I’m not going to pretend that I know much about relationships, because really I don’t. I’ve been single for many years, and am grateful for the time I’ve had to get to know myself on a deeper, loving level. I’m in my 40’s, which seems to be the age of divorce or separation, (the 20’s and 30’s were the age of marriage), and have learned over the years that the fairy tale that we are all taught and imagine (and want) it to be isn’t necessarily true.
But we have the opportunity to learn an extraordinary amount from relationships whether they work out or not. The last one I was in was the catalyst for me “waking up” to conscious living, to opening my heart, and ultimately being here, writing this blog (click here to find out why). They are a spiritual pathway if we are open to it being this, and they teach us a lot about ourselves.
There’s lots more we can learn, but I’m not going to go into that. I’ll leave the actual advice to those who know about it! What I do want to share is what I learned this past weekend from attending a Buddhist meditation retreat with a teacher from New York City named Gina Sharpe, and her husband John who accompanied her.
What I first noticed was how much respect they had for each other. While she sat at the front of the group in the teacher role, John sat as her student with complete love and support of her as she taught. It was my first experience with a women Buddhist teacher, and an extra bonus to have her husband present to witness their relationship with each other.
I had the opportunity to sit with John privately and ask him some questions. And I want to give you the picture of this man first – a person full of love, openness, warmth, joy, and peace emanating from his presence. I just loved being around him and his wife. So I asked him a question about his marriage with Gina: “What has been the foundation of your relationship?”
Here’s what he said.
“We’ve been married since 1980. My life was transformed through our relationship and meeting Gina, and this has been the foundation of our marriage:”
- Share what you’re feeling/communicating
- Say “I love you” every day, sometimes several times a day
- Take nothing for granted
- Trust each other
- And laugh – create a lightness between you
They represent what I’m holding out for in a relationship. They represent why I can’t settle for anyone just so I’m in a relationship. I’d rather be single than be with someone that I’m settling for. I know this quality of relationship exists whether it’s been a lifetime of marriage/partnership or starts later in life.
Ask yourself what matters to you in your relationship or what you want to create together, not how you want them to be different than they are, or an ideal.
And I couldn’t help myself. I asked him what he enjoys most about growing older, and he replied, “Being open to learning new things. I’ve just taken up painting in the last six months (I haven’t painted since grade school), and I LOVE IT!” and “Travel as long as you have the health to do so.” Words well said. Thank you John and Gina.