Why Relationships Are (and Are Not) Spiritual

A large part of our views and teaching is that an intimate relationship is one of the most powerful spiritual practices that a person can ever engage in. The opportunities for growth, re-invention, and self-development are almost unparalleled next to any other practice.

What relationships bring up in a person, when worked through in a healthy and Loving environment, can truly make a person the very best version of themselves. That is something very spiritual indeed.

Our views on spirituality have little to do with how many hours a day you meditate or how many times a week you go to church (although people with deep spiritual practices often do these things). In our view, spirituality is measured through a person's capacity to be selfless, genuine, authentic, and Loving in all areas of their Life.

There is nothing inherently spiritual about relationships. People that think they will find enlightenment through falling in Love are sadly mistaken.

Spiritual and personal development doesn't come through simply being in a relationship. Oftentimes, relationships can become a battleground, a way of justifying our judgments, or an opportunity to feel superior to our partner. Many people do experience extraordinary personal growth in relationships while others may degenerate. In our work with couples, we've seen both ends of the spectrum, as well as everything in-between.

Relationships are spiritual when taken on as a spiritual practice.

Just as a meditation practice requires discipline, devotion, and commitment, a successful relationship requires the same. There are principles that lead a person (or couple) to grow into their relationships (and themselves) and there are principles that do not.

In this post we will clearly define what it is that makes a relationship deep, Loving, and spiritual and what happens when couples that once loved each other find themselves in disappointment and despair.

We define spirituality as a way of being and living that brings us closer together in Love and harmony. Over the years, we've been involved in a wide variety of spiritual circles from Christian church, to meditation groups, to pilgrimages through India. While there have been beautiful and fantastic people in each of these circles and we've learned so much from all of them, we have also met many people in these same circles that have had disastrous relationships and whose lives are full of conflict. In our view, conflict is the antithesis of spirituality.

If someone's life is full of conflict, they are lacking in fundamental spiritual principles, no matter how much "spiritual practice" they claim to have.

As we're sure you know, whether from personal experience or from what you've witnessed, intimate relationships are often full of conflict. Before moving forward though, we want to distinguish conflict from disagreement.

Disagreement is guaranteed in any relationship. It is unnatural for a couple to agree with each other all of the time--for two individual people to never have a differing viewpoint or opinion on certain issues. Disagreement is normal, but it is not the same as conflict. Conflict is beyond disagreement-- it is fighting, anger, resentment, judgement, and so on.

No matter what the disagreement, conflict is never justifiable.

So what causes conflict in a relationship? Studies have shown that most fights happen over the same recurring issues, usually money, sex, family, jealousy, and housework. While these issues may be what spark the fights, we share the opinion of many experts in the field that these fights are never actually about any of these issues.

Fighting results from underlying insecurities, fears, and frustrations that are present and unresolved in the individuals, in the relationship, or both. These common relationship concerns bring them up--they become pain points for our underlying fears. When our fears get triggered, we often react in anger which leads to fighting.

We are by no means suggesting that people should not have these insecurities or even that they should not be triggered. Money, sex, family, jealousy, etc--these are all very real concerns, and to have issues come up around them is part of our growth as human beings.

Being "spiritual" is not about never being triggered or never having your fears come up. It's about how you handle it when they do.

Let's take a common relationship concern, for example: sex. Let's say that one partner feels that the other is less interested in them sexually. They desire that kind of attention and affection from their partner and wish that their partner would feel the same. Some common ways we've seen people handle this is by becoming resistant and resentful to their partner, making passive aggressive comments about it, or letting the frustration bottle up until it explodes in a fight. Needless to say, these are not very spiritual coping strategies.

This way of dealing comes from an unwillingness to be vulnerable with your partner, an unwillingness to face your fear of rejection, and the need to stay in control of the situation.

It takes an enormous amount of vulnerability and humility to approach your partner in a genuine and open way to communicate a need like this-- a sexual need. In doing that, you are acknowledging that you're not in control of the situation and that you need them to help you work together to find something that works for both of you.

This approach is devastating to our ego that wants to maintain a grandiose self-image at all costs, but it is healing for our spirit which seeks to feel close to our partner in a way that is only cultivated through vulnerability. O