What to do when your Partner isn’t Spiritual
Can the Relationship Still Succeed?
In 1st Corinthians chapter 7, Paul has devoted the entire chapter to teaching about married life and what is recommended. He makes several distinctions between what is commanded by God and what is recommended in the face of the current times. He writes, ‘I say this as a concession and not as a command’. There has been a lot of debate about Pauls’ writings in the bible concerning the obligations between men and women in a marriage.
The essence of what Paul writes adopted for modern times is that being in a committed relationship or marriage brings about worldly concerns. Each of the partners must strive to please the other and this is a distraction from the spiritual life. If a soul wants to fulfill a higher purpose and is not married, Paul recommends that this individual would be happier if they remained single and devoted only to God.
Is this realistic? For most, probably not. The craving for physical comfort, emotional support and sexual intimacy is very strong in our culture especially because religions don’t really provide a pathway for deep transformation, one which involves introspection through meditation and cultivating an intimate relationship with God.
In addition, many people wake up to the desire to live a more spiritual life later in life only to find they are already married and have kids. It should come as no surprise that your beliefs and those of your partner may be vastly different. Being married to someone without faith or belief in God is difficult. There is no way it.
In this lesson, we will discuss a way to continue in relationships upon the clear recognition that you are seeking to grow spiritually and your partner for the most part is not interested. Above all, it will be helpful to accept that this is hard and there is no quick fix. The way to resolve this issue is internally, within yourself by coming to understand the journey of the soul and adopt your attitude about what a partner is supposed to provide within the context of a committed romantic relationship.
A mate is given to us as a companion and not as a substitute for God. In having a relationship with God, one that is real and is developed through meditation, devotion and discipline, you will gradually reach a place of consciousness that is no longer bound by the same concerns of the average person. You will learn and experience the way to resolve the conflicts in your life inwardly and be guided on how to act outwardly to remain true to your Self.
Along with this shift in consciousness comes tremendous relaxation. It is the end of anxiety and depression in one sense because the Realization of your God Self liberates you from the trappings of materialism, egotism and the wounds of your childhood. On the flip side, you will come to recognize the challenges of maintaining relationships with others, most of who are not striving to live a greater consciousness. The essence of what will keep your marriage harmonious when your partner isn’t spiritual is first your acceptance of them and their beliefs, which is a form of love, and second a shift away from making them responsible to meet your emotional needs.
Spirituality is about love. Typically, truly evolved spiritual people have learned how to love better. This means they tend to listen with deeper understanding, have greater compassion for the faults of others and have an understanding of surrendering one’s troubles to something higher. Being spiritual teaches us not to dwell and emphasize all the negatives in day to day life but to cultivate an inner and outer atmosphere of hope and forgiveness. Naturally if two people are aspiring for this kind of life and find themselves attracted to each other, that can be a beautiful thing.
Meditate on your partner and seek to see them as God sees them. This requires that you are clear in your energy and not holding grudges about past incidents. Are you? Being with someone not pursuing a spiritual path gives us the opportunity to grow in greater acceptance. Begin by examining if you are holding any old angers against them.
You won’t be able to get a compassionate objective perspective on your loved one so long as you have any anger against them. Even if things they did were hurtful, it doesn’t matter. God’s system is set up that we can forgive no matter the intent of the one who caused us harm. Work with a Priest or a spiritual mentor to help you reach a place of letting go of old hurts.
With your heart clear, meditate on this soul who is the one you chose to spend your life with. Everyone on this planet is susceptible to the dark influences and it can be easy to focus a lot of attention on the faults or bad attitudes of your spouse. It is discipline to not do that. You will need a meditation practice in order to stay current when things they do bother you.
Above all, stop wanting them to be different. Your task is to think as a soul. Perhaps you can reflect back at the time when you were first attracted and how the relationship developed. It may be that you fell in love and things were mostly good for a long time. Now you have been awakened to another level of consciousness and that same connection is not as strong. As a soul, you would accept the change in dynamic instead of creating a bickering environment of frustration. You turning towards God means you can only have your deeper needs met through that relationship and not by your partner.
You must be free to speak your truth but this is not an invitation to take an inventory of why your partner is wrong. Speaking your truth in a marriage means being able to clearly articulate your feelings in a non-blaming way and in a manner that doesn’t imply your partner has to fix you nor cater to your every whim. The foundation of a good long term relationship is the desire for continuous and generous giving without keeping score of who isn’t giving enough. If both people are conscious in this way, the relationship will flourish. At the same time, people’s flaws will show up and therefore you’ll need a process to talk through things without the atmosphere getting charged emotionally.
A particularly hard part of relationships is when your partner projects onto you or blames you for things that are in fact, their responsibility. This is where you will be tested as far as your love. Either you will recognize that they are projecting something onto you that in fact they are the cause of and then get upset, or you won’t recognize what is happening and you’ll become defensive or ideally, you’ll see what is happening and will be able to remain calm and connected while addressing the situation in a loving manner. The third option is what we aspire to.
Keep in mind that adults can get very angry, defensive and sometimes aggressive when we point out something about their behavior that is off, especially if our energy is lacking care and compassion. We have to begin any conflict resolution attempt with the desire to be caring, considerate, loving, kind and of course truthful. We aren’t striving to protect the ego of our partner but we do need an understanding of the embarrassment and irritation that can get triggered when someone feels exposed for their flaws.
Learning how to speak about these matters without appearing condescending, patronizing nor blaming and victimized, we first have to process our own emotions and approach a reasonable inner state. This is best achieved by seeking to take responsibility for our part in any conflict. Use meditation as a way to find out how you contributed to the issue. As well, identify your feelings so you can speak about how you feel or felt, not what your partner did that caused you to get upset.
Your partner might not be able to participate in the sort of conflict resolution discussion at the level that you can if you have been actively growing spiritually. Also, at times you might find your anger and righteousness get in the way where your partner is seeing things more clearly than you. Allow for it all. The secret pill is forgiveness. Even if your partner won’t acknowledge or see their part, you always have the option to forgive them in your private meditation.
Long term, the relationship must be cultivated on a foundation of respect. This means each party must respect the interests and pursuits of their partner as you both mature. Seeking spirituality and a relationship with God will eventually overtake the marriage as a priority. If your partner imposes a pressure to curb such pursuits, that can lead to real problems and is considered a ‘sin against the Spirit’ thus grounds for separation. Do everything in your power to avoid things reaching that point. God should be first. If you seek out that connection, Jesus says ‘…all these things shall be added unto you.’
Long Term Relationship Tips
In order to progress spiritually while in a committed relationship where your partner isn’t spiritual, consider these ideas;
- Meditate on this question; What do I expect from my partner as far as their behavior and how we should meet each other’s needs in this relationship? Fill in the blank… In my marriage (or relationship) my partner should _________________________.
- List the expectations which come up without seeking to filter them. Be careful of the tendency to answer these questions with more ‘spiritual’ answers (i.e. I don’t expect anything from my partner except that he/she might be the beautiful soul that they are). Aim to uncover your conscious and subconscious beliefs about what a partner is supposed to be in your life. Be very honest with yourself so you know what you are working with.
- When some time has passed (a day or more), review what you discovered. It may be evident that your expectations from the relationship are problematic. If you haven’t done the deeper inner work to uncover and resolve the wounds of your childhood, it is likely you’ll be projecting problems onto your partner unfairly. They will be doing the same to you.
- Work in meditation or with a conscious mentor (Priest) to define realistic expectations for the relationship. These expectations are to be created privately UNLESS your partner wants to engage in this process with you. Definitely don’t force it or even expect their participation.
- Adopt an understanding that a romantic partner is a companion along the journey of this life. Having someone is not essential to have a fulfilling life regardless of what society dictates. As Paul writes in 1st Corinthians, having a partner brings about significant challenges as well as comforts and rewards. It is ok to want a partner and pursue a relationship but be wise in recognizing the challenges that come along with the joys.
- Respect your partner and their approach in life whether it be spiritual or not. Do not pressure your partner to meet your needs. Develop a connection to God for that. Having a spiritual community also helps immensely.
- Detach from the needy energy or expectant energy that your partner is to be the way you want them. Practice spiritual acceptance and make the best of the relationship once you recognize its limitations.
- Seek to work out issues that arise after you have meditated to get an objective perspective on what happened. Mutual respect is essential. Give abundant freedom for the pursuits or interests of the other regardless of your opinion of them unless they appear to harm to foundation of the marriage (excessive drinking, emotional affairs with others of the opposite sex, harmful or addictive activities).
- Make God a priority over family and everything will settle into a harmonious new reality.