Qualities Of Loving Partnerships
Susan Vaughn, M.A.
Love: we need it, we want it, but how do we do it? If we knew, our world wouldn’t
be war torn, and our relationships wouldn’t be filled with conflict.
Love is simple, yet enormously complex. Since learning how to love appropriately
is a big entire reason we come to the physical plane, it stands to reason
that it would take lifetimes to achieve. Love requires different actions
with different people. A parent loves a toddler differently than an adolescent.
Partnership love is even different still. Then there is the world to love,
other people, plants and animals, as well as loving one’s ideals,
one’s higher self, or God/Goddess. Each requires a specific set
of actions to produce a specific response. In this article I will be describing
the principles of partnership love.
Lazaris says that the steps to getting there are the qualities of being
there. In other words, the way you become loving is to master the qualities
or characteristics of love. And what are those qualities? What follows
is a list of qualities inspired by Lazaris in his tape called Loving,
which I have paraphrased and added to.
1. CARING: honestly caring about each other’s feelings
in the relationship. When you care about someone, you care about how your
behavior impacts them physically and emotionally. In order to feel good
about a partnership, each person must be getting emotional, mental, spiritual
and physical needs met. When this is occurring, the relationship is healthy
for both people and adds to each person’s self-worth and self-esteem.
2. RESPONSIBILITY: we must take responsibility for the feelings
the relationship is engendering, not for the other person. The most unloving
thing you can do for others is to take away their opportunity to be responsible
for the impact of their actions upon others. This is called enabling.
It prevents all growth and transformation. If you are enabling someone
else to be dysfunctional by cushioning them from the impact of their actions,
you are not loving them. Rather, you are using the relationship to get
your needs met without regard to the negative impact you are having on
your partner’s spiritual growth.
You are not responsible for the reality others create, but you are responsible
for the reality that you allow. According to Lazaris, we create our reality
by either directly causing it through our behavior, (even "accidental"
behaviors), or by allowing it. By choosing to be physical, we agreed to
allow ourselves to be impacted by all the rules and realities of the physical
plane. It is through this impact that we experience the pain or pleasure
that motivates our evolution. This means that we agreed to allow ourselves
to be impacted by the behavior of others. If a few people create global
destruction, everyone allowed it for their growth and will have to deal
with the consequences even though the majority of us did not actively
create it. On a more personal note, if your partner is wrecking the family
financially because he or she is an alcoholic who is drinking up all the
money, you must take responsibility for what you needed to learn by choosing
to allow this reality into your life. Taking responsibility means that
there is no blame. When you process the experience, you must examine how
it served you, as well as whether or not you dealt with it authentically.
By sharing your feelings appropriately without slandering your partner’s
character, and holding him or her accountable for the consequences of
their actions, both you and your partner will grow.
3. KNOWING AND LEARNING: In each relationship there is
a period of getting to know your partner and learning more and more about
who they are, what they want in life, their desires and dreams, and what
their agenda is, both hidden and explicit. As you get to know your partner’s
likes and dislikes, through your reactions you conversely get to know
yourself. For example, as you get to know your partner, you may discover
that you have different sexual styles. As your partner leads you into
sexual arenas that he or she enjoys but you’ve never tried, you’ll
find out very quickly whether or not you share the same tastes. You must
constantly seek to learn more about yourself and your partner. Never become
complacent thinking that you've learned all there is to know. No matter
how much inner work you’ve done, there will always be more to learn
about yourself. And no matter how long you are with your partner, there
will always be more to learn about him or her.
4. BEING INTIMATE: All conflict is an opportunity to
create greater intimacy. When conflict arises, you must state your reactions
and feelings without slandering your partner’s character. Then you
must be willing to take total responsibility for your feelings by processing
them in an open minded way. The “I’m right and you’re
wrong” way, and “you’re a jerk because you think, feel
and act that way” isn’t intimacy. Rather, that’s a declaration
of war that never generates a positive response. Because it’s an
attack on the other person’s self-esteem, it generates counter attack.
True intimacy is the ability to open-mindedly explore the stories you
each tell yourself about the activity that’s causing you to have
the conflict. You must also explore what I call the “story beneath
the story,” which are hidden beliefs, attitudes, thoughts and feelings
the story is based upon. If you can do this exploration honestly and openly,
without creating defensiveness or a need to be right and make the other
person wrong, you have the opportunity to truly get to know one another.
This is often difficult to do because sometimes what we discover when
we honestly explore the story beneath the story are things about ourselves
that we may not be proud of, or that are socially unacceptable in the
culture at large. It may also force you to reveal a hidden agenda that
isn’t loving, such as being in a relationship not because you love
your partner but because you like their financial support, which means
you are using them for personal gain. It may take great courage to share
these things, but when you share them in an atmosphere of open-minded
acceptance and are also willing to take responsibility for what you find,
it becomes easier.
Problems arise when what is revealed is threatening to one or both people
in the relationship. It is in this phase of love that you may discover
that you share differing agendas, or what John Gottman, in his book The
Seven Principles That Make Marriage Work, calls “irreconcilable
dreams.” There is a larger story beneath the story that may reveal
unexplored beliefs about personal inadequacy, a lack of self-worth, or
an inability to find and live one’s own dreams. This information
would cause someone to further explore where the beliefs that create these
feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem came from. One must ask oneself
if they are true, and what needs to be done to change the mental or circumstantial
reality that is causing them if they are. It might also cause a person
to explore talents and develop potentials more fully. This kind of honesty
can lead to enormous growth and change, which is what eventually produces
In another common example, you may discover that your partner only feels
fulfilled sexually in an open relationship where they have access to many
sexual partners. You, on the other hand, only feel fulfilled in a monogamous
one. Although one’s religion and culture may say that open relationships
are immoral, which is why it may be hard for these facts to be revealed,
the truth is that as long as no one is being hurt and everyone is open
and honest about what they are doing, this activity is merely a matter
of preference. It will only destroy the relationship if it’s an
unmatching agenda or “irreconcilable dream” that the other
partner can’t agree to. When we become truly intimate, we discover
our unmatching agendas, as well as our matching ones. Once discovered,
you enter into the fifth quality of love: respect.
5. RESPECT: This is the hardest and most determined aspect
of love, especially if you have a co-dependent relationship with your
partner in which property and children are involved. You must respect
other people's right to be the way they are without needing or wanting
to change them, even if there are parts of their personality that you
don't like, don't approve of, or scare you. Trying to change. people isn't
respecting their right to be who they are. Because you can't change anybody,
you must accept them the way they are. If they have an agenda that you
don’t share, or are behaving in a way that isn’t enjoyable
to you and they do not want to change this, you must tell yourself the
truth about how likely you are to feel fulfilled in the relationship.
If you are not likely to feel fulfilled, you probably won’t be happy.
You must then decide whether or not you want to stay in the relationship.
If you decide to stay, you must do so without resentment or bitterness.
If you decide to leave, you can still love them, but you will do so from
Love doesn't involve manipulation. As a loving person, although you can
invite change, you don't require it. You can love someone but realize
that a life spent with them will ultimately be unfulfilling because you
won’t be getting your needs met. In fact, if staying with someone
whose behavior is un-enjoyable enables them to be unloving, it is not
a loving act. This quality is the most determined, taking the greatest
will and determination to do, for it isn't always easy. Anyone can do
the first three steps. Step four requires a high degree of responsibility
and step five the highest of all. This step challenges us to do the right
thing whether it's comfortable or not. People who can do the first three
steps but not the fourth or fifth are just acting like they are loving
when they actually aren't. Though you may say you love each other, you
are actually deceiving yourselves. In fact, if you are confused in a relationship
because things aren’t adding up, the chances are good that there
are hidden agendas that aren’t being expressed and may even be actively
6. COMMITMENT: This is intricately linked to intimacy.
In fact, until you've created intimacy, commitment is meaningless. To
be committed to someone is to take intense and total responsibility with
them for the reality that you are jointly creating. In other words, the
commitment is about continuously creating and maintaining the love that
exists between you by authentically expressing your feelings and concerns
and processing your conflicts together. When you commit to someone, it
means that you are willing to process your conflict with them no matter
what they do, how much they hurt you, or let you down. This kind of commitment
can only come after you’ve thoroughly engaged the other five actions.
You must first have been caring and responsible with and for each other.
You must have learned more and more about each other and, when conflicts
arise, become more intimate. Then you must choose to respect your partner,
either choosing to love them from afar if the relationship won’t
ultimately fulfill you, or staying in it without resentment or bitterness
and without needing your partner to change. If you stay, you can then
make a commitment to continuously care about how your behavior impacts
your partner and to express your feelings when your partner has a negative
impact on you. Any¬thing prior to this can't be called a commitment
because you don't know what you are committing to. It would be like saying
you'll do a job before you know what the job entails and whether or not
you are even qualified to do it. In other words, commitment is impossible
until you’ve really developed the ability to be intimate with one
another and to respect your partner for who they really are. I suspect
that it will take a couple of years of getting to know someone before
commitment is even a possibility. People who commit to a relationship
before they fully realize what they are committing to aren't actually
making a commitment at all. Rather, their commitment is more likely a
manipulation to get their needs met.
7. GIVING: This is the final component of love. Although
you can give gifts in the beginning of your relationship, but your gift
giving doesn't actually mean anything. Your gifts may even be manipulations
to get someone else to love you. When you give gifts after you've made
a commitment to love someone in a committed way, the giving becomes an
act of love. You can give tangible gifts, or intangible ones, material
gifts, or feelings and sentiments by writing love letters, etc. Whatever
you do on a daily basis to tangibly show or let your partner know you
love him or her is a gift. The more you can give, the deeper the love
will grow. The gift giving must be mutual and it must be engaged in twenty-four
hours a day.
Love is not something
that you only do occasionally, but every moment whether you are in the
mood or not. You have to do it because it fascinates you, the very concept
and idea of it. Love must become totally compelling to you before you
will be motivated to do all that work, and be so honest and self-revealing.
As you practice the qualities of love, being loving will become a self-discipline.
Once you start loving, you must never stop. If a relationship fails, you
must process your failure by analyzing what went wrong and how you either
created or allowed it. You must ask yourself what you could have done
differently without judgment. After all, you did the best you could with
the consciousness you had. Now that you have evolved, you can make a decision
to do your next relationship differently. By exploring what went wrong,
you are less likely to make those mistakes again. Be patient with yourself.
It takes time to master the craft of loving. If you keep trying, in time
you will create a truly loving relationship
Vaughn is an author, teacher and counselor in the Humboldt area. She teaches
The Art Of Conscious Evolution and has written courses for University of Metaphysical Sciences.
Visit the Christine Breese website to read articles on consciousness and awakening, visit University of Metaphysical Sciences Video Satsangs to see talks on spiritual subjects. Read articles on Wisdom of the Heart Church. Visit Starlight Journal for blogs, newsletter, and forums on spiritual subjects. Visit Christine Breese's Metaphysical Sciences youtube channel to view free video satsangs.