Shared Purpose – a Relationship Meditation

“What is your purpose?” I asked.

“As a couple?” They replied. I shrugged, “Or as individuals?”

They aren’t alone in their response. After fifteen years of marriage they still weren’t quite sure how to respond. It was as if they stopped being individuals once they were married and this is one of the greatest tragedies we attach to being married. Many people think that once the ceremony is over you are no longer able to function as an individual. That thinking or having desires as an individual is somehow not acceptable, and that is a shame.

The beauty of marriage is that you have someone you can grow with in love and respect, in trust and in understanding. That you now have someone to continue on your journey with as a part of something greater. It does not mean confining yourself to a life of stagnation.

Instead of sinking into the comfort of your situation, make a pact with yourself and your partner that you will always explore new things, that you will travel, try new sexual positions and refuse to limit your growth by falling into the malaise of doing time on Maple Drive.

What are you afraid of? Do you think your partner may balk at your idea of spending your vacation somewhere new? Are you afraid that your partner for life may say no just like that boy or girl did in high school? Or do you think that living in the rat race, doing the same thing every day, is the most scintillating, exciting and fulfilling thing you can imagine doing until you retire at which point you can sit on your porch sharing remembrances of a life half-lived with your partner?

After a few moments of meditation to clear our minds my students and I delved a little deeper into the subjects of openness and honesty. It was no surprise that the husband felt trapped in his job and his wife felt trapped in the house, taking care of their home and children. Both felt chained to maintaining their lifestyle, which they admitted was a little beyond their means, “But everyone lives a little beyond their means, that’s part of the game.”

We took a short meditation break to release a layer of anxiety that was visibly building. When we returned I gently probed a little more; the husband confessed to being caught on his treadmill, his wife did as well. They were in the same room, but on two different treadmills. They faced the same direction, each set to a speed just a little faster than either was comfortable with, looking at the same wall they would never reach, yet both were unwilling to step off their treadmills and onto solid ground. Neither wanted to try new things for fear of losing that now sacred treadmill that was going nowhere.

If you truly love the person you have committed to, then set them free. Trust them to go off on their own and return to tell you about it. That ring on your finger is not your love for them. It is just a symbol that represents the vows you made to each other. Those vows are based on trust, and if you don’t trust your partner to hold your bond sacred, then no ring in the world will make a difference. If they hold it sacred, then removing that ring will not make them any less caring, trusting or respectfu, than they already are. Who knows they may even bring back some wonderful stories about the travels they went on and the adventures they had that may just revitalize the love and the vows you both took so long ago.

Trust in each other. Try something new. Gently ask your partner if whatever it is you want is okay. You may be surprised by their answer. Best case, you put your marriage on a better track that will truly last a lifetime. Worst case, you are right back where you are right now, running on your treadmill to nowhere.

Don’t let discomfort get in the way of getting what you want to get out of life. Let your partner be the strength you saw them to be when you first made your vows. Do not allow yourself to place them in some trophy case as some kind of an “I made it to fifty years” award. Smile at them, love them, and trust them as you ask them, and yourself, “what is your purpose?”

Understand that whatever you want is possible, but you have to express what you want to them if you want to experience it with them. Do not let your relationship become an excuse to stop taking the smart risks you so badly want to take.

The world has changed greatly in the past decade. Shouldn’t your relationship do the same?

Be well, and I hope this helps.

 

 

Jeff

5 Comments To Never Say

No Judgment

At one point in time this was authentic. It had meaning and credence. But now I hear it so many times every day, it rings of insincerity. It’s on television commercials, online ads pushing laundry detergent. What it really means is “boy, did I just judge you, and it was not good. In fact, it was so awful it made me feel guilty just thinking of it, so I need to say something to lower my own guilt over having thought it.” Let’s be honest, we all judge others. That is human nature. There is no getting away from it. The key is not to not judge, but to use our judgements as an invitation to ask yourself, “what is it about them that made me so judgmental? Why was I so quick to judge?” The answer actually has nothing to do with them, but with yourself. Don’t apologize to them, apologize to yourself, for within you is the key to your judgments, not with them.

learn to be happy

No Shame

As with the No Judgment rationale, when you shame someone, you are really just expressing the shame you carry within you. Some past memory, guilt, or apology you never said. As with the “no judgment” comment, we all shame others for self-gain, we do it to pull them into line. As one highly regarded Zen master once told me, “shame is the fastest way to teach.”

That does not make it right by any stretch of the imagination. By telling someone “no shame” you are giving the a Get Out Of Jail Free card. Your comment is just piling on more shame to whatever it was you just witnessed. Why, because they did not do it your way?

The shame is not theirs to carry, it is yours. Simply stop judging and stop shaming. It is not your place to call others out on some trumped-up idea of how they should act, and idea that you created out of the shame you carry around. Let the live their life in their way, and you can live your life in yours.

Learn to be authentic 

With All Due Respect

This is a classic setup. All it means is that you are about to pull the rug out from underneath them and slam them with some very disrespectful words. Why say it? Once again, you’re just giving yourself permission to be nasty. Don’t say “with all due respect,” just say what you’re going to say and then enjoy the regret you’re going to have to carry around with you for saying it.

If you are a true friend, then there is no need to give yourself an out. If not, then you shouldn’t make the comment. It’s not going to soften the blow of whatever you feel you have to say to them, because it really is for you. Instead of saying with all due respect just hold your tongue. The world will be a better place for it.

Learn to be you

I was Just Thinking

Does that mean you usually don’t think? This comment does not make you look or sound smart. It usually prefaces what you think is a brilliant idea, but you’re just not convinced it is. You’re trying to hedge your bets in case your brilliant idea falls flat. Perhaps you think adding a casual tone to whatever comes next will give you and out, or perhaps the idea of downplaying your brilliance will make your idea all the more palpable.

Next time just say what your idea is and let your audience judge its merits on their own?

Learn to be mindful

I’m Being Honest With You

This is on par with I was just thinking. It implies that you have not been honest with your audience up until now. As with most of these comments, it does just the opposite of what was intended, it raises their attention level to assess what you have just said, and are about to say, with a new level of wariness.

If you have something to say, then just say it. Good thoughts and comments need no introduction. They will find their way to the intended listener’s ears all on their own.

If you are ever in doubt, good conversation, like good meditation or a well-made martini, comes from the school of less is more. You don’t have to embellish. All that ever does is put a garish tone to what could have been a wonderful diversion.

Learn to meditate.

 

Be well and I hope this helps.