It is Valentine's Day! While some of us are in a love bubble, others might be alone, upset about relationships not having worked out so far. Some might be in a relationship but really do not feel like Valentine's Day bliss. I would love to share my 7 secrets with you which for me resulted in a happy, stable and inspiring relationship.
"After all these years, you're still the one I love"
Have you ever been wondering how some relationships just seem to work out perfectly and others don't? Do you ever wonder what the secret ingredient is? I have been with my husband for over 11 years now and we have had our ups and downs along the way. What we still have after all these years though is that spark and a deap rooted love which we know can conquer it all. Did it come naturally? Do you just have it or you don't? Let me tell you some of our secrets. Of course, the basic ingredient is mutual love. If we had not had that, none of these secrets would have worked.
When we got together we both did definitely not lead very conscious lives. We had a lot of arguments back then. But we always saw them through. What does that mean? You know that moment in an argument where one just walks away because he/she is so upset/hurt/angry? And then maybe you ignore each other for a while, then make up, ignore the issue and go on with your life.
We did not do that. Until we did not come up with something productive from that argument, something we needed to understand, to change or to let go, I would not give up. That definitely brought some sleepless nights with it. It did make us grow though.
Do not ever stop communicating. And I am not talking about what happened at work etc. Communicate with each other what is bothering you, what hurts you, why you are upset or angry or happy or sad. Share your feelings with each other, communicate them.
Do not feel afraid to insist when your gut tells you something is wrong. Hiding feelings under the rug does not help anybody. In the end we are here to help each other grow. So talk about it.
Another of these ways we help each other grow is by mirroring and projecting. Obviously this is something we do quite subconsciously. When something your partner does is bothering you immensely look at yourself first. Where do you do the same? It it something you could actually change?
Which leads me to the next secret. Do not expect the other to change. Be the change.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi
At a certain point in our relationship it was not going that well. And neither was his life nor mine. He seemed to be stuck, I seemed to be lost.
That's when I went to India to do my first Yoga Teacher Training. It was six weeks of full introspection, reflecting on where I was and what I wanted and getting to know myself again. When I came back I had changed and I knew how I wanted my new life to be. I wanted my husband in that life. I wanted the new life with the new me more.
I told him. Everything. My doubts, my fears, what had hurt me, what needed to change in my life, where I wanted to go.
And he understood. He saw it as an opportunity to relive our relationship and change his life into a positive direction. From there we went full speed ahead and inmersed ourselves into a completely new way of life.
Before, there were so many things that I wanted to change in our relationship and it never worked. Because I did not change. How was I expecting to receive a different outcome when I kept on putting in the same ingredients? Once I changed the ingredients, the outcome was a miracle.
When I came back from India, I was ready to let go of my relationship. I still loved my husband dearly. I just did not see myself leading this life any longer. I was ready to move on if needed. Even it that meant a lot of pain. Apparently it was not needed. I had the courage to give it all up, the life we had built together, everything. I had surrendered, I was letting go. And I was rewarded with a better life than I ever could imagine and the two of us happily together.
Be brave, trust that in surrendering, in letting go something that does not serve you any longer, in showing yourself this love and respect, you will be rewarded with something way better. In the case of a relationship this could mean with your current partner, alone or with a new partner. Trust that if you show courage, you will be rewarded. I know it is not always easy. I never said so. It wasn't easy for me either.
In a healthy relationship all 7 secrets can be applied. If you cannot see yourself being able to apply any of them maybe it is time to just apply the one of surrendering, of letting go. Sometimes we are not meant to be with a person. Or maybe not meant to be with them anymore. We might have learned all the lessons life had in store for us in that relationship; we might need to move on.
This one came kind of naturally when we changed our lifestyles. Where before I went out partying or to a bar with my friends on the weekends I now preferred to do yoga classes, cook healthy vegan meals and read self empowerment books; you get my point ;-) It was a gradual change. It did not come from one day to the other.
Same for my husband. He stopped getting together with his mates in the evening to smoke some joints. He started meditating every day, spent more time in nature and immersed himself into his music. We both started to live more conscious lives and to not have any substances influence us, alterate us. Many discussions actually had come up when we were intoxicated (even if it was just one glass of wine). And you probably know from experience that is the time when you say things you do not mean, you get in heated arguments and you become unfair.
"We cannot live pleasantly without living wisely and nobly and righteously." Epicurus
By leading a conscious life we minimized harming influences in our lives. Through our habits, foods, relationships, words, thoughts, environment we absorb engery. We can choose how we want that energy to look like. If we want it to be positive, uplifting, harboring the potential for growth or if we want it to be negative, depressing, aggressive, pulling us down. By choosing the first you prepare a rich soil where a relationship can grow from a little sprout into a strong and healthy tree. It is your choice. It always is.
In starting to live a more conscious life we also started to live more freely. Less and less bound be society's conditioning. Sometimes this would mean I would go away on a yoga training on my own or Gabriel would go surfing to Bali alone. The secret here is freedom. A freedom to follow our heart. The freedom that also allows self love to be lived and expressed fully.
This meant for example that we had two completely different ideas of how to spend our vacations. So we split them up, some of the time we spent together, some of it apart; each of us doing what we love, following our heart. It is just an idea of society that we should do things together. If it feels good to do something alone, do it. And if your partner wants to, let him.
Of course, freedom implies trust. We trust each other completely. We know about the love we have for each other (thanks to secret 1) which makes it easier to trust.
And we are heading in the same direction. So even if our paths aren't the same all the time (him maybe focusing more on his music and meditation, me focusing on my yoga and coaching projects), it is always the same direction. Which in my opinion is essential as well. If you are both heading in the same direction you can understand each other and understanding makes trust and compassion so much easier.
These photos were taken by my amazing friend Samira at one of our favorite spots in Mallorca.
It is your choice how you talk and think about your partner. Which leads me to the last two secrets. At the early stages of my relationship I liked to complain about my partner to my friends. He did this or he did not do that. If my life was at a place I did not like I kind of found a way to blame it on him. And tell my friends all about it. By doing so I just created more of what I did not like. And I created a bad energy for our relationship.
Do not get me wrong here. I still sometimes tell my friends when we have an argument or when there is something bothering me. Two things have changed. I do tell my partner the exact same thing. There is nothing in that talk that he does not know about. And it is a conscious talk. It is not man-bashing. There is no blame. It is an objective (at least as objective as it can get) talk about a situation where I see my parts and what I need to change. A situation free of blame and guilt and shame. Just a recounting of an event where I think a friend might give helpful insights. An insight that can help me see things differently, change my view point and benefit my relationship. I am not looking for my friend to agree with me on how mean/ignorant/annoying my partner is and thus keeping me in a place of complaint. I am sharing. From the heart. Ready to hear where I have to change.
The last secret kind of blends in with the former. I am grateful. Grateful for my partner every day. Even if I am annoyed by him. I express this gratitude. I tell him how grateful I am and my thoughts about him are that of gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for. I focus on that. And I feel this gratitude daily and let if fill me with even more love for my husband.
Let me repeat the 7 relationship secrets I found to have made the difference in my relationship:
communication is key
be the change
surrender/ let go
lead a conscious life
freedom & same direction
do not talk/think badly about your partner
be grateful for your partner
I started implementing them bit by bit. It was a journey, a process. Now, whenever we have an argument (And, yes, we still do. Not that often but yes, sometimes.) we communicate from a place where no built-up anger, fear, shame or guilt is talking. We appreciate the growth that comes from each one of those moments.