Marriage as a gateway to personal development
Why is it that being in a long lasting relationship is so difficult to many of us. Why is it we struggle so much to obtain the perfect marriage and why is it that we always end up being disappointed or disillusioned? Whenever you have an idea in your head of what a perfect marriage should be like, the relationship is bound to fail sooner or later. Why? You are having a relationship with an idea instead of the person with whom you are sharing your life. Ideas are only concepts and not the reality and they prevent you from seeing the true person in front of you. Naturally this leads to frustration and pain, which often results in a crisis from which there is always a lesson to learn.
After several years together, your marriage has turned into a relentless series of bitter arguments, but you're not certain if you should try to reconcile or finally end the relationship. All of us have had these kinds of experiences—times when we have to decide something and we just don't know what to do. When we can't make up our minds, it's because of our minds, or what we call "the voice in our head."
Many people don't even know they have this voice. But it's talking away, creating a never-ending inner monologue. Sometimes the voice is even engaged in a dialogue, because it splits into two and you start talking to yourself. During tough choices, this voice isn't very helpful. Often it criticizes, keeping a running commentary about you and all the things you did wrong or you just didn't do. It criticizes others as well. The voice in your head also creates a huge amount of problems that aren't really problems. They're just things that haven't happened yet, things that could happen tomorrow or next week. Listening to unreal problems has another name: worrying. That's what the voice in your head does. It agonizes, and you can no longer sense the joy of life. If it runs out of other ideas, that voice in your head then turns to complaining.
Now imagine that that voice inside your head suddenly stops. You realize, Wow, it's so beautifully quiet. This is exactly what you need to make an effective choice. You need to be present. You need to be free of anything other than what is happening now.
Of course, you can't just snap your fingers and suddenly it happens. Some people first experience it during extreme sports. Climbing a mountain, for example, finding footholds and handholds, they realize they're not thinking at all. They're totally present, because if they slipped into having thoughts, they would fall off the mountain. Others go into nature. They look at the beauty all around them, they listen to the birds and the rustling of the leaves and suddenly they realize that this is what being present is. But you don't have to wait to become engaged in some dangerous activity or go into the wilderness. You can choose to be present anywhere, in any situation, by moving the focus of your attention away from thinking and into the aliveness of your entire body.
This doesn't mean that you completely disregard or ignore the future, and it doesn't mean that you can no longer think about what you're going to do tomorrow. It just means that the focus of your attention is in the present moment. You need to plan for certain things but always come back to the immediacy and liveliness of what's really happening.
In fact, you're able to go on with your normal activity—and that's where intuition comes in. Because when you connect with stillness, you also connect with a creative intelligence that is higher than analytical thinking. Very often, the right decision then arises spontaneously. It may not happen immediately. It may take you going back to your normal life, but this time period will give your intuition the space and silence it needs to surface.
Ultimately, choosing one way or the other doesn't matter. It’s not important what you do, it's how you do it—the state of consciousness that you bring to the process.
The drama we create
Only few of us realize or notice that any argument or disagreement in our relationship is basically our egos clashing in a continuously play for power. All the drama that we either create or take part of is generated by our ego, which is the mastermind behind the voice in our head.
Vanity and pride are what most of us tend to think of when we think of ego, but ego is much more than an overinflated sense of self. It can also turn up in feelings of inferiority or self-hatred because ego is any image you have of yourself that gives you a sense of identity—and that identity derives from the things you tell yourself and the things other people have been saying about you that you've decided to accept as truth.
The ego loves to strengthen itself by complaining—either in thoughts or words—about other people, the situation you find yourself in, something that is happening right now but "shouldn't be," and even about your self. For example, when your spouse fails to give you the attention or love and support you feel you are entitled to, your mind might start complaining about how insensitive, uncaring and selfish your partner is, how he/she should be doing this and change that or how he/she failed to do anything at all.
When this happens, the ego has you in its grip. You don't have thoughts; the thoughts have you—and if you want to be free, you have to understand that the voice in your head has created them and the irritation and frustration you feel is the emotional response to that voice. The trick, of course, is to work to free ourselves from this voice that is dictating reality.
The love relationship
How we relate, or rather how well we love, depends on whatever ideas, concepts and expectations we have to being in a relationship. Generally one could say that the more expectations you have the higher are the chances of feeling miserable.
To understand the phenomena of love we need firstly to understand the concept of tension between the opposites. Hot and cold, growth and decay, gain and loss, success and failure, the polarities which are a part of existence, and of course a part of every relationship.
The more unaware you are, the more you are identified with form. The essence of unawareness is identification with either a situation, place, event, experience, a thought or an emotion. The more attached to form, the more resistant you are, and the more extreme, violent or harsh your experience of the polarities becomes. We cannot get rid of polarities however; we can transcend the polarities through accepting. You are then in touch with a deeper place within yourself where the polarities no longer exist.
What is conventionally called “love” is a strategy made up by our ego to avoid accepting the duality or polarity of life. The ego is always in a conflict with itself, it feeds on drama, and what it loves the most is to project that conflict on to a person or situation as a substitute to avoid having to accept polarity. So the strategy for the ego is to single someone out and make them special.
When the ego say, “I love” this and I “hate” that, it’s a classic mechanism which is often more recognizable in toddlers, when they polarize their feelings on to mum and dad, by loving one and hating another. It seem impossible for them to accept that “mum” can be both good and bad and instead they unconsciously split the tension between two persons. The roles often change according to mood or situation however it’s important to help the child to realize that it’s perfectly normal to have polarized feelings about a person. If the child is not guided, which many of us weren’t, we will always struggle with the ability to accept polarized feelings and we will look for someone to love as an unconscious attempt to cover up or remove the deep-seated conflict that always embodies the ego. For a little while, the illusion actually works. Then, suddenly love turns to hate. The ego doesn’t realize that the hatred is a projection of the pain that you feel inside. The ego believes that this person is causing the pain. It doesn’t realize that the pain is the feeling of not being connected with the deeper level of your being - not being at one with yourself.
Only by surrendering and giving up all ideas of what a relationship or love is supposed to be like, you will get what you were looking for in the object of your love. Whenever you accept what is, something deeper emerges. So, even if you feel trapped in the most painful dilemma, external or internal, the most painful feelings or situation the moment you accept what is, you go beyond it, you transcend it. It may still be there, but suddenly you are at a deeper place where it doesn’t matter that much anymore. To the ego, loving and wanting are the same, whereas true love has no wanting in it, no desire to possess or for your partner to change.
Feeling tortured by the past
Whenever we experience a crisis in our relationship its quite normal to be overwhelmed by feelings. Again it’s important to be aware that any feelings we have are a bi-product of our thoughts. The seriousness of a situation is always depending on how we perceive it and our perception is based on norms and values in the society we where brought up in. Whatever feelings that are attached to a given situation whether its guilt, remorse or regret or feelings of betrayal, denial and mistrust, they are all led by “the voice of our ego” that repeatedly like to remind you of your discontent, unhappiness and insufficiency.
When the pain become chronic the ego has taken over your life and you have identified so much with certain thoughts that you no longer see the reality. Chronic pain is rooted in the past and can only be dissolved by living in the present. When we are told that “time heals all wounds” the concept is not “time passing” but time as the “present moment” and by staying in the present any pain that belongs to the past will lose its grip.
So how does one clear one's mind of bad memories? You can recognize that bad memories are thoughts that are rising in your mind. And when you recognize that, you don't need to identify with the thoughts any longer, or memories, for example, of something bad that happened to you. It's not happening here and now. It's already happened.
What are you true to, yourself or your relationship? If you choose the relationship you will forget about your self, you cannot serve two “masters”: Context and content, when you serve context which is the relationship your will forget all about content which is who you really are – and with out content there is no context. When we focus more on the other person than our self we become unbalanced, vulnerable and anxious – and we will manically try to change the other person to regain balance and peace.
But it’s an illusion to think, ”if only he would just do this” or “if only she could just do that”
There will always be high and low, days when you need space and days when you need to come together. You need space to grow spiritually. We need to carve out that area, its hard to be with someone all the time continuously, we are meant to have time of aloneness, time of quite, time to reflect, time to contemplate, time to be still, time to be in your own energy field, time to allow that energy field to expand, so that your energy is no longer within but actually extends beyond the form. Find your true self by being conscious and aware.
Any mistakes we make in life come from not being conscious of who we truly are and what we truly need. In retrospective we wonder why we acted the way we did and inflicted pain and grief on the ones we love the most, but all lessons in life comes from a state of unawareness, which is why we need the lesson to become aware and grow as spiritual being. "Can you be aware of your own presence? Not the thoughts that you're having, not the emotions that you're having, but the very presence of your very being?" You become aware of your own presence by sensing the entire energy field in your body that is alive. And that is the totality of your presence. You know that no matter what's going on, all the trials and difficulties and challenges - whatever all of us have from time to time in our life, that there is a space that you can go to and if you can go to that space, that's where your strength, your true strength, lies. That's where your true creativity, your power and your ability to be authentically yourself lies. And that´s where you will realise that the quality of a relationship lies in the ability to accept what is, respect each others differences and giving each other space to be that what you really are.