I was watching a cooking show the other day called, “The Barefoot Contessa”, and Ina, the chef in the show, said that she and her husband were celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary. She said that they were as happy after forty years of marriage as they were the day that they met. She said that she didn’t believe in working on a relationship, their recipe for happiness in marriage was simple, she wanted to make him happy and he wanted to make her happy. Work can make a relationship last, but work is not enjoyable. So, should it really be work? No, it really shouldn’t.
Our entire growth experiences as human beings is based upon relationships. The world in which we live exists through relationship. It is made up of the relationship of one thing to another, of one state of being to another, of one belief system to another and of one person to another. We understand up because we understand down, we understand dark because we understand light. Without the two opposite points, we would not have a path to journey upon. Every human relationship that we have aids us in discovering ourselves, our needs, and what we need to fulfill our lives.
Each thing in our lives that we pursue, we pursue because we are attracted to it. We are attracted to a food, to a style of dress, to a path of study, a belief system, a career, a friend and a partner. With each thing that we are attracted to, we taste, we test out, we try on, we investigate, we study. We do this with everything except our emotional relationships. In that one, most important area, we just close our eyes and jump. I believe that it has a great deal to do with society, our families and our peers convincing us that there is a deadline to meet. If we are not in a relationship by a certain age, it is too late. It is like musical chairs, if we are not seated when the music stops – we are out. We are out in the cold, all alone, left to starve.
There is a painful cellular, or past life memory of the deadly consequences, especially for women, of being alone. There was a time when it was a death sentence. But that was then and this is now, at least in the west. We are wired spiritually, genetically, to be attracted to the path that we are meant to travel. That is the law of attraction. We are magnetized to our journeys – to our lessons. So, an example would be that one is attracted to art, then to painting, then to decorative painting. Through decorative painting one becomes attracted to interior design, and from interior design one finally arrives at a passion and perfect fit with architecture. Had that person remained in decorative painting after she was drawn to interior design – she would have been unhappy and unfulfilled. However, it was decorative painting that not only opened her up and prepared her for interior design, but it was what led her to interior design. It was also her initial attraction to art, then to painting that began the journey.
Some people come into life to name that tune in one note, others come in to name that tune in ten notes. Human beings are not standardized, our journeys are not standardized, so we cannot standardize the lives that we live. Success in life is not measured by how many steps it took to get there, but that we ultimately got there. This is equally valid in our relationships. Sometimes it takes more than one relationship to find out who we are, what we need, and what we have to give. Sometimes what we find out about ourselves in one relationship leads us to another. I read once, that some people enter our lives for a season, some for a reason, and some for a lifetime. We will not know which is which based upon when they enter. We will not know which is which based upon the power of the energy that draws us to them or by the passion that we feel around them. We will only know by the inner sense of fulfillment, of peace and of completion that we feel because they are in our lives. Each one of us has our own, individual first and last. And until we reach the last – we are not meant to know in advance which it is. So armed with patience and our eyes open, we can move on to what that lifetime relationship requires to be fulfilling.
The first thing that is needed is respect. However high those pheromones are flying, if we don’t respect the person that we are with, those pheromones are not just going to land, they are going to crash. It is just not possible to continue to treat someone with respect who we really don’t feel respect for. And if we do not treat our partner with respect, eventually they are going to leave.
We have to have shared values. If not initially, we have to be at least open to understanding enough to personally value the values of the other. There must be common ground. For example, I am very spiritual, and I have a lot of beliefs that everyone does not share. The person I am with does not have to share my beliefs, but, he has to share my values. He has to be caring, compassionate, and value others. He does not have to be spiritual if his sense of humanity is strong. Who we are, who we believe ourselves to be rests, for better or for worse on our values. Our values are what we consider to be valuable – they are a reflection of what our souls have accomplished up to this point. Regardless of the emotions that we feel for another person if our values clash, our sense of being valued will deteriorate. So much of what we do, of how we react to life comes from our core values that if we are not compatible at that level, the level of our personal foundations, then the foundation of the relationship is not sound enough to withstand the pressures of everyday life.
We need to have developed, within ourselves, the ability to trust. This is important because we will always find what we are looking for. If we are unable to trust, we will find reasons to justify our mistrust. Once we find or imagine those reasons, we are stuck there and the relationship is neglected.
Those are the ingredients that we need to build the foundation of a good and lasting relationship. They are not what we need to do. Each person in a relationship must enter it thinking not of what he or she wants to get out of it, or get from the other person, but what he or she wants to give. Each partner must want, above all, to make the other partner happy. It is important that this is not a job. It is important that it is not work. If I am going to spend most of my time focused on making my partner happy – that in itself must give me some happiness. If it is a chore, if it feels too much like a sacrifice, then I should not be in that relationship. If each partner is focused on the happiness and wellbeing of the other partner – then both partners will be happy.
No one outgrows a relationship with these ingredients. That is because it grows and expands with the needs of each partner because both partners are concerned about the other’s needs. Life is hard work; a relationship should make it easier to overcome the hard times in life. It should never create them. No two people are always going to agree about everything, but if you are both on the same floor, you will eventually find each other, find a way to come together. Outside of the bedroom, every issue begins with our values. When two people come together to form a relationship, each places on the table in front of the other, their dreams, hopes, fears, desires, and most of all, self value. All of these together represent the love that each seeks to share. Each one shares this love by entrusting the other with these precious parts of who he or she is. Unless each partner takes those dreams, hopes, fears, desire, etc. of the other and places it before their own, both partners end up focused only on themselves. In doing this, the other’s happiness is neglected. Each feels unloved, alone, and betrayed. No one feels loved because no one loved.
When you find two people who, after forty, fifty, sixty years still look at each other with love, reach for the other’s hand you know some important things. You know first, that each can love. You know that each can trust. You know that each can give. Most of all, you know that it is possible to have that kind of love. It doesn’t take work, but it does take risk. It is a risk to give your heart in trust to another person. It is a risk to put another person’s happiness ahead of your own. Sometimes it feels like the greatest risk is to walk away when your heart says it is so right, but a voice inside of your head says it is so wrong. Follow your heart to the door, but make sure that you walk in with both.
Each relationship that we have is as destined to be as any other. The difference is only the purpose that they serve. None are mistakes, none are failures. There is no time frame within which love can be found. The only schedule that we need to follow is the one within our souls. We are always on time.