An opening for sharing in deeper love and intimacy
My 93-year-old grandfather is one of the most brilliant marriage therapists I know … and he only has a sixth grade education! Maybe it’s the Folgers coffee because it’s right around that second cup his “infinite wisdom and insight” comes pouring forth—whether I have solicited it or not.
What I am about to share with you is something I have heard a million times. Every time I heard his advice on marriage, I found myself thinking “For crying out loud, here we go again … I wonder if the fish are biting … I wonder when my cousin and I are going four-wheeling.”
But something was different this time. I heard the message … behind the message.
“The problem with so many marriages today is selfishness. If a married couple is having problems, and each one is carrying on about how the other one irritates and gets them in a fuss, they need to get out a sheet of paper. Now on that paper, the wife needs to write down three things that her husband does that gets her mad as a hornet—and the husband does the same. Then, they swap their papers. If they really love each other, they will consider what the other one has written and they’ll change what they’re doing. When both people are thinking about the other one more often, their marriage will turn around in hurry.”
When I ran this advice through the filters of my ego, it was the most co-dependent nonsense I had ever heard. Yet, when I expanded my consciousness to really hear what was being said, it brought a whole new meaning to the spiritual principal of giving and receiving.
It quickly moved me past the superficial levels of why we give anything in the first place. At the level of our separated, individual self, we give in order to get something—love, praise, value, recognition, security, attention, etc. That is why romantic relationships can be so painful and destructive. Our only motivation in giving is to “get” something from our partner.
Essentially, we are stealing. We look at our partner, see something they have that we want and manipulate our behavior in order to get from our partner what we think we are lacking. That is the stripped down version of what is really going on when we give to another. In our unconscious state, our giving is always under the guise of flattery, facades, and niceties.
In the realm of Holiness, giving and receiving are the same.
When we are truly in a space of unconditional love with our partner, giving becomes a means to expanding our experience of love. We do it because of the feeling we receive from the giving. Both the giver and receiver are blessed by the energy created from such a sacred intent.
What if we really took my grandfather’s advice and worked on three things that irritate our partner? And what if we did those things without complaining, thinking we are martyrs or that we are sacrificing ourselves in some way. What if we just simply made some adjustments without making a big deal about it?
And what if our changes brought forth a greater joy and sense of being loved for our partner? If that presents itself in the moment, then we can clearly see that the giving and receiving are the same. One is giving through a request being made and the other is giving through an open heart and both are receiving the benefits. It is a win all the way around.
Becoming mindful of what we do that annoys our partner and then working towards shifting it, is only an entry point to deeper love and intimacy. It’s more about listening to feedback from our partner in regards to how we are showing up than it is about defending our stance.
When our partner makes a request, often times we hear it as a complaint. Our partner’s request may or may not be rational, fair, or even spiritual. The deeper meaning is how we respond to “what is on their list.” If it contributes to their joy and feeling loved, why we would not honor what they are asking?
I think that is the whole point to my grandfather’s message about selfishness. Sometimes it is good to put aside what we want or how we think things should be and consider what our spouse wants. If our relationship is based on real love and respect, then we don’t have to worry about it becoming a one way street. Both people get to share, simultaneously, in the healing energy of true giving and receiving.
Seasons of Change is a biweekly column from Jayne Clark addressing different topics each season. Spring’s focus is relationships. Jayne Clark works intuitively with clients to help them resolve issues regarding relationships, loss, grief, health, and career path. To learn more, head to jayneclark.com.