“I was alone for so long and was perfectly fine, but it doesn’t work anymore. After awhile you need a mate to be your mirror. Otherwise, you stop growing spiritually.”
That was a dear friend’s reply, when I asked if he would ever remarry. He had lost the love of his life to a sudden illness and I frankly thought he was that man who would love once–fiercely–and never again, because no one could possibly come close to his beloved. It was moving to hear his view, and in it the tender courage to love again.
What he said struck a very deep chord. I have been helping people through their heartbreak and relationship trauma. By design, I have had to step up my own self-work. His words are the encapsulation of all I am learning about relationships and how we behave in them, all because our view is often too small and limited.
Your spouse really is that person who can help you stretch and deepen spiritually, the way no other person can. We know this on some level, but mostly as an afterthought, the thing that hovers in the back of our consciousness as we sift through the rubble of issues we could not fix, transgressions we could not overcome, narratives we could not rewrite.
I realize, and recognize it in my clients, too, that every partner and spouse does this anyway, no matter how our relationships play out. They hold up a mirror, intentionally or not, and we have no choice but to look at our reflections, willing or not. But nobody teaches us that this is what it’s really about and no one give us the tools, like how we might do this with kindness and respect or how to help each other make constructive and generative meaning of our reflections. Instead we see everything through the lens of criticism, difficulty, friction–all the painful things we thought true love would shield us from. So we hurt, flail, tear down, turn away, tell ourselves this is not love–all because our view of marriage and partnering was not big enough. If we came in aware and willing to do the work together and for each other, already the premise would be vastly changed.
It will be difficult, of course, because spiritual work is that. But if we can co-create the language and then build respect, compassion, commitment to truth, and a bigger picture of love–the biggest our hearts and our consciousness can possibly hold–we can be true spiritual partners growing deeply and strongly through the many conflicts and challenges our relationships are meant to bring, each one a contraction designed to birth our highest possibilities as human beings. And if not, then we can part with generosity and respect anyway, grateful for all the lessons learned.
Yes, anyone can be alone and be perfectly fine. But there comes a time when it simply is not enough.