Many years ago, when I was a little girl, my mother told me that a man would come along whom I would marry, and he would take care of me. I grew up with the notion that my Prince would ride in, swoop me up, and like the fairy tales attest, would take care of me happily ever after. In 1971, I married my Prince.
During the next 40 years, I faced many moments of alarm and frustration as I tried to pin my expectations onto a man who wouldn’t accept them. Because he wasn’t going to be pinned down to any particular roles that I wanted him to fill, he is the best partner I could have had. My frustration acted as an opening to some large life lessons.
The biggest life lesson required me to grasp that the frustration I felt told a tale about me, not about Steve. Over the past couple of years, I have noticed some significant shifts begin to emerge in me regarding my relationship. I have recently come to understand what those shifts are about.
I’ve recently listened to some CDs by a teacher named Adyashanti, who put words on it for me. I’ve come to understand that, in a healthy relationship, neither party needs the other. Nor do they use each other to work out their personal issues. I’ve observed that need-based relationships often result in sticky, manipulative interactions. They can be teeming with attempts to get the other person to change to fill personal needs.
For me, the biggest and most productive change has been the awareness that I can only change myself. So slowly and not without resistance, I’ve spent the last two years releasing Steve from the roles that, for almost 40 years, I had insisted that he play in my life. I no longer need him for a sense of who I am. I’ve stopped using him as a handy coat rack on which to hang my insecurity. I no longer require him to play the roles of Knight in Shining Armor and Administrator of Wife Security.
“What’s left then?” you might ask. When a relationship drops need and manipulation, it paves the way for relaxation, contentment, and true enjoyment of each other. You allow the other to be whomever and whatever he or she is.
For some people, this may result in seeing that the relationship no longer serves. Or you may find a relaxed sense of enjoyment, peace and freedom within it. In either case, you experience the ability to live your real life rather than a contrived version based on false beliefs.
To all of you this holiday season, I wish the contentment and freedom of allowing those around you to be who they are. May you experience the gifts that come from being present to and loving what is.
Dr. Marta practices as a professional mentor in communication and consciousness. To contact her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (928) 451-9482.