My Grandparents will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary next October. I have had the privilege of being able to witness them love, laugh, learn and grow together. Looking at them sitting side-by-side on the couch they appear to be the perfect match; they are totally in tune with one another and hardly need to use words to communicate with each other anymore. They got married in 1941 and their marriage has endured World War II and so much more. They have shared a life of mixed blessings together. They have journeyed through the lowest valleys and soared high above the mountain tops together, and all along their bond and commitment to each other and their family has flourished.
So what makes a relationship thrive, mature and endure the ever-changing seasons of life? How can we grow old with our beloved and be the elderly couple, who sits on the front porch sipping lemonade together on a warm spring day, or the couple who attends the great-grandkids birthday parties together, or the couple that still sends special valentine notes to each other after 68 years together? These are the questions I ponder often when I reflect on my own marriage of 11 years! In my quest for finding out more about what creates a meaningful and fulfilling relationship, I decided to participate in a month long intensive online program on Renewing Your Relationship and I must say that during the month of taking time out to reflect on my relationship and having some long thought provoking conversations with my Grandparents ( my Grandmother in particular loves to give advice especially when it comes to making families stronger and healthier ), I feel as if I have gained a deeper understanding of how an intimate relationship can grow and blossom into something consequential, resilient, loving, supportive, fun-filled and beautiful! I think Rumi knew a lot about love, and here is one of my favorite quotes "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
I believe that in a search for love, we often look outside ourselves and focus more on getting the love we want, instead of focusing on giving love. We have closed our hearts to love; maybe we have been hurt deeply and just do not want to feel so deeply anymore. So instead of remaining open to love, we begin to shut down and create barriers and shields around our hearts for protection. Unfortunately when we live this way we block ourselves off from experiencing one of the most profound human experiences and that is to give and receive love! Here are a few tips gathered from some wise people on how to dissolve the barriers within yourself that you may have built against love. When you let the walls come down, you will feel your heart open, and you will feel more peaceful, more alive and joyful:
1. Practice the Art of Acceptance: Learn to stay aware and let go of the trivialities and small things that upset you. Understand that we all have different opinions and viewpoints and therefore remember that your opinion is only one of many.
2. Remember to do the Small Things: Constantly remind yourself of the things that your partner likes and enjoys and make a point of doing things together that you know brings your partner delight.
3. Focus on Giving Love: Try giving love without expecting something in return, without expecting that energy exchange. Remember that you can never out give the Universe and that giving to your beloved is a good place to start!
4. Make time for your Beloved: Relationships with spouses can often get bumped down the to-do list with things like work, hobbies, and the kids taking top priority. A marriage relationship can often get neglected unless you put special time aside to connect with your partner.
5. Focus on the Good: Find things to compliment your partner about, put energy into the things you have in common and enjoy doing together and remember to focus on the blessings you receive from your partner each day, even the small things such as having a partner who can open the jar of imported olives for you, or a partner who makes the bed every morning, or who keeps the car clean and maintained!
6. Practice the Art of Listening: Communication is vital. Learn to focus your complete attention on your partner and truly listen to what they have to say without interrupting them.
Every moment of our lives provides us with an opportunity to renew our relationship with our beloved and with ourselves. Each moment gives us a chance to live more fully by embracing the imperfection of ourselves and our world. When we can accept the beauty along with the unattractive qualities we find present in our mate, we learn to flow with life instead of resisting the things we find unpleasant. This can teach you how to find freedom in a world where intimate relationships can become full of control, manipulation, stress and pain. Once you surrender and accept that things are just as they are, you can focus on what really counts, and that is connecting deeply with your partner, having fun, laughing and growing together while enjoying this incredible experience we call life! Remember that relationships go through many phases and experience many ups-and -downs, the important thing is that you don't give up when your relationship falls down, but rather that you get up and keep on dancing!
I get up.
I Fall down.
Meanwhile I keep on Dancing