What Have We Learned About Peace And Harmony Through Our Relationship?
This week was our wedding anniversary and it brought us to reflect on what we have learned about the potentials of all relationships from the experience of ours. Here are our musings on just that for our blog this week.
PHIL: Let me start with our second date. On a beach walk (what a cliché!), I told Maude that I had never been in a relationship that had lasted more than three years. Her thought, I learned much later, was that was because I had not yet met her. You can see that she was right. All those other relationships dissolved because of two things: they did not meet my expectations of a relationship, and I was losing myself. Not that I was conscious of the latter, but the aftermath was, in part, rediscovering how to live in the world without constantly having to be on guard not to offend and adjusting myself to their expectations.
There are echoes in families down the ages. My mother met her third husband at the same age that I met Maude, and they were happy together for more than 30 years, yet it does not feel that I am following her example and settling down; instead, two things contribute to my relationship with Maude. Over a lifetime, I have changed from an attitude of neediness, of what is missing, to one of appreciation for what is present. I am unsure of how that change happened; maybe meditation, which involves attention on what is present. My focus is now on what the relationship gives me, not expectations of how it should be. Which leads to the second aspect of our relationship: that I feel seen, accepted and not controlled.
Controlled may be too strong a word. I am talking about all those expectations of how a partner should behave: words of love, how the kitchen is kept, how time is spent. With full acceptance, expectations do not exist. No, it is more that her expectations are deeper than that; they go to our wedding vows of openness, truth and positivity, and because those commitments were given by me, not taken from me, they are not a burden. They are how I want to live.
The result is that no part of me is nibbled away; I have no sense of losing myself, because I can be completely myself in this relationship. This, if you haven’t picked up on it already, gives our relationship an extraordinary radical quality of peace. I continue to learn who I am, how to be myself, how to disentangle from a lifetime of injunctions and expectations. For this I am profoundly grateful. Thank you, Maude. Thank you, thank you, thank you.With full acceptance, expectations do not exist #quote #relationships #peace Click To Tweet
MAUDE: Mostly, I have learned how to access the highest and best parts of myself in the interactions between Phil and me, and I find that is carrying through to all my other relationships.
This comes in part from the experience of being totally accepted for who I am, of feeling seen, heard and acknowledged. The critical component is of acceptance of me as a separate and unique person. We have learned and continue to learn what it means to be together and connected, while not thinking that you have to have agreement with each other all the time.
There is a deep sense of trust in each other that has developed; trust that we will be honest with each other, that we want goodness for each other, and that we come from a place of always thinking the best of each other. This involves being willing to look inside myself for the causes of any disagreement and being willing to see unnecessary defensiveness or any needing to be right that may be at play.
Interacting with this kind of trust and honesty brings an indescribable pleasure with it; the sense of true peace and harmony. It creates an atmosphere of relaxation and calm that allows clarity to respond lovingly without anything being held back or causing distance between us. It opens a quiet space to all the positive advantages in the differences between us without any need to create sameness.
The ease of peace brings forth creativity and laughter. It pulls us into the present with each other rather than living in our thoughts and projections about the future.
These experiences have provided me with a road map for all my relationships. The more I am at ease and connect with my own inner world, the more natural it becomes to accept others. Peace is something I carry around inside and it allows me the openness to respond with love toward others without unnecessary defensiveness or protections. (unnecessary is a key word here and this is something that must be assessed in every relationship.)
There are many qualities that grow out of the ones mentioned above, like respect, honoring of each other, kindness, friendliness. There is no magic wand needed to create relationships built on all these factors; it just takes belief in the possibility and the intent to make it so. Make a commitment to each other that being together in this way is something both parties want and seek.
Sixteen years ago, Phil and I stated this clearly in our wedding vows and we have never veered from that commitment. In our 19 years together, this direct experience has enhanced all my other relationships and shown me what is possible and how to bring it into present reality.
For that my darling, I have you to thank in great part!
Photo credit: Temogen Amato
Photo note: Phil and Maude’s wedding 9/29/07
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