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Relationships as a Spiritual Practice (Part 2)

Last week we discussed the idea of using your relationship as a daily spiritual practice. 

At the root of all the major religions and spiritual practices are principles like love, faith, compassion, and trust. They aim to teach humanity about how to coexist in a world that is bigger than any one individual.

Victor Hugo once said this of love: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” 

Whether you believe in the existence of a higher power or not, the fact of the matter is that when you agree to love another person, you’re making a commitment to be part of something that is living and breathing and that is ultimately bigger than your own existence. That being said, it is easy to fall into the trap of being codependent on one another. The common adage “Don’t marry someone you can live with, marry someone you can’t live without” seems to feed into the myth that if you don’t feel shaky, weak, nervous, or anxious with them, then it’s the wrong relationship.

To be in a spiritually balanced and healthy relationship is to admit that as you dissolve the barriers to Oneness, you ultimately recognize the separateness of one another as well. Cultivating the uniqueness in each partner helps both people see where their own interests intersect. It is in that intersection where each partner can fill the relationship’s container with the things that it needs to grow and develop.

Most people either know or can guess how to grow one’s self — whether that’s through daily exercise, meditation, yoga, or anything else that brings one joy (self help media is rampant with how to increase your self love). But how do you bring those components into your relationship? Here are a few ideas:

  • Let go. Sure, we know what “letting go” means as a concept, but how do we put it into practice in relationship? Let go of any preconceived notions about what love SHOULD look like or how it SHOULD feel. While everyone’s realities are connected, we also perceive them differently. This means that your partner’s love for you might never look the way you want it to, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there (i.e., wanting roses all the time but not thinking about all the times that he has dinner on the stove after you’ve had a long day at work).
  • Breathe (together). Life gets so busy and we lose touch with one another. Find time throughout the day to schedule in hug time. Studies show the benefits of hugging include an increase in key “happy” hormones like oxytocin and serotonin. It also lowers blood pressure and stress levels. Aside from the physical benefits, taking time out to hug one another helps you connect mentally and emotionally and is an easy way to tell your partner, “I’m here for you and you matter.”
  • Practice compassion. We’re all human and we all struggle from time to time. However, we’re all imbued with a “compassion muscle” and we can exercise it by genuinely practicing it with ourselves and our partner. We do this by actively listening to one another, not offering solutions (unless asked) but taking one another’s hands and saying, “I’m sorry you had that experience.” It might seem like a small thing, but being heard, and feeling someone’s genuine compassion for your hardship, actually is a huge thing.
  • Forgiveness. In the same light as practicing compassion, also practice forgiving both yourself and your partner. You are both just human and no one has perfect days. Give your partner (and yourself) the benefit of the doubt and the ability to make mistakes. Forgiveness is a large component of unconditional love, as it does not predicate the love feeling on being perfect but rather on being perfectly human.
  • Meditate together. Or do yoga (hello, acro-yoga!) or take long walks through nature or whatever it is you do that makes you feel spiritual. It’s important for couples to connect through mutual activities, just as it’s important to have your own hobbies. When you participate in these activities together, you’re actively working on raising your vibration and connecting on a deeper level.

A final note: you’re probably wondering why I didn’t talk about sex at all. Sex, after all, is probably one of the biggest keys for visiting higher states of consciousness together. It also has been celebrated for centuries as a way to join the Divine Feminine with the Divine Masculine.

Well, fear not… Next week, we’ll be talking all about how you can fit sex into your relationship’s spiritual practice.