Many couples come to see me. They come from different countries and backgrounds, speak different languages, and are of different ages and personalities. They come from various cultures, religions and faiths. Regardless, one thing is the same: most of their relationships are full of problems.
In fact, many of these problems start over small incidents. Usually, if either the wife or the husband had just been a little patient, just a little forgiving, the problem could have been avoided. Couples need to have awareness. Without it, arguments can drop in like unexpected guests and divide them forever even before they are over.
“When two lips come together, they emit one sound. Even though we have two eyes, our vision is one. Even when there are two lamps, light is one. Similarly, even though a husband and wife are two, they should live as one.”
Couples need to learn to respect each other’s feelings and to listen to each other with love and concern. Your partner should be able to feel your love, respect and admiration — an open acceptance without reservations.
Even then, conflicts are bound to happen; misunderstandings and disagreements will arise. But afterwards, you should be able to say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I didn’t mean it.” Or, “I love you, and I’m deeply concerned about you — don’t ever think otherwise. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I lost my temper and judgment.” Such soothing words will help heal hurt feelings; they will also increase the feeling of love, even after a big fight.
In order to prevent discussions from becoming arguments, instead of focusing on establishing your point of view, you should try to understand the view of your partner. When your spouse is speaking, you should listen wholeheartedly, giving him or her all of your attention.
Once a child was talking to his mother while she was busy working. As the child spoke, the mother kept saying “Uh-huh… Ya… Uh-huh… Uh-huh…” but she was fully focused on her work. After some time the child started crying, “Mom, you’re not listening to me!” The mother lovingly said, “Darling, of course I’m listening to you.” The child vehemently shook his head and said, “No you’re not. You’re only listening with your ears. You’re not listening with your eyes.”
“When hearts grow apart, speech becomes shouting. When hearts come together, speech becomes like a mantra. When hearts become one, speech ceases altogether.”
Partners must listen with their eyes and heart. Otherwise, what’s the difference between speaking face-to-face, over the phone or just listening to a recording? In the high-speed of modern life, we often forget such small, simple things. This results in a lot of pain for our near and dear ones. A mere glance — it is such a simple thing, but it can make such a big difference.
Just as we need to listen with awareness, we need to speak with awareness as well. When used appropriately, words can be a golden key capable of opening any heart, but if words are used indiscriminately, they can lock someone’s heart forever. When hearts grow apart, speech becomes shouting. When hearts come together, speech becomes like a mantra. When hearts become one, speech ceases altogether.
When two people enter a relationship, it’s important for them both to remember that neither of them is a saint — neither one is enlightened. In truth, both people feel incomplete and are seeking completeness in the other. Thus, they marry in order to get each other’s love. There is nothing wrong in this, but at the same time they should understand that, really speaking, when it comes to love, they are both like beggars. We need to see things in the proper light. See a cat as a cat and the dog as a dog. Don’t expect an elephant to be a frog or a frog to be an elephant. Understanding the nature of your relationship and the needs of your partner, you should always try to express your love through your words and actions. If it remains trapped inside us, it will benefit no one. Moreover, remember that the easiest way to receive love is by giving it. Relationships wherein there is mutual sacrifice are the most beautiful and uplifting.
There is a story about a poor couple. The wife had long, beautiful hair. One day, she said to her husband, “If only I had a comb.”
Hearing his wife’s simple request, the husband felt sad. She rarely asked him for anything. He showed her his old watch and said, “This strap is so worn out that it will break any day now. We have so little money that I can’t even afford to replace it.” Hearing the helplessness in her husband’s voice, the wife fell silent.
On his way to work, the husband passed a watch-repair shop. He went inside and sold his watch for a small sum. With that money, he bought his wife a pretty comb.
That evening, when the man reached home, he excitedly called out to his wife to give her his gift, but when he saw her, he got the shock of his life. She was standing in front of him with short hair and a brand-new watchstrap in her hands, which she held out to him with a look of excitement. She had cut her hair and sold it to a wigmaker. It was with that money that she had bought the new watch strap. They looked at each other, and tears welled up in their eyes. The tears were not because of their wasted efforts, but because they were reminded about the greatness of the love they shared — the love that enabled them to know each other’s hearts.
When one person loves another with expectations, we can call it love. When two people love each other with the same intensity, that is a higher form of love. However, loving everyone and everything without any expectations is the highest form of love. This love arises only when we are able to see everyone as our own True Self.
“The smaller our ego and the less our selfishness, the purer our love. We should gradually climb the rungs of the ladder of love to reach this pinnacle: divine love.” — Amma
True fulfilment in life comes from realizing that the ego — our idea of existing as an entity distinct and separate from the rest of creation — is an utter misconception. It is only when we understand this truth and are able to abide in it that we transcend all selfishness and pride and have a heart full of love for all beings. Below this supreme love, there are many levels. The love most people know as “love,” in fact, is the lowest rung of the ladder. The smaller our ego and the less our selfishness, the purer our love. We should gradually climb the rungs of the ladder of love to reach this pinnacle — divine love.
All over the world the phrase we commonly hear is “I love you.” Here, there are two entities — “I” and “you.” This distinction should cease to exist. Instead of “I love you,” the awareness “I am love — the embodiment of love” should arise. In this love, there is only “one” — only God. Standing firm in this oneness, we should love everyone and everything. That is spirituality.
When two lips come together, they emit one sound. Even though we have two eyes, our vision is one. Even when there are two lamps, light is one. Similarly, even though a husband and wife are two, they should live as one. The unity of hearts is the beauty of their home and the stability and foundation of the entire family. As neither the wife nor the husband has understood their completeness, their marriage should be a relationship wherein each partner compensates for the other’s shortcomings — not one where they point them out and assert blame. Where there is true love, the attitude of sacrifice will naturally be there. True sacrifice is relinquishing one’s likes and dislikes for the other person. This should be the spirit behind each loving relationship.
Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) is a world-renowned spiritual leader and humanitarian. Amma is the head of Embracing the World, a multinational collective of not-for-profit organizations dedicated to providing food, clothing, shelter and healthcare for the poor and needy.
Originally published at journal.thriveglobal.com