19. There are four key ‘dimensions’ to a relationship: intellectual, emotional, physical (sexual) and spiritual. A successful relationship requires basic compatibility between the partners on each of these dimensions.
Compatibility does not mean complete equality or agreement, but it does mean that there is a core commonality on which the relationship is based. One person may be more intelligent, or more emotionally aware, but the other has to have enough intelligence or emotional awareness to be able to comprehend and converse with the one with the greater ability. If there is an incompatibility on any dimension this is likely to be a continuous source of distress and disagreement in the relationship.
20. The hardest issues to resolve in our relationship were around how to bring up children, and these were made even harder by being step parents to each other’s children by previous relationships.
One reason why issues around children are so fraught is that it is the area in which either partner can experience the most excruciating conflicts of their own priorities or values. “Do I support my partner or protect my child?” “I vowed that I would never do this to my children, yet here is my partner doing it!” With step children the difficulties are exacerbated by other parents outside the relationship being involved and by the lack of a primary bond between the child and step parent. We spent hours talking to each other to try to understand each other’s concerns and accommodate each other’s values and priorities.
21. Developing a ‘real’ relationship requires each person to foster and encourage their partner to be more ‘real’.
When an individual is not aware of their shadow or their ‘true nature’ it is difficult for them to be real i.e. to speak and act with complete honesty and integrity. In order for the person to make progress they need clear feedback on when they are succeeding and failing – and their intimate partner is best placed to provide this. The key is to reinforce the times when the other person is clearly being themselves – and clearly not – and to not seek to evaluate the many cases where being real is mixed up with some trip. There is also an element in this principle of daring each other to be more who we really are in more and more contexts (which also involves being less of who we think other people want us to be).
22. It is really helpful to acknowledge the good, the beautiful, the inspiring and the amazing in each other as often as possible.
This is related to, but different from, fostering the ‘real’ other and being honest together. The reason for separating out the principle of acknowledgement is that, over time, it will cause each person to grow to be closer to the ideal for the other. Positive affirmations foster growth – and learning. My wife has taught me how to kiss her well by responding positively each time I succeed in kissing her how she wants to be kissed.
23. It is essential to accommodate characteristics of the other that are extremely difficult or impossible to change.
Some patterns of behaviour and responding are developed at a very early stage of childhood and reinforced throughout a person’s life. Some of these patterns may be dysfunctional in terms of intimacy – but if they cannot be changed they have to be accommodated. The person providing the accommodation is serving their partner and, inevitably and unintentionally, providing them with the best possible opportunity to overcome the dysfunctionality (but this is not the purpose of the service).
24. Allow, and protect, a private intimate space between you.
We are willing to share a great deal about ourselves and our relationship with other people, particularly close friends and family. However there are some things that are entirely private between us. This private space is a valuable part of our intimacy and we are protective of it. The material we keep to ourselves includes details of our sexual relationship and our shared opinions that others might find hurtful or difficult.
25.When we married we vowed to help each other on our respective journeys to God. Now we have discovered that our ever deepening relationship is itself a path to God, to the Divine, to Pure Love.
When people ‘fall in love’ there are usually two components involved. The first is an enmeshing of unconscious trips that each is (unconsciously) seeking to resolve. The second is glimpsing the Divine in each other: there is an exceptional openness in which the true self is seen by the other. As the relationship progresses the unconscious trips take over until they are either resolved or recognised and accommodated. They effectively eliminate the possibility of being open enough to have Divine contact together. However we have found that by persisting in dealing with absolutely everything that is diminishing or inhibiting our contact together, we are now able to have more and more Divine contact and it has now become a stable part of our relationship. Indeed it is now the touchstone we use to assess whether there is anything going on that needs to be addressed; and it is this that has enabled us to see that any secret, any withhold, and unspoken negativity acts destructively and prevents us contacting each other at this level.