St. Valentine's Day coming up and I've been thinking about what makes a strong, loving and above all genuine relationship. And about the blessing that such a relationship is. We don't need a relationship to be happy, mind you, but if it does appear in our life it surely is a wonder and a marvel.
JoAnn and I were married December 6, 1997. Not really all that long of course, compared to many relationships. But long enough for both of us to be very, very thankful indeed for what life has created between us.
We have been through some challenges, of course, including a severe spiritual crisis a few years ago that I truly thought might be the end of me.
As it turned out, it opened a door to an experience of stillness and happiness and inner peace that I might never have known without that particular experience in my life.
JoAnn was my lifeline
But while it lasted it was harrowing and immensely challenging not only for me but for JoAnn also -- my caregiver and lifeline during those long, lonely, frightening months.
Life can be a challenging, of course, and it is, for everyone. And yet strangely enough, I've found there is beauty and pure gold in the midst of any situation no matter how awful it may seem to be on the surface.
How will I ever forget, as I was being rushed to a hospital at one point during that very difficult period, looking out the back door of the ambulance and seeing JoAnn following in her car with a look of such utter focus and determination on her face. There was no way she was going to let the ambulance get away from her.
Most of all, I remember the love I saw mirrored in her face, a love that I knew was never going to give up.
That's what they say about love in the Bible, isn't it? "Love faileth never," it says in Corinthians 13:8. And it's true.
5 secrets of a strong, loving relationship:
1. The essential ingredient of trust
JoAnn has told me a number of times how much she appreciates knowing in her heart that I am trustworthy, and even in a tough situation, will tell her the truth if there is something important she needs to know.
In the same way, I know that I can trust her, and she will never lie to me, just as I will never lie to her. This feeling of mutual trust is the foundation of our relationship.
2. Give your partner space
This has been a hard one for me to learn, but I'm getting better at it. When deep feelings of some kind come up between us over some issue, my natural instinct is to want to try to sort it out right away, as soon as possible. But if I try to do this, it simply makes everything worse.
What works for JoAnn -- and is essential for her -- I now realize more and more deeply, is that I give her the space to be quiet and sort things out a bit on her own before we try to talk directly.
3. Listen to your partner
Listen, really listen to your partner. And don't only listen when she or he is obviously saying something important. Sometimes, there is something important in an apparently casual remark.
4. Let go quickly of negative feelings
Your own integrity, that's to say your own connection with yourself, is more important than any external relationship.
If hard or difficult feelings come up in you relative to a loved one, which of course they will, make it your first priority to let go of that negative energy and reconnect with the ever present peace of your own being.
This isn't for someone else's sake. This is for your sake. Of course, the more successful we are doing this, the more we bless our loved one and the more our relationship will prosper.
JoAnn puts it this way: “My theory is, don’t let things pile up. The sooner I can let go of something the better, because otherwise things just start to pile up for me.”
5. Respect your partner
Respect your partner (if you don't respect him or her, probably it's time to leave) and make sure that you make your respect visible. Never hesitate to say how much you appreciate the love and care that they express into life and into your relationship.
Saying yes to the indomitable power of love
Love is an absolutely indomitable power. It's the only power there is. We will never understand what love is with our mind. But we can express it and be true to it to the very best and highest of our ability, and as we do this love will increase in us.
Love will bless us, and it will bless others, and above all, it will help us realize the paradox of existence.
A good external relationship can be a great blessing, for sure. But the truth is that whether you are in a relationship or not, who you truly are is already whole, and already free.
Nothing can make you more whole than you already are, nothing can make you more free than you already are.
I send you love and blessings, and hope you are enjoying warmer and more pleasant weather than is prevailing at the moment here in frigid Denver, Colorado.
Bye for now, and I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions about what makes a happy, loving relationship..