Who doesn’t want a heart centered marriage? When I’m writing about spirituality it’s the connection with yourself and the universe and the search for the meaning of life. It’s not about religion, which is man-made but rather spiritual. God given spirituality. So, it’s whatever you want to call it. In this context, spirituality or God or the universe. It’s the creator, it’s grace. It’s an energy that’s responsible for the planet and all the things in it and it is something so much bigger than us.
I’ve been working in my private practice for 11 years and spirituality is different for every single one of us, but to most it helps give life a framework. It can manifest in many forms including prayer, meditation, a belief in a higher power and community involvement. It can be evident in nature, music and art.
Spirituality is about beauty, being present, compassion, enthusiasm, forgiveness, gratitude, listening, love, nurturing, silence, intuition, openness and peace. Having these qualities within yourself will have a ripple effect into your marriage. You will be a better version of yourself.
Physically, mentally and emotionally you will be richer if you develop your spirituality because you will be more connected with yourself and your inner spirit.
Personally, spirituality has been something that I’ve been learning how to be with my whole life. I didn’t realise, but as a little girl, my spirituality began to blossom. I was raised in a large family. Seven in my family were adopted, including myself and three biological children. So, if you add that up, there’s 10 children. You can imagine my adoptive parents were very busy with 10 children. Looking back now as an adult, I connected with spirituality from a very young age. I loved being outdoors. I was raised in New Zealand. I loved being outdoors, feeling the earth underneath my feet, connecting with the flowers, the leaves. I received a lot of nurturing from nature, a sense of belonging and that has stayed with me right throughout my life. It’s interesting on reflection, I trained in horticulture when I left school and for some years worked in that field. It was being with nature that gave me so much nurturing and love.
Fast forward to today and I’m out of a 30-year marriage/relationship. For the first year and a half, I took my spirituality to a much deeper level and connected daily with nature. Where I lived, there was bush, and I would go walking in the bush and I had my favourite tree. I would go and connect with my tree and sometimes when my grief was so deep, and I was in a place of such pain and knowing that I had to feel it I would hug onto this tree. The roots going into the earth and the branches going up into the sky it centered me, and I knew it was going to be okay. The tree and nature were something outside of myself that helped me connect and feel strong. You can’t under estimate the power source of nature.
You may not connect with spirituality at all. I believe that if both people in a marriage can connect with their spirituality, it can make for such an empowered marriage. It helps you both recognise and trust a higher power and realise that you are not responsible for everything that happens in life and you’re not responsible for everything that happens in your partner’s life. It’s being able to let go and it’s being able to trust.
You’ll know people in your world who perhaps feel that for them to be happy, there partner has got to be happy. They almost take control of their partner because they want them to be happy and they feel responsible. However, if you can recognise and trust a higher power and realise that you are not responsible for your partner’s happiness you will be calmer and more at ease with the flow of life.
Spirituality in your marriage
Discovering what spirituality means to you both and embracing it in your marriage
- It helps you recognise and trust a higher power and realise that you are not responsible for everything that happens in life and in your partners life.
- It helps uncover your purpose and enables you to focus on what is important to you.
- If it involves being part of a group, building your spirituality nourishes relationships with others and nourishers your relationship with your partner as you have something separate from your partner that you can share with them.
- It brings you a sense of belonging outside of your marriage.
- People who embrace spirituality tend to be better able to cope with stress and heal from illness quicker.
Discussing the above as a couple you are going to feel so much more emotional intimacy with your partner and your listening to your needs and wants which is vital for an empowered marriage
Activity to do as a couple: Finding your spirituality
- What gives you joy and stillness in your life?
- What inspires you and gives you hope?
- What is it you are doing when you feel an inner calm?
- Who gives you a sense of community?
- What do you value most in your life?
The answers to these questions will help you identify the most important people and experiences in your life. Spend more time with the people and experiences that define you as a person and bring fulfilment into your life.
Encouraging and Growing Spirituality
Self-reflection is vital to grow and nurture spirituality. Stop being busy and allow yourself time to just be. Sit and listen to your breath, be totally present with yourself in that moment.
Activities together or separately that may be useful for you to grow your spirituality include:
- Prayer, meditation, yoga
- Writing your inner thoughts in a journal
- Keeping a dream journal and exploring the meaning of your dreams
- Spending time in nature, such as in the bush, the outback and the ocean
- Reading and listening to spiritual leaders
- Expanding yourself in art, poetry or music
Using Spirituality for Stress Relief in your marriage
Knowing you are not alone and that you can ask for support at any time is a life skill that embraces spirituality. It involves tapping into whatever resource or spiritual being is true for you. It may be God, a higher self, your soul, your lineage or heritage, Mother Nature, or something else. You may just prefer to see it as an anchor that you can use to pull you up when you’re feeling stressed.
You may find it useful to imagine you are in a place that is calming for you and make it a habit to go to the same place regularly. It may be a place in your home, a spot at the beach, or even a certain chair. Sit down, stop, connect with your breath and call up your resource in your mind. Visualise your resource with you as it brings you strength and helps you to feel grounded and centered.
Meditation in your Marriage
Meditation is the art of focusing all your attention in one area. Mastering the skill of meditation takes time and requires practice. Practising individually or as a couple. The benefits of meditation include:
- Connecting to your feelings
- Slowing you down and creating space to just be
- Reducing stress, anxiety and depression
- Broadening your sense of self away from judgement and fear
- Creating space for calmness
- Connecting with your supportive inner resources
- Connecting with yourself and thereby removing feelings of loneliness and isolation
- A feeling of acceptance towards yourself
A few tips for meditating:
- Make it part of your day; a habit like brushing your teeth.
- Stretch first to loosen your muscles and allow yourself to be more comfortable.
- Understand that the art of focusing your attention on a single point is hard work and an active process.
- Join a group or listen to recorded meditations.
- Use a specific object, such as a candle, on which to focus during a meditation.
- Focus attention on your breathing. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale. When your attention wanders, gently return to focus on your breathing.
- Say your own prayers or pre-written prayers that are meaningful for you.
- Try different positions – sitting or lying, opening or closing your eyes.
- Choose a room where you are comfortable.
- Place candles in the room to help you feel at ease.
- Ensure that you won’t be disturbed during the meditation.
- Know that you may feel frustrated at times. Meditation is what it is. Do the best you can at the time.
- At the end of a meditation spend a few minutes feeling appreciative of the opportunity to meditate.
When you connect with yourself, those feelings of loneliness and isolation, they just wash away. Those feelings, they can appear in marriage, particularly if you’re going through troubled times. You can feel loneliness and isolation. By allowing yourself to practice meditation daily, you begin to feel a feeling of acceptance towards yourself. In time it ripples through to acceptance around your partner.
Embracing spirituality into your daily life, it will build on your empowerment and bring in a self-belief and a self-trust. The quality of your life and the quality of your marriage will improve enormously. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically you will become richer resulting in an Empowered Marriage.