Susan Piver, Guest Author
There can be a magical quality to the time between deciding to marry and the actual wedding. If you are able to drop beneath the busy-ness of all the planning and arranging and remember why you have chosen to get married, this can be a precious time that may be filled with excitement, possibility and of course, your love for each other.
You are marking the end of one chapter of your life and the beginning of another. Whenever you are able to approach the major transitions in your lives with awareness and intention, you invest the passage with meaning and potency. You each approach marriage with the hope of a deeply satisfying shared life. But you also carry with you the fears and apprehensions of what might go wrong. You have seen too much to be ignorant of the dangers and pitfalls of married life.
But there is hope and there is help. A good marriage need not be left to chance. You can learn attitudes, skills and practices that can help you deepen and grow in love and satisfaction together, through a lifetime of change. This is the path and practice of conscious marriage.
What does it mean to hold your most intimate relationship – your marriage – as a central part of your spiritual path?
Imagine marriage as a cauldron, a vessel that holds the hearts and souls of you and your beloved… a vessel crafted to withstand fire. The cauldron heats up in the fire of relationship, because there is no hiding in marriage. Your partner will see and receive the best and the worst in you and reflect this back to you, like a mirror reflects back the heat of the sun.
On the spiritual path of marriage you understand this hot fire is like a refinery or alchemical process that helps you see and heal the parts of you that brings suffering to yourself and to those we love. We see how we hold back from life, from truth, from passion. In the fire of intimacy, you encounter places in yourself and in your partner where you may withdraw or lash out in fear, sadness or anger, as well as times when you give everything, stretching beyond your imagined limits to love and to be loved. It is your protective mechanisms, your barriers to love that are purified within the cauldron.
When you understand marriage in this way, as an opportunity to deepen love and wisdom, you can learn to welcome the brilliant intensity of the fire of relationship. And if you dedicate your intention and love to strengthen the vessel of your marriage, it will help to simmer the soup of your shared lives into a deeply nourishing and lasting relationship.
When others do or say things that upset you, your instinct often is to try to make the other person wrong. In embarking on a conscious marriage, you strive to accept or bow to your partner as you might honor a spiritual teacher. You acknowledge that your partner may well bring you lessons the hard way. You acknowledge that they will see your less enlightened behavior more than others do and that therefore, they are in a better position to reflect this back to you.
Rather than running away, falling apart, or becoming aggressive when things get challenging, you make the agreement to do your best to learn from the difficulties and embrace it as an opportunity for your individual and mutual growth.
As you and your partner approach your wedding, consider discussing what it might mean to be spiritual friends. How can you honor your separateness and your differences, as well as the ways in which you naturally connect? Can you see your partner as existing not only to meet your expectations and fill your needs, but someone on their own path recognizing that you are two unique indivduals with different histories, different gifts, and different dreams?
You support and challenge each other to grow and be the best you can. You give the great gifts of your love and your companionship and the willingness to travel through life together. You can agree to do your best to be skillful and patient in this journey and to do your best to listen beneath awkward or unskillful communication for the jewel of the teaching which may be available. When you are on a spiritual path together, you are choosing to learn not only through the joys and ease of relationship but also through its challenges.
What greater gift can any human being offter to another than the commitment to stay and to keep turning towards one another with an open heart?
Larry’s NOTE: Harville Hendrix, a marriage therapist and American author, describes a conscious marriage as one in which “maximum psychological and spiritual growth is fostered.” It is a marriage created by consciously attempting to become aware of the “emotional baggage” that each partner brings to the relationship; understanding the possible problems that arise from the “clashing together” of each partner’s emotional baggage and then collaborating together to find creative ways of dealing with their own and the other’s baggage.
Copyright 2014 Susan Piver. This article is from Susan’s book. Susan Piver is a Buddhist teacher and the New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including, Joyful Wedding; A Spiritual Path to the Altar. She teaches workshops and speaks all over the world on meditation, spirituality, communication styles, relationships and creativity. In 2011, Piver launched The Open Heart Project, an online meditation community which with nearly 12000 members who practice together and explore ways to bring spiritual values such as kindness, genuineness and fearlessness to everyday life. Visit her Website at SusanPiver.com.
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