Relationship As Practice

12 April 2006

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2006 journal :: Writing


Nearly every adult has had friends who have gone through a difficult time in their relationships. Some of those relationships end and some survive. Less visible are those relationships that are healthy, yet one or both partners feel the need for something deeper and more intimate. I believe that there is a widespread yet largely unspoken yearning for this in our culture.

As I've mentioned in previous journal entries, Mary and I have recently been teaching some workshops called Flesh and Sprit. These are for committed couples who wish to improve their relationship. What we teach can be viewed as a set of techniques to improve communication. Another view is that we teach that relationship is a spiritual practice. This entry is an initial attempt to describe what I mean by that phrase.

In this context we take "relationship" to be that of a committed couple. The couple must be mature enough to make a serious commitment. We are not concerned with the age of the couple, the length of the relationship, the gender of the partners, and other irrelevant issues. Much of what we teach could be applied to even more broadly defined relationships, but our experience so far is just with couples.

Our notion of "spiritual" is broad. Simply, the spiritual realm is that which lies beyond the self and the physical. The spiritual for us is not tied to any religion, nor is it against any religion. We have worked with couples who are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and those with other beliefs.

Our idea of "practice" is that of a repeated conscious activity with a purpose. It might be as small as improving one's skill at solving crossword puzzles, or it might be as profound as intense meditation. A spiritual practice is a repeated conscious activity that aims at enriching your larger awareness. It might connect you closer to God or Nature or the Unknown.

When we describe relationship as a spiritual practice, we see the relationship to be a path towards greater awareness of the other. This leads to greater love for the other.

In the words of Rumi:

Give me ecstasy, give me naked wonder, O my Creator!
Give birth to the Beloved in me, and let this lover die.
Let a thousand wrangling desires become one Love.