By Don Beckett
I do know the one fundamental thing that keeps a relationship together. And I’m sure that almost everyone reading this knows it already, too. Maybe, you just haven’t thought about your knowing it. It’s the one thing that determines how long a relationship lasts, whether it’s a marriage, a friendship, or any other kind of relationship.
There are various statistics telling us how many marriages come apart because of money or sex or whatever else but I’m talking about something deeper than all of those things. The fundamental key to a lasting relationship of any kind is unconditional love. See, I told you, you already knew that! It’s so fantastically simple and yet so hard to practice! Unconditional love is what all of us are here to practice. We choose a partner and try to practice it with them in hopes of someday being good enough that we can love everyone unconditionally.
Each relationship is a mirror for us. Through the reactions of the other person, we see things about ourselves that we would not see otherwise. And, each relationship takes us farther along the path to self-realization.
Here are three interesting points about marriage and unconditional love:
1. There is no “Mr. Right” and no “Mr. Wrong.”
Everyone is looking for the perfect mate, of course. We are all looking for the perfect marriage and the happy-ever-after life. This is like the medical industry searching for the perfect drug or the cure for _______ (fill in the blank with any symptom you like). Or, it’s like people who are always searching for the newest flavor of Reiki or the one that will be so much better than all the others! In all these pursuits, eventually we come to the realization that there is no magic cure, no perfect mate. We also realize that Reiki is Reiki and we would be so much wiser to pick any one flavor and devote ourselves to the daily practice of it. We come to the realization that everything really depends on US and our practice of life every day.
Once we see that, we may give up the search for the perfect mate, just choose one and start the day-to-day practice of loving him or her. Historically speaking, we know that the notion of “romantic” marriage (with people choosing their own partners) is quite recent. And, even today, in some places and cultures, marriages are still prearranged. We “modern” folks usually react with shock to that idea but I can’t help wondering whether it’s actually a wiser practice than spending so much of our life searching for the perfect mate (and then for another, after we toss that one and so on)
The inescapable truth is that the only thing that makes a lasting relationship is unconditional love. No partner is perfect enough to live up to our expectations. As long as love is conditioned on the fulfillment of expectations, it’s only a matter of time until the relationship comes apart. The only way to keep it together is for each partner to accept the other completely, without trying to change him or her and to let him or her grow into more of his or her real self as the relationship goes along.
2. There is good in “staking yourself to the battlefield.”
In the past, there have been societies in which warriors had a custom of staking themselves to the battlefield. They would tie a cord to one ankle, attach the cord to a stake and drive the stake deep into the ground so that, no matter how afraid they became in the battle, they were prevented from running away. They would fight until they died or until they won the battle.
Traditionally, the institution of marriage has worked in a similar way, keeping partners from fleeing the battlefield of their relationship. Standing up among your friends and peers and vowing to stay together until parted by death is quite a serious thing. And, the societal and religious pressures against divorce have also been severe.
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