Living in the world, relationships are inevitable. At work, in society, at home, in the family, everywhere. Generally, the more intimate a relationship, the greater and more deep-rooted expectations are. My focus today is on personal relationships, the type where both physical and emotional intimacy form an integral part of the relationship. Society may label such relationships as marriage, girlfriend-boyfriend, lovers, and so forth.
No matter how independent or peaceful your nature, irrespective of your faith, beliefs, or religion, fulfillment in any personal relationship is directly dependent on the quality of commitment from both partners.
If there is a mismatch but both acknowledge it and are willing to work toward fixing it, it can be fixed. However, if one of the partners does not feel or acknowledge any issues, much less understand them, you can work till the cows come home, the relationship will continue to be an unfulfilling and incomplete one.
Forming relationships or breaking them is rarely a black-and-white matter. It is not always easy to just call it off or put up with it. Your state of mind is greatly, if not constantly, affected by your relationships.
The primary source of your memories is your relationships, they are the seat of your emotions in a way. Both partners want some quality, a certain equality in a relationship. It is often compared to a two-wheeler, where both wheels need to be balanced for the vehicle to move smoothly. However, that is an intellectual proposition, albeit a convincing one. In reality, men and women are built differently, psychologically, emotionally, and physiologically.
I would like to share with you the four truths of marriage. As follows:
1. It is not possible to let go of expectations in marriage
People tell you to accept the other person, do not expect too much, be more accommodating, and so on. If you can adopt that fully, you may have greater peace of mind. However, in reality, both partners need to accept that they have certain expectations from each other. When you give your heart, body, and soul to an individual, it is natural that you expect something similar in kind.
If you completely let go of your expectations, you are making one big compromise. You may still have a relationship but it will be devoid of fulfillment and joy. The denial of your needs, the curbing of your desires, and the non-expression of your love are not letting go of expectations.
2. One partner is always more attached than the other in a marriage
Both men and women may have similar, if not the same, education, earnings, and backgrounds, but one person is more attached to the other. They may even love each other differently.
They say, “When you love somebody, set them free. If they come back they’re yours, if they don’t they never were.” Well, well! you love your body but you do not set it free to do whatever it pleases, you love your dog but you take him out on a leash. Because when you love, you care naturally. Out of such care arises concern and caution.
Surely, both partners must give each other personal space but you cannot accept everything, unless you have no other option, in the name of setting the other person free. Rather than aiming for some lofty philosophy, it will help a great deal to be practical.
3. One is always more expressive than the other in a marriage
One partner tends to be more expressive than the other. Often the one more expressive, by gestures, actions, or words, wants the other person to speak up, to express more, to share better, to speak their mind. They feel that their partner does not communicate, that he does not share, or that she does not appreciate it.
A woman dresses up, expecting her husband to at least give a compliment, for instance. He loves to see her look so gorgeous, but he is not expressive. He may simply not utter even a word. “How do I look?” the wife may ask to solicit a response. A few occasions and meltdowns later, the husband may start to offer a customary compliment. But the truth is, if it is not in his genes, if he is not the expressive type, his fundamental behavior is unlikely to change.
4. A functional relationship is not about perfection
Perfection is a subjective term, a relative notion, a matter of perspective, of opinion. You do not work in a perfect environment, you do not live in a perfect world, you do not eat perfect food, and, dare I say it, you are not perfect either, how reasonable is it then to expect a perfect relationship?
Marriage is about growing together, being together, exploring together, working together, loving together, crying together. It is about togetherness.
Let us say, for argument’s sake, you were thirty when you got married and today you are thirty-three. Do you know what makes you tick? what ticks you off? what motivates you, provokes you, puts you off, turns you on? Do you absolutely know yourself? Like one hundred percent? Probably not. If you could not know yourself completely in thirty years, how can you possibly expect your partner to know all about you in three? And! until you understand each other, a perfect relationship remains a distant dream.
On a lighter note, let me roll the scroll out of Mulla’s life for you:
“In my thirty years of marriage, we’ve never had an argument,” said Mulla with a sense of pride.
“I don’t believe you! How come?” exclaimed his friend.
“Well, whenever she’s right, I admit it. So, there are no arguments.”
“But, what about the times when you are right and she is wrong?”
“Oh! such a situation hasn’t come up yet,” replied Mulla in a matter-of-fact tone.
Most may appreciate Mulla’s spirits, but, many more live like Mulla’s wife. They believe they are right, that, somehow, they just know better, are better. Marriage is not all about being right, it is not a competition, it is a lot about just being, being there for each other. That should be the primary basis of your analysis, whether your partner is there for you when you need him and vice-versa. If you are not there for each other, you are not married.
An imminent question is how to find out whether you should stay in a relationship or move out, whether or not you can make it work, or if you have grown out of it? Is calling it quits the right thing to do? What about when your religion or faith makes you believe otherwise? What are some of the things you can try to fix your marriage? I am going to reflect on this and more going forward. You may want to read – When to move out of a relationship. In the next one, I will elucidate for you the five types of struggling relationships in a marriage.
I get tons of emails from people who are going through a crisis in their relationships. I know my writings are no panacea and that my inbox will continue to be inundated, however, even if one relationship can be saved, if even one person feels better, stronger, and happier, I will consider it worth my time to scribble my thoughts. Here is a nice article from wikiHow on how to build healthy relationships.
There is a way to eternal peace, infinite bliss, and unconditional love. Make no mistake, your happiness is in your hands and you can turn inward and experience your independent nature. However, until one reaches that exalted state, I thought it would be prudent to offer wisdom in a more practical context.
Take care of yourself and each other.
While marriage is one of the intimate relationships that determine our emotional wellness, there are many more that make up the crux of our lives.
Art of Meditation
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The questions below provide insight into the different intimate relationships that make us who we are, including our relationship with God:
Is sex, despite being an important part of intimate relationships, not advisable while walking the spiritual path?
Physical love whether expressed by a gesture of a simple peck or a passionate kiss, eating together or making love, is an extension, and outward expression, of your inner being, and your feelings. It completes any intimate relationship. When channelized, sexuality transforms into love, when untamed, it becomes lust.
Just stay true to yourself and ask your conscience. You will get all the answers. However, if you try to curb it, you will only experience frustration. This will hinder your emotional wellness. Read more here.
How does an intimate relationship with one’s Guru transform a person?
The guru-disciple relationship is like no other for it’s free of the usual give-and-take exchanges. It’s one of the purest and most intimate relationships because there are no secrets and there’s no hidden agenda. It’s a bond, a covenant, capable of rapid, profound, and irreversible transformation.
Once you find a master who walks the talk, whose presence pierces your heart, whose teachings transform you, whose words make you feel divine, don’t let go of him because he, with each unfolding moment, will elevate you even higher. You then experience your own greatness, beauty, and magnificence in every thought of yours. The pristine you then shines softly like the full moon amid the night of emotions; both co-existing and complementing each other. It gives you physical, spiritual, and emotional wellness like no other. Read more here.
How will enlightenment help me live a fulfilling life?
For a moment, think of enlightenment as winning the Nobel Prize. No doubt winning the Nobel Prize will bring about a change in your life and lifestyle to a degree, you will inspire more people, and so on. But, beyond that, there’s not much. It’s not going to improve your intimate relationships, it’s not going to fix your physical health, etc.
The only thing that changes is that you grow into a more spiritual being, you become increasingly resilient and kind. What life hurls at you doesn’t change, how you catch it or dodge it, does. You take charge of your emotional wellness. Read more here. Read more here.
Is our most important intimate relationship with God?
Pingala was a glamorous courtesan in the ancient city of Videha. She lost her heart to a prince who promised to visit her on a certain date. All decked up and ready, she eagerly waited for her prince, to be in his loving embrace and see him from up close but the prince didn’t show up.
Just before the dawn broke, while people were waking from a night’s sleep, Pingala too woke up from her ignorance with a deep realization. She rose above her false sense of existence that day. She experienced great vairagya, detachment, and ananda, bliss. She realized that she was already complete and that she didn’t need another man to fulfill her. That, the one she should have loved, the one for whom she wouldn’t have to wait day and night, the one who would never abandon her was already inside her — God. Her most intimate relationship was already a part of her. Read more here.
Can the number of intimate relationships we have keep increasing?
In a bus packed with commuters, the conductor found an old and worn wallet on the floor. He picked it up to examine its contents. It had five hundred rupees and a picture of Krishna. There were no other cards or photos. The conductor shouted, “Has anyone lost his wallet?”
“I have,” replied an old man.
“Can you tell me what does it have to prove it’s yours?”
“I don’t remember the exact amount of money but it has a photo of my Lord Krishna.”
“Hmm…anyone can have a picture of Krishna,” the conductor said skeptically, “can you tell me anything else?”
The old man chuckled before he spoke. Read more here.
I am tired of working to keep the intimate relationships in my life intact. What can I do to just let go and live freely?
When you are tired of fire-fighting, when life constantly keeps on knocking you down, when your path continues to get blocked, it often means it is a calling. A calling of change. If you resist or ignore change at that moment, the next blow will be more like a knockout punch. At that time, it will not make you strong, instead, it may cause irreversible damage. We do not want you to get hurt beyond restoration.
It is better to gain your strength from inner peace than from external resistance. There is only so much analysis and thinking you can do. Your own emotional wellness matters ahead of the intimate relationships you hold so dear. Read more here.