by Joyce and Barry Vissell
We see so many people who are struggling now more than ever with their intimate relationships. For many, the pace of life is quickening, and stress levels are intensifying. At the same time, consciousness has grown to a point where many people are painfully aware of their lack of real connection with others.
Throughout our forty years of practicing psychotherapy and leading relationship workshops, we have had the opportunity to study many couples over a long period of time. With many of these couples, there is the initial high of falling in love. Over time, some of them somehow deepen their love and the relationship flourishes. Many other couples gradually lose their love and enthusiasm for one another. Everyone wants to stay in love, but why do some relationships make it, while others don’t? Why does the love in some relationships flourish, while getting buried in others? What are the secrets of a healthy and fulfilling relationship?
In the relationships that make it, each individual is willing to make the relationship a priority, giving it time, energy and nurturing. They view their relationship as a beloved plant, thriving with enough care and attention.
The partners in a prospering relationship are willing to look inside themselves, rather than only to their partner, for their growth and learning. They are willing to see their partner as a mirror — a soul mirror — reflecting back to them qualities which are within themselves, qualities they need to continually reclaim as their own. These partners are willing to trust this mirror of relationship. When their outer senses tell them it’s the other person’s fault in a difficult situation, they are willing to search deeper for their own issues that have contributed to this situation. Likewise, when their senses reveal to them the beauty, strength and goodness of their friend, they are willing to search deeper for these same qualities in themselves.
The discovery that your lover is a soul mirror, reflecting back to you everything you are needing to learn about yourself in any given moment, will make the difference between a good relationship and a great relationship. This is seeing the mirror. There is another step in the process. It is enjoying, rather than merely accepting or tolerating, the mirroring. It is viewing the process of mirroring with awe and reverence. Accepting the soul mirror in your beloved will make for a great relationship. Loving and celebrating the soul mirror will create a sacred relationship, where there is no limit to the love that can be experienced.
We feel each one of us is in relationship with ourselves, and this inner relationship is the spiritual path we are following. Our relationships with others can help us or hinder us, but it’s ultimately our decision. We human beings can easily get lost in our relationships with others. Relationship can become a seductive trap that pulls us away from ourselves, onto a long side-trip of life. Or it can be a powerful vehicle that helps to awaken us to who we are and why we have been born. Our lives will not be fulfilled until we discover our own deepest purpose in life. It is to give and receive love. It is to enjoy the beauty of this world and to help create more beauty. And it is to remember that we each are an integral part of the whole. Each one of us is linked to all of creation. Each one of us is sustained by an omnipresent light, love and consciousness. To be aware of this connection, and give thanks for it, is to live in the highest state of spiritual joy, peace and fulfillment.
Every one of us has what it takes to bring more love into our life. It is our divine birthright. We deserve to love and be loved. To do this, however, we need to look in two places — outside and inside. Our culture has trained us to look only outside, to see only the surface of ourselves and each other. We do need to look outside, to practice seeing beauty in others. Yet it is just as important to practice seeing beauty in ourselves, to know ourselves as beautiful, capable and deserving of love. This takes willingness to look at ourselves differently, to see past the many limiting things people have told us about ourselves. In our souls, we are not bad, stupid or ugly boys or girls. We are human and spiritual beings capable of the highest level of love and creativity.
It is our wish and prayer that each one of us discover our own inner beauty. In many ways this is the highest work we can do to deepen all our relationships.
Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell: Feb 2-9, 2014—Hawaii “Couples in Paradise” Retreat; Jul 20-25, 2014—Breitenbush Hot Springs Summer Retreat for individuals, couples, and families; and Oct 14-20, 2014—Living from the Heart in Assisi, Italy.
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely regarded as among the world’s top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. They are the authors of The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift.
Call Toll-Free 1-800-766-0629 (locally 831-684-2299) or write to the Shared Heart Foundation, P.O. Box 2140, Aptos, CA 95001, for free newsletter from Barry and Joyce, further information on counseling sessions by phone or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.