On Relationships

The following excerpt on having harmonious relationships is taken from Loving in the Moment: Moving from Ego to Essence in Relationships by Gina Lake at Radical Happiness.
There are two ways to keep out of trouble in our relationships. The first is to ignore our own conditioning—our desires and ideas about how things should be. The second is to ignore or accommodate our partner's conditioning. Trouble starts when we are attached to having our own conditioning met, when we try to change our partner's conditioning, or when we let it trigger ours. So much of the conditioning that causes difficulties in relationships is very minor and wouldn't be a problem if we would let our partner do things the way he or she does them, without trying to change it just because it's different from how we do things. Does it really matter if your partner doesn't wring out the dishrag after using it? Or leaves hair or toothpaste in the sink? Or has bad table manners? Or drives too cautiously? Or insists on reading the newspaper in the morning before doing anything else? These and so many other little things that annoy us in relationship are just not important. They are not more important than love. Can you just let them go? Can you just let your partner be the way he or she is?

If you can, the rewards are great. He or she will surely love you. Acceptance allows your partner to relax and just be. It allows him or her to drop into Essence, and from Essence love flows. This acceptance will come back to you, so you can just relax and be in Essence too. Acceptance is quite simple, really, but it's powerful. It's wise not to underestimate its importance in relationships. Acceptance is a quality of Essence, and when you choose it, you choose Essence over the ego.

In many cases, accepting our partner's way of being is just a matter of counteracting any complaints the ego has with a positive statement of acceptance, such as, "Let it be," "Everything is perfect," "Love is more important than this," or "He's just the way he is." These are expressions of truth from Essence, and we can use expressions like these to neutralize or change our relationship to our egoic mind, which judges and resists the many ways our partner is different from us. We can remind ourselves: "That's just the ego. There it goes again, trying to cause trouble!" Conflict is not inevitable in relationships, and we can learn to avoid it through ignoring our partner's conditioning and letting him or her just be the way he or she is. This is one of the greatest gifts we can give someone.

As part of this acceptance, we can even go along with our partner's conditioning (desires) sometimes, out of kindness. For instance, if your partner wants you to drive a little faster, why not? Or if she wants you to wring out the dishrag or keep the bathroom sink clean, why not? Why wouldn't you do these little things if it pleases your partner? People who love and accept and respect each other sometimes do what doesn't come naturally; they do so out of love, to maintain harmony, which is good for everyone. We do these little things because they are good for the relationship. We put the relationship and love before our own tendencies. Doing things the way we do them is not more important than love. When we live with someone, being flexible and considerate in small ways yields big results: love. The ego is not cooperative and considerate; only Essence is. When we emulate Essence, we always win.

With all this talk about accepting conditioning, it is important to be clear that not all conditioned behavior should be accepted. Behavior that is abusive is not acceptable, not only because no one deserves abuse, but also because a relationship can't survive it. You don't accept abusive actions and speech from your partner because you value yourself, because abusive actions and speech are not good for your relationship, and because it's not good for your partner to be allowed to behave that way. Essence accepts, but it doesn't accept abuse because it is pro-life and pro-love. Essence doesn't allow itself to be victimized. It says no to negativity, hatred, and abuse. To do anything else is to be an accomplice to or enabler of negativity and harm.

Putting your foot down in this regard is a simple matter of stating that you won't tolerate your partner speaking to you or behaving toward you in an abusive way. Anything you or your partner have to say to each other can be stated clearly, cleanly, and without blame, anger, judgment, or criticism. It is imperative that you learn to speak to each other this way rather than in a way that creates further negativity. There are lots of books available that teach how to communicate nonviolently. It's unfortunate that this most important skill isn't taught in school.

We are here to learn love, and relationships teach this. If your relationship isn't helping you to learn love, but, instead, is fostering enmity, then you need to consider leaving it. If interactions within your relationship are overwhelmingly negative or abusive, and you are unable to turn that behavior around, then it's likely that you and your partner aren't meant to be together. If you have tried everything you can to transform the negativity within you and within your relationship and you haven't succeeded, then staying in that relationship might not be appropriate. Sometimes love means loving yourself enough to leave a negative or an abusive situation.

~ Gina Lake

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