In many respects, a relationship is a "path", or "yoga", a path of self-knowledge. It is a practice, similar to other paths of self-knowledge such as meditation, prayer or martial arts. Like meditation, prayer, or martial arts, the final destination of the path of relationship is a place within us. The final destination is who we become by travelling this path. These paths, these yogas, when well-travelled, take us home to ourselves; they lead to our healing. We are the destination of our path. If our relationships constitute such a path, then it does not matter how many partners we have had or how long those relationships have lasted.
At the end of the day, and at the end of our lives, the only thing that matters is the integrity, self-honesty, and discipline that we have brought to this practice, to our path. It is easy to feel like a "failure" because we haven't found our "soul mate" or "life partner". Are our past relationships, failures? Perhaps they are, but not because we are no longer in them. They are only "failures" to the degree that we did not learn the lessons they offered us… to the degree we would not look in the mirror and walk down our path with integrity.
A Relationship is a Garden Path
I am constantly astonished by the people, otherwise intelligent, who think that anything so complex and delicate as a marriage can be left to take care of itself. One sees them fussing about all sorts of lesser concerns, apparently unaware that side by side with them- often in the same bed- a human creature is perishing from lack of affection, of emotional malnutrition. - - Robertson Davies
A relationship is a system that two people create together. If one person changes the way they relate to that system, then the whole system changes. It takes two people to create a relationship, but only one to end it. Put another way, a relationship is a garden that needs two gardeners. With only one gardener it will die. We must pick the right gardener with whom to share our garden. Both gardeners must weed the garden on a regular basis, or it will be overrun.
A relationship is not a static, closed, system; it is a living, dynamic one. Like any garden, it needs proper amounts of sunlight, nutrients, water, soil, and love. Things must be planted at the right time, in the right way, and in the right soil. When all these pieces are in place we may create abundance. The more we put into such a garden, the greater joy and benefit we can harvest from it, and the more nourishment we will have in our lives.
Whatever garden we choose to create with our partner is the environment in which we must live. There is no escape from this. It is so obvious that we often fail to see it, particularly when we ourselves have been wounded. Any wounding that we do to our partner in reaction to our pain will resonate throughout the relationship. Eventually, there are always consequences.
Blame is salt in the soil of our garden. Contempt is scorched earth. We cannot defecate in our nest and expect our lives to smell like roses. Being kind to our partner while maintaining our integrity can be one of the best long-term investments we can make in our lives. Our partner will trigger our shadow, the part of ourselves that we don't want to face. This is guaranteed. We can deal with it now or we can deal with it later, but we cannot escape the terrain that we co-create in our relationship.
A Relationship is a Container
In Asia when they want to wash potatoes, they take a bucket; fill it first with potatoes and then with water. They then take a stick, put it in the center of the bucket, and pull it up and down. The stick moves the potatoes and all the potatoes end up rolling and rubbing against each other. The result is that they polish each other as they become clean.
In a relationship, we become like the potatoes in that bucket. We create friction with our partner and, if we are willing to be polished, that friction polishes our character.
A Committed Relationship is a Sacred Container
A committed relationship is a sacred container. That sacred container has two kinds of material in it, gold and shit. When there is enough gold in the container we will put up with all kinds of shit. But if enough gold is taken out of the container, then what we are left with is just shit. The ratio of gold-to-shit is different for each person, and when the gold-to-shit ratio becomes intolerable, we leave the relationship.
If we look deeper into the shit, so to speak, we may notice that what we thought was shit may not be shit at all. On closer examination what we thought of as shit might actually turn out to be painful-gold. Painful-gold is shit that has the opportunity to become pleasurable-gold but not necessarily in the moment. In the moment it is just painful. Just as the shit we use in our garden can become flowers, so can the shit in our relationship. Ultimately what we have with our partner is a ratio of pleasurable-gold to painful-gold.
Just as in our garden, we need the right amount of shit (painful-gold) to make the garden flourish. In the correct amounts, the shit is composted and transmuted. But if there is too much shit in our garden, we will burn the soil and destroy our creation. Ironically the shit that has destroyed one garden, given enough time, can become the most valuable gold of all for the next garden.
Now, if we have had many years of a pleasurable-gold stored up with our partner, we may have the ability to transmute a lot of painful-gold before it burns our garden. We may be able to use the alchemical furnace of our relationship and our history to transform it into pleasurable-gold, to turn it into flowers. But if we do not have enough pleasurable-gold stored up, we will not be able to suffer through the process, nor should we. Life gives us plenty of shit to deal with and opportunities for growth without us needing to be masochistic. We carry the seeds of our own healing within us wherever we go. They are not necessarily contained in one partner. The ultimate purpose of our relationship may be more for our healing than our happiness.
Excerpted with permission from ~ How to Worship the Goddess and Keep Your Balls: A Man's Guide to Sacred Sex by David Bruce Leonard.
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