Too many people are suffering in their relationships and it doesn’t have to be that way! It used to be that way for me until I learned about the spiritual psychology of relationships. I thought relationships should turn out and if they didn’t, there was something wrong with me or them. Then I discovered the real reason my relationships with men were so disappointing and I kept getting hurt. I learned I could resolve my relationship pain by learning something new. I met some people who knew a lot about loving relationships and I asked them to teach me. It changed my life.
I don’t think it would surprise you that relationships are the source of people’s greatest joys and greatest sorrows. For most people, the path to lasting, successful relationships remains an enduring mystery.
When my husband Paul and I met and fell in love we made a fervent commitment to learn how to keep our love alive and growing. We were both completely unwilling to settle for something that was only “better than bad’. We wanted to solve the mystery of “love gone wrong” so it wouldn’t happen to us. We have been together since 1976. Our love has deepened and matured through painful crises that often destroy intimate love and trust. We were determined to find the path to lasting mutual love and respect, and we did.
Since then we have trained and coached thousands of individuals and couples, helping them to create the kind of relationship they have been yearning for.
We have clarified three distinctions that generate extraordinary soulful relationships. I believe they will set you on a path of relationship wisdom that lasts and grows brighter over time. Let me share with you the three keys that unlocked the potential in my relationship with Paul and how you might do the same thing in your most important relationships.
Key#1 – YOUR RELATIONSHIPS ARE GARDENS OF POSSIBILITY
People tend to treat relationships as though relationships are people who will fulfill their needs. Paul and I think of relationships as a space of possibility, much like a garden. We create gardens. We don’t just show up to an empty plot of land and expect it will deliver a perfect harvest. We expect to plant seeds and nurture the plantings until they ripen. We are aware of the changing seasons and are sensitive to different ways of caring required over time.
Thinking of a relationship with others as a distinct entity transforms the way we participate in our relationships. If we aren’t getting what we want, we need to think about how we can change the way we’ve been participating with the relationship. We don’t blame a garden for the way we feel about it. But how often do we blame our partners if we aren’t getting what we want?
People often operate as though relationships happen to them, when in fact, relationships are created. We create our relationships with our words and attitudes. We create our relationships by the way we care for them, the quality of attention we pay them, the way we think about them, the way we speak about them. The unconscious shadow aspects of each of us are also a creative factor in the quality of our relationships. Our relationships don’t happen to us. We are always creating our relationships, unconsciously or skillfully. Learning to co-create our relationships with awareness and sensitivity is one of life’s most important skill sets.
When we are in relationship with another we are equally responsible for it being the way it is. This is true whether the relationship is personal or professional. If a relationship isn’tdelivering what we want, we need to observe something that exists within our own mind. We need to learn to witness our unobserved beliefs, unresolved emotions and unconscious choices. Only then can we stop blaming others or tolerating others blaming us when the relationship isn’t feeling good.
Key #2 – HIGH PERFORMANCE COMMUNICATION
Our definition of high performance communication is communication that is honest, compassionate and honors the dignity of everyone involved. When you are committed to bringing out the best in one another you can find a way to take care of the dignity of others, even when you are feeling anger. Communication is one of the most significant ways we create our relationships. The way we communicate, what we say and how we say it, determines the quality of our harvest. Is your communication style like bringing water and sunshine to the garden of your relationships or toxic sludge?
It’s in your communication with another that you keep things growing and alive. It’s important to communicate in ways that intentionally nurture the relationship. You can create new vistas of probability in your relationships by continuing to discover new things about one another.
You can help one another to achieve your goals and realize your highest aspirations. You can intentionally design conversations that create a safe container to deal with emotional difficulties and neutralize blame. You can talk with one another in a way the builds trust and intimacy and fosters authenticity. Your ego’s purpose for a relationship is to get your needs satisfied. Your soul’s agenda for relationships is quite different. Your soul uses your relationships as a place to heal, learn, evolve and create. The soul wants relationships that bring out the best in everyone involved.
If we are lazy and thoughtless in our communication we don’t observe the effect our communication is having on the other or we are so self-absorbed we don’t care. We also need to be as proficient in our listening as we are in our speaking. The way we listen to others has a powerful effect on how others feel about themselves in the relationship. If we co-create relationships that bring out the best in one another; a harmonious and abundant harvest is guaranteed.
People are always asking us what the secret to our successful marriage is. The answer is we made it safe to always tell the whole truth. We developed communication games that helped us heal our pain and confusion. These games became a regular practice that strengthened our love and built resilience we could trust, even when we bumped into the trials and tribulations life can bring.
Our shared intention for our relationship was to bring out the best in one another and to intentionally build the energy of mutual trust. We found that truth is Love’s doorway and we chose to be emotionally honest, while also taking responsibility for our own feelings. Not blaming Paul for the what appeared to be “the way he made me feel” was difficult in the beginning, until I learned how to observe what activated “wound re-enactment” for me.
Wound re-enactment is the phenomena of getting triggered into an unresolved issue from your childhood, by your mate and then speaking to your mate as though they were the person from the past who hurt you in some way. It takes a high capacity for self-reflection to observe this automatic trigger and choose to not blame your partner for your trigger! When you observe what really triggers you, you can have very different conversations that empower mutual trust building, avoiding blame. This move alone brings a steady resource of life giving nutrients to your relationship garden.
3. RADICAL PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Assuming personal responsibility during times of conflict is like accepting a mantle of spiritual power and wisdom. It elevates you to the understanding that you are not a victim of other people. This means even if you have felt hurt, done to and victimized, you can still learn new principles that empower you to create a different kind of future. This happens when you find out how your own consciousness, the things you think, feel believe and remember are determining your unwanted relationship patterns.
You can’t look at your consciousness directly. You can only see it by looking at the reflection of your consciousness in the mirror of your relationships. For example, if you are afraid that love makes you feel too vulnerable, your relating will be armored. This could easily cause people to feel pushed away by you or imagine you don’t enjoy their company. Your armor, designed to protect you, is pushing people away, reinforcing your belief that love is risky rather than safe and fulfilling.
What you think, feel and believe are creative factors in the quality of your relationships, because they affect the clarity of your interpretations. Your interpretations about upsetting situations determine how you communicate or don’t communicate during an upset. The fact is most people are never upset for the reason they think! And most arguments are wound re-enactment being played out time and again.
Most people are not aware they have choice about their interpretations. Mostly, we imagine the way we see it, is the way it actually is, and we react automatically. If we could watch our reactions in slow motion, we could see the mechanics of our interpretations. And the insights we gain are astounding and liberating. Then we are free to use upsets and disagreements as opportunities for healing and spiritual maturity.
It is extremely important to have a mutually agreed upon, pre-determined means for handling disagreements before they occur. If you wait until after you are angry with one another it’s too late. Sort of like a novice skydiver trying to learn how to land after they have already jumped out of the plane. Poor planning is sure to end in a messy landing. We recommend you agree on the conflict resolution technique you will use before you need it.
The process we created for ourselves worked deeper than just resolving a current upset. We wanted to make sure we clarified the deeper causes of wound reenactment, so they didn’t get recycled time and again. With our method our upsets became less intense and less frequent over time. Our relationship doesn’t bring pain and confusion. We enjoy a rich harvest of wisdom and fulfillment. The more we used this skill the better we got at it, until it became second nature. And that’s what we teach our clients how to do.
Personal responsibility has been a significant factor that has kept the love alive in our marriage and creative partnership. If we hadn’t gotten to the heart of our power struggles or blaming arguments, every unresolved conflict would have gradually undermined trust. And without mutual trust our love wouldn’t have flourished, it would have withered like a garden without water or sunshine. Instead, we enjoy regular lush harvests of appreciation, soaring love and enduring passion.