I often wonder what it is that makes a relationship a winner … and I am afraid I cannot give you a glib answer, because I don’t think that there is one single answer.
I believe that a relationship is a contract between two souls that they enter into before they are born. It does not matter whether they are married or not – a marriage contract is part of this dimension, whereas a relationship is the result of a contract that was concluded without signatures in another dimension.
I recently had the opportunity to observe various couples, and they confirmed for me that a relationship is a disguise for another agenda.
The first couple claimed to be good friends. The lady is a good friend of the family, and the man is recently widowed. I had only met her once, and before the man arrived with his family, she went out of her way to explain to me that she was a good friend of his deceased wife, and she helps the family where she can. Why was it important for her to tell me this?
Then the man arrived. I did not want to be in the way, so I moved to the other side of the swimming pool from where I observed them.
The body language of the two together told me that not only were they not “just friends”, but that the feeling was mutual. His adult children were also there, and even though it is less than a year since their mother passed away, they were friendly and receptive. The man is prominent in his profession, and I will watch the newspapers for the wedding announcement …
I then encountered a married couple with a small son. It was obvious that they both adored the child. It was also obvious that there was something else going on there. She is a black woman from an exotic island in the Antipodes, and she is very beautiful. When I looked at her, I wanted to cry because of the sadness around her. She was not only terribly homesick – she clearly was at a loss.
Her older husband is a mixed-race South African who spent most of his time outside of the country. His dream was to “retire” by changing one very active career for another very active career, and he approaches everything he does with zest and enthusiasm – and alone.
It did not take him long to spill his guts to me – probably because when I met him, I made a comment that resonated with him. It turned out that she was disillusioned with her “African dream”, and he was disillusioned with her disillusionment. He was also fully aware that he misjudged when he thought he had captured her heart – while she had left her heart somewhere else and she was pining.
I wanted to hug them both and tell them everything will be OK, but I am not so sure of that. They have a beautiful child to raise together, and they will do it, but I cannot imagine that either of them will be happy as long as they live under the same roof.
In this instance the contract between them has nothing to do with living happily ever after. It has everything to do with integrity and dealing with change and challenges – much more than it has to do with love. And the challenges have nothing to do with their mixed-race marriage. In this country that is no longer an issue.
The third couple I observed also have a mixed race marriage. He is Italian and probably immigrated to South Africa when he was a small child. She is what is known in South Africa as “coloured” – in other words, with white and black ancestors. My impression was that they fell in love when they were both mature (and probably after failed previous marriages) and they are so happy that I felt like crying with joy when I saw them together. They both radiate goodness. Uproot them and put them in any other country, and they will settle down with zest and win over all the locals with their enthusiasm for life. They will keep their sadness about being childless to themselves and discus that in the darkness of the night, when they are snuggled in their own cocoon against the world.
Every single relationship has an agenda. It is very seldom that the agenda has to do with superficial things like race, age or gender. During the relationship, the two partners rub against each other – like smooth river stones until they fit together perfectly, or like jagged rocks until either they are smoother together, or until the river of life lets one of them flow away while the other remains stuck. The agenda has to do with more important things such as integrity, respect and self-respect, adapting to change, managing challenges together, growing separately and together, and finding that place where your heart opens up because of the place where you are and the person who is with you.
I have seen those as well – like the two middle-aged men who walked hand in hand, looking radiant, the long-married couple who cannot keep their eyes and hands off each other, and the mature couple preparing for a second marriage when they both believed that they had had their one chance of happiness when their spouses died. Believe me, they have their own challenges, both as individuals and as couples.
Love is Love.
Interesting question, and one I have had on my list of topics to write about for a while now, but the time is right to write about it.
I noticed the question on social media, and at the time thought by myself “Sweetheart, you don’t understand. They don’t destroy, they set free. What are you doing with your freedom?”
It is so easy to blame the “destroyer” when you are in the situation. Of course, the “destroyer” needs to take responsibility for what they have said and done – shouldn’t we all? Then why does it look and feel like someone behaves in a vicious, immature and destructive manner and they don’t show any regret? Why, even if you make them aware of how you feel, don’t they show any repentance, and often tell you to “get a life” or “not take things so seriously”?
It is easy, while you are in the situation, to focus entirely on your emotions. Often the predominant emotions are self-pity, anger, hurt and even thoughts of being equally destructive.
The perspective normally comes once you have distanced yourself from the situation – and therein lies the dilemma. For you to distance yourself form the situation, there are two crucial ingredients. The first is enough knowledge and self-insight to understand that you need to detach and become an observer in your own life.
You need to understand that your life is part of a journey which did not start with your birth. The day you were born was a significant day, but your journey started long before you were even conceived. We are part of eternal life and your life here is simply one chapter – albeit a chapter that can stretch over close to a century if you are lucky.
Your life here does not happen by accident. Most of the details are thoroughly planned long before you are born. Part of the planning involved conversations and agreements with people who will play an important part in your life. Some people agree to be our parents and siblings. Others agree to be our life partners and our children. Then there are less significant role players who agree to be friends, work colleagues, important or distant relatives and so on. We also enter into contracts with each one of these people regarding the role they will play in our lives. These roles differ, and each role has its own purpose. For example, you may have cousins that you are close to, and cousins that you would not even recognise in the street. You have life-long friends, and friends who play a role and then fade out, and they may return after some years.
None of these things happen by accident. They are all part of a Divine design, and we have the privilege of being the actors in this design.
And yes, this includes contracts with people who will intentionally behave in a less than pleasant manner. Are they deliberately hurtful? Yes, in the sense that they live out their contracts of providing us with specific experiences. No, in the sense that we choose how to respond emotionally to these experiences.
A large part of our journey on earth is to experience and tame our emotions. We have experiences that could evoke certain emotions in us. We initially react with these strong emotions, and they take over. We don’t even try too make sense of the emotions, but rather wallow in them for as long as we can manage to keep them going.
Once we learn the art of detachment, we still experience the emotions, but we don’t hold on to the emotions for that long. Instead, we observe the emotions, and become curious. Why did this person press this button? Why did I respond in this manner? I noticed that I did not have that knee-jerk reaction like I had in the past. I responded in a slower manner, but I still had a strong emotion. Why did I have this emotion? Or rather, how has the emotion changed me?
That is the crux of the matter. When we have emotional reactions or responses, we change.
This is where the second critical ingredient, namely time, comes in. We can take all the time in the world to experience those emotions, and not be aware of anything else, anyone else, or any way out of the situation. The alternative is that we can cut this dreadful time short by asking different questions.
You may enjoy contemplating your navel with questions like “Why me? Why does nobody care about me? What have I done to be treated in this dreadful manner? How does he/she sleep at night knowing that he/she has destroyed me emotionally?” and so on. If those are your questions, the torture can go on for years and you will not get anywhere.
So, let’s change the questions. Rather ask “Why me? What is it that I needed to learn from this experience? How is this experience making me a richer, stronger, wiser person? What would be the nature of my contract with this person?”
When you ask this new set of questions, detachment comes much sooner. You become aware of the before and after, and you notice the difference in yourself. Did you need to become more independent? Are you now less insecure because you have discovered inner strength that you were not aware of? Are you now more careful about who you trust? Do you listen to your intuition, which you in the past wrote off because it was too faint, subtle or not quite what your ego had in mind?
With detachment comes forgiveness. When you understand why the “destroyer” acted they way they did, you also intuitively understand the nature of your contract with this person. You find a reason to be grateful for the behaviour you otherwise would have resented for years.
Does this mean you give in too easily? No. It means you are more aware, and you learn faster.
Does it mean you need to continue the contract with the person who evoked such strong emotions in you? That depends. If the person is for example a co-parent, you need to continue the relationship for the sake of the children involved, but it does not necessarily mean you need to remain married. You will intuitively know where your contract takes you next.
If the person is for example a friend who stabbed you in the back, then you may get the clarity about the reason for the experience and move away from the friendship – because you will intuitively know that the friendship has run its course.
What happens once you understand how the experience has made you a stronger, wiser, better person, does not really matter. What matters is that you need to ask the right questions, so that you can reach the conclusions much sooner.
And yes, the “destroyer” will probably continue to sleep like a baby at night – because they have done a good job, whether you agree or not.
Ask the right questions, and you will also sleep well.
How do we manage communication, connection and relationships in a new on-line world where virtual people become more important than our family and circle of friends?
Amber McAuley explains and provides strategies for survival.
Amber acts as both the primary coordinator of all global online-learning programs as well as a facilitator of the various Mindfulness Without Borders (MWB) curricula and workshops.
She comes to MWB as a published author, public speaker and child and youth counselor.
Amber helms MWB’s Mental Health Matters free webinars for teachers and their classrooms across the globe and is the founder of Move-it for Young Minds.
Listen to a fascinating interview with Amber McAuley on The Elsabe Smit Show on 5th November 2017 at 4pm on this link: https://www.facebook.com/AskElsabeSmit/videos
Here is a link to the recorded show on Youtube.
How do you finally end a very wrong relationship that lingers with you after everyone has left but you?
How do you forgive someone who is dead?
How do you make peace with a violent co-parent after the relationship has ended?
What if someone's actions has destroyed your life and left you physically damaged?
We sometimes have relationships that end up placing us in impossible situations, where an amicable end seems to be impossible.
However, it is always possible to move on from the most challenging situation and find the wisdom in the experience.
Tune in to The Elsabe Smit Show on Sunday 17th September live at 4 pm GMT using this link: https://www.facebook.com/AskElsabeSmit/videos to hear more about using herbs and lesser-known edible plants.
The show covers a range of topics related to the creation process, from becoming aware of your destiny, through shaping your thoughts and actions, to learning the wisdom from your experiences and practising forgiveness.
A link to the recorded show will be posted here after the show. If you cannot connect on the live show, diarize the date and come back later to watch the recording on Youtube
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I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me. Or maybe it would help that I’m writing this down and telling it to someone, I don’t know. I’m in my early 20’s, female and live in the UK.
I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. About four or five years ago, it was quite debilitating and I found it difficult to concentrate on schoolwork and ended up not attending school very much at all as getting out of bed was such a struggle for me.
Over the last few years though, I’ve found it much more manageable.
However, as we’re entering October, I’m suffering much more than I’ve ever done.
I’m constantly tired and find it too much to concentrate on tasks at work (I work full time as an administration assistant), therefore I fall behind with deadlines.
My sleep pattern is erratic, alternating between not being able to wake up and not being able to get to sleep.
I’m plagued with feelings of despair, as if the world is going to end and have regular panic attacks. I feel tearful or cry at some point every day. I even have a nasty cold sore for the first time in about 7 years.
Aside from my struggling with SAD, I recently came out of a four-year relationship. While the break-up wasn’t acrimonious, we were living together and my ex-boyfriend has now moved out.
I’m trying to adjust to life as a single girl for the first time in four years, but I’m struggling with the fact that I now live alone.
Not only is it lonely and makes me feel somewhat overwhelmed by the thought that it’s just me taking care of myself for once, my income is now, of course, considerably less than before. I can still get by with paying bills and the like, but I’m pinching every penny and it’s leading me to feel worthless and even more depressed.
Now work is also very stressful. Staffing is short and the workload is high and I feel as if I’m running on autopilot.
I’m becoming increasingly concerned that I’m going to burnout or break down, as my daily routine is to get up alone in my flat, head off to work in the ever increasingly darker mornings, work all day in a stressful environment – feeling tired and sluggish, go home to an empty flat, barely be bothered to cook for myself as all I’m craving is junk food that I can’t afford and head to bed early to cry myself to sleep.
I just want some advice as to whether this is just a bad case of SAD or something worse. And what can I do to help minimise my stress?
I just feel trapped and lost.
Thanks for your time.
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If a friend does not respect your boundaries, they are not a friend.
I am 19 and have gone through a number of changes recently. Within a year I graduated from high school, got my first home and got married.
A few months ago my husband’s best friend moved in with us – only for a few weeks, but then the weeks turned into months. Initially it worked out fine, but now things are getting totally out of hand.
We have a big TV in our house. Recently this man decided to buy a projector, put it in the middle of the lounge floor, and put up a white sheet in the middle of my house. He did not ask for permission, and when I asked him to take the stuff out of the way, he just ignored me.
He also bought an additional TV so that he and my husband could play games together, each using their own TV. I just got ignored in all of this, as if I don’t exist.
My husband works day shifts and his friend works nights. This friend decides when the air conditioning should be switched on during the day, and he takes control of the TV all day because he does not like my choice of shows.
Before this man moved in with us, we coped financially, but now we often overspend because just the food he eats cost more than the minimal rent he pays.
Our bills for internet use, phone and electricity have gone up. He claims that he cannot pay more rent, but he spends cash on computer games, brand-new state-of-the-art TV sets and other gadgets that are taking over my house.
I like to keep things neat and tidy, but it is impossible with this man making a mess all day and never cleaning up after himself.
My husband and I have started to argue about things that we in the past had no problems with.
Is it wrong to feel the way I do?
How you use your own sexuality is your choice. How you use the sexuality of others is abuse.