This is an excerpt from Conscious Men, a book I co-authored with John Gray.
When your partner does not have so much to give, it is easy to feel resentful, and this can sabotage the relationship. When we learn to let go of that, her occasional judgments and reactions to you are no longer like a wind that blows the tree over. You are grounded. You have developed deep roots in your sense of purpose and in knowing who you are in a deeper way than fleeting thoughts and feelings. You are no longer dependent upon your partner’s affection and approval and acceptance to define you as a man. You are able to love deeply exactly because you are able to define yourself independently of the relationship.
Relationship becomes an opportunity to dig even deeper into yourself, to give more, and to become a stronger and deeper man. Instead of waiting for her to change, it is an opportunity to make a change within yourself, come back to an unconditionally loving place, and give more to the relationship. When you feel under attack, you can ask yourself, “What is going on inside me? What can I do to build a bridge with her again?”
You are not dependent upon a relationship to know yourself, but you are dependent upon being in a relationship to grow in that self-knowledge. When you have children, it goes to even another level of maturity. Now you are extending beyond the reciprocity of a romantic relationship to the unconditional giving of being a parent. Your children owe you nothing. The greatest growth for both John Gray and I has been in being a father: to be able to give to our children without any expectation that our happiness is dependent upon them.
Slowly, we learn to give up the feeling of being a victim in the relationship because ultimately, a Conscious Man is in a process of learning to be accountable for everything in his life. You can learn every day to let go of the past and develop the capacity to create your own future. You can take responsibility for creating the relationship that you want by bringing out the best in your partner just as she can learn to bring out the best in you. This requires us to be grounded in conscious masculinity, but it also calls for tools and skills, many of which we did not learn from our families and childhood.
To love deeply is to experience all of who a person is. It’s not to fantasize that she is perfect but to grow and love someone who is not perfect simply because you have made a decision to love more each day. You create friendships in life by giving; they do not just happen automatically. Equally, you can create a great marriage. It starts with a fantasy, and you create it through give-and-take. In those times when it is difficult to give and your partner needs you, you rise to the occasion. You made a promise to your partner. There are temptations and distractions, and you rise above them because you made a commitment. You grow in love.
Ultimately, your relationship becomes sacred. The words “sacred” and “sacrifice” both come from the same Latin root, “sacer,” which means holy. When you make sacrifices for someone, you make that person special. You make it a sacred relationship.
From Conscious Men by Arjuna Ardagh and John Gray. You can order a paperback copy or Kindle edition on Amazon here.