Uplevelling Addictions to Preferences. Expectations are the greatest downfall of many a relationship. We think our partners should think, act, and be the way we want them to be rather than how they really are. If one of the partners is more weak and yielding, they'll try to mold themselves to fit their partner's expectations. They may end up with great resentment in the process. If they're strong, the more the partner wants them to be a certain way, the more they'll resist or do just the opposite, as they did with their parents. In either case, one or both of the partners is not allowed the freedom to be themselves and the relationship will either be unhappy or will end.
Ken Keyes, in his wonderful book A Conscious Person's Guide to Relationships, points out that we all tend to want our partners to meet our needs and expectations. It is part of being human. In the extreme, we are continually disappointed by others who "fail us" and can never be happy with anyone else for long. He calls this overwhelming need to have others be the way we want an addiction. This means that unless they satisfy our expectations, we will be miserable. Ken recommends that we convert these expectation addic- tions into preferences. In other words, instead of saying, "If you don't change, I won't love you and I'll leave", we can say, "It would be really nice if you would change, but I'll love you and stand by you anyway." His point is that if our happiness depends on what our partners do and do not do, we're inviting disappointment.
Another close friend, in a beautiful , spiritually-bonded marriage of thirteen years with three children attri-butes their happy and lasting relationship to "kshama", Sanskrit for forgiveness. He explains that instead of tallying up all the ways he and his wife have failed to meet each other's expectations over the years, they continually forgive themselves and each other , and work towards allowing themselves to be who they are.
Sticking Together for the Long Haul. Several years ago we were invited to join a few other couples to share about relationships. One couple's marriage was on the rocks. Another couple, married for over thirty years, with several grown children, stated quite matter-of-factly that they planned to stay together for the rest of their lives, no matter what. This really gave a new meaning to the word "commit- ment". Many of us will say, "Well, how can they possibly know what the future will bring?" or " What if they fall out of love with each other? What if they fall in love with someone else? " These two people knew each other extremely well, were deeply dedicated to the same spiritual path, believed that they could learn all the lessons of this lifetime with each other, and were absolutely committed to staying together. Having been together for many years, they made this decision on a very firm footing.
If we leave one relationship without having resolved the issues which caused us to separate, we are likely to recreate a very similar scenario in our next relationship. Certainly there are times to leave a relationship and move one, but many of us get in that habit without really seeing the ful potential of the relationship that we have. We went to an astrologer a couple of years ago to better understand the pur -pose of our being together and of our miscarriages. He told us that we had been together a number of times before and had separated. He firmly instructed us to stay together this time and learn all that we could together. Those words have been good reminders to us in the past during those rough spots where we've wondered if it wouldn't be a lot easier to do it on our own. We've eventually realized that we could do it on our own and that it might indeed be easier, but not nearly as much fun.