Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of its troubles, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility, for it thinks all things are lawful for itself and all things are possible…
– Thomas Kempis
The perfect couple. We’ve all met them, haven’t we…or at least, we think we have. We think of them as those two people so clearly made for each other.
We feel certain they’re on the highway to happiness but that road is riddled with many distractions and accidental detours. However, even seemingly perfect couples can find themselves…at a dead end…without the tiniest glimmer of hope.
It is not that these couples have no future with each other, but that our mainstream definition of perfection is heavily tainted by unrealistic expectations. While we know, ‘perfect’ cannot exist in physical space-time, we do not cease to aim for excellence. We do so, as we wish to fulfill our highest possible potential. However, to attain such heights…to become whole…to be in complete harmony with all-that-is means we (mathematically) cease to exist. In practice, there are theories, legends and stories of those, who’ve achieved such a state. One more mystical than the following, yet they share common denominators. For example, the courage to look within oneself, the ability to show compassion instead of judgement, the wisdom to know nothing is beyond reason or so forth. Still, few tales of enlightenment are love stories. Personally, I only know of a handful. Some are intensely sexual, focusing on the tantric aspects of cosmic unity, like the story of Nalakubara. Then, there are others of dutiful, solemn devotion, such as the epic of Shiva and Kali.
When we examine the greatest love stories of human history, we find they are wrought with misery, separation and insatiable longing. For instance, in the case of Napoleons desire for Josephine. Although he wished to despise her for the way she treated him, he could not. Her repeated absences to their rendezvous only made him want to claim her as his even more. She rarely replied to his poetic love letters in a fashion that’d be deserving of such selfless affection. It took years before she warmed up to him and even then, his affection was largely unreciprocated.
To elaborate, what we often imagine to be this grand, flawless love so many speak of doesn’t truly exist. It is in those little moments of weakness, in which we expose ourselves completely when mutually deep connections are forged. Naturally, it isn’t always simple to distinguish the good guys or gals from the bad. When we leave ourselves vulnerable, we are taking the risk to be injured for how we think, feel or are. Sometimes, it will hurt beyond the imagination…but sinners can surprise us, the same goes for saints. We are so eager to define others as purely good or evil, we overlook our reluctance to accept the truth…that compassion and cruelty can live side by side in one heart…that through choice, anyone is capable of anything.
Compromise Creatively: We all want different things compared to our partner sometimes, therefore it is essential to work together in order to find an acceptable solution for both partners. More importantly, do not merely agree to a bad deal, because it is easier. It cannot be stressed enough, a compromise has to be mutual. Both men and women can cave, as they believe they will be rewarded in some way later on…But, there are no guarantees.
In my personal opinion, I get where men are coming from when they attend the opera once a year (though most despise every minute) in order to get lucky. More often than not, if they come clean about how they feel, they are chastised for it. However, I equally understand how difficult it is for women, when the compromise isn’t honoured or postponed indefinitely. Yet, I feel most for those people, for whom compromising isn’t an option.
Forgive: Everyone makes mistakes on occasion. Some we may easily let slide as poor judgement, whereas others represent a breach of trust that may end the relationship. If it is not worth breaking up for, maybe brood a while and be the bigger person by making the first step to reconciliate. Furthermore, it is vital to communicate extensively about what exactly happened, why it occurred, how it can be avoided in the future and then damage repaired.
Be Involved & Committed: Love may begin with mental, emotional as well as physical attraction but it ends in commitment. Commitment is inherent in any genuinely loving relationship. Anyone who is truly concerned for the spiritual growth of another knows, consciously or instinctively, that he or she can significantly foster that growth only through a relationship of constancy (eg. by being involved consistently). This does not mean crossing boundaries before their time. Occasionally, we all need time to ourselves or are not yet ready to share certain aspects of our lives with others. If our partner feels that way, we must respect it. If we struggle with this, a rather uncomfortable trick is to mirror the commitment and involvement of the person, we are with, until they are prepared to move the relationship to the next level.
Everyone must choose the path they are going to take in life. And for a special few, their road will lead them to loved ones who accompany them along the way. Though not each one will be by our side at the end of the journey, we must remember the good times fondly without wishing for what could have been. When we do, we cannot fully appreciate or be thankful for all we have in the here and now.
Regardless what we have endured in the past, in order to be a part of a healthy relationship, we must move forward with the knowledge and experience, which we have gained so far. Sooner or later, we learn there is no such thing as the perfect couple. What may be perfect for us, might just be torment for someone else. Perfect is different from everyone. For most, the ultimate relationship experience must be tailored to what we identify with as a person. For a small percentage, however, it has to meet higher needs of their consciousness development at the time in rare and powerful ways.
Maslow’s Pyramid Transformed
Maslows pyramid of basic as well as advanced requirements represent a universal hierarchy of needs present in all forms of life. It permeates every aspect of our existences, since our wants and desires are interlinked from the lowest to the highest. The implications of his work on relationships are too deep-reaching (yes, the word actually exists according to the internet) to explain as a side-note. If you wish to read more on the subject, please click here.
For now, we must only understand the impact our requirements have on functioning in complete harmony as a couple. It is lovely to believe ‘all you need is love’, when there is food on our table, money for rent, bills and luxuries…However, no relationship is likely to be trouble-free indefinitely.
When how we meet our needs is affected outside of our control, it has a definite impact. Therefore, how both partners respond to adversity decides on whether the relationship stands a chance. For instance, he may balance her, while she is breaking down due to the situation or she might console him when things aren’t working out as planned. Some examples of how relationships can be influenced when we fail to meet our needs as follows:
- Survival: Sudden Life-Threatening Events, Acute or Chronic Illness
(Support, Companionship, Trauma Bonding, )
- Security: Homelessness, Unemployment, Financial Instability
(Trauma Bonding, Shared Loss, True Acceptance)
- Sexuality: Infertility, PCOS, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, Erectile Dysfunction, Premature Ejaculation
(Increased Emotional Intimacy, Shared Problem-Solving)
- Belonging: Societal Exclusion, Social Rejection, Isolation, Absence of Support Network, Unable to Feel Completely Accepted, Poor Work Performance, Lack of Social Skills, Overwhelming Responsibilities
(Confidence, Personal Power, Contentment, Trust, Growing Intimacy, Strong Affinity, Self-Improvement)
- Love: Bereavement, Trauma, Conflict, Pain
(Communication, Compassion, Empathy, Solace, Healing)
- Cognitive: Lack of Self-Awareness, Depression, Anxiety, Mood Swings, Misconception, Pessimistic Attitude or Outlook
(Experiential Knowledge, Intuition, Mental/Psychic Connection)
- Meaning: Blind Faith, Unanswered Questions, Lack of Experiences to Draw Conclusion, Inner Restlessness
(Truth, Self-Realisation, Unity)
As a relationship progresses, it deepens. We begin to learn more about each others behaviour on a day to day basis. Ideally, we adapt to each others habits. For the first three to six months, couples are often more eager to please according to personal preferences. After the honeymoon phase ends, this changes for some, whereas for others, it becomes more involved a part of a new, shared routine that continues to evolve over decades.
Needless to say, relationships consist of give and take. However, no daliance can survive giving with the expectation to receive in the long run. When we give out of live, we do so not because we are obligated or anticipate something in exchange…We do so, because it is in giving that we receive. In modern relationships, we often expect others to live according to a certain standard (eg. car, job, apartment, washing machine…) In theory, there is nothing wrong with societal standards, divided into classes. Yet, it is not put into practice correctly by truly providing everyone with equal opportunities in life. For instance, there are usually physical, mental or emotional factors to be considered, when people date or marry outside their social class…since how we think, dress and act is conditioned by those whose influence over us is greatest growing up.
On a related note, women are more likely to abandon previously healthy marriages to escape poverty, particularly when there are children involved.
Nobody is perfect. Only by working on ourselves may we genuinely improve the quality of a long-term, monogamous relationship. Of course, there are partner with whom we are more of less compatible…with whom our probability of lasting success is higher compared to others. Nevertheless, there’ll always be those behavioural quirks or attitudes, which annoy or irritate. Simply put, we cannot force others to change.
In the ideal relationship, we are free from judgement for who we appear to be. Quirks, habits, random thoughts and all….can there be anything closer to perfection than complete acceptance on every level of our being?
So, have you met the perfect couple? The two spirits whose love endures life after life and never dies? The two lovers whose relationship can overcome any threat…whose loyalty is never tried? The husband and wife who trust each other completely against the odds?
If you haven’t, let me introduce you… They stand atop a layer of butterscotch frosting, reminding us the only real union we may achieve in love is becoming one with the cosmos through the eyes of another.