Among the daily disaster stories of broken hearts, dreams and marriages, there are huge beacons of light extending ever outwards keeping the pills of committed relationships alive and strong. Beacons of light in the form of happy, long and solid partnerships untouched by therapeutic or counseling intervention.
You may, with a small cynical smirk, say "yes but I bet those relationships are symbiotic and unhealthy, where one person must be pandering to the needs of the other and deep down harboring huge grudges". Yes there are some of those for sure, but what of those marriages and partnerships that are flying in the face of the 50% global divorce rates, where longevity reigns and donkeys years later they are as happy and fulfilled as the day they laid eyes on each other?
The beauty of online social networking recently collided me with a Facebook friend called Steve, who sent me a message to say thankfully he did not need my help because his marriage to Coral has just reached its 30 year anniversary. Delighted and warmed by his words, I got to wondering just what does keep love alive for that long nowdays? I asked him if he would share with us his insights from his long and happy marriage and was thrilled when he agreed!
Reading his answers and bearing in mind the ingredients for conscious relationship, it appears that two people who genuinely love each other, do not need outside help because they just get that it IS what you can offer the relationship and each other, rather than what you can take from it, that makes it work.
1) How long have you and Coral been married and how old are your children?
Coral and I have been married for 30 years this last September. We have two children. Shaw, my son, 27 and my daughter Shirling, 25.
2) How did you guys meet and how quickly did you know you wanted to be together long term?
Coral and I met on a blind date. We hit it off straight away. By the end of the evening I felt as if I had known her for years instead of just the few hours.
Imago theory states that the feeling of "I felt as if I had known her for years" is the unconscious "matching" process stimulated by the brain and body chemicals that bonds us for the work of completion from childhood into wholeness or full adulthood. Our search is essentially an unconscious one for someone, in the main, who will create the right conditions for healing negative childhood experiences. We re-create those same conditions together in order to replay the old "movie" and get it right this time around! Deep and profound, I know, but life was not meant to feel bad, so we attempted to replay the less pleasant parts of our past to forge a happier and resolved outcome! You still with me? This person replicates the energy and habits of one or both of our parents, since the feeling of "knowing" them forever. It's an ancient "ah ha" knowing. Moving on!
3) Did you have matching goals for a relationship then? If not how did you find your way together?
We did not have any goals as such when we started dating; we just took each day as it came. Luckily our feelings for each other stronger stronger every day, everything just felt so right. We just wanted to be together as much and as often as we could. We did not have to find a way. It was just a natural progression. We went with the flow.
The feeling of naturalness and ease is beautiful. Our bodies are in sync chemically and physically and we feel an effortless ease with ourselves and the world. The potential for completeness and oneness with ourselves. So maybe we do not need common goals in the logical sense. Maybe it IS all in the feeling, the instinct, the rightness and Divine intent at play!
4) What do you believe are the key ingredients to a long term and happy marriage?
I think THE key ingredient to a happy long term relationship is to never ever stop courting each other. Always be boyfriend and girlfriend no matter how old you get and always respect each other as much as you did on that first date!
So keeping the honeymoon phase alive each day by doing something appreciative! What great advice Steve. So easy to let things slip, but a little gentle regular nurturing is no effort at all really. Simple stuff but these little gestures keep you connected and stop the chasm starting to form.
5) Conflict and more difficult times are a normal stage of any relationship. How do you both navigate through those times together and how do you resolve conflict?
Conflict depends on the circumstances. If I get upset or lose my temper, I always go away and firstly look at myself and ask myself a question, "Who is really right?". Invariably it is Coral! But logic kicks in and I apologise and admit that she is right and I was wrong. Or, if the other way around, I calmly sit down and explain why I think I am right and Coral admits that I may be right and she is wrong.
It's down to communication and the ability to hear the other person's side of the argument or problem and then resolve it. Talk to each other rather than charge at each other like a bull in a china shop, and listen to each other honestly. Try to understand the other's point of view rather than always expecting to be right on every occasion.
Wonderful stuff. Conscious communication fueled by the desire every time to be self aware and responsible for owning your stuff. A game for two not one! Steve and Coral both have a willingness to resolve conflict with honest discussion and also with a wanting to make it right again.
6) What would you say are the major irritations in marriage and why?
I do not think there are any major irritations in marriage! Any major irritations originate from within us, through not understanding situations and circumstances. We have met many challenges in our marriage, but have always stood side by side and faced them together and over them.
Wise words indeed. What we feel is our stuff to own. The art of conscious communication is knowing how to clearly articulate what is coming up and to help each other feel safe enough to let the words be and to offer empathy and support.
7) How do you keep the romance alive even after bringing up children?
Keeping romance alive is so easy! I do not think anyone need ask this question. I love Coral to bits and have no problem, what so ever, in telling her every single day of our lives. I show it by always giving her a great big hug at every chance … morning, noon and night and holding her hand whenever we go out. I buy her flowers just for the fun of it and get her a Monday or a Tuesday present or an "any day" present just to see her smile and let her know that I love her. We take each other out to dinner. She gets up with me at 01:30 in the morning to make sure I have a cup of tea and a bit of breakfast before going to work. She is on on it! Nothing I say will make her stay in bed. Genuinely caring for each other and each other's feelings keeps the romance alive.
Beautiful! It's all about thought and kindness. Does not take much does it! We are programmed to experience and give joy. It is our natural essence. I wonder then that this "constancy" of keeping the romantic elements alive, keeps the negative thoughts and feelings naturally at bay?
8) Some people talk of drifting apart after having kids … why do you think that happens and how did you manage to keep your relationship strong?
People drift apart because they do not leave time in the day for each other when the kids are around. Coral and I always made time in the day for each other. We shared the chores of bringing up the kids so had time for each other. Many people spend no time together because the children take all the focus, then the parents lose focus of each other and slowly and unwittingly grow apart. Suddenly they look at each other over the table after a few years and no longer recognize the person that they are looking at. They have forgotten the tender kisses, the warmth, and the cuddles they use to share. They no longer hear the whisper of love in each other's ears, or feel the warmth of a loving touch. It's not just about sex, but a warm touch of your hand on hers just to say I love you and am here with you and always will be.
9) Conscious Relationships require heaps of self awareness / responsibility. Do you both own what you put into your relationship?
I am aware of my relationship, my feelings for my wife and her feelings for me. Do I own what I put into my relationship? No, I do not own it. I live it with every breath I breathe. I am aware that I am a very lucky man to have such a fantastic wife and lover. Someone who feels a part of my soul and part of my life force.
Steve put's it so well. He lives his relationship! His commitment to Coral and hers to him shines through with every word. They are at the top of each other's list of life values every day.
10) Being authentic or being yourself is critical to leading a happy and fulfilled life. Do you allow each other the freedom to be authentic and how?
Yes! After 30 years of sharing our lives together we can do nothing else. You have to be yourself. It would be impossible to be anything else and expect it to work because some time or another the cracks will show and the walls will come tumbling down. Always be yourself and accept each other for what you both are. We are all individual people. Marriage does not give consent of ownership of each other. We still need respect and freedom as people.
Could not have put it better myself!
11) What advice would you give to other people in relationships who are struggling?
I would not try to advise other people unless I knew why they are struggling. There are a million reasons why relationships fail. All I can say is … nothing is too high to climb or too wide to cross if you really sincerely love each other. Be there for each other. Remember the first time you met. You would have moved mountains to do things for each other. So go and find that mountain if you really honestly love each other and give that mountain a bloody good shove!
So there you have it. Advice from a couple who have been there, seen it and done it and are as happy today, as they were when they met. The secrets?
There are none. Being loving and offering love is what it's all about. What I get from reading this however, as Conscious Union evolves and understands some of the mysteries of people and love, is that a commitment to help each other grow through life and not trying to get your needs met first, is the master key to the creation of a conscious relationship.
Steve and Coral show us that, despite the complicated nature of many people who get stuck in "he did this to me or she said that", showing love consistently no matter what the relationship weather, keeps love alive. It seems so simple but when a relationship exists from the heart, it is just that … simple.
Make love your present this Christmas.