What happens when your spouse comes home to tell you she has purchased a motorcycle, taken a six-month leave of absence from work and is planning to ride cross-country with a friend? If you have not been part of the planning phase for these major decisions, you may be wondering, “What happened to the ‘we’ in the ‘to-have-and-to-hold’ and ‘until-death-do-us-part’ portions of the marriage vows?” Yet, what remains unspoken, in more spiritually mature unions, is that as marriage participants we usually come together to assist one another in discovering who we are and what we want.
In the context of a spiritual friendship or a primary, committed relationship, this process may be referred to as holding space.
Marriage, as an institution, may be “about” many things: the desire for a greater sense of intimacy, domestic refuge, physical touch, having a reliable confessor, spiritual communion, fiscal support, emotional comfort, common interests, intellectual friendship, shared dreams or some combinations thereof. Most of us enter a first marriage without necessarily knowing ourselves, let alone what we may “want” over a lifetime, except that we remain hopeful that life is and will become “better” if we are heard and, ideally, understood by someone other than ourselves. And, on the threshold of a new marriage, travelling in tandem always seems like the better choice than going it alone.
In actuality, all of us are already travelling in tandem through life, whether or not we are in a committed, primary relationship. We are travelling in tandem–within ourselves–with the Self, our highest Light.
There is the aspect of each personality running our day-to-day affairs, such as calling the garage for an oil-change appointment, shuttling children to and from activities, getting us through the work day or otherwise “doing” life–almost on autopilot. Another aspect of personality, which often lies buried beneath a pile of fall leaves, waiting to be unearthed at the first hint of a spring-like recognition, is in the inner sactum of the heart–the highest Light or the Self.
Sometimes the disparity between what our habituated self desires is quite different from what our highest Light would command or commend.
The habituated self has its eyes on entertainment, the Joneses, as well as practical, logisitical and material concerns. The Self is more concerned with affirming the whole of life in the Big Picture, while working through issues of ethics with a trained, judicious eye on everyone and everything involved.
Thus, from this perspective, there are atleast four distinct personalities in any given primary relationship of just two people.