On January 12th 2018, 20 years ago, I met the man who became my husband. Even I, can’t believe that we’ve been together for that long but I guess what they say is true; time flies. As soon as we met, we lived together so even though we only got married 7 years ago (yes, we waited 13 years to become husband and wife!), January 12th has a very special meaning to me for it is as if we committed to one another that day.
This has gotten me thinking about relationships, love and yoga.
I’ve heard many times in the past in my yoga education that the most challenging yoga is the yoga of relationships; any relationships, and I agree with that. As you may know, yoga is much more than the physical practice; the asanas. There are 8 limbs or steps in the practice of yoga and one of them: the Yamas, has to do with how we interact with others. There are five yamas: Ahimsa: absence de violence, Satya: thruthfulness, Asteya: non-stealing, Brahmacharya: moderation and Aparigraha: non-coveting.
Am I thinking, acting and expressing myself in a way that is not harmful to the other person? Am I speaking the truth and being honest with the other? Am I being careful that I don’t take advantage of the possessions of the other and/or his/her time? Am I staying faithful to my partner and not wasting my sexual energy? Am I desiring inordinately what belongs to the other or am I being content with what I have?
I feel that these are important questions to keep in mind in order to act in a more grounded, serene and truthful way while in a love relationship but really in any relationship.
What I learned in the process is that a love story is both magical and effortful. If you think of all the people you could have met in this world, there is definitely something magical, powerful and even beyond our control that brings two people together. The physical, emotional and intellectual attraction has to be there and that can’t be worked or forced. Although some people may disagree with this statement as I’ve heard of some amazing relationships in some arranged marriages. But let’s assume that for most of us the spark, the magic, the butterflies in the belly have to happen.
And as magical as it is, it also requires a lot of efforts. If you are a romantic person you may not like that statement so much as you would like everything to flow naturally without any hardships but honestly does anything in life work this way? So maybe efforts seem tough and rather we can talk about the fact that everything needs our attention, our nourishment, our care, our love to flourish and blossom. From gardening, to cooking, to practicing yoga, to going thru life, to meditating, to raising children, to being in a relationship… And that is what is so beautiful about this for the more we commit ourselves and take care of our relationships the better they get and the more balanced and stable they feel.
Now of course, the two people have to be willing to infuse the relationship with care, attention, love, for the union to get stronger. If it only goes one way or comes from one side, it will make things much harder and they may end up not working.
In no particular order, I wanted to share with you the values that are important to me in my marriage:
. communication: this is such an important key to any relationships especially when things get more challenging. Your partner has to know how you feel about a certain situation and vice versa. And the hardest part is to be able to do it without putting any anger or resentment. For guess what? Everything we put out there attracts more of that same thing. And I’m completely aware that it is easier said than done and I’ve failed many times in the past but at least can we be aware of it so it doesn’t become an habit?
The communication piece goes hand in hand with honesty: being completely honest and being ready to feel vulnerable and uncomfortable.
I like that advice from yoga teacher Ashley Turner. When you get into an argument with your partner, to make sure to repeat to him/her what he/she has just said before you reply. It goes something like: “you are saying that you feel…”. So many times, we get stuck in our own drama that we barely hear or we tend to interpret tremendously what the other is saying. So by repeating what the other has said before replying we make sure that we are understanding fully what the other has said. Full disclosure: I’ve never tried this but I will for I believe it’s a great tool.
. trust: nothing can grow if trust is not there.
. respect: in every sense of the word. Respect the person, respect his/her personality, his opinions, his views. This doesn’t mean agree with everything your partner is saying or think but acknowledging that people can have different opinions.
. do things together: we travel, we meditate, we walk, we practice yoga, we go to the movies, we eat at restaurants, we go out with friends… and there are also so many things we don’t do together: work out, read in bed, cook, work, run, go to the Russian baths, listen to french news on the radio, go out with friends…
To me, it is actually very important and I think healthy that we keep activities apart so we have our own independent world from which one another can benefit.
To summarize: love is beautiful, love is hard, love hurts and love heals, love is everything and can break everything at the same time. Love is life. It is a necessity and a luxury. It is flowing and strenuous. Love is EVERYTHING.
I’ll leave you with that Harvard study that was released recently on happiness. It followed 268 people for nearly 80 years and found out that close and healthy relationships are what make us happy more than money or fame.
As always, thank you for reading.