We have re-titled the second of our Conscious Marriage Series “Conscious Coupleship” because we realize that what we have to say applies to any couple in relationship. “You are not two halves but two whole individuals…” is a phrase we use frequently in our wedding ceremony. We remind the couple that each individual is a complete person and that being together as a couple makes each person better and stronger. As the blessing indicates, “You are two persons but with one life ahead of you.” But how do we balance our individual identities within our evolving coupleship?
There’s an old joke about guessing how long a couple have been in relationship by watching how they walk with each other. It is said that during the first few years of the relationship the couple walk comfortably together. Between the fifth and seventh year, the boyfriend or husband begins to fall behind and watch the feet of his partner ahead of him. Around the tenth or eleventh year, the focus remains the same but the distance behind the woman has increased. By the twentieth year, the man is following a pair of feet, only to discover they weren't his wife’s after all!
The joke is about the disintegration of intimacy. The ironic nature of intimacy (into-me-see) is such that “I can not be close to you unless I know where I end and you begin.” Oneness in coupleship is not a move toward extinction of the other, but rather an invitation to know oneself in the environment of safety provided by the love and commitment that couples share. Very often it is easy to blame one’s partner rather than to look within for the solution to the challenges that coupleship brings.
As ministers, one concern we face regularly is the question of how prepared couples are to let love do its work. One of our prayers encourages couples always to place love at the center of their marriage. “Love is a visitation of the Divine ever transcendent. It will transform you. Let love do its work in your marriage.”
It is working toward this goal that transforms us. Often in our relationship support work, for example, couples or individuals will come to us feeling victimized by their choice of partner. Simply put, “If it were not for him/her I could be happy.” Part of our belief system is the thought that we attract partners so that we can liberate more fully the happiness that lives within us. Happiness, after all, is an inside job. It involves a willingness to live an insight-oriented life. Many couples don’t know how or aren’t willing to ask the right person to orient them in that direction to make it happen. It is often easier to look outward and blame one’s partner for the seeming lack, or limited degree, of happiness. Thus, they live out “the unexamined life” day after day.
An examined life means asking questions about your inner life and the direction in which you want it to go. What are some of the questions that deepen the love between couples rather than create distance and seeming separation, and that could encourage closeness in the face of relationship challenges?
First, what was it about my partner that attracted me in the first place? Second, how did I hope to improve my life by entering into coupleship with this partner? Third, what qualities of my inner self would I like to bring forward at this time in my life (such as truthfulness, patience, compassion)? And, fourth, how is this current challenge helping me to make visible that quality?
What we are inviting you to consider is the purpose of coupleship as it concerns your development as an individual. Is this relationship helping you to become more or less than the being you want to be? Is this relationship moving you toward a better understanding of your inner self?
We are, in brief, raising questions about spiritual growth. The spirit of coupleship will be the focus of our next article.
Please feel free to share these thoughts with family and friends by sending them to:www.www.abeautifulfloridawedding.com
© A Beautiful Florida Wedding 2007