To be in a relationship as a couple requires constant growth. The person we chose to spend our life with isn’t now the person we married or committed to. People change, needs change. We pass through life milestones and enter distinct phases of our lives. When we commit to someone, the truth is that we have no idea what, exactly, we are committing to. This makes relationship an act of surrender in many ways.
Control is an Illusion
Sustained commitment requires the acknowledgment that we don’t always have control over life. We can’t control when and if our loved one gets sick or changes in physical appearance. We can’t control (and wouldn’t want to) their influences and friends. We can’t even control our own developing desires in life, the ways we change and our needs evolve and change.
Our expectations, then, have much to do with our happiness as a couple. If we expect a certain outcome, we will be disappointed. However, in saying this, it’s important our needs are truly being met in a relationship. Men in particular often have a lot emotionally invested in their partner. Women tend to have their emotional support spread out among friends and family. It’s very important to have a variety of support sources, to learn to communicate issues of the soul with more than only the intimate partner. Couples counseling, then, should always help the partner with less social support gain in their ability to express emotional and spiritual issues.
However, even the most healthy relationship will suffer long term without ongoing active participation of both partners. The tendency is to pull back when we are disappointed, to move away when we are hurt. Long-term, this can drive you apart, or lead to a relationship that is unfulfilling.
Mindfulness as a Relationship Skill
One helpful skill in counteracting the dullness that can come with long-term relationship is to practice mindful listening and even mindful seeing. Have you recently had someone really look at you? Not in a leering, obtrusive way, but a soulful, genuine way? A way that says: I see you, right now. I honor you, right now. I’m with you, right now. Such a gaze can make you feel years younger, maybe even like a child. Such a gaze is energizing and inspiring. We can offer this gaze to our partners.
The beloved monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh, says to imagine your eyes as flowers, your mouth as a flower, your hands as flowers. This is a simple addition to our meditation or even can be used as a kind of mantra-image throughout the day. By imagining our eyes soft and fresh, we can see the world with that same beauty and freshness. Your beloved will respond instantly to your gaze that sees not his/her past decisions, his/her past personality traits, his/her past wrongs or even rights. Instead, you offer your ears like fresh roses to their words, you offer your eyes like vulnerable poppies, and your mouth like a peony.
Instead of seeing “Bob” or “Laura” or “Partner” or “Husband” try seeing your beloved as if, at this moment, they exist only in the present, as if they hold a surprise for you. Because that is the truth. None of us know the future. We can’t control the flow of life. We can only offer our love, and love is always fresh.
At SpiritQuest Retreats, we offer custom Couples Retreats. Our retreats are tailored to your specific needs and interests. With over 10 years of experience helping bring couples together, we feel confident we can give you an experience and the skills that will benefit you for years to come. Call us today to talk to our experienced representatives, 1.928.282.2509.