I woke up this morning reaching my toes toward my beloved partner of so many years and felt a warmth in my heart and the softening of my breath. I am so grateful. I feel so blessed to have met Jim when we were in college at Penn State in 1967! Here we are as elders, mentors to many, and hopefully models of a healthy relationship. We aspire to light the way for those seeking true love. Jim and I recently celebrated our 45th anniversary and renewed our vows. What an incredible journey.
My husband and I have gone through many challenges and difficulties, and we have survived! We continually learn and grow to become more of our true selves. We laugh more readily. We re-center and calm much more easily.
I am happy to share tips and tools from Chapter 4 of our book Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship, SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2014. I hope these perspectives and practices guide you in
- clearing yourself to allow more love to flow.
- deepening your capacity to love.
- admiring your chosen one.
- cherishing who your beloved truly is.
- applying this learning to your future partner.
A secret to a strong, soulful marriage—which helps pave the way to genuine respect and cherishing—is to rethink the math of the conventional relationship. Are you each really a half that joins with another half and becomes a whole? Perhaps a more enlightened view is to acknowledge each of you as a fully functioning whole individual, and when committed together, the pair of you can expand synergistically.
Being whole is not to be misconstrued as being perfect or complete in your development. By acknowledging your strengths, wounds, needs, concerns, desires, and heart’s longings, you become more real with yourself and each other. Being whole involves accepting the greatest and the least of yourself, embracing the light and the dark times. Unrealistic expectations of yourself and your partner can lead to upset, frustration, and chaos in your relationship. By learning to accept (and yes, even forgive) shortcomings and vulnerabilities, you pave the way to a more secure, loving connection.
Taking time to be together, in the fun times and through the difficulties, enhances your trust in each other. You can call on your inner strength, commitment, and courage to bear with the discomfort. Communicating what you are thinking, feeling, and needing builds an intimate bridge to your beloved. On the other hand, holding in your feelings, pouting, manipulating, and saying mean things tears you apart. You have free will to choose what you want to build.
Being proactive and effective in enhancing the relationship you desire is very powerful! When you and your partner cherish each other, you listen, connect, and dream together. Many people await the time when all their issues are resolved, then they may finally cherish their partner. I find this is backwards. Decide to cherish your beloved, treat each other with so much respect and honor that you both show up incredibly radiant. Try it! Life becomes sweeter, more enjoyable, and purposeful.
Select from these attitudes or skills to practice for a week or month. You can work with a coach to keep you accountable. As you strengthen inwardly, you are more available to your partner in satisfying and fulfilling ways. Connecting physically, mentally, and emotionally reaps rich harvest.
Honor personal boundaries:
- Allow for privacy, security, and freedom.
- Take time to unwind when stressed or after a busy day.
- Respect your own and your partner’s personal rhythm and style of doing things.
Appreciate your differences and don’t take them personally:
- Acknowledge your varying styles in expressing upset as well as love.
- Take time alone to recharge, find balance, and savor peace. Slough off what is not yours (what you may have taken on from the other, or what is resolved from your own past).
- Understand, accept, and heal yourself (ask for help as needed or wanted).
Enhance your self-esteem so you can honor and respect your partner more genuinely:
- Do things that are good for you—self-care is vital (and not selfish!).
- Fill yourself first and give from the overflow.
- Correct your old/false thinking and beliefs.
Do special things for each other:
- Plan surprises around the house and for dates; go on outings and adventures that please your beloved.
- Generously share your love—with hugs, lovemaking, massages, meditating, couples’ yoga/stretching, and gifts (small and large).
- Express your loving thoughts and feelings with words—aloud, in writing, or via phone/text messages. Be willing to shift from complaint to compliment in a moment.
Plan times to talk in depth about your relationship:
- Express what is working, what you appreciate, what is satisfying, how you are benefitting from being together. Be grateful!
- Allow time to express what else you want to build, cultivate, and develop with each other. Be complimentary and affirming. Express your gratitude for the learning you experience together.
- Set the context for talking about difficulties so you feel safe, loved, and cherished. Solve one thing at a time, in ways that nurture your self-worth.
Getting along well in the day-to-day functioning of your lives is important. Also, be sure to set aside time and space to honor your spiritual connection and nurture your souls. Remember, a strong foundation is built on shared values, purpose, and vision.
Try these meditations with your partner or alone.
Golden Thread Meditation
Turn off all distractions. Sit facing each other. Close your eyes. Let your focus of attention be on your own breathing. Allow yourself to relax and be present. With each inhale, fill your heart with love. With each exhale, let go of stress and tension and quiet your mind.
Now imagine your heart filling with love. As you exhale, send love directly to your partner’s heart, traveling on a thread of golden light. As you inhale, receive in your heart, the thread of golden light from your partner. Continue this for 5-9 breath cycles. Sit quietly and enjoy the afterglow. Open your eyes when you are ready and look at each other. Speak if you like or be quiet. Go on with your day/night. Practice this often.
When you are apart or feeling distant, you can connect this way on your own, on the spiritual planes.
As you practice more and more, you can develop the image of inhaling your partner’s breath into the right side of your chest, then exhaling through your heart on the left side. Your partner receives the breath on the right side and sends out love from the left side to you. This forms a figure 8, the symbol for eternity. You are bound together forever, in love.
Creating and Environment of Love
Imagine creating a loving space in your heart. Dedicate this as a judgment-free zone, so you can freely experience cherishing your beloved. Picture your partner healthy, vibrant, and exhibiting his or her finest qualities. Breathe in how much you admire and appreciate your dear one. Exhale and let your love radiate throughout your body. Remember great times you shared, along with endearing mannerisms, precious moments, and heart-touching words. Celebrate each other as individuals and together. Be grateful for the little things and the greatness of what you are creating together.
You and your beloved may also set aside a physical altar of sorts on a tabletop, windowsill, or dresser top. You can display photos, symbols, quotes, cards, mementos, or prayers for your love to continue and grow. Make love more visible and memorable.
At times you may experience challenges—individually and as a couple.
Take time to quiet your mind, relax your body, and focus on your breathing.
Acknowledge that love exists in the light and in the darkness, just as the sun is still present even when the ominous clouds cover it.
Pray for the strength, clarity, courage, and faith to travel through difficulties.
Allow yourself to be a vessel of divine love, so you can offer healing energy to yourself, your partner, and those in need. Cherish each moment, each breath, and each lesson. May peace prevail.
Your ideas of how you cherish your partner? Post them here or on our Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/soulfulcouples.
Let me know how I may support you on your journey of being a soulful person and couple. firstname.lastname@example.org.