Monday, November 2, 2009

Getting down to it.....

(Photo of my husband and I at sunset in Carmel, USA)
Today I was reading Gwyneth Paltrow's blog, Goop, and came across a really interesting set of interviews asking men the question "What does it take to sustain a happy and successful relationship/marriage?". This really got my attention because my relationship currently represents my greatest "area of opportunity" as we would say at lululemon. In most of my roles, I am going pretty strong. But as a wife, I am currently stumped. The combination of a baby, the stresses of the past year with my postnatal depression, changes to my life as a person, changes to my employment etc seems to have caught up with us, and boy is it hard to sort out. (This is not to say that the things listed above are negative or not going well, because they are great. Even so, its hard to keep all of the balls in the air at once). Anyway, I really needed some words of wisdom in this are and they came to me in the form of Deepak Chopra's response to Gwynnie's question. He states:

"Love beyond the ego has to be on a new basis. It's not about quid pro quo, giving as long as you get to take. It's mutual. It exists in a space between two people. The only way to be deeply happy in a relationship is to find that space every time you lose it. In this way, love goes beyond affection and being nice. Loving acts blossom naturally once you find the place in your own awareness that is love. Needless to say, becoming aware is a process, in love as in everything.

Consider how relationships develop. We get along well with someone else who agrees with our point of view. We feel an intimate connection; we feel validated in their presence. Then the spell is broken. The other person turns out to have many opinions and beliefs where we don’t agree at all. At this point, the war between right and wrong starts and the road to unhappiness unwinds.

The very fact that you are intimately related makes it even more painful to find areas of disagreement. At the subtle emotional level you feel abandoned. The beautiful sense of merging with someone you love is shattered. At this point love is compromised. Both people feel the return of the ego, which says, “I am right. My way of doing things is the only way. If you really loved me, you’d give in.”

When the need to be right fades, we stop having so many grievances and resentments, which are the fallout of making someone else wrong. Instead of wasting time with the ego's version of love, return to the place of love. To detach yourself from anger, resentment, and the sense of being a victim happens only in the space beyond ego. You can only find this space by devoting yourself to knowing who you really are. Leaving the ego behind is the same as the spiritual quest for the true self.

When two people are on this quest, they are on the journey to a kind of love that can never be taken away. The differences between a man and a woman fade in the light of a shared goal that is bigger than any ego need or desire. Every day becomes both a rescue and a surrender. Not a surrender to another person's ego, which can only feel like defeat. Rather, both partners surrender to the larger goal.

The ego's path is much easier to walk and far more familiar. I know that someone is on the path of love when they ask the following kinds of questions about their relationship every day:

  • Which choice is more loving?
  • What will bring peace between us?
  • How awake am I?
  • What kind of energy am I creating?
  • Am I acting out of trust or distrust?
  • Do I feel what my partner is feeling?
  • Can I give without expecting anything in return?

These questions don’t have automatic answers. They serve instead to wake you up spiritually. They attune you to a process that is more than “me” and “you.” When you become devoted to that process together, you and your partner will accomplish what seems impossible: your happiness will be as full for each of you as it is for the two of you together".

I can recognise that I am currently stuck in the hurt, angry, frustrated, irritated, stubborn, frame of mind that often accompanies relationship conflict, which definitely creates a barrier to moving forward. I know I need to work through this and that it is only when I move beyond this phase that anything can really be resolved.

Thanks Deepak for giving me a new perspective to consider.

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