I once heard Marianne Williamson say that eastern cultures kind of got it right with the whole concept of arranged marriage. (Let’s be clear here, I and I think I can safely assume Ms. Williamson, are talking arranged marriage, not forced marriage, which I know is a fine line, a serious subject and a topic bigger than any post I have yet typed). And do you know what? I kind of agreed with her. A couple of years ago I couldn’t have been further away from such an accepting line of thinking, about such a controversial idea, because I had not yet consciously cultivated my spiritual connection, ergo, I was very disconnected. For a self proclaimed “open minded person”, I was actually very close minded and close hearted. At that time it was as difficult for me to see outside of my own self imposed thought constraints as I was judging others and their belief systems for. The irony, at the time, was sadly lost in the wilderness.
Back then I thought I sooo got it when it came to relationships. Despite the fact that I tripped from one coupling to the next, with barely a break in between, starting around the age of 14. Despite the fact that I could mould myself to pretty much anyone and their needs and desires, changing my taste in music, clothes, nights out, humour to fit accordingly, without even really noticing. Despite the fact that even though my list of ex boyfriends is about the moteliest crew you ever did see (due to the wild variety rather than their individual merits) I seemed, in the end, to live out the same patterns with each and every one.
I thought it was a case of finding “the one”. All my other relationships simply hadn’t worked out because after a certain period of time there would be one thing that would stick out like a sore thumb and become the kicker that told me nope, this one isn’t the one. Sigh. (Too nice. Too sarcastic. Doesn’t love me enough. Too clingy. Too ambitious. Not ambitious enough. And on, and on, and on…) It was nothing to do with me, my patterns, my stuff, who I was attracting, how I was acting out, my need to be the person I thought they wanted instead of just being ok with who I was and being ok with whether they liked that or not. Oh no, I knew best.
Fast forward a few years, après spiritual revelation <link>, and here I am listening to MDub (as I affectionately call my fave spiritual teacher) telling me that she kind of gets why the whole arranged marriage thing worked. She was talking during a lecture on romantic relationships and saying that the concept of having an arrangement works because the two people and their families decide that on the basis of the couple-to-be being a good match and fundamentally wanting the same stuff out of life, it would work from the beginning, and they’d all collectively do what it took to support the growth and continuation of love and trust to help make the marriage a happy and successful one.
This kind of “arranged” setup reminds me very starkly of a lesson in A Course in Miracles which says that the thinking of the “outer world” is such that you believe that you will wait to understand a person first, before you decide if they are worthy of love, but the truth is you will never truly understand a person until you love them. Translated: Be open and willing enough to decide to love someone from the start and you will have a much better chance of coming to truly understand them, and of course from there love grows.
Now stay with me here because making the decision to love first isn't as mechanical or as bat shit as it may sound! Let me explain…
I feel like my marriage with my husband has that same vibe of the kind of arranged marriage that Marianne spoke of. (Yes, in my head we’re on first name terms.) You see I “met” my husband online on the 5th January 2014. We met in person on the 20th January. We spent a lot of hardcore quality time talking, hanging out, over a period of a few short weeks. We spoke very openly to each other right away about our experiences, our feelings about our experiences, past relationships, how we’d changed as people, what we were passionate about, what we wanted out of life. He told me after a week of dating he knew he would like to be married and have more children. He was scared it would freak me out but I thought it was a hella smart idea. Because he was right, it might have freaked me out, but better to know now that that wasn’t what I had envisioned for my future, than three years down the line with a joint mortgage, 2 dogs and a holiday to the Seychelles depending on us. By the 26th of January I knew I loved him. A couple of weeks later he asked if I’d like to do something really crazy, like get married towards the end of the year. I said there was only one problem, I’d always seen myself having a summer wedding so we’d have to do it sooner.
So three weeks in, we’d covered what felt like all the essential bases. Something in both of us felt a magnetic pull to make this forever, so we were unofficially engaged by February, officially engaged by April and married in August.
And now I’ve regaled you with the tale of our whirlwind and fairytale courtship, let me tell you, it has not all been rainbows and lollipops. (All the smug marrieds out there chorusing “No shit Sherlock!”) This again is a whole nother blog post, but no one talks about how difficult the first few months, possibly even years, of marriage are. It’s meant to be all honeymoon drenched romance and rabbit like love making. Actually (in my experience anyway, I really hope I’m doing it right?!) it’s more like let’s discuss our joint finances, how can we renegotiate our working hours so we actually get to see each other, should we get an extension on the house and could you please hang up your coat / turn off the lights / bring your breakfast plate downstairs?! There are a lot of emotional, practical and spiritual adjustments to be made when you make a proper formal lifelong commitment to another human being.
There have been times in our relationship when had we not decided to commit to each other in a serious and soulfelt way, we may not have survived the, shall we say, “heated debates” and “miscommunications” that ensued. In fact, had we not made the decision to commit to each other in marriage, such exchanges probably would not have arisen, because there’s something almost alchemical about commitment. It makes shit happen. It accelerates the miracles and the lessons. When you make the declaration to the Universe that you mean business, the Universe responds by putting you on the PhD in love, career, family, self, whatever it is you just made your vows to.
ACIM has whole swathes of its text dedicated to busting the myth of “romantic love” as an ego construct. This is not to say so called romantic gestures are bullshit (every girl loves a surprise red rose / pair of diamond earrings, hint hint!) but instead to say that the vision of perfect romantic Hollywood love, that one person who will come along and be your saviour and salvation, who will rescue you from the misery of loneliness and lack of self worth, and forever pander to your every whim, and of course, do it before you even had to ask, is false.
The point of the spiritual path (whatever yours may be) is the attainment of inner peace that comes with realising your own wholeness, and crucially, not expecting another person to “complete you”. Being able to truly love someone and be the person that could be truly loved is not about the love that the movies and songs on the radio sell us. It’s about releasing expectation, and attachment to the outcome. It’s about knowing that your safety lies in your vulnerability and allowing your walls, your armour, your defences to crumble, so you can be 100% open and honest with another. So that you may be able to love them first before asking them to prove themselves worthy of your love. It’s about letting go every day of the person you so wish to cling on to. And it’s a process. For most of us, this is not how we’ve been taught, so we’re having to re-learn, to remember.
And what I’ve re-learned in my marriage is this: The ego’s romance is nice. Gifts and flowers and steak dinners and love notes and hourly texts are lovely. But they’re form rather than content. They make a relationship look pretty from the outside, like a present neatly tied with a beautiful pink bow. But what’s the point of a beautiful wrapping if what’s inside is rotten or worse, empty? So it’s important not to fall for thinking the ego’s romance is the substance of your relationship. The real content of life and relationships, most of the time, does not come with a perfect pink bow, but when you can fully give yourself over, with vulnerability and soulfelt commitment to what is available to you, you will experience love beyond anything the ego could sell you, beyond even your wildest dreams.
So to all those working on dropping their defences and co-creating a whole lotta whole, alone, or with another, take heart. It’s not always easy, but I can promise you it’s always worth it. xo
If you’d like to chat more about love, romance and relationships and get some ACIM guided Spirit Deej advice on all of the above, join me this week for my live Hangout on Wednesday 11th February at 1pm GMT / 8am EST / 5am PST where we'll be talking all things love, romance and relationships. As always there's LIVE Q+A if you can join me in the moment PLUS you'll get the recording afterwards if you can't. Be sure you're signed up to get access.