Intimate relationships present us with one of our best opportunities for growth. They often trigger our deepest, oldest wounds. They're supposed to do this.
So we can heal.
Ideally, the relationship becomes a safe container and a crucible for transformation for each of you individually, and for the relationship as a whole. In order to use it as such, you need one major thing: Radical honesty. Bring all your issues with you to your relationship. Share them.
I was speaking to a woman recently who said there were certain fears and insecurities that she was reluctant to discuss with her partner. She was worried that he might be offended or think less of her.
The problem with this is that such things fester. Dark corners grow moldy — they don’t magically clean themselves. Eventually, the mold spreads throughout the entire room. It becomes difficult to breathe. Even though invisible, the effects are felt.
You have to shine light on these things. You have to come clean. Bring your light AND your darkness into the realm of the relationship. Own it. Talk about it.
The purpose of a spiritual partnership is to illuminate your blind spots and transform them into strengths. Every quality we possess has two sides to it. Intimate relationships allow us to alchemize our base qualities into gold. There's no greater healing balm than being truly seen, witnessed and cherished by another human being. By revealing your dark crevices and allowing the light to shine on them.
How do you do this?
1. Commit to radical honesty in your relationship.
This means expressing the deepest parts of yourself: light and dark. It can be easy to deflect and share something less vital, less potent than your deepest truth. You have to be vigilant with yourself. This starts with commitment.
It takes a lot of courage. You'll get better at it with practice.
2. Schedule connecting time.
Setting aside several time slots during the week ensures that you don’t say, “Oops, the day is over and we didn’t have a chance to talk.”
I suggest 30 minutes at least three times a week. Designate this as “deep conversation time.” This isn’t the time to discuss chores, children, or household admin tasks. Go deep.
Remember the kinds of conversations you had at the beginning of your relationship? Hopes, dreams? Uncensored, stay-up-all-night-intimate talking? That’s what I mean. Keep this channel open.
3. Disarm each other.
Perhaps you’ve been feeling distant and some walls have been built that make it hard to open up. Begin your connecting time with an opening phrase like: “I love you because...”
Then the other person shares: “I love you because...”
Do that at least 15 times each. After that, I guarantee that your walls loosen and you’ll be more receptive to a deeper conversation.
4. Agree to use the relationship as a space for growth.
This means that when your partner shares something that triggers you, you try your best to stand back from it and be a partner in her growth. Meaning, you don’t take it personally.
A framework I like to use with people is this: I’m a soul and you are a soul. We’re both here on this planet together to grow. You have issues/karma/blind spots. So do I.
Our mutual goal is to help each other see these things and shift our “base qualities” into godlike ones. When our dark places show up, we can stand back with some objectivity, knowing that these are parts that need love, attention and healing. Give it.
5. Employ a “clean as you go” policy.
Deal with conflict as soon as it arises. If you can’t right away (you’re in public, your children are around), then bookmark it. Say, “Honey, when we get home later tonight, I need 15 minutes with you.” Walls get built between couples because they let slights and grievances go by that need to be processed. They don’t just evaporate because you’ve suppressed them.
Talking through these things builds deeper trust between you. It’s honest. Unspoken things clutter up the space. You eventually stumble over them.
Your intimate relationship can be a massive tool in your personal growth. Use it!
What other tools do you use for conscious growth in your intimate relationship?