Romantic relationships can be incredible sources of spiritual growth and also of tremendous suffering. In all reality, they are both and this is exactly why they are so important in our lives.

Someone once wrote wisely that everyone is our mirror. I've always elaborated, well if everyone's our mirror than our intimate partner is the mirror held closest and, thus, provides the most intimate picture of ourselves! This can be daunting to see all of our details reflected, especially our shadow/hidden aspects. A romantic relationship can stir up a lot of ourselves that we keep in the dark. But this is where intimate relationships can provide substantial wealth on the spiritual path that is fundamentally about making ourselves more conscious of the entiriety of our being. 

What is profound about the modern age we live in is that we have incredible understanding of the human condition and an abundance of healing tools to help us do the inner-work of healing our shadowy aspects, which are usually wrapped up in old wounding and trauma. Moreover, and speaking primarily of heterosexual partnerings, men and women are at a point of equality and respect that is unprecedented, yielding a wonderful opportunity to communicate their inner-world to each other with an honesty and openness like never before. In this light, men and women can learn to understand each other's perspectives with incredible depth. Of course, homosexual and other partner dynamics can reap the same benefits of our free societies and share their pain and truths with great lucidity when given the opportunity of loving space.

There are several strategies to consciously communicate to each other to help mine each other's depths and approach our vulnerabilities and pain with gentleness and love. In a previous article, I lay out the method of the sharing circle which is timelessly powerful in helping partners navigate a deeper understanding, especially in periods of crisis (read the article HERE).

If both partners are keen to develop themselves and evolve, the romantic relationship can truly become an integral aspect in supporting noble growth. What also needs to come into play is compassion for where we are at in our cultural development. We truly are just emerging from the dark ages, millennia of living in unconscious and repressive societies that stymied our freedom. Each of us carries not only our own pain but the buried pain of ancestral wounds. Many of us are going through so much healing currently because the light of collective human consciousness is shining so bright that it's illuminating all that has been hidden in the dark to come out and integrate in our radiant self. Triggers are abundant and often we can be confused on why we're suddenly in an emotional whirlwind and psychological torment. That's why the inner-work of meditation and reflection is important daily medicine to help us continue healing and evolving.

Moreover, if we have a partner who is on such a journey of illuminating and integrating themselves then we can help each other when we see potential blind-spots in each other's awareness. This is where compassion is so important because often we can feel attacked by a partner's unwillingness to share or a partner's prying into what we aren't seeing. We should always check ourselves then to see if perhaps we're prying too strongly. Infinite tenderness is the way. This is gentle work of opening flowers not ramming down walls.

Returning to the heterosexual context, this illuminating work is often catalyzed by the awareness of women. We've all heard about the power of female intuition and most men can attest to this power, often as a source of pain, as women constantly are able to penetrate their male partners closed down walls, and men often shy away from being vulnerable because they're not trained in our patriarchal context how to do so comfortably. Remember, boys don't cry!

The power of female intuition can be explained practically and it's in much part it's because of the menstrual cycle. Women clean their blood once a month, which is an extraordinary spiritual power! Consider that in Chinese Medicine the blood is seen to be what carries our spirit so in that light once a month women cleanse their spiritual nature! In fact, this is why Native Americans created the powerful cleansing of the sweat lodge--it was traditionally primarily for men to give them a means to cleanse themselves as effectively as women did in their moon lodge ceremonies where women gathered together to bleed. 

I learned this valuable lesson and then some from one of my previous partners. I was in a holding pattern of pain and was closed down to communicating with her. Of course, she could sense this in me (men can too but women tend to be closer to their feelings as their clearer blood has the potential of transmitting the wisdom of emotions better) and yet each time she tried to raise it with me I gruffly pushed her away, exclaiming nothing was wrong. In reality, there was a lot wrong but I was too afraid to be vulnerable with her. At one point she pried and I pushed her back hard with the words "you're crazy!" (how many times has a man responding to woman in this fashion!). 

When I finally did muster the courage to be strong in my vulnerability, I discovered she already had a sense for everything I was struggling with. But what was even more incredible was that she admitted afterword that she loved me and respected my opinion so much she actually retired into meditation to investigate if some of her thoughts were actually crazy! Her admittance brought me to tears to know that she loved me so she took on my resistance as truth. In the pain caused by my reproach to her, I vowed never to close again to a partner. The closing was really the crazy!

The last and perhaps most profound tool that can be brought to a partnership to bring in a sacred element is use sexuality as a healing power. There's incredible information out there on this topic and I won't get into much here so as not to be too long-winded. I'm currently teaching workshops on Sacred Sexuality here in Toronto and beyond so come out to lap up the exciting wisdom on this topic. 

As a writer, I like to write short stories and poetry where I bring in spiritual teachings to be explained and elaborated in the magic of story-telling. To that end, I'm happy to announce that very soon I'll be releasing an ebook of a story I wrote called The Dance of Water & Fire which describes the sacred sexual trysting of Jesus & Mary Magdalene. I'll be collecting some other works to include in a compilation of material on Sacred Love and it will be available on my site. Stay tuned!