May 31, 2010

What is the foundation of love?

It’s in the imperfections of life where we grow the most.

When I turned 40, I began to re-examine what was important in my life and where, or how I wanted to spend my time. It’s probably no coincidence that I started practicing yoga around the same time.

Now that I am 50 (I celebrated the big 5-oh last week) I’m even more committed to reflecting on and living in a way that is true to who I am and what I value. It will be no surprise to you that what I value most are family and friends—meaningful relationships.

My relationship with my husband, particularly, continues to amaze me.

Why “amazed,” after almost 30 years? Just yesterday I said to a friend, “that is a looong time,” and she replied, “I think it’s the perfect amount of time.”

I loved that response. It is perfect, but not because it is perfect—rather because it isn’t. Does that make sense? It’s in the imperfections of life where we grow the most. During the 30 years of our union, there have been plenty of ups and downs. But because our relationship is built on a foundation of respect, it grows as we do. We also are grateful for our relationship—we don’t take it for granted.

Why am I writing about something so personal (yeah, my husband might ask that too)? Simple: it’s important to reflect on our relationships and celebrate why they are working, think about why they might not be working and make changes moving in the direction of what is best for whoever you are in a relationship with, whether a marriage or partnership, a friendship or a relationship with a family member.

Right now, try this: take a few moments to think about the three most important relationships in your life. {ummm…barrister, barista, barista ~ed.} Start with the first person you thought about and ask yourself the following questions:

When you think of this person that you share your life with, do you smile?

Does the relationship bring you joy?

Are you able to be your authentic self in the relationship?

Does the person lift you up and support your full potential?

Do they love you unconditionally?

If you answer yes to most or all of these questions, wonderful. If you did not, you might investigate why not. Just take one step at a time…think about what it means to you. And as you wonder about this, do not pass judgment, just be with the thoughts and feeling and notice how it makes you feel. Then think about your role in the relationship and ask the same questions about yourself in the relationship. When the person thinks about you, do you think they smile? Do you bring them joy? Do you allow them to be their authentic self? Do you lift them up and support their full potential?

We know relationships are a two-way street and my hope for today is that we take some time to reflect on those we are most significantly involved with and think about the impact we have in each others’ lives. Let’s all stop being so busy and reflect on what we truly value. At the end of the day, what is most important is those we love and choose to spend our time with, so by reflecting on this and paying attention to what is most valuable in our lives, we can hopefully move in the direction of improving our relationships and either changing or eliminating those that no longer serve us. Over the years we have all likely read many stories about people who are faced with a life crisis (illness, death, job loss, divorce, etc.) and how the folks affected by the crisis will sometimes express that it took this particular situation for them to realize what was really important to them. By doing this relationship reflection exercise today, it is my hope that we can think about this without it being precipitated by a crisis event.

How we spend our time matters—who we spend our time with matters—our life choices matter!

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Maureen Miller  |  Contribution: 4,815