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Relationships

Spiritual Relationship: A New Approach to Solve Problems and Enrich Your Relationship

The traditional relationship’s approach to solve problems and improve the relationship relies heavily on communication.

But what happens when one partner is unwilling or unable to talk about certain topics? or if communication doesn’t come naturally to either or both partner and it ends up making them defensive and blaming each other?

Communication might not be enough here to solve problems and enrich the relationship.

This is where spiritual relationship comes.

In this article, you’ll learn a new approach to problem-solving and relationships enrichment through loving acts.

Ready? Let’s get started!

What Is Spiritual Relationship?

A spiritual relationship is a different understanding of the purpose of a loving relationship.

It does not require you to be religious or part of any organized religion.

It is about acting in a way that is aligned with your “spiritual” values, such as inner peace, compassion, acceptance, etc. It’s our way to recognize our connection to everyone and everything in this universe and to strive to increase this connection through our thoughts and actions.

In a Spiritual Relationship, loving actions become your primary tool for solving problems and improving your relationship.

This is different from the non-spiritual relationship where communication is used as a primary tool for problem-solving and improving the relationship in general.

By using loving actions your focus shifts from “How can I resolve this problem?” to “How can I behave in accord with my highest spiritual self?” When you use this approach, you move from trying to “fix” your partner to enjoy your relationship. You may later discover that the problem isn’t there anymore.

For example, if you feel frustrated by your partner’s unorganization, rather than trying to “fix” him, acting in a loving way and trying to understand and accept this trait, can help you stop seeing it as a problem.

Related: 6 Healthy Relationship Tips For Couples (ACT In Relationships)

Why Communication Is Not Enough?

While communication skills, such as negotiating, bargaining, and reaching agreements may work in the marketplace, they are not enough in a loving relationship.

Communication can cause problems:

1. Your partner may be unwilling, or even unable to talk about certain topics. When communication is your only tool, this may leave you feeling stuck and frustrated.

2. One partner may be better at communicating their feelings and needs than the other, which creates inequality.

3. Effective communication does not come naturally to most people. So people may become defensive and start blaming each other. This can only exacerbate the original problem and even create more problems.

4. Communication often comes with hidden agenda. One partner or both are trying to get the other person to change in certain ways, which is controlling and doesn’t honor the other person.

Try to think of the biggest source of conflict in your relationship, did communication solved it?

To sum up, relying on communication alone to solve problems and improve the relationship is not enough. Loving actions can help here.

Related: How to Get More Affection from Your Relationships?

What Are Loving Actions?

A Loving Action is an intentional action that is unilateral and motivated by a desire for spiritual growth.

It’s based on commitment, rather than a fleeting feeling of love. So even, in the midst of an argument or when you feel least loving, you can still act in a loving way without changing the way you feel.

In fact, acting in a loving way is what will change the way you feel.

Put simply, you don’t have to feel your way into loving actions. You can act your way into loving feelings.

For example, if you feel frustrated that your partner gets home late and doesn’t spend enough time with you, you can choose to act as if you were loving and understanding, as an experiment and ask about their day.

This can help you focus less on your frustration, enjoy a lovely time getting to know each other better, and it may even encourage your partner to start spending more quality time with you.

What’s good about loving actions is that they are unilateral. You don’t have to wait for cooperation from your partner. This can be empowering and free you from being at the mercy of someone else.

It’s also important to keep in mind that no loving action can fail. Every loving action is experimental with the sole goal of gaining new information about yourself and your partner.

Your task here is to notice if you feel different, if your partner responds more warmly or if he becomes hostile. Whatever happens, you are learning something. This conscious learning is the substance of spiritual growth.

Try This

Identify loving actions you can perform.

Before exploring specific loving actions, try to identify things you can do to convey your love for your partner.

These could include helping around the house, getting physical, sending love notes, etc.

#1. Cultivate a Good Will Mindset

What Is Good Will in Relationships?

Good will is an overall feeling of generosity and alliance toward your partner.

It means you value your relationship far more than the problem you’re facing. It means that you’re willing to acknowledge the validity of your partner’s perspective even when you don’t agree with it.

It is not about becoming a doormat. It is a deliberate decision to make a kind gesture that comes from a self that is so strong it can easily tolerate not getting its way.

Why Cultivate a Good Will Mindset?

Good will supports you, too.

When you’re generous and kind with your partner, you are in control of the situation, you eliminate conflict, and are free to experience the pleasure of giving to someone you love.

And good will can actually solve problems.

How to Cultivate Good Will In Your Relationship?

1. Let go of the need to be “right”

2. Be grateful for what you have

3. Emphasize the positive traits in your partner

4. Accept your partner just as they are

5. Tolerate the aspects of your partner that you don’t like and wish you could change

6. Practice thoughtfulness and generosity

Related: How to Stay in Love? 50 Secrets of Happy Relationships

#2. Act as If

You don’t have to behave the way you feel.

You always have a choice. You can feel frustrated inside and still choose to behave in a loving way and see if the new feelings you hope for follow.

Not as a passive-aggressive strategy. But as a conscious, spiritual exercise.

This is about acknowledging that the relationship is more important than this incident or than changing your partner.

Acting As If Raises Your Awareness

Acting as if will help you grow spiritually. When you pay attention to how you feel and consciously choose to act in a loving way, you increase your emotional intelligence – your ability to identify your emotions and manage them.

How to Act As If In Your Relationship?

1. Start small

The next time you feel upset or frustrated, choose to act in a loving way for just five minutes, in the beginning and build on that.

2. Act as if not in response to a situation but as a proactive way of taking initiative

Create the feeling you wish you had in your relationship.

If you wish your partner was more romantic, ask yourself “What can I do to be more romantic myself.”

3. Practice

It’s important to remind yourself to be patient, especially at the beginning. If your feelings don’t change right away, don’t take that as a failure.

It’s just a sign that you need more practice before you can gain more control over your feelings.

4. Challenge your voices of resistance

You may find yourself thinking, “My partner doesn’t deserve this,” or, “This too fake.”

It’s okay to have these thoughts. Loving acts are experimental. All you have to do is try and notice the way you feel.

Related: 7 Ways To Rediscover Friendship In Your Marriage And Save It

#3. Give Up Trying to “Fix” Things

Most couples believe that if they can solve their problems, then they can be happy together.

This assumes that problems are the cause of unhappiness in a marriage. The truth is, they are only symptoms of an unhappy marriage.

In other words, when you focus on being happy together, then your problems will diminish.

Most Problems Can’t Be Solved

All the greatest and most important problems of this life are fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This “outgrowing” [requires] a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appears on the horizon, . . . and the insoluble problem loses its urgency. It is not solved logically in its own terms but fades when confronted with a new and stronger image.

—Carl Jung

The reason why working on problems doesn’t solve them is mainly because most problems can’t be solved.

Most problems are based on fundamental differences in personality or values of each person for which there is no solution.

How Do You Stop Trying to “Fix” Things?

1. Consider that problems are really facts of life

Labeling something as a problem implies that it’s something to be fixed.

However, when it comes to accepting “the things you cannot change,” as the Serenity Prayer says, you need to consider these as facts of life.

By doing that, you expand your awareness and open yourself to new perceptions. You start seeing the conflict or the problem as an opportunity for spiritual growth. You ask yourself, “What can I learn about myself and about us from this conflict?”

2. Use loving acts instead of communication

Again this applies to fundamental differences in personality or values – things you need to simply accept because this is who your partner is.

Shift your focus away from the problem as you learn to accept your differences and try saying “I love you” in different ways, like writing a loving note, cooking a special meal for your partner, taking your partner on a date, giving your partner a sincere compliment, etc.

If you are short on ideas, get a copy of Greg Godek’s book 1001 Ways to Be Romantic and lookup thoughtful loving acts.

Related: Top 10 Emotional Needs In Intimate Relationships and How to Meet Them

#4. Practice Self-Control

Self-control helps you keep your composure and find inner peace.

A spiritual relationship helps you find opportunities to practice self-control: avoiding negative and critical comments, avoiding defensive responses, and avoiding fights.

Although this might seem direct and easy, people are usually surprised at how often they make such comments and how hard it is to resist them.

In the beginning, you may only realize that you’ve said something negative after you have said it. Becoming aware that you’ve said something negative, itself, is progress.

Later, you may realize you’re saying something negative as you are saying it. Until eventually, you become able to recognize that you’re about to say something negative and stop yourself and this is self-control.

1. Avoid negative comments

Commit to refrain from making any critical, demanding, or negative comments to your partner.

Start with one evening and build on that as you gain more self-control.

Also, notice what kind of negative comments you tend to make. Are they critical, controlling, sarcastic? Do you sound like one of your parents? What can you learn here?

You can also use a mantra as you practice self-control, like “My relationship is more important than this [whatever frustrates you].”

2. Avoid defensive responses

One way to overcome the habit of becoming defensive is to repeat to yourself, “I feel defensive.” It is a non-judgmental comment that acknowledges the way you feel and creates a space for you to calm down.

Acknowledging your defensiveness and becoming aware of the way you feel will help you catch yourself and practice self-control.

3. Avoid Fights

When the fight is destructive and unproductive, it’s best to walk away from it.

This can be hard when you’re in a rage and want to show your partner how wrong they are.

But you still have a choice. You don’t have to behave the way you feel.

Take a deep breath. Bring consciousness to the situation and deliberately choose to walk away. You can say, “I’m very angry right now. I want to talk about this, but I need to cool down first.”

Related: 4 Habits of Emotionally Intimate Couples and 4 Habits They Avoid

#5. Take Control Over Giving and Taking

The traditional relationship is a 50-50 proposition. Both partners need to give and take equally. This works well as long as both partners agree on the division of duties.

However, when one partner feels that he’s contributing more, he would either hold back on what he’s giving or negotiate with his partner to give more.

Both options may not work.

Holding back on what you give will likely make you and your partner feel resentful, and trying to make your partner give more is an attempt to change them, which doesn’t honor them.

A New Approach to Understand Balance

Spiritual relationship offers a new understanding of balance – one in which you are fully in control over maintaining the balance and fairness you want.

Rather than viewing balance as your contributions on one side and your partner’s on the other, you view balance as “what you give to the relationship” on one side and what “how much are you taking care of your needs in the relationship” on the other.

If you are good at taking care of yourself and quite self-sufficient, then your task will be to practice generosity more toward your partner.

If you are someone who’s good at taking care of others but not of yourself, then your work will be to be more assertive, take initiative and act on your own more.

Related: Struggling to Receive? 7 Steps to Open Up and Start Accepting Loved and Support

#6. Act on Your Own

If you have a need that’s not being met, rather than feeling resentful, try to act on your own and meeting that need.

For example, if your husband hasn’t gotten around to fixing the leaky faucet, hire someone to do it. If your partner spends so much time on the internet, spend the time with your friends or on a hobby of your own.

Whatever you need to do to act on your own and meet your needs, the most important thing is for you to realize that you have the option of acting on your own.

Shifting from waiting for your partner to take care of your needs to being in control of getting your needs met is empowering and can solve many problems in your relationship. It can also increase your feelings of self-love and self-efficacy.

When your needs are met, you will be able to give generously to your partner without feeling resentful.

How to Act on Your Own?

1. Be careful when your act will have an impact on your partner

It is best not to act on your own when your act will have an impact on your partner or when it is over the objection of your partner.

Use this action for situations that are “nonnegotiable” to you and are truly important to you.

2. Be empathetic but also decisive

Be empathetic enough to take care of your partner, but also decisive enough to take care of yourself.

If what you’re going to do will make your partner upset, show your understanding of their perspective (empathy), but also be clear that this important to you (decisive).

#7. Move Toward Acceptance

When you don’t like something about your partner, you are faced with two choices: either (1) feel upset and try to change your partner, or (2) accept it and change the way you view it.

Spiritual relationship favors the second option.

This is especially effective when the things upsetting you cannot be changed, like fundamental differences in personality or values.

Change Begins With Acceptance

When you accept something, it doesn’t mean you like it or approve of it. It simply means that you stop wasting your time and energy fighting something you can’t change.

In fact, it acceptance and behaving in a loving way that’s more likely to bring about positive change.

Why Accept?

* When you accept your partner the way they are, you recognize that you fell in love with this person as a whole rather than choosing little parts and rejecting the others.

* Acceptance helps you work on your spiritual growth. It helps you view the “problem” as an opportunity to practice love and tolerance. You create peace within yourself.

* Acceptance offers your partner the most important gift: the message, “You are loved and accepted the way you are.”

* Acceptance creates harmony in your relationship.

How to Practice Acceptance?

1. Decide if the trait or behavior is a “dealbreaker”

While most of the changes you wish you could create in your partner are not dealbreakers, you may decide that a certain trait or behavior is something you can’t live with, such as verbal abuse, or alcohol addiction, or unfaithfulness, etc.

If so, decide whether you want to leave the relationship or if you are ready to accept this trait.

2. Understand your partner’s natural tendencies

People’s fundamental personality characteristics will never completely change. The best you can do here is to understand those characteristics.

Understanding general gender differences can also help you accept your partner more. Such differences include; women want to connect under stress, men tend to withdraw. Women use conversation to express feelings and establish connection, men use conversation to solve problems.

3. Pretend the trait you want to change is a scar

A scar is something you wouldn’t like, but you also wouldn’t reject your partner for having it or demand that they change it.

Your partner’s deep personality characteristics are somewhat like scars.

If you find it hard to accept, try acting as you are accepting, even if you don’t feel like it, and notice if your feelings changes overtime.

4. Repeat to yourself, “It is what it is.”

When you view something as a fact of life rather than a problem to fix, you’re more likely to feel accepting.

5. Practice self-acceptance

The more you accept the parts of yourself that you don’t like, the more you will be able to accept other people.

Accepting yourself is not about making yourself perfect or changing the things you don’t like about yourself.

Accepting yourself is about accepting who you are right now.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on improving yourself. Having goals is part of what you accept about yourself.

In other words, the discontent about the things you don’t accept is the problem and not the things themselves.

Related: Overcome Suffering In Your Own Way: 4 Keys To Relieve Suffering

#8. Learn Compassion

Compassion is the ability to understand what someone else is going through and to be moved to help.

It means that, rather than becoming defensive when your partner is upset and yelling, you take a deep breath and consider his own perspective, regardless of whether it was right or wrong. You remind yourself that he has his own reasons for behaving this way and that he has a right to his opinions.

This may seem like a tall order, but it’s what compassion is about – seeing the pain and the history behind your partner’s feelings and behaviors.

How to Practice Compassion?

1. Cultivate compassion toward others

When you hear a sad story, notice your reaction to the other person’s pain and allow yourself to feel empathy toward them by putting yourself in their shoes.

When you hear victims of natural disaster, for example, allow yourself to feel the sadness along with the desire to help and take their pain away.

2. Cultivate compassion for yourself

The more you feel compassion toward yourself, the more able you are to feel it for others, and the opposite is also true.

If you experience self-loathing and low self-esteem, seek to understand what you are going through and work on accepting yourself more.

Related: How to Cultivate Compassion and Become an Altruistic Person?

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References

  • Portions of this article were adapted from the book Why Talking Is Not Enough: Eight Loving Actions That Will Transform Your Marriage, © 2006 by Susan Page. All rights reserved.
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