Broken relationships are so frequent in our changing society that one wonders why spiritual counseling has not brought forth more books on the subject to be of help to those suffering the aftermath. To be aware of who one is, where one is, and what one hopes to accomplish in life is the real foundation for building lasting relationships.
Relationships are the spiritual tests urging the soul onward. The emotional immaturity of one partner gradually increases strain. The woman's desire for a career of her own or for building a family place another early strain on the relationship. The man's desire to avoid discussion and problem solving gradually builds silences which discourage open communication. Eventually, one makes the break. The sad truth must be faced. The illusions of what each thought was happening obscure the clear view that two people can live together without realizing one of the pair was not emotionally or mentally fulfilled. The end is always a traumatic experience. Few can stand to be alone long enough to really get over one disillusionment before getting involved in another relationship. Time is needed to say goodbye and to find new purpose in life. Goals change as transitions occur.
Healing the Pain of a Broken Relationship
Very often, relationships will fall into a pattern wherein the roles may be described as:
THE INSTIGATOR OR REJECTOR - The one who is a "taker" is not completed by the relationship for s/he soon realizes that the "giver" can run dry. When the "giver" flees the nest or begins to put defenses against depletion s/he gets hooked on guilt feelings. Then the personality attacks begin.
THE REJECTED - The "giver", accepting the flow of life, usually cannot understand why love was not enough to make the relationship work. The mothering instinct in feminine women spontaneously is amused; then she finds herself generously willing to supply the little boy syndrome. The need to be needed fulfills her in the beginning. In time it becomes a burden for it soon is taken for granted that what the man does not wish to take on can easily be transferred to the "little boy". One day the terrible truth dawns - "I have not been building a man, I've been perpetuating immature wants."
Just as prevalent are men who find it cute or sweet for a woman to need little things done for her. When eventually he observes his mate using the same script on other men, he realizes she is playing a game to escape life's duties. Confrontation only brings about denial and tears and is followed by his own guilt feelings. It doesn't change the "taker's" personality. The cute tricks and indecisiveness is seen through and self-protectiveness undermines the relationship.
Failing this, both "giver" and "taker" go through a grieving process, blaming the other for hurts, inadequacies and unmet expectations of the love relationship. Finally, the survivor will admit exhaustion and be forced to make the break.
Saying goodbye is traumatic and demands making choices. There are three choices for getting over an old love affair. One may carry the hurt feelings and anger into the next relationship as soon as opportunity offers. Thus one escapes facing up to personal failures, blaming the other partner for the crash. (New environment, new act, new "lead", same script.)
Or one may decide to live the rest of life alone, burying oneself in career, child care, or just working to the point of fatigue, so that one has no time to think about it and unravel the maze of confused thoughts.
The third option, which will make for real change and opportunity for expansion and growth, is to give oneself permission to grieve without feelings of shame or self-recrimination for failure to achieve the impossible dream of the perfect relationship. Feeling pain and allowing it to happen despite fear of falling into the pit forever is a necessary part of the grieving process.
Taking control of grief and letting go has some common hurdles to cross. Looking at old snapshots, listening to songs once shared with the partner, returning to familiar haunts recycle the old feelings. Remind oneself, "It's over!" Ask oneself, "How do I feel when I'm not hiding from me?" Most suffering is self inflicted.
One must stop dropping into personal consciousness of the broken heart, but this does not mean ignoring what is happening in the present. Reflection leads to the discovery of new aspects of self, revealed in the role one played. Discover the source of rejection in the earlier transitions of one's life - at 2-1/2, 5, 7, and 9 years of age.
Conflicting feelings of guilt and resentment are bound to arise: S/he made it happen." "I feel guilty because I knew the relationship was failing and I wouldn't admit it to myself."
To create a new environment, Wazifas maybe used. Inhale Ya Quddus exhale Ya Hayy. After every 10 repetitions, make a decision and a positive affirmation to oneself.
"It is definitely over and behind me."
Positive affirmation: "I have survived." "I can go on."
Evaluation: "Certain events are bound to follow my decision."
Knowing what to expect can't stop the pain, but can give the perspective necessary to move through the grieving process.
The Five Stages of Mourning a Broken Relationship
Initially, one is in shock. One avoids anything that might cause pain, putting off accepting the end of the relationship. Repressing grief - "keeping face" - results in physical ills: headaches, ulcers, heart attack, colitis, etc. etc. Give yourself permission to grieve. Pain makes room to move on. Tell yourself, "Why is it so scary? I've weathered other storms in life."
Shock is followed by depression (i.e. self-inflicted pain). In this stage one is burying the dead love, acknowledging the pain and hurt inside. "I never knew the heart could really pain before this happened," many will confess.
Pain in the Emotional Body has its symptoms - fear of the future, feeling abandoned, rejected, worthless, alone, without a comforter. To help release the pain, practice feeling the center of "uptight". Talk to yourself, ramble.
Tell yourself, "It's dead!" Using imagined dialogue with the ex-mate helps to come to new perspectives. Words, crying, screaming are a normal part of the process. Darood is the best practice. Do "Toward the One" perpetually so that the soul's goal is not lost sight of. Also, the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer is appropriate and applicable to this stage of mourning:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to tell the difference.
The next stage, anger, is the first step toward really breaking away. "What was I fighting to hold onto? What I imagined was mine forever was an illusion. The commitment was one sided." At this point there is an unconscious fear of dying to self. Cry! Scream! Say out loud what you're feeling over and over again. "Why me? Why did s/he have to do it like that?" Look back at yourself and the experience. What did you learn?
After anger, resignation follows. Resignation means looking realistically at what you actually have lost. You're still a survivor! This is a period of problem solving and readjustment. There is a sensation of being disconnected from the old environment and friends. It is a lonely time but it too will pass.
The pain is less each time you face it. You are dealing with the "old you". The "new you" has not yet fully emerged.
Life is beginning to flow again. When one begins to proceed with one's life, one has entered the new phase: acceptance. It's time to change environment, job, profession, if you haven't yet fled the old nest. Even one's personality will change - the self-image, the life-style will be the opposite pole of the old life.
These five stages of mourning continue to cycle until all the questions and problems are met or set aside. The stages must be experienced; there is no easy escape.
Forming Lasting Relationships
There are four great initiations in Womanhood; the purpose of them in our lives is the overcoming and mastery of fear, which belongs to our lower nature. Until they are completed, the establishing of firm relationships cannot be attained. They are:
1. Fear of the loss of mother. (Being alone, darkness.) This begins in normal early childhood development.
2. Fear of blood. (First menses.)
3. Fear of male attack. (Loss of power.)
4. Fear of loss of identity, selfhood. (Not being recognized as a person with human rights.)
These four transitions synthesize the nine initiations, the "Lesser Mysteries" as taught in the Mystery Schools of Ancient Greece.
The climax of these four initiations is the ordeal of spiritually realizing that one dwells on "the Threshold." Spiritual awakening is imminent. The search for a Guide begins.
Then the four Greater Mysteries are entered. They are:
1. Beauty, which we meet in adolescence.
2. Joy. (Falling in love for the first time.)
3. Ecstasy. (Birth of first child.)
4. Love and service to humanity, which leads one to seek a meaningful profession.
The four great initiations into Manhood deal with the overcoming and Mastery of the Lower Nature. They are:
1. Fear of loss of mother, or prime caretaker. This may be carried over to a mate.
2. Fear of loss of sexuality.
3. Fear of losing power; sexually and mentally.
4. Fear of loss of individuality.
All are linked to the Elemental Breaths and begin in the denseness of our consciousness where they are refined into higher mind and result in courage to overcome and to survive. This leads to attaining the purpose of life Toward the One.
At the basis of all friendship is the Grace and Friendship of God. Friendship requires the Divine Manner: beneficence, bringing happiness and pleasure to another; the disinterested attitude of gaining through another's friendship, overlooking the faults of another.
In order to be able to become involved without losing personal freedom, one must learn to be a visitor on Earth. Watch your body. Remember: "It's not me. I live in it as housing only. My soul is driven only by my spirit." Watch your thinking. In this manner one gains ascendancy over the thinking process. Our thoughts are conditioned, a product of nature. Observe thoughts connected with self and possessions. It's a mechanism. Watch your personality. The self-image; the inheritance from family, angelic beings, culture, environment - all of this is the changing personality. It's not really YOU. It supports your being. Work with it as you would work with a clay model. You can talk to your personality objectively. Perfect it.
In the Sufi view, there is an Eternal Singular Identification that the awakened one sees, free of a personal vantage point. Experience yourself as the consciousness of God in meditation.
Lasting relationships are built on the foundation of friendship. After the initial infatuation and through the disillusionment of the dream, what can salvage the relationship will be the friendship you take the effort to build.
Question and Answer Period
Q: Is it important to ascertain how the missing partner is experiencing the separation?
A: No! That's hanging on to your own ego needs. Realizations do come at clear moments - communicate them only if it helps you. Otherwise, just mark time. Set a time when you meditate alone. Then phone and exchange experiences. This promotes honesty. If it ends in squabbling, just cut the call.
Q: Why are relationships broken?
A: Lack of adjustment to the growth of two individuals. If one stops the outer goals or inner growth of the other, a break is inevitable.
Q: What is the "New Age" relationship?
A: When eagles fly together, each goes its own direction, but if one gets too far away, the other turns and returns to its partner. Respect for one another's soul goal absolutely. Cooperate at home on various projects. Give freedom for personal growth. Committed relationship does not mean possession. In the old days, a person on the Spiritual Path was supposed to be celibate. Nowadays, new values are emerging. Relationships today call for detachment as well as attachment; faithfulness in physical commitment with freedom to grow in the work we choose to serve humanity with.
Q: What are the possibilities for relationships for a middle aged woman?
A: Partnership at that age-level is changing, but the Hindu teachings - with some changes - may guide the way. People who are loners and people who are in couples must be more open to friendships with "outsiders". 50% of couples are miserable with one another. That's got to change. Psychologists will be the prophets of the New Era. Galaxies of Crusaders will be working for people - helping them make their lives more beautiful. Respect and acceptance of growth in relationships beyond the age of retirement will cross age lines.
Relationships between middle-aged women and younger men are becoming more acceptable in America. Many younger men need the mature woman's balance to complete the soul's goal.
Q: Is fasting feasible for a married woman with children?
A: Yes, but not always advisable. Murshid did not recommend it for all. Fasting has advantages and disadvantages. It can be masochistic in some ways. One becomes too weak to move in Zikr. One has loss of voice, too. For retreat, a diet of rice, lentils and fruit juice is wise. But fasting is not for everyone. Illumination isn't dependent upon fasting! Nature inclines one to stay on a water fast during illness. A Mother can quite easily fast on one juice that is harmonious with her chemistry for one day a week such as Saturday, when her children are off and away on their own adventures. Without disturbing meal schedules for her family it can be done. If one wishes to detoxify from contaminated air, sprays on vegetables, etc., a weekly day of fasting builds self discipline and clears the system.
Q: Should women be ready to share with the work, in and out of the home?
A: Men expect this in current relationships. Awakened women demand more eventually. Each partner must support mutual couple's goals as well as having the freedom to develop his or her own goal. A mutual goal must grow out of the relationship. When a relationship begins with goals that are unacceptable to both parties, a break is imminent. The warning symptoms of a relationship beginning to break down show up when the woman relinquishes her power regarding her goal. She then tends to be devious, then devastated. The man can't meet this - he runs, or tunes her out.
The career fulfilled woman must support the man in his search. That means his career is being put first and hers is put in storage. If the woman can find fulfillment in nurturing her man's goals the relationship will last awhile. Eventually the woman's personal goals will surface. Archetypal feminine values come into a relationship after 3 or 4 months. Women are in authority, power, and leadership roles today. The effect of this on society is to push men to be communicative to women. Often men see only two options - recede or argue. They may give too much to hold the peace, and then lose the opportunity to grow which mutual give and take promotes. Or they may refuse to communicate what their own goals are. A mutual goal beyond the personal goal lets couples grow and develop.
Q: When does "living together" end and commitment to marriage begin?
A: 2-1/2 years should do it . The woman should call "times up". Otherwise, the moment the creative output of marriage, pregnancy, comes into the relationship the honeymoon is over. The male will coast along not seeing the purpose in changing the convenient, independent life-style.
Successful relationships demand putting God first. Submitting to the will of God makes submission to each other's will possible. It makes one willing and able to work things out for mutual growth.
Q: How long does it take to be free of an old relationship?
A: It takes about nine months to be free of the psychic commitment. Otherwise, the discontented person carries his/her problems to the new person. Psychic influence of the old archetypal battle comes on stage and the man acts in an emotionally negative way toward his new partner at the most unexpected and inappropriate times.
Q: What influence do a person's parents have on the kind of relationship problems one has currently?
A: The mother creates the ideal of Prince Charming and Princess Beautiful in her children. Romance creates the illusions. Sometimes children try to recreate the kind of passion and romance their parents had in the early years of their relationship. The male looks for positive qualities that existed in his mother. He has developed himself within that environment, and he feels at home in it. When the mother's qualities were primarily negative, the male will find it very difficult to involve himself in serious relationship. He quickly becomes a "Knight of the Sofa." The negative norms set up by one's mother in her relationship with the father and the way the father responded to his child during the adolescent years when his own attitudes toward his child and the emerging young person took place affect female expectancies of her mate in adult relationship. Either she idealizes the parent's relationship or vows that it will be different for her. Every relationship should grow and develop on its own merits and without preconceived expectancies of either mate based upon parental models. When a person transfers "trips" based on the parental relationship to the other partner, it may take 15-20 years to unlearn. Transforming the childhood authority figure calls for a good, dedicated guide to monitor it.