and acting with compassion and acceptance along the way. But one should never expect to breeze through true intimacy. Until humankind is free of karma, there will always be flaws in a relationship.
7. Don't be afraid to disagree
While there is little value in unnecessary fights and battles of opinion, there are some circumstances that require both partners to defend their grounds and their perspective on a situation. Sometimes fighting and visiting less pleasant territory is necessary to deepen a relationship and our understanding of a partner. To be constantly above-water ensures a certain kind of partnership, and it will remain surface bound if there are fears of any darker crevices. Sometimes superficial relationships serve a purpose in our lives, but they don't serve our spiritual journeys like the ones that bring us into the depths of our human core.
8. Honour the value of your sexual bond
Treat your sexual relationship with respect. Put effort and energy into achieving deeper intimacy and greater pleasure with your partner. The intensity of a connected sexual experience keeps you bound at a profoundly energetic level and remaining connected in this way makes the more difficult times in your relationship easier. Be playful about your sexual needs and communicate them to your partner. Don't build your relationship on sex, but recognize its importance in expressing your love and fondness for one another.
9. See the other person with limitless compassion
Compassion is part of truly loving another person. Many of us were raised in an environment of conditional love. We were only given affection and love if we fulfilled certain criteria. This kind of loving left us feeling unsettled and in pain. Although it is natural for us to love as we have been taught to love, it is important we recognize this way of loving our partner will never amount to a trusting and profound relationship. Recognize that you and your partner are always growing and changing. The you of today and the you of tomorrow are never the same when you are living with awareness and presence. Forgive your partner and strive to love them unconditionally. Do not allow your compassion to victimize you in your relationship and do not allow the other person to become your emotional salvation, but do love them unconditionally.