by Barry Kerr
One of the most common longings that our clients and students report to us is for a fulfilling relationship with a partner. The urge to merge springs naturally from every level of our being; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Humans have been following that urge for as long as we’ve existed. Yet, it remains possibly the most challenging, misunderstood and disappointing endeavor for most people today. Why is that?
In working with couples who are in trouble, when we dig down into their relationships, past the surface complaints and dysfunctional habits, what we find is a universal pattern of misunderstanding about relationship itself. It’s no wonder people have trouble building fulfilling relationships when the beliefs, expectations, and habits they bring to the partnership are fundamentally flawed.
For thousands of generations, the purpose of relationship has been primarily survival. “Marriages” grew organically out of the harsh environmental challenges and the innate drive for procreation. With the evolution of civilized societies, practical, financial concerns continued to dominate partnering decisions. It wasn’t until recent centuries that large numbers of people had the luxury of following their “hearts” desire in marriage. Now, today, in our culture, “true love” is the celebrated and honored determinant. And with that change has developed a whole new set of beliefs and expectations, but not necessarily healthy and helpful. Most of them have morphed out of older paradigms that humans have held for all of history and limit our perspectives and self-knowledge.
We are basically at a crossroads in human evolution. Millions of humans are awakening to the larger perspective of who and what we are: unique rays of the one divine spirit having experiences in human bodies and personalities. Though religions have been pointing to this truth for ages, it’s only now that masses of people are having actual direct experiences of it, moving them beyond mere faith.
Even among those who haven’t fully blossomed into this awareness, many are aware of a driving, subliminal longing that causes them to want more out of life, more out of relationship. Deep inside, our higher self knows that it is in the crucible of intimacy, in a primary relationship, that we find the fastest and most effective way to surrender our temporary ego to our eternal soul. It is the “mirror” of our beloved partner that helps us see who we really are and what we really are not.
When we step into intimacy, this journey of the ego happens, whether we want or not, are aware of it or not, or resist it or not. However, choosing to want it, be aware of it and not resist it, is what makes for a fulfilling relationship, one in which we feel alive, expanding, growing and closer to our divine soul. When we resist the awareness that intimacy invites, it is as if we are turning away from our own soul, rejecting our real self. How could we possibly feel fulfilled in that way?
Looked at in this way, relationship takes on a very different conscious purpose in our times. Relationship becomes a sacred path, a commitment of two souls toward spiritual awakening and mastery. That changes how we measure the worthiness of a potential life partner. Yes, practical concerns remain, and the warm glow of mutual attraction is still welcome and valuable, however more profoundly important is whether the other person is awake and aware enough to desire and negotiate the depths of intimacy that will support both people in their soul’s longing to express fully.
When both people can gain, or regain a mutual understanding and intention of this purpose, then huge opportunities open to how they can resolve the ongoing challenges stemming from their clash of personalities, histories, habits, beliefs, etc. All of it becomes a welcome platform for deeper intimacy, self-discovery, and surrender of two egos, as allies.
In the light of this kind of love and commitment, whether the relationship lasts a year or a lifetime doesn’t matter. The experience will be fulfilling in the deepest way possible. The longing is satisfied.
This article was first published in Natures Pathways magazine in December, 2013.