Relationship Commitment: Till Death Due You Part

Relationship commitment, especially marriage, may not be fully understood when people enter into this commitment. I was married at 33 years of age, for the first and only time, and I had NO idea what being married for “Life” could possibly mean. I never really considered the “end game” of marriage…

“Till death do us part” is a part of some traditional wedding vows. This signifies that the married couple intend to spend the remainder of their lives together – They will be parted only by death. “Part” – note that it is used as a verb in this instance. S: (v) separate, part, split (go one’s own way; move apart) ”
(From: https://english.stackexchange.com)

My marriage lasted almost 28 years and this “commitment” ended when my wife “transitioned” from this life. It was a transition I thought I was prepared for because we were given her “Terminal diagnosis” 8 and 1/2 years prior to her passing over. One of my challenges after her death, was to understand the “Void” that was created when my life partner of 30 years was not physically in my world. This is not a unique experience. Many people have learned the lessons from “losing” a close friend, or a spouse, or a family member where there had been an official or unofficial commitment. How DO You prepare for this situation? Personally, I admit that when we got married in the Summer of 1984, I had never a remote thought about the “end game.” There are only two ways out of a real marriage which include death or divorce. The two difficult “D’s.” This is not meant to prevent people from considering the commitment of marriage or deep relationships. It IS meant to create awareness and higher consciousness regarding the bonding process and the lessons we all learn from these.

The illness which afflicted my wife (ovarian cancer) and our relationship gave us a chance to grow closer. We weathered many challenging “storms” together and learned much from this experience. This is NOT always the case. For some, leaving a difficult situation with a partner seems like a useful strategy but this never crossed my mind. But remember, the most stressful things in life come when you deeply care or love another person, friend, child, relative, or spouse, AND you have NO control over what happens to this person. Parents know the anxiety, and the rewards, of sending their child out into the world.

You were guided into a relationship with another human partner with no guarantees that you or they or the relationship would last forever. “Forever” is a long time and is too linear. (And, time is a whole other topic for spiritual conversation and belief.) You love, or deeply care, for a person and in being “Human,” there are NO guarantees… They might leave you or get sick and need caring for, or they might need to die. The BEAUTY in all this remains in the fact that you took a risk and were meant to have a relationship with another pilgrim (person) so you both, and all people in your greater community, can learn from this life experience. Not like in the movies where “they live happily ever-after” but in the REAL challenges in living in human form. A range of strong emotions happen. Compromises happen. Communication happens and when this is good communication we learn and refine our perspectives on life. You must be ready and aware of the relationships and the commitment you have been guided to have. This is a huge part of why you are here, in this life, and the lessons you have “agreed” to have…

Love Deeply! Follow your passion! Take a risk! Dance like no one is watching! If you ever meet my beautiful bride in this life as a spirit or in the higher realms, bask in the light of an angel. Death is NOT the enemy, it seems to happen to everyone at some point. Soak in all the unconditional love you find in every “perfect soul” you bump into as you tumble in the warm dryer called life.

AND, if you are challenged by the difficult lessons of relationships in this life, be willing to share your story and the wisdom you have experienced. You are a Master with wisdom from your life’s experience to share.

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey.
You are a Blessing! You are a Master! Your wisdom from your life experience can have great value to other pilgrims on the path toward awakening and enlightenment.

The Masters of the Journey has events which are updated on our Facebook page which is found at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please comment on this blog and share, if appropriate. More of our blogs are based on spiritual consciousness and can be found at www.dstress.com/blog

Marriage: Get me to California for the Wedding

My younger son, Mike, is getting married this month. Michel and Mike have been together for several years and they are a wonderful team. Being 30 years of age, Mike has not waited as long as I did to commit to marriage. (I was not ready until almost 34.) The commitment of marriage is not what I want to write about. It is obviously a huge commitment and should be considered very carefully by two responsible people because this decision is a “Life time” commitment, even if one or both of the members of this union chooses to leave this relationship (for whatever reason.)

A marriage creates a union forming the foundation of a family. It brings together two families. It brings together two people in one of the strongest bonds and strongest responsibilities that life can present. Though it sounds like I am speaking about commitment to marriage let me digress.

When people two people choose to marry do they “KNOW” what they are getting themselves into? Answer: No one does! Life leads down a path that may not be easily predictable. You rarely know where Life can lead and what lessons you are to learn from this experience. The beauty of living life is the weird twists and turns that create the unique and beautiful moments in life, even the most difficult challenges! The trust in your partner is almost always tested. I do not mean this in the most obvious ways of fidelity to the marriage. I mean in the times of challenge such as: parenting, illness, and even death, trusting the divine spirit and the learning that must occur. We choose to come into this life and into this set of lessons for a reason and getting along with your chosen partner creates very important chances to experience and “live” through significant challenges.

It is a blessing when two people find each other and create the bond of trust. As they walk hand in hand through life they are connected and must support their partners through all the good and difficult times. In a small way, marriage is a living example of “oneness” and the true lack of “self.” With the exchange of unconditional love, partners find themselves in each other and, possibly, a part of something much greater. A chance to love, demonstrate unconditional love, and to be part of heart driven union is one of the major lessons we are here to learn. This requires overcoming fear, self-doubt, perhaps a history of trust issues, and the willingness to be a participant in something much greater than a single individual’s life. Trusting your heart, knowing your heart, and following your intuition regarding your partnership is a huge step and engages the mind, the body, and the spirit.

Mike and Michel, I know you are loving, spiritual beings. Go and create the good in the world that your bond through marriage enables the both of you to offer.

I Love You! Your connection serves as an example of what can be most positive in life.

Blessings.

Take good care of each other and your selves.

Along the way, do what you came here to do and make the world a better place. Enjoy the lessons, even the challenges, that are a part of the process of living. Be the team I hope that you can, and will, be.

Let there be the bright and shining light of love in the world, and may you find yourself basking in the brilliance of this unconditional love from within.

Are California Weddings Stressful?

As I prepare for my son’s March California Wedding, I am reminded of the last California family wedding I attended. The following is a written account of personal survival and, I must report, marital success… (From about 6 years ago…)

I am in the airport returning from a California wedding in the coastal mountains just north of Santa Barbara. It was probably the best wedding I have ever attended. For me, except for the stress of getting there and now back, it was fairly easy as weddings go. My wife’s family was celebrating the great choice my wife’s niece made. Kaitlyn and Will are really a great couple and I wish them the best of luck, happiness, health, and a long life together. Now the dysfunction of the two colliding families is something special to behold. What a weird combination of people and yet the dance floor was completely full of happy, well-behaved people who had indulged in a great deal of food, family stories, and alcohol.

If you have not participated in a “California Wedding” then let me explain… You do not over dress unless you want to look like a tourist from the East Coast. You find your way to the top of the mountain or the sand of the special beach or by the mystical river-lake-rock formation-ski area or whatever natural phenomenon that the wedding planners assume would be the test of your physical, emotional, and spiritual limits. You must really want to be there because the heat, dust, gale force winds, or attack of insects will be proof of your love for the marrying couple. It becomes a spiritual experience of survival that bonds you with your fellow wedding witnesses. Be prepared for poetry, music, ring bearers that are dogs, cute little flower girls who have to be dragged through the wood chips to accomplish their task, and of course the late start because someone important or something important has gotten lost or is late getting to the remote location. Hopefully, the open bar has NOT open prior to the ceremony or else the ceremony will have many added contributions that were not included on your program.

After the beautiful and spiritually bonding and uplifting ceremony, you may have to find your way to the port-a-potty line and start eating and drinking to re-hydrate after sitting in the sun for way too long. Your next task is to find the reception and the California wines and of course your place. I heard that the father of bride needed a double shot of tequila to prepare for his role of walking down the aisle and telling his stories at the wedding and then the reception. He looked fairly sober. The groom in his flip flops was relaxed. The bride was spectacular in the handmade wedding dress that her loving, and talented, mother had created. (Mom, of course, was a bit stressed but radiantly glowing in the moment.) The ring bearer dog was well behaved and did not jump up on the bride as had been feared. The band and played surf rock for the first set… Of course, this is coastal California and the graying surfer dudes loved the vibes…

Hey, it was a perfect wedding. My wife smiled a beaming radiant smile. She held her two sons. She saw her Florida based step mom. She loved the warm California evening and everything about this wonderful event. Somehow late that night, we made it back to our hotel and began to feel the sadness that this much anticipated event was coming to an end. My plane will be boarding soon and we will fly back to Seattle but I know that I survived the California wedding, the new in-laws, and the California sunburn (that is required as proof of participation.)
Kate and Will, I say again, we love you and have the best life together. We know you will.

The Power of Connection

People are basically “social creatures.” Since the dawn of human history, one main trait that separated humans from many in the animal kingdom was the need/desire to band together into communities for survival. We learned to hunt in teams. We have learned how to create different roles and expertise that helps the “tribe” survive and thrive. For example, some people: grow food, some prepare food, some build structures, some care and educate the young members, some minister to the health and spiritual needs of individuals, some protect the tribe, etc. There are a very few of us who can survive without any other people or outside assistance and people who do not require the assistance of other people are rare and these individuals seem to be a vanishing breed.

Relationships with other people have become more complicated. In today’s world, we have family relationships, business/work relationships, spiritual relationships, creativity/productivity relationships, educational/mentoring relationships, and many other attachments related to services that require relationships. Family and friends are necessary for most people. Our earliest survival as an infant requires bonding relationships with care-giving family or friends. (Many physical and emotional challenges develop when children are neglected or do not have strong, trusting bonds with their caregivers.) But most of us have developed an even greater requirement for caring relationships that go beyond the need of physical survival. We now have expectations of emotional connections within “committed relationships” that seem emotionally necessary for survival. This may be a dramatic overstatement of survival, but expectations can, and do, get developed into mental and emotional issues that appear to be necessary for quality of life.

For example, our society, or at least advertisers, has created an “emotional need” for us to be “home with family during the ‘Holidays’.” In the United States, that means that you should be lonely or guilty for not being with “loved ones” during Thanksgiving or Christmas Season. Depression rises. Suicides spike after the “holidays.” Substance abuse increases to cope with emotions of “loneliness” or to help us survive time when we are trapped with family that we have successfully avoided all year long. Financial stress increases. Travelling becomes more stressful. So we need to increase our awareness of the potential emotional victimization we can have to these expectations of connection.

Putting the downside of expectations for connection aside, it is time to address a more significant, day to day, reality of connection. Most of us can improve our quality of life and increase our personal productivity by mental or emotional or spiritual connection with another person or with a group of trusted, like minded people. Our physical health improves. (There have been research studies on increased longevity of married men vs. single men, for example.) Our emotional health improves, if we are involved with healthy people in healthy relationships. We thrive spiritually when we can connect with people or institutions that create an open focus of our higher consciousness. Conversely, when we lose a “loved one” we can lose our physical or emotional health. With a “loss,” our source of loving acceptance can be altered or removed leaving us a gaping hole in our emotional support foundation.

We must understand this possible situation and learn to manage our levels of self-care to adjust for self-nurturing when we experience a significant loss of love and connection. When aware, we can be better prepared for the situation and hopefully avoid becoming a victim to this circumstance. Losses of connection can happen suddenly or over time. They can be from planned lifestyle changes, like moving or job changes, or from random acts that are beyond our control. Regardless, we benefit from discovering our unique needs and requirements for healthy connections. We will do better when we can know how to reach out and get appropriate, positive support when it is needed.

“No man is an island,” is part of a quote by John Donne in 1624 that can be understood to mean that humans benefit from connections and the loss of any connections may contribute to a reduced quality of life.
Please consider how to develop and maintain “healthy” relationships with relatively “healthy” people or institutions. Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health can benefit from “good” connections.

Note: Connections with family are NOT always healthy. Connections at work are not always healthy. Unfortunately, connections with friends are not always healthy, though you have more control over who you have as friends. Please recognize “healthy” relationship connections and nurture these.

Unconditional Love

Everyone benefits from loving or by being loved. It is human nature to want to “connect” with other people and the exchange of energy, for some people LOVE, is the very best part of the connection. Not everyone admits to needing or wanting love, but people who do claim to not need love are often in denial, for their own reasons.

Pets need love. Most people enjoy their pets because of the exchange of love and devotion that can come from this bond. Babies need love to thrive and survive. Babies need food, water, and a reasonably warm physical environment, but babies will not thrive without human contact and the exchange of a “loving energy.” If you do not believe me, read the studies of children raised in Eastern European orphanages where deprived babies lack physical, mental, and emotional development when raised without quality human contact. My point is that 99% of us require human bonding to thrive and part of this connection is labeled as love.

Getting the love that we need has been one of the complicated human dilemmas. People often strive for love and often can be disappointed, or worse. Timing is everything when it comes to connecting with other people for love. In most families a certain amount of love is exchanged because people connect more easily with other people whom they share genetic material. Parents usually love their own children, in part due the bond of sharing genetic material. But even in this relationship, if the timing is not correct, the bond of familial love can be weak or possibly non-existent. A challenge can exist if you look for, or expect, “unconditional love.”

By definition, “unconditional love” is given unconditionally. This often means, with no strings attached or no expectation connected to the sharing of this loving energy. “Pure Love” can be defined as unconditional. When a mother bonds with her new baby, a hormonal and genetic driven instinct can take over where the mother feels very strongly connected with her young offspring. Not every mother feels this way because, stress, survival, drugs or medications may interfere with this bond. When a mother is too stressed and possibly concerned with her own survival, this distraction can overcome the “chemistry” of maternal bonding. Fathers can also develop a loving connection and bonding with their offspring but this may be more challenging than simple maternal chemistry.

Beyond parental connection, there are a few other opportunities for connecting and developing unconditional love. Children raised with other siblings or people other than parents can develop attachments especially when mutual needs are met by these relationships. There are even times when close friends and “significant others” (life partners) can develop a chemistry that can include forms of unconditional love.

By my definition, “Unconditional Love” is pure connection and the sharing of energy that is given with NO EXPECTATIONs of any return. Thus unconditionally shared. To bask in the light and warmth of unconditional love is healing, nurturing, empowering, and enlightening. For many of us, it seems to be a rare and special experience. For some lucky ones of us, it is not so rare. I believe that most of us are born with an innate knowledge of what unconditional love and pure higher consciousness really is. We know it and can celebrate it when we can stumble upon it, unless we are in a “survival” moment. It is my belief that we can search for this pure form of love and energy, and we can occasionally find it. For me, such a time came when I was in a meditation near sunset and I experienced myself as a molecule of water surrounded by all other living things who were also represented as a molecule of water in a golden river of “life.” I felt the overwhelming feeling of connection and pure acceptance. (As if all other living things could resonate with the same vibration as we shared the movement along the “river of Life.”) This is not a common or even daily experience for me, but it is a feeling and memory that I will never forget. I have also seen this described by people interviewed after having a near death experience (NDE.) Perhaps, this is what “heaven” is like…

My wish is that every conscious living entity will be able to experience this brief, and lasting, feeling of celebrating in a state nirvana and know what is like to be free from fear and hate. Seek and celebrate any interlude you may have with Unconditional Love. Share this when you can… Peace!

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