Marriage: Healing Container of Love By recognizing your marriage as a "conscious partnership," you will begin to see your partnership as a whole. BY WENDY STRGAR
By tackling the road ahead as a team, you're love will only grow.
“ The reason that marriage has been held in such sacred esteem is that two people who are guardians for each other’s hearts is perhaps the most soulful and spiritual love that we have access to.
"For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation." ~Rilke
Imagine if we began our marriage with the vow, "I take you as my burden, to have and to hold from this day forward." Call me jaded, but I think if people understood loving someone over time is agreeing to the most enriching burden you will ever carry—we would leave one another less. We would enter the challenge of relating with our eyes open and be prepared for the serious heavy lifting love takes. We would not get married expecting it to be a long-term romantic getaway. We would know that our marriages are the most loving chance we have in maturing and growing stronger… together.
I was heartened when I heard Dr. Stan Tatkin, author of "Wired for Love," echo this belief on my radio show last week. His book and the therapy model identify that the highest purpose of any intimate relationship is to build a "couple bubble" whose job is to maintain security and safety for both partners to grow and develop. In this scenario, it is the relationship that comes first. This level of commitment has also been referred to as a "conscious partnership," where both partners recognize their marriage is not about either partner, but about itself as a whole.
Ironically, it is when you honor the commitment to this third reality—by being more responsible to the needs of the relationship than your own needs—that real transformation and healing takes place. When you make your marriage primary and your own needs secondary, you produce the paradoxical effect of getting your needs met in a way they can never be met by making them primary. It is, in fact, where the deep and magical reciprocity of love lives and flourishes. When you pour love into the container of your love with someone else, you discover a foundation of strength and a space of acceptance that cannot come from a desire to meet your own needs.
The truth is that none of us enter our intimate relationships unscathed. We all bring our own version of high maintenance, unresolved needs that occur throughout our early years of learned attachment. Our pairing later in life is our attempt to heal the broken places inside of us. Furthermore, we generally choose well when we find our mates to work on those issues. What we don’t have is the understanding that this is the work of life. We get swept up in the romance and forget how profoundly annoying human beings are. We refuse the messy work necessary to grow beyond the early wounds we bring to love.
The miracle of the container, "the couple bubble," is that when you can agree to hold the space sacred between you and your spouse, when your partner’s sense of security and safety with you is as important to you as your own, you are transported to a new level of reliable and sustainable presence that transforms your deepest and oldest pain into something workable, lovable even, just by being held in loving attention.
So, if you want to give something that matters start here. Begin by honoring and being responsible to the container of your relationship. Let its needs guide your priorities and behavior. Let go of your own needs and trust that they will be met in this container. And yes, both people have to be grown up enough to want this to work, otherwise it is just another kind of co-dependency.
The reason that marriage, or any kind of relationship that is a closed loop, has been held in such sacred esteem is that two people who are guardians for each other’s hearts is perhaps the most soulful and spiritual love that we have access to. It is not for the faint of heart or for those who think they are lucky when they find it.
Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, "Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy," she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13-23 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.