Falling in Love
I have on my book shelf a Fairy Tale book that I was given when I was about five. Let me share the way many of the stories conclude. From Snow White we read, “Each day was more joyful than the last, and together, they lived happily ever after.” From the White Snake, “The Princess and the servant plighted their troth and were married. And from that hour forth, they lived happily ever after.” From The Ass, The Table and the The Stick, “He took her by the arm, and led her to the parson where they were married within the hour. And from that day on, they both lived happily ever after.” The Sea Maiden, “And from that day forth, the Princess and the herd lad lived happily ever after.” The book is full of these fairy tale conclusions. Not only did we read these throughout our formative years, it continued to be perpetuated by Hollywood, dishing out ‘happy-ever-after films for generations.
Culturally in the west, we have been programmed to believe that you must find your soul mate, your Prince on his white stallion, or your Princess in her flowing robes, where you will instantly fall in love, get married (or not), and live happily ever after. However, the reality is very distant from the fairy tale. Just in Australia alone one in three marriages end in divorce within an average of 12 years. That said, 77% of couples cohabitate before getting married, and statistics for separations in this demographic are not listed. Further evidence of the unsustainable nature of this type of relationship are the statistics regarding domestic violence. An Australian Bureau of Statistics personal safety survey completed in 2012, showed that 1 in 11 people have been subject to violence by a partner since the age of 15. Of the total victims, 23% were men and 77% were women.
The cultural programming about ‘falling in love’ is so woven into the consciousness of the western mind that in most instances it is in ignorance that we pursue and engage a relationship. In his book Passionate Marriage, David Schnarch writes, “We’re driven by something that makes us look like we crave intimacy, but in fact we are after something else: we want someone else to make us feel acceptable and worthwhile. We’ve assigned the label “intimacy” to what we want (validation and reciprocal disclosure) and developed pop psychologies that give it to us, while keeping true intimacy away.”
Schnarch suggests that what we desire (crave) on the surface appears to be intimacy, but underneath what we actually want is acceptance and validation. In previous articles I have written about “our story”, our unique form of needing acceptance and validation. To avoid the fears associated with our story, we develop strategies for living that typically give short term respite, but ultimately result in both acute and chronic suffering. Since we typically relate to the world through our filters (our story of being loveless and unlovable and the associated beliefs we hold about ourselves), the capacity for this ‘significant other’ to fill that void is more about what we perceived someone else could provide and less about the actual ability of this other person. This paradigm is unsustainable, which often ends in separation or loneliness. According to a recent study published in Psychology Today, 62.5% of people who indicated that they were lonely, were in a committed relationship.
Ok, so what does going into relationship with awareness look like?
20th Century aviator and writer, Antonine de Saint-Exupery wrote, “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction”. When we are looking inward, it is generally looking at a way to remedy a pain, some form of suffering. When we are looking outward, it is generally looking for a way to serve. In other words, we have already resolved our pain, our suffering, through becoming still. This stillness naturally evokes empathy and compassion, which we seek to express through our unique form of service, our calling, our purpose.
This implies then that love consists of one or more people being clear about, and committed to their purpose. One day they look around and see that there is someone beside them who is also clear about their purpose and who also happens to be looking outwardly, in the same direction. This model of love becomes one of shared vision, a common purpose and not one where they seek acceptance and validation. In fact, in the aware model of relationship neither person ultimately requires anything of the other. They already possess a strong sense of validity though their service and their state of self-acceptance means they don’t seek it from another. In this form of relationship, the foundation to intimacy is unconditional listening, the ability to truly hear another without personal filters. This form of listening is immersed in empathy and compassion and results in awe and wonder of the other. This is the fabric of the love that is then expressed.
In this state of love, there would be no violence, no angry words, no fear, no loneliness, no expectation, no judgement. In this state of love there would be nurturing, listening, understanding, intimacy, honouring and empowerment. All the while, both people committed to their purpose first and the relationship second.
On my wedding-ring finger I wear a ring on which can be found two symbols, the Cross of St James and a Scallop Shell. In 2011 I walked the Camino de Santiago, a personal pilgrimage that was about committing to my purpose. These are two of the symbols of the Camino. I wear this ring on that finger as a reminder of my primary commitment, my purpose and my unique expression of service, which may come as no surprise as being the Enhances Awareness Program. In 2014 while completely engrossed in my ‘work in the world,’ I looked up and saw someone beside me looking outward in the same direction.
This commencement to relationship was something I have never previously experienced. Mind you, had it been there previously, my story was running so loud I would not have even noticed it!
This is the first of three articles on aware relationships. This is about starting an aware relationship. The next article will be about sustaining an aware relationship and the third will be about finishing a relationship in awareness. I would love your feedback.
This Weeks Video
Read More From This Series