If you’re going through a marriage problem right now, or have just gone through one, or are going through a major life transition, you might want to read this.
The Context: Spirituality.
I would like to begin by pointing out that the lens through which we discuss crisis is through spirituality. Not religion, but spirituality. Spirituality is bigger than religion. Spirituality reminds us that life is not random and that it doesn’t happen by chance. There is a pattern and purpose to our lives. But that pattern and purpose is often unidentifiable during happy times. More often than not, we need to be shaken to our core for us to become more aware of our inner purpose and understand our true selves. Crises situations allow us to reconnect with our souls. And spirituality allows us to see these patterns. Without spirituality, crises become showstoppers to life. But seen from the lens of spirituality, they become meaning-full experiences that reveal our true selves. A crisis situation is an invitation to authenticity.
The Subject: Expanded Awareness
Deepak Chopra talks about the three kinds of awareness:
1) Contracted Awareness – is our awareness that a problem is currently happening — probably because life becomes much harder, obstacles don’t move out of your way, or your situation does not improve. Chopra says that at this stage, you feel as if every step forward is a battle, and you keep doing more of what never worked in the first place, as if these self-medicated solutions will work. This stage is when you see a lot of frustration, anxiety and failure; and you become defensive and contract within yourself. You have baggages and these overwhelm you.
2) Expanded Awareness — is when solutions begin to appear. You gather perspective and you see things beyond the conflict. You are able to have a longer view of things which gives you more clarity. Using the analogy of mountains, an expanded awareness is being on TOP of the mountain, seeing the view below. Having a contracted awareness is being on flat land. You know you’ve reached this level of awareness when you don’t feel stuck anymore. You have baggages, but you are BIGGER than your baggages. Pain is pain, but pain is a way to something deeper, just like the pain of childbirth allows one to birth a child; you find a way to see pain as meaning-full (full of meaning).
3) Pure Awareness — is when no problems exist. Challenges becomes opportunities for creativity. Chopra says that at every moment, pure awareness is in contact with you sending Creative impulses, and you only need to be open to the answers being presented to you. He adds that at this level desires reach fulfilment spontaneously, the next step you take IS the BEST STEP that could be taken, and by doing so, you benefit yourself and the people around you. This is the level of true manifestation. You manifest and the universe conspires for it to happen — not just to benefit yourself, but to benefit your world.
The standard operating procedure of our minds is to contract when marriage problems arise. We hide in our figurative caves when marriage crisis strikes. We contract by feeling that we are alone and that the partner does not and could never understand us. Or maybe we’ve already tried in the past and we have become cynical to their ability to solve our problems. But real solutions to crisis only come from expanded awareness. Without expanded awareness, the world becomes a dark place full of terrors (as the Game of Thrones series would put it). In the Biblical Psalm 23, the writer talks about going through the valley of the shadow of death, and not being afraid. That is expanded awareness!
The Tip: Step Away From Your Problems
One of the first lessons of Mort Fertel’s MARRIAGE FITNESS program (check the link below) is to STEP AWAY FROM YOUR PROBLEMS. It is counterintuitive, because the usual marriage counselling teaches us that conflict resolution is the way to solve problems. But oftentimes, problem analysis leads to couple paralysis, precisely because you can’t get over your hurts. Your baggages, the feeling of affront, and pain overwhelm all other and they contract our awareness to the point of myopia — it’s all you see, it becomes your reality. Conflict resolution, when you don’t have expanded awareness, often leads to more problems down the road. According to some research, approximately 25% of couples who receive marriage therapy report that their relationship is worse two years after ending therapy, and up to 38% of couples get divorced within four years of completing therapy.
What type of marriage counselling works? Try to research EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) yourself (I’ll talk about this in more detail in a future post). For now, EFT is about helping the couple understand and re-organise their emotional responses to stimuli (i.e. what a partner does, how a partner acts, etc).
Without EFT, without marriage counselling, what should you do?
SET ASIDE YOUR PROBLEMS. Don’t talk about them at all. Don’t bring them up even once. Instead, focus your energies on trying to connect. The Marriage Fitness program will teach you these connection strategies in more detail. The goal is to establish new relationship habits that work and let go of negative relationship habits that don’t. The goal is to bring new positive energy into the marriage. The ultimate goal is to fall in love again!! It can happen, even if it seems so impossible right now!