This week’s post is one that is very
dear to my heart as it is inspired by
the wedding of one of my college
roommates this past weekend, so
hold on tight and get excited.
As a spiritually eclectic person – I basically pick and choose from any belief system whatever feels right, true, and helpful to me- I am always open and excited to hear, see, and witness ceremonies and rituals of all sorts. Ever so often, something is conveyed that strikes a deep cord with me and makes me think for days on end. This time, the Jesuit priest who conducted my friends’ wedding ceremony – a quite witty and funny fellow himself – did just that when he said:
“The goal of marriage is to make the other person feel more alive.”
Now, we all know I like the word alive (Authentically Alive ... need I say more?!), so I was all ears and the wheels in my head started turning; tossing around this to me novel way of applying the feeling of aliveness. Replacing the word “marriage” with “relationships,” this beautiful idea is now offered up to anyone and everyone who cherishes togetherness. So,
“The goal of relationships is to make the other person feel more alive.”
I had obviously thought at length about the idea of aliveness and what that means to me as an individual. What was suddenly new was the idea of feeling alive as a primary concept that shows up not only through one’s individual, personal, inner pursuit of it, but just as much through and in the midst of relationships to others; particularly those we love most.
Above that, I had never thought of it as the PRIMARY goal and mutual gift of a relationship.
Yet, upon hearing this sentence, I immediately felt the bells of inspiration and truth ring loud and clear within me, shaking my whole body, and announcing the arrival of one of those “AHA” realizations. (Don’t you just love when that happens?!)
The thing is this: If the goal is to make our partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, friend, parents, brother, sister, neighbor, or whoever the lucky recipient is, feel more alive then we can love, give, and receive less selfishly and more freely. The focus moves away from pulling IN, reaching for, and holding on to intimacy, closeness, and connection to expanding OUT, opening up, and creating space for mutual, genuine aliveness to enter.
This allows authentic intimacy, closeness, and connection to unfold on its own, without force, fear, or willpower.
By no means does this mean that you and your loved one will be less close! Instead it means that you increase the space that your relationship can expand into. Figuratively, it’s like moving from a tiny Manhattan one-bedroom apartment with creaking floors and no closets to an enormous farmhouse that has enough space for an art studio, a soundproof drumming room, a meditation loft, and an Olympic-size pool. Now that sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?
With this in mind, I would like to challenge you to ask yourself the following questions in regard to a relationship that truly matters to you: 1) How can I add value to this person’s life that would allow them in turn to truly be who they are at their core? 2) How can I help this person to be visible to the world without hiding aspects of themselves that they fear might be judged by others? 3) How can I support this person in exploring the world around them so that they can experience life with meaning, purpose, radiance, vigor, and humor?
During this process of questioning, stay as open as possible, play with different scenarios, and check in with yourself what making another person feel more alive might feel like for you. If you feel comfortable, talk these questions out openly, share your needs and listen carefully to the other person's as well. If you don't feel ready to discuss such questions in your relationships that is perfectly ok too. Just be aware of that and begin to ask yourself why that might be. Is there fear, doubt, or perhaps a desire to control?
Wherever you are in this process, practice awareness and envision yourself and your partner, friend, or family member joining together in that farmhouse-kind-of-space, where encouraging each other's aliveness is the ultimate goal and the most genuine gift.
The clearer this vision can become the closer you are to actually living it in reality.
If you liked this post and feel that someone you know might enjoy it as well (perhaps it is this person who you want to support in feeling alive?), feel free to share the love by passing along this email, signing up for my newsletters (if you havn't already) and liking Authentically Alive on facebook. Of course, I also invite you to comment. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time, xo