Relationship as a Spiritual Path.

Via on Sep 19, 2011

Relationship remains one of the biggest pain and pleasure points for us humans.

Instead of seeing relationship as a place where I can feel good and get my needs met by “other,” I am inspired to see my marriage (and relationships in general) as a path to my own freedom and wholeness.

When we change the context of relationship to include this view, it opens up a whole world where we can grow deeper individually and together.

Instead of seeing the pain and challenges of relationship as potential road-blocks, each “obstacle” becomes an opportunity to grow.

Seen in this light, relationship frees us from the habitual need to have our partners, family members, or co-workers “be a certain way” in order for us to feel safe and okay.

In the American Dream, the white picket fence, two-car garage, and marriage are ingredients to a successful, healthy, adult life.  Marriage supposedly adds to a person’s happiness.

Hmmm…

Yet, these days with the high rates of divorce, monogamy ain’t so sexy and could even be waning in popularity as evidenced by articles like “Married with Infidelities” by relationship columnist, Dan Savage.

Conventional marriages don’t work and fall flat for a lot of reasons.

In my opinion, here are a few…

  • *We’ve had little to no formal training or guidance on how to do intimate relationships.  Our parents, role models and teachers have had serious limitations in relationship and we have learned by watching them.
  • *Many of us have a tendency to think that once we find the one, he or she is going to make us feel more complete or more okay. Yet we quickly see within a year or two that this isn’t the case and then are not sure how to deal.
  • *If we are not careful, we could ignore the big challenges with marriage:  living in one house, raising kids, and all the other complicating factors that make long term partnership or monogamy with kids very challenging. Then, once we find out how hard it can really be, we don’t necessarily want more work in our lives, so we “check out.”
  • *We might look to our church or religion to offer an explanation or justification for our intimacy trials (and either get nothing or get really outdated advice/guidance), rather than simply learning how to do intimacy.

These are all reasons why most folks rightfully bail or fall asleep in their relationship.

Up until I met my wife, I was a big fat “No” to the American Dream-marriage/kids thing. It sounded like a nightmare. I swore I’d be a “free man” my whole life.

I was a NO because every relationship up to that point had failed. When the going got tough, I bailed. I made the women whom I dated wrong and I didn’t know what to do, or how to see my blind spots, nor was I open to feedback. I didn’t know relationships could be amazing beyond the honeymoon phase because I had never experienced that. And being a typical dude, I was resistant to therapy or other forms of help/support.

When I finally did get help and started to see my own blocks to the love I claimed I wanted, I started to see the benefits of “working through” relationship challenges. I started to go well beyond my previous intimacy stuck places and feel nourished by relationship. I started to love more and more of myself.

Soon enough , I was a Hell Yes! to marriage and kids. Major 180.

Me, the day after I got married (seriously)

So, when my wife and I wrote our vows, it was clear that after four years of intense dating and two break ups, if we were going to do this, it had to be about individual and mutual growth. We had to see our marriage, and kids that would follow, as a path to our own wholeness.

We already loved each other, had a ton in common, and were very aligned in many ways, so taking this next leap was a no brainer.

When we see marriage and monogamy as a transformative path, it takes on different meaning and motivation. It changes the game from “settling” to a daily practice of noticing where I am opening and closing to love.

This view helps me treat my family like an exquisite organic garden where when I “check out” for a day or two the weeds begin to take over. The more the weeds take over, the harder it is to keep the soil rich and fertile which support yummy plant growth.

With my wife and kids, each day is vibrant, alive, awake and full of practice opportunities to go deeper and relax into more love.

Then, when I leave my home, every person I meet is a relationship practice opportunity which makes this practice open to anyone anywhere.

Yes, marriage ain’t for everyone. But we are all in relationship with someone and if we are honest, most of us want to experience the feeling of being more connected and less alone.

So, if we take relationship as the path and each other as the guru, perhaps we’ll move along in a way that informs us and opens us to the love that we claim we want.

About Jayson Gaddis

Jayson Gaddis, is a relationship specialist using the vehicle of his marriage and kids to wake up and live an empowered life. He’s on the planet to help people learn and master intimacy and relationship. He’s a husband and part-time stay-at-home Dad getting schooled by his two cosmic kids. Jayson is the host of Empowering Relationships TV and writes his own highly personal blog, and has also written for Integral Life, The Jungle of Life, Primer Magazine, Recovering Yogi, The Good Men Project. You can find him here: Jayson Gaddis or Fulfilling Marriage.

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16 Responses to “Relationship as a Spiritual Path.”

  1. Jya says:

    Thanks! Inspiring article!

  2. Lori says:

    I said "Do you speaka my language?" He just smiled and gave me a great big bear hug. : )

    I know, kind of corny, but that's what I thought of after reading this article. The "Language of Love" is not yet understood by everyone, but you seem to have a pretty good handle on it. Bravo! : )

  3. Sara Young Sara Young says:

    Thanks for the article. Very sweet, well written.

  4. Amazing and inspiring – I'll be sure to pass it along!

  5. T.A.S. says:

    Whenever I can I like to mention the book the Passionate Marriage, by David Schnarch. Marriage as practice, as a "people-growing machine" — and great sex! It is worth reading on the journey of marriage, which is a lot more challenging then I'd ever thought!

  6. Tom Rapsas trapsas1 says:

    Thanks, Jayson. A beautiful post that somehow put into words what I didn't think could be explained. I love the analogy about not letting the weeds grow, as our most important relationships do need tending to everyday. I've found there are ebbs and flows in all committed relationships, including my own, but we must be secure enough to know that after every stretch of clouds, the sun is sure to appear again. (So keep weeding!) ~Tom Rapsas

  7. [...] divorce without my knowledge is a huge sign something is wrong, terribly wrong. That he was beyond attempting to fix the problems he saw. He was ready to move [...]

  8. BrightBlue says:

    See also "Intimate Relationship as Spiritual Crucible" by John Welwood.

  9. lisab says:

    Mostly, monogamy doesn't work for a lot of people because a lot of people are selfish and immature with limited emotional intelligence. They also have unrealistic expectations of romance that really have nothing to do with what real love is.

  10. Tilley says:

    This is beautiful. This is the kind of relationship I want to be a part of.

  11. Jane says:

    Jayson, how beautiful and refreshing! This is truly what I needed to read. What a wonderful reminder of the blessings — and work! — of relationships. Thank you! I do have one question for you. (It may be a bit personal, and if you do not feel comfortable sharing feel free to disregard :)) When you mention getting help to understand your blocks to love, what type of help did you seek? I have become increasingly interested in exploring this for myself, but am at a loss for where to start.

    Thanks again for the wonderful article!

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