Excerpt from Amy Edelstein’s book Love, Marriage & Evolution: Chapter 5
If you look up synonyms for fulfillment you find words like contentment, completion, success, and satiation. It calls to mind happiness, gratitude, and joy, being whole and complete, enriched and satisfied. We can all experience a more fulfilling, satisfying, and liberated relationship in our intimate partnerships, and through that we can express something attractive and stabilizing for our culture at large. It’s a gift to everyone around us when we can fulfill these two aspirations—individual fulfillment and cultural change—through our relationship.
Understandably, we want to experience fulfillment in our marriage; we want a sense of home and belonging, we want to love and be loved. And yet…many of us harbor a not-so secret conviction that true or lasting fulfillment may always be out of our reach.
Many people experience moments of fulfillment but don’t know necessarily what causes it, how they can deepen it, or what to do when it disappears. In this chapter, we’re going to explore what the source of profound fulfillment is. When we can articulate, define, and locate the source of our inner satiation, we’ll be able to pull it forward from the backgrounds of our lives, cultivate it, and make choices that align with it. As we do this with increasing skill, we start building a wholesome and powerful momentum in our lives.
Understandably, we want to experience fulfillment in our marriage; we want a sense of home and belonging, we want to love and be loved. And yet, many people experience some degree of angst or trepidation about our ability to ever fulfill our own longing for wholeness. Many of us harbor a not-so secret conviction that true or lasting fulfillment may always be out of our reach.
Where does our culture point us to seek for fulfillment? Generally, the first things that come to mind are: work, family, power, sex, validation, financial success, material comfort, entertainment, and sometimes a higher calling. We’re trained to equate fulfillment with stimulation. Physical and emotional excitement though are by nature transitory, ephemeral. Or, we are oriented to seek fulfillment from something outside ourselves—even beauty, nature, and intimate connections with others—are still found outside of ourselves. We rarely see ourselves as full, complete, and solid in ourselves. We’re perpetually dependent on something or someone beyond ourselves to experience completion, peace, rest, and satiation.
Can you see how, essentially, we are looking for fulfillment, as the country song goes, “in all the wrong places?”. We look for fulfillment in different places and from different levels of ourselves. Where we look for wholeness will affect our relationship with our partners. For example, if we’re looking for fulfillment from material success and we don’t achieve what we want, we can respond in our marriage with frustration or need—this is unnecessary and sets up an expectation that is impossible for our partner to remedy. We can start to get clearer about how this works by asking ourselves, what parts of ourselves are we fulfilling, in which way, and why? Are these pursuits valid and useful? Are they purposeful?
This is an excerpt from Amy Edelstein’s new book Love, Marriage & Evolution. If you like what you read here please download the entire book, and share this content with friends and family.