How to Spiritualize Your Relationship
with Amy Edelstein
Are you in a relationship? Wishing you were in a relationship? Just got out of one that you never want to repeat? Ready for something more meaningful, lasting, transformative but don’t know where to begin?
We’re social creatures. Like other primates, we like to be close, feel safe, have companionship, a mate. It’s a central aspect of human community. No wonder so many of us spend so much time thinking about this area of life, talking about it with our friends, writing songs about it….
But we don’t just want to couple. As self-aware creatures we also want to infuse our life with meaning and purpose. With direction and depth. With Spirit and a sense of the sacred.
So why does it seem so hard, to have a meaningful and loving relationship and just to find good information on the subject overall? What makes a relationship last? What leads to fulfillment? What’s worth your time over months, years, or decades?
How we think about relationships, what we value, and what we expect is far more a cultural matter than a personal one. What our social values, ethics, and mores are shapes the contours of our coupling in very significant ways. So let’s look at a cultural perspective that can help make sense of this tricky area of life.
In this class, we’re going to talk about the foundations of a spiritualized relationship. I’m going to show you an orientation that is both simple and profound. If you practice and internalize this, it can make all the difference in good times and in challenging ones.
Here are the 10 key ideas of a spiritual and developmentally oriented relationship:
1. Work together, not on each other.
Working together on your higher aspirations, not on each other puts your attention on something inherently thrilling, uplifting, worth working for, and just perfectly out of reach. Most couples, in the name of getting closer, spend a lot of time pointing out to each other the faults, things that irritate, habits that if they just changed everything would be perfect. We all are a work in progress. Some things do need to change. And we do need reflection from people who love us and who we love to help us see ourselves from the outside-in. But, we won’t get to the end we desire through corrections. We get to the end by starting there. Starting with our highest goals that we share. Be a team together, working in harmony towards a common aspiration that uplifts us, challenges us, and calls for the best in us. It’ll be a lot more fun
2. Make time for Spirit.
Talk about your spiritual intimations together. Set aside some time where you specifically talk about that which is hard to put into words. In traditional cultures, the holidays, meals, special rest days in each week gave couples a way to bring the sacred into the home. Many of us no longer live our lives in those rhythms. But we can create a time of day or week, a space, however small in our home that focus our attention on the contemplation of the sacred.
Create a time to speak about your sense of Spirit together. Focus on listening deeply to where the other is speaking from. The numinous is hard to express. The words aren’t always right. They seem clumsy. Inadequate. That’s part of the delight. Finding words for that which is beyond the mind. Support each other to articulate that which is, and always will be, a mystery.
3. Ground yourself in depth.
Plant your own roots in Spirit. Your partnership may elevate you both, but it also rests on the deepest place you’re rooted. What is your foundation? Where are you drawing your nourishment from? Is it from a source that is infinite and inexhaustible? Ground in that depth of Spirit that has no bottom, no beginning or end. This creates a ballast in your relationship. It creates ease. Trust. Intimacy. Love.
4. Pursue potential.
Just as Being has no end and no limit, the future of the Heart also has no end. Spend time setting your expectations of your shared life with your partner. But extend the outer edges of what you can see way far into the future. Let yourself dream of a utopia, an idealized world. Allow the pursuit of the possible to pull you forward, beyond what you can plan step by step. For inspiration, draw from the mystery of your inner life. Imagine how Spirit and our capacities to grow in empathy, Oneness, clarity of motive, and heart develop in ways we can’t predict. Contemplate together with your partner the developmental potential of realization and relatedness. You’ll start to create a context within which your relationship lives and breathes, and that context will be animated by the breath of the possible.
5. Set shared agreements.
Now that you’ve brought to the forefront a much bigger context than you’re usually aware of, you have space to work together on more specific issues. You’ve established that you are standing side by side, looking towards the infinite palette of our higher human potentials together. No one has a road map for this. This is part of the grand adventure of Life together. From this posture, set your shared agreements. How do you want to work together? How do you want to deal with finances? Children? Fidelity? Time together and apart? Making these areas conscious allows communication about the essential principles. Not the “rules” of relationship but the fundamental shared agreements that you both care about and that will create the roadways for your living exploration of the joy of relatedness without getting lost or driving into a dangerous ravine.
6. Cultivate shared consciousness.
Relationships are living organisms. Each of us is a separate entity. The consciousness between us that we share has its own integrity, its own “wholeness.” It is a unit unto itself. Respect the consciousness of the relationship. Give it space, time, and care so it flourishes. Become sensitive and learn how to support that consciousness between you. Fill it with light and ease. Keep it static free. A clear and transparent consciousness between us allows us to grow and change and evolve over time, independently and together. That’s a beautiful thing to watch.
7. Leave space not to know.
While we become very familiar with each other. Growth, realization, and Spirit are also a mysterious and uncharted process. Leave room not to be sure, not to think you know everything about yourself or everything about the other. In loving and developmental relationships, we learn the art of supporting each others’—and our own—inner growth. That takes sensitivity, practice, and care. Hold your conclusions about how this process of personal transformation works loosely. We usually change in very different ways than we think we will.
8. Honor big moments.
Marking important life transitions and key moments of our shared lives fosters respect and a sense of the sacred dimension. When we honor big moments, we spiritualize the container for our lives together. You can do this with formal rituals grounded in a tradition, or new rituals between you and your partner, or simply through moments of conscious acknowledgement and meditation. We often toast with a drink, but more importantly, toast with your awareness, gratitude, and intention. There are many occasions, large and small, each an opportunity to bring the presence of the sacred into the consciousness you share, into your partnership, into your shared history. Reflect now on how you might honor moving into a new home. Starting a new phase of the relationship. Having a child. Choosing to separate. Grieving for a loss. Come together in sensitivity and care.
9. Respect each other.
There will be times when familiarity and habit create friction. That’s natural. No one can be with another day in, day out without irritation arising. Even animals get irritated with each other. Don’t sweat the small stuff. When the foundation is deep, those moments will pass. Holding yourself with respect, and holding your partner with respect, will make all the difference.
If you find, after time, that you and your partner are growing in different directions, respect and honor what brought you together in the first place when you come to deciding how to proceed. Express gratitude for what you have shared and how you have grown. Make the effort to bring to the forefront that which was wholesome, and out of respect for yourself and your partner, make conscious agreements about how to proceed.
10. Be trustworthy.
In a universe that is fundamentally always in motion, always in process, in some sense we always experience some degree of insecurity. We, even unconsciously, are aware of that movement at the foundation of life. We often cling to each other to buffer ourselves against the stress of wanting there to be something we can rely on. We can be there for each other in a profound and steady way. Not by insisting that life be unchanging, but by being flexible, resilient, and transparent at the deeper levels of self. As we allow process, we become trustworthy, able to change and grow without insisting on holding on to how things were. We allow our Love for Spirit, the world, and each other to continue to grow and flower in new and unexpected ways.
Spiritualizing a relationship is not so much something we do or add, it’s who we are and who we intend to become. When we’re sharing that together, we are creating a very different possibility for relatedness in our world. And that’s a happy life.