Creating Fulfilling Relationships
Relationships at the Core of All We Experience
Despite the countless number of books, seminars and years of work towards finding a better way to experience relationships, the relationship struggle is still on everyone’s mind and in everyone’s heart. Relationships are at the core of all that we experience in this world. Every thought, feeling, word and action is motivated by our relationship with God, ourselves, or someone else. A fulfilling life comes from having fulfilling relationships in mind, body and spirit.
The topic of relationships is a major theme in A Course In Miracles. Why would a book on Spiritual psychology and the attainment of Inner Peace focus on relationships? The answer lies in the fact that our salvation, peace of mind, and experience of unconditional love all depend on having healed, healthy, empowering relationships. A Course in Miracles explains that to achieve this you must first find at least a part of your True Self. Then, you must be willing to relate to people without attaching or projecting your past issues, experiences and perceptions onto them.
You can have joyful, passionate relationships. However, the measure of what you receive of these is proportionate to the measure you are willing and able to give. Further, the greater the intention of what you are willing to offer and experience in the relationship, the greater the probable outcome. If you are only putting in limiting goals such as physical comfort, having someone to make you feel better, someone to distract you from your own internal issues, etc.… then what you have is the blueprint of an unhealthy, codependent relationship and this is what you will see and experience in the end.
The Three Stages of Relationship
How do you know if this includes you? It helps if you get to know yourself and your intentions, as well as to become aware of which stage of relationship you are in, which are as follows:
The first stage of relationship is typical, human love or attraction. Typically, this is where all seems to be going well and you are mostly accentuating and experiencing the “positive” aspects of one another. In this stage you probably spend a fair bit of time thinking about the other person and how good they make you feel. Most of your time is spent on positive, agreeable conversations; making love; nice dinners and so forth. This stage is commonly referred to as the “honeymoon stage,” but, as we all know, there comes a point where “the honeymoon is over.”
The second stage is when “reality” starts to set in. Your ego now calls for retribution for the momentary bliss. It’s as though your ego was only renting you the seemingly good time and now arrives for payment. Of course, you have no idea what’s going on! You were possibly too busy gazing into each other’s eyes to notice the growing sense of discomfort that is now becoming too great to ignore. Now the relationship will be tested and it will take one of two directions. You will either part ways, move on, and put the blame on each other (which is typical) OR you will hang in there and commit to healing (which is very rare).
If you allow the issues that begin to arise between the two of you to take priority over taking responsibility and the discovery of healing and unconditional love, then you’ll know that you were probably not really in the relationship for all the wonderful reasons you thought. Instead of it merely being the great relationship you assumed it to be OR the relationship that you thought was great but ended up being someone else that “fooled you,” you might not take time to recognize that perhaps you were there to expose some of your personal issues. These issues might be related to old, core wounds or unhealed issues from past relationships. Whatever the case, the painful effect will tempt you to give up and cease trusting in love and in people. This rude awakening might make you doubt your ability to discover and experience your True Self and the True Self of another. Despite this, however, if you are willing to be/remain courageous, authentic, and responsible, you will find that you are indeed capable of creating and maintaining healthy, fulfilling relationships. If love is truly your goal, then you will usually find the strength and clarity to push ahead to become and discover the love you sought.
During this stage, be careful not to be too hard on yourself. Everyone puts themselves through these stages and tests at some time or another. Rarely do we hear about someone who is experiencing a relationship that is not somehow founded on unhealed issues from the past or playing out our expectations and old patterns. But, if we press forward and learn what we were there to learn, it will not matter whether or not we stay in the relationship, what will matter is that we will choose to grow from the experience and it is only by making this healthy decision that we can move on to the third stage of relationship. To choose anything else besides learning and healing can only result in re-creating more of the same lessons and traumas in the future.
The third stage of relationship is where you have made it your priority to becoming a whole being. Love-Divine is now your goal, and responsibility and forgiveness are your guides. With such powerful allies, it’s nearly impossible to fail! You might still have your weak moments where you allow the ego to side-track you–which it will attempt to do every step along the way. But fortunately, as you grow healthier and learn to pace the development of your relationships, you will attract and develop healthier partners who are willing and able to share the journey in a healthy and responsible way. With two or more joined in one focus of love, you certainly increase the potential of a joyful outcome and decrease the amount of work involved. However, this does not mean that you “need” the other person to agree with your chosen goal, as this would still imply codependence and “conditional” love. Instead, if they refuse to walk the path of empowerment and forgiveness, you can more easily allow them to be and to move on. They will take their issues and lessons with them, as will you or anyone else who refuses to walk the path of healing.
Why We Have Unhealthy Relationships
So why do we have these dysfunctional, codependent relationships in the first place? It’s part of our history and patterning. We believe that we parted ways with God. Then we lost our identity of our True Self–which became our “Inner Child,” lost and afraid. We were then birthed into families whom we had unconsciously hoped would fix our brokenness only to find that they usually only compounded our issues. Then we grew up and asked our adult relationships to make all the pain go away, but these relationships also added to our pain rather than serving as a remedy for life’s discomforts. So we were never given much of a chance to be or know anything other than the manifestation of these fears and patterns that we have developed for so long. These patterns will remain such until we have taken them along with us on the road to healing. The company that we choose on this road might be a therapist, healer, teacher, or intimate partner but it must be made clear that we should definitely share the journey with someone. This is not suggesting codependence as it might seem. Instead this is referring to learning the importance of trust and of healthy forms of loving, mutual, dependence.
The Two Purposes of Relationships
When you commit to healing your life, you will find that you must face the dark part (i.e. false beliefs) of yourself. You can learn to walk through the darkness and into the light. The same goes for your relationships. If you want your relationships to be fulfilling, then you must let them fulfill their two purposes: To bring about whatever healing they are presenting and to let yourself reap the rewards of doing the work, such as creating and experiencing healthier relationships (of every kind) than you ever dreamt possible. When you accomplish this, you will feel whole and healed. Your relations are no longer based on fear and dysfunction but instead on love and wholeness. Passion and joy are no longer temporary distractions that the ego can demand payment for. Your debt has now been paid. The relationship is yours. You own it! Now you choose to share it with all parts of yourself and yes, with others whom you feel will recognize and appreciate it.
Does this mean that everyone around you will be at exactly this level of relating? Not necessarily! In fact, you can assume that the rest of the world is not yet comfortable with the concept of healthy, unconditional relationships. Others (including family, friends and lovers) may still struggle to understand the difference of how you choose to relate in comparison to how the rest of the world relates. They might often still want to tell you who to love and how to love. But in your new, healthy state of being, you are in a perpetual state of LOVE. To have a partner or not have a partner is all the same and holds no desperate energy. You are no longer relating out of neediness. There is no longer codependence driven by dysfunction. There is only a focus on sharing. Each person will eventually learn to share their True Self with whomever they feel will benefit from the experience and each will take responsibility for what they gain or what limits they impose. This level of taking personal responsibility dissolves unhealthy codependence and provides each person with an opportunity to create a safe, fulfilling relationship.