Wednesday, October 7, 2009

thoughts on being a couple

Ultimately, the health and hope of any intimate relationship
will depend on each party's willingness
to assume responsibility . . .
It takes great courage to ask this fundamental question:
"What am I asking of this Other
that I ought to be doing for myself?"

~James Hollis~





I honor your gods
I drink at your well
I bring an undefended heart to our meeting place
I have no cherished outcome
I will not negotiate by withholding
I am not subject to disappointment

~Celtic Vow~





I think one of the problems in marriage
is that people don't realize
what it is.
They think it's a long love affair
and it isn't.
Marriage has nothing to do
with being happy.
It has to do with
being transformed,
and when the transformation
is realized
it is
a magnificent experience.
But you have to submit.
You have to yield.
You have to give.
You can't just dictate.

~Joseph Campbell~





I hold this to be the highest task
of a bond between two people:
that each should stand guard
over the solitude of the other

~Rainer Maria Rilke~


Barry from "An Explorer's View of Life" just honoured us with the following quotation from St. Augustine in my comment section.  It is exquisite and sums up my post, and all of the comments received, so beautifully that I had to pull it out of the comments and post it here.  Did not want anyone to miss it.  Thank you Barry!


"Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two."
~St. Augustine~




Just received this image from a friend and had to post, as it is so fitting.

52 comments:

  1. Bonnie these are just wonderful and worth to give lots of thought. Thank you for sharing them..

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  2. James and Joseph got it right! Marriage teaches one to become strong and independant as well as compassionate and able to compromise big time- It is work - no whining- just giving it all you've got and IF both parties agree to that it is nurturing/growing environment...especially for any children born into this relationship. It is never what you have been lead to believe...fairytales pshaw.

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  3. Such a wonderful post, Bonnie! This coming from a happily married woman of 3o years and growing stronger every day. I wish that younger people entering into marriage would take the time to thoughtfully consider many of these quotes. Marriage isn't about the long love affair. There are so many aspects of marriage that need to be considered when saying "I do". LOTS of hard work...probably the best paid job you will ever have if one devotes themselves to the outcome.

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  4. I love the idea of standing guard over the other's solitude. Your quotes are interesting and very true - I think space is important in a relationship - just as important as closeness.

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  5. As Jen and I approach our 12th wedding anniversary this week, I've been thinking a lot about what makes our marriage work so well. Over the years we have watched the breakup of several of our friends' marriages, and we just look at each other and wonder why ours is so different. I think respect is the key for us - we love and cherish the things we have in common, and we respect each others' differences. Not respecting your partner's differences is almost guaranteed to lead to resentment and eventual failure of a relationship. No two people are exactly alike (and honestly, could any of us live with someone who is exactly like us? I know I couldn't :)). So you have to not only accept the differences, but embrace, honor, and respect them.

    Anyway, that strategy seems to be working pretty well for us so far, so we're gonna stick with it.

    Thanks for these thoughts.

    J

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  6. Turquoise: You are welcome. What is it that you feel makes your relationship work?

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  7. Linda Sue: Compassion, compromise, no whining and letting go of the fairy-tale ideal - did I get them all? I so agree.

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  8. Alicia: Eyes open, devotion, hard work - yes!!

    Relationships certainly can benefit from the romance and love affair aspect - but it is just one layer of a multi-tiered cake.

    If any of you would like to read a great book, from a Jungian perspective, on relationships - check out James Hollis' "The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other". (btw - there is no magical other, so we are all searching for an illusion!)

    Thanks Alicia - good advice from someone with 30 years experience!

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  9. Weaver: So true - space and closeness. It is a rhythm of merging and being our own responsible individual. The pulsation of life - open/close,
    ebb/flow, come/go . . . Thanks Weaver.

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  10. Jeff: Happy Anniversary!!! You are saying that respecting, embracing and honouring differences is what has made your 12 year marriage work. Vital.

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  11. All of it,every quote, so true and relevant and absolutely essential if this journey by two people is to have any meaning.

    I have been very happily married for 22 years; not a small part of this happiness being due to having learnt painful lessons the first time round, all of them encapsulated in your quotes.

    Where do you find the Rilke quotes? I know him very well in German but can find no translations which please me.

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  12. "But you have to submit. You have to yield. You have to give. You can't just dictate." Truer words have never been spoken. This is a recipe for a perfect marriage.

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  13. I like your Rainer Maria Rilke quote...

    I hold this to be the highest task
    of a bond between two people:
    that each should stand guard
    over the solitude of the other

    In everyway I want...I feel guarded by my husband...soon to be married 46 years.

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  14. Hi Bonnie


    Let there be spaces in your togetherness....

    Kahlil Gibran


    speaks very loudly to me about the allowing, the respect, the bending, the compromise, individuality and honouring differences, compassion and extending yourself for the benefit of the loved one...

    I have been married for over 32 years and it has been a medley of experiences and emotions but most of all it is hard work...



    Love is like bread
    you have to make it every day...



    Happy days and love to you Bonnie

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  15. Friko: I like how you call it a 'journey'. Intimate relationships are like a winding road, with incredible views, detours, obstacles, great little side tours, incredible new vistas, boredom, fatigue, renewed energy, etc.

    It must be wonderful to be able to read and appreciate Rilke in his mother tongue. I have a couple of books highlighting his work - none of which, after a 15 minute scan of my bookshelves, can I lay my hand on right now. Must be some of my regular visitors (with the same name as me) that have 'borrowed' them!!

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  16. Travel & Dive Girl: Yielding and giving are truly essential - I agree.

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  17. Wanda: Now that is amazing - 46 years!!! I experience the same feeling with my husband - that I am cared for, protected, appreciated and never interfered with.

    I remember when my children were teenagers they would sometimes come home and say "Mom - none of my friends' parents are still together! - I'm so glad you and Dad are still together." Doing the hard work of maintaining a long-standing relationship is a real gift to our children.

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  18. Delwyn: What a lovely way of describing a relationship - 'a medley of experiences'. Again I appreciate the qualities/actions that you suggest are essential: honouring, bending, extending, allowing - and above all - hard work.

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  19. Excellent. Good for you! Thoughtful post.

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  20. No instruction, no directives , there would be no need. Your words, your images, openly considered, fully realized, deeply shared heart to heart, and so be the glory of marriage known. Thank you for such aesthetic wisdom.

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  21. Bonnie,
    We've been married 30+years, too, and I can vouch for these quotes' truth, as well. Marriage for us has been a long and convoluted journey, full of ups and downs, but like a ride on the ocean waves, ultimately it takes you to a destination together. Hopefully the beach and not deeper water!! :p) But it's certainly not the simple end result of the wedding you spend a year planning. There's a whole long adventure that only just begins after that. Very worth it. Thanks for this lovely post, Bonnie.

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  22. This is a beautiful, beautiful post, Bonnie! I love the Celtic vows and Rilke's notion of respecting each other's solitude. And those opalescent doves! I think what I continue to work on is communication--eliminates arguing, resentment. It's work; it's art!

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  23. Barbara: So nice when we can look back and say in spite of the high tides and low tides, it was all worth it. Thanks Barb.

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  24. Margaret: Yes, without communication a long-term relationship must grow empty, meaningless and sterile.

    Very good point about it being an 'art' - one that we get better at the more we apply ourselves to the work required.

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  25. I was just going to tell you to pick up an award and I see that you have posted here an AWARD-FREE zone. Sooo, just ignore my post. I'm not going to change it because you know what a big no-no that is in the blogging world. I see where you're coming from, though. I've been working on these awards for 6 hours. Too time consuming! :) Appreciate the thoughts, though!

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  26. Love it all! Marriage is definitely about making THE OTHER happy, and doing for that person...

    Great post!

    -Dayne

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  27. So very provocative, Bonnie. The beautiful quotes and the photos. I have but one small quibble. If one submits and yields to transformation, as Joseph Campbell suggests, I do believe the result is happiness. Thus, marriage can, in fact, be about happiness.

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  28. Boy, am I ever glad I stopped by! This is wonderful!

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  29. Beautiful photos and words. Going on 42+ years, we both give 100 percent. :)

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  30. Woops... I have been married not 32 years but 37 years ...golly I am getting doddery...I only noticed the error I had made when I read Wanda's comment about being married 46 years...

    Happy days

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  31. "Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two."
    -St. Augustine

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  32. Pat: I do appreciate the kind gesture - but hear that you 'get it' after all the time you have taken attending to your awards.

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  33. Dayne: That is certainly the mature approach!

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  34. Delwyn: hmmm - glad I'm not the only one. But you do have me wondering about a mr. smoooooth!

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  35. Barry: How beautiful. Funny I had a brief quote from St. Augustine at first, but reconsidered and replaced it with Joseph Campbell. Guess St. Augustine just had to be included here. This is so great, I am going to put it up in the post, with full credit to Augustine and you.

    That is one thing my husband and I love about being together - is the history we have created and of course the roots. Not easily disentangled.

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  36. June: I'm glad you stopped by too. Please come again!

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  37. These quotes are as beautiful as your photos, and speak to the depths of my soul!!!! Thank you! There is a quiet and comfort in your post today, and it envelopes me!!! ~Janine XO

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  38. Dear Bonnie,
    Thank you for a fantastic post. I also enjoyed reading your comments. Always a learning time here with you.
    I have been married for 37 years and know love. Each day I have the courage to have an open heart. Each day I begin new and live respectfully in the now.
    Honoring myself and my mate I have courage....
    Namaste,
    Sherry

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  39. Your post on love and marriage is perfect. And I love Barry's quote from St. Augustine. True love is a long term committment, that says no matter what - I have your back.

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  40. Sniffles & Smiles (Janine): Funny, I was just thinking about you while drinking some white tea - wondering how you are doing as you get close to surgery? I so appreciate your comments and am particularly glad you found some quiet and comfort here. Take good care!

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  41. Q (Sherry): I'm so glad you left comments! It does take courage to have an open heart. Courage.

    Another quality that has not been mentionned but is essential to my husband and I is humour. We spend so much time laughing together - it becomes like a glue with holding power.

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  42. Nancy: Barry's quote is amazing (well let's give a little credit to St. Augustine!) isn't it?

    "No matter what - I have your back" - isn't that the most comforting thing to know? Very important to me personally.

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  43. a beautiful, loving post bonnie ...
    being partnered or married or committed with someone is like going on a ride on a rolling road and you just know that at the end, you'll be glad you went along ... some days mad as hell ... some days totally twitterpated ... but generally content and amazed as the miles melt away ...
    prairiegirl xo

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  44. PrairieGirl: Well, you have a unique way of describing it! A 'rolling road' and 'totally twitterpated' . . . Twitterpated is a new word for me . . . Help?

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  45. Hi Bonnie

    he is my one and only Beloved of course...

    I loved Barry's quote til I read the the last line and then it lost me...one tree??? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


    Happy days

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  46. Love is not a 50-50 proposition. It is an 80-20 proposition with both parties giving 80.

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  47. Delwyn: Glad you cleared that up for me! :)

    I don't think it is meant to be taken literally as 'one' tree without distinction or individuality - but one where it counts - in terms of values, goals, principles that drive your lives. Somehow that just seemed to evolve for my DH and I after years of being together. I don't have to explain to him 'where i'm coming from', i don't have to provide him the context, i don't have to justify myself or my ways to him,
    because our roots are so entwined - we just know. But we see and do many things differently and that is a gift we bring back to the one.

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  48. Bagman and Butler: That would sure be the goal, and if accomplished would surely bring success.

    Sometimes, however, one partner may only have 20% to give (due to illness, for example) and then the other has to make up the difference - and vice versa. I think there can be a real ebb and flow and sometimes we have to be prepared to step up, give more without complaint or conditions until the ship 'rights' itself - so to speak.

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  49. Beautiful quotes and beautiful photographs. Being part of a couple takes work, dedication, respect and sometimes courage...to be the person you need to be.

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Comments are always read and appreciated.

(I am grateful for all awards received. However, I ask that this be an "award-free zone" and meme-free zone. Thanks for understanding!)