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As I reflect on how peaceful I feel in my marriage now, after 32 years, I cannot help but experience some regret for the many years I wasted in resentment and frustration.
I’ll correct myself right away: life experience is never wasted. Those difficult years served the alchemical process of transformation, from lead to gold.
What’s been transforming, however, was not my marriage.
Nor was it my husband, who changed for me to feel better.
And oh, I tried. Like many women on the path of awakening and growth, I felt superior to my husband and threatened him to “get with the new program…or else.”
Feeling attacked, shocked at how quickly I went from seemingly happy to angrily unhappy, my husband refused to change. The distance between us kept growing as each of us separately started to imagine life apart.
The assumption with which so many of us live—that a relationship or other people will make us happy—is at the source of much of our suffering.
It certainly caused much suffering for me. When circumstances changed and I no longer felt happy in my life, I blamed my husband for it. I held him responsible for my unhappiness, just like I had attributed my happiness to him before.
The belief that love is something that we get from other people is simply a misunderstanding. A sign of arrested emotional development. A frozen imprint from childhood when what felt like love was having our needs met.
What we actually crave is a feeling.
We chase the euphoria of being in love, that feeling of comfort, security, abundance, and hope. We come to associate these feelings with the person with whom we are in relationship, anointing them responsible for the way we feel.
What many of us do not realize is that when we fall in love, no one actually gives us anything. This intoxicating and blissful feeling we experience is actually our own energy rising as a result of our own internal psycho-emotional process. The other person merely acts as a catalyst of this process, temporarily allowing us access to the inherent sense of fullness and abundance within.
This is why we tend to believe that these people hold the key to our happiness.
Because of this belief that our love is delivered from someone on the outside, we also hold them responsible for our lack of love.
But lack of love is an illusion. Love is our birthright, our natural state.
As such, it is not person-specific.
To get to the peaceful state in my marriage where I find myself today, the only person who had to change was me. Taking the frustrated focus off of my husband and diving within was a game changer.
I spent many years trying to understand what could actually make me happy. And what I found was that my feelings of love were more driven by my own past baggage, expectations, and (limiting) beliefs than by the man who is my husband.
I also understood how my inner child used to run my relationship—demanding, blaming, projecting. Now I try to show up as the 56-year-old woman that I am. Although the little me still tantrums sometimes, it is more rare and I catch it pretty quickly.
It actually has little to do with my husband. He’s just the screen on which I used to project my pain.
Most importantly, I learned what love means to me. What it takes for me to be happy. How to stop outsourcing these feelings to people over whom I have no control, and how to tap into that abundant and nurturing energy within.
And this is what I now bring into my marriage: my love, my happiness, my peace.
When I found the source of love within me, I stopped demanding it or begging for it, and started offering. What we bring into our relationships is what we get to experience within them.
Is my relationship perfect now? Do I live in a constant state of bliss?
Not at all. Life continues being life, with its challenges and disappointments side by side with joys and pleasures.
What is different now is that I see when I project my pain onto my husband, and can apologize when I am being unfair. I also no longer take him for granted, and consciously connect to gratitude for all the ways he makes my life more enjoyable. He is not the reason for my happiness, but I enjoy sharing my happiness with him.
My love, except for the rare moments when I forget its source, no longer wavers with life’s trials and tribulations.
My love is mine. It lives within me. And access to it is in my own control, the result of daily choices, careful cultivation, and a lot of permission.
I know that no matter who comes in or out of my life, my love remains. I experience it as a state of satiety and fullness. There is no craving for more.
What about you? Do you feel your love? Is yours person-specific?
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