Relationships don’t come with a road map, and they don’t come with an instruction manual either. We know this much is true. Or is it?
Last I wrote on the subject of relationship (http://www.enlightenedfocus.com/blog/wondering-why) it was to contemplate the “whys” that we so often encounter in our most intimate ones: why do we get so lost in them? Why this dynamic of deepest longing right alongside total terror when we connect intimately with another? Why do we confuse suffering with love?
Now that we’ve shined the light on those “whys”, the brilliance of our understanding illuminates the way forward toward tackling the question many of us are asking/pondering/crying over: “How to be in a happy, healthy relationship?”
It can certainly seem like there is no such thing. Or in other moments it seems like everyone else has exactly THAT thing, and you’re the only one who hasn’t figured out how to make love work. I assure you neither of those is true. Happy, healthy relationships exist – they can indeed be cultivated and sustained – yet many of us are not in them because we haven’t learned how to be.
The good news? We can start, together, right here, right now. While this may not be a full-on instruction manual, it is certainly a foundation worth laying if you are as committed to happy and healthy as you are to yourself and your beloved(s).
What is it that your ship orients toward no matter where it is sailing? Who are you, really and truly, whether you’re riding rough ocean waves or gliding on lazy river waters? One of the most essential components of being in a happy and healthy relationship is knowing who you are. And while we human beings might as well be called “human becomings”, given our constant evolution and transformation, there is a seed of essence that we all carry.
Crack it open and let its roots anchor you down into your sense of self. Without this, you leave yourself far too impressionable and easily pulled into the gravitational force of others who aren’t necessarily aligned with your truth, lovely “human becomings” though they may be. With your roots firmly planted, the seed of you-ness can blossom fully. You become clear on what happiness and healthfulness is for you and practice discernment, choosing relationships that support your own natural, self-sourced and self-sustaining well-being.
Of course we are influenced by our partners, by any and everyone we enter into relationship with. Yet those of us with our energetic compasses orienting toward our true north, that direction only we can find for ourselves, are far better positioned to stay the course of authenticity and integrity, in relationship and in all of life.
Once you know who you are, you can share yourself with others. Sense of self and self-possession are critical for contributing to a relationship that truly is in service to you and your partner’s highest good. That relationship need not meet anyone else’s standards. Longevity doesn’t determine success. Love is not measured in linear terms. Monogamy, “I do”, white picket fences and 2.2 children are no longer the gold standard for many of us. Yet that might be exactly what you know for sure your true happiness and healthfulness are predicated on, in which case, own it!
Own your truth and then be honest about it. Learning how to communicate honestly and well cannot be emphasized enough as one of the single most essential facets of how to be in a relationship. This holds true for your relationship with yourself (hello, voices in our heads engaged in constant conversation!) and everyone that you cultivate external relationships, whether your beloved, your mailman or your child.
Dare to be radically honest and authentic in every moment. While your true north is a fixed essence, your truth is a dynamic phenomenon that will change and grow along with you. Stay current with yourself and share from your present moment experience. Are there agreements you made that no longer serve you? Time to talk about it. Is there some small annoyance that your filing away in your mental vault, letting resentment build? Give it a voice here and now. Have you done something you know to be out of integrity that will impact the other(s) in your relationship? Out yourself, and in addition to learning how to communicate, learn how to apologize, sincerely.
In Pursuit of Passion
While some may think there is nothing hotter than a sincere apology (and the make-up sex that goes along with it), passion has many faces and shows up in many places in relationship. We are, by our very nature, passionate creatures. Covered with nerve endings, flooded with sensation and emotions, capable of perceiving such remarkable subtleties, these bodies, hearts and minds of ours are built for aliveness.
Keeping a relationship alive – thriving, not simply surviving – means fanning the flames of passion and prioritizing vitality as much as you do paying the bills and tending to the house. Passion is the fuel in the transformational vehicle of relationship. It simply won’t run without it.
Passionately making love, passionately cooking a meal, passionately hiking through nature, passionately devouring the Sunday paper snuggled on the couch, passionately getting lost on purpose, passionately holding the ones you love through trying times, passionately advocating for each one’s true awakening. Passion has its place in every facet of relationship. And it isn’t something you seek out so much as you create it. It’s a choice, and it could very well be the choice you make that keeps you happy and healthy in your relationships.
So you understand the whys and have a framework for the hows. Wondering about the when and where? Here and now. Go for it! Start with yourself, and then let it grow from there.