According to Terry Real, relationships can and should be treated as a spiritual practice. Terry believes there is a natural harmony, disharmony, and repair cycle within relationships. Conflicts can be an adaptive step towards greater relational maturity. Yet, contemporary culture does not prepare us for long-lasting relationships based on truth and love. We keep operating based on reproduction and power rather than empathic skills. These skills include active listening, compassion, and awareness. Altogether, these allow us to understand which part of us – the adult or the child – is interacting with reality, at any given moment.
When you find yourself in a relationship that supports your growth, childhood wounds tend to surface. Terry says we end up marrying the one who is always biting our calves. Not because we are masochists, but because that’s how we grow into intimacy and learn to be vulnerable. When your partner doesn’t complain and only reflects your most beautiful side, you feel great. Such a partner won’t, however, push you towards the best version of yourself. Sure, your life might be easier, of course, but you won’t have the chance to develop yourself to the fullest.
In this current period of transition, relationship management is especially tough. We desire dedicated partners, who can live and work on shared goals and dreams. This requires a whole new level of intimacy which, although craved, is also feared. It requires us to be vulnerable, trusting, and that we grow up beyond our limitations, wounds, and traumas. This is not an easy task. It’s rather draining and energy-consuming. In such relationships, there are at least four people involved, if not more. There is your adult self, your inner child, and your partner’s adult self and inner child. Conflicts arise when one or both wounded children come out to play.
Amidst the conflict, we are not very good at spotting which part of us is coming forward and which part of our partner we’re talking to. Terry affirms you can go through the cycle seventeen times over one single dinner. Sometimes it’s hard to keep your cool and a smile on. It’s hard work and you must make sure your cup is full by making self-care a top priority. There is a clever reason why the first safety rule on airplanes is to put your oxygen mask first. The first and most important relationship you can have is the one you have with yourself. The quality of the relationship with yourself determines the quality of the relationship you have with others.
Life is about finding the right balance. That’s why a relationship can and should be a spiritual practice. If you don’t look after yourself, you can’t enjoy harmonious relationships with others. If you keep other people’s needs at bay, you can’t expect harmonious relationships with others either. In sum, we can’t run away from nature’s universal law of compensation: you get what you give. If you put others first and often disregard your own needs, others will mimic that. If you more often than not disregard other people’s needs, others will reflect that too. You need to find the right balance.
9 thoughts on “Relationships As A Spiritual Practise”
I loved how you shared that when you’re in a secure, safe relationship that this is when past traumas or unresolved issues will surface — this was eye-opening and made me realize a few things. Thanks for sharing — great post!
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I’m glad it was insightful. Sometimes we mix up our own healing pain with the quality of our relationships. They are just a mirror of what we need to work in ourselves. Thanks for reading! 🙂
There’s a lot of good stuff in this post. I think that healing in relationships can happen when people are given the space and permission to be vulnerable. When you are able to let your guard down and open yourself up to a receptive person, that’s when you can begin to face things. If walls need to stay in place as a means of protection and/ hiding, traumas will continue to manifest themselves. It is a compensation though, give and take, ebb and flow. Interesting and though-provoking post. Thanks for sharing.
~Cassie | letsgrowmom.com
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You put down in words a great amount of wisdom. Thank you. It’s not easy to be open and vulnerable. Let alone hold the feeling that we found a receptive person. I think here’s where understanding each person’s love language can be important.
Interesting to read about the adult self, the inner child, the partner’s adult self and his or her inner child. It strikes a chord with me when you say that conflicts arise when one or both wounded children come out to play. I think there is a lot of truth in that. 🙂
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Thanks, Stefan. Terry has done a wonderful work on these topics. It takes courage to see the dynamic and then work on our relationships from that point of view!
I have known people who got into relationships and did not properly heal from childhood wounds and the relationship amplified the emotions and hurts that this individual had gone through. I believe that if you don’t heal properly and before getting to a relationship it can affect the relationship the individual is in.