07 May 2013
5 Ways to “En-Lighten Up” Your Relationship
Buddhist nun Pema Chodron teaches, “Enlightenment is not something we’re going to achieve after we follow the instructions, and then get it right. In fact, when it comes to awakening the heart and mind, you can’t ‘get it right.’”
Images of well-known souls such as the Buddha, Confucius and Jesus come to mind when we think about “enlightenment.” These are people who reached a high level of spiritual evolution and who positively influenced the world with their wisdom and powerful, peaceful presence. Though all had challenges, it seemed like they “got it right,” and it’s this perception that causes frustration and challenges in our relationships, too!
Maybe you aspire to live an enlightened life or at least be on the path to enlightenment. Your priority may also be to create a love relationship or marriage with a partner that is in alignment with that intention.
While it can be uplifting and enriching to bring such an aspiration to your relationship, it can also be the cause of a lot of disappointment, emotional pain, and distance from the one you love.
What happens is this…
You make it your mission to bring more enlightenment to your relationship. Because of this, you place extra scrutiny on how you and your partner communicate, spend your free time and share intimacy. You suggest that you two meditate together, read and discuss spiritual books or infuse your lovemaking with spiritual techniques like Tantra.
These are all wonderful ways to connect on a deep, meaningful, and soulful level. We regularly do these very same things in our own relationship.
Troubles can arise, however, when the goal to create a more enlightened relationship becomes overly serious or turns into criticism or judgment of your partner’s (or your own) efforts and engagement. It can also be problematic when being more spiritual becomes your “agenda” and your partner feels pressured or manipulated, even if you don’t mean to.
While being more spiritual with your partner feels fabulous, if it’s forced or even taken too seriously it can seem more like a chore which weighs you both down and drives you apart.
Instead, we suggest that you en-lighten up in your relationship. When you do, you’ll enjoy one another more, move closer together and you can easily and naturally allow in more spiritual connection too.
Here are 5 ways to bring more light and love to your relationship…
#1: Come to the table lighter
Whatever you want to share more of with your partner needs to be cultivated within yourself first. Don’t expect to experience a soulful or fun connection with your partner if you’re walking around fearful and worried most of the time. Shift bad moods when they develop and heal what needs to be healed within yourself so that when you are with your partner you are contributing a sense of upliftment.
#2: Put annoying habits into perspective
It’s a real downer when you look over at your beloved and all you see is the way he slurps his coffee, how she forgets names, or the quirks the get on your nerves. We ALL have annoying habits and, if you let them, they can squash happiness and passion. When you are irritated by something your partner is doing, acknowledge how you feel and invite yourself to look at it from a different perspective. That perspective could be a broader view as you remember that he or she is far more than just the one who slurps and forgets things.
#3: Schedule regular fun talks
Along with those deep discussions about interconnectedness, make sure you and your partner have conversations that are purely fun. Be willing to be silly and bring on the laughs. Set aside 5 minutes a day (or more) where you two agree not to talk about serious relationship stuff or spiritual matters as well. For those 5 minutes, read aloud from a joke book, ask each other goofy questions, or do whatever is necessary to relax and let loose.
#4: Create an adventure jar
Getting out and really experiencing life is most definitely part of the enlightenment path. Look at all of the highly evolved teachers in history, and you’ll notice that none of them confined him or herself to prayer or meditation. Nudge yourselves out of your routine with an adventure jar. This is a literal jar you and your partner have filled with slips of paper, on which you’ve written activities that send you out of your comfort zone in an enjoyable way. On date nights, take turns picking from the adventure jar and go do what’s written down.
#5: Reconsider your most difficult problem
Lightening up isn’t always about frivolity. Relationship and personal challenges happen, and if you try to ignore them, they often get bigger. They also tend to get more intense if you over-analyze them. Instead, try a completely different approach. This may be a possible solution you’ve dismissed as impractical or “won’t work.” Re-consider the situation you’re in and think outside of the box.
When you can work with the annoyances and disappointments as well as the joys of life with grace and compassionate levity, you’re potentially having an enlightenment moment. Share this process with the one you love to deepen your connection. Lightening up is a healthy spiritual practice and it’s wonderful for your relationship too!
Susie and Otto Collins