Relationships are fundamental in our lives as human beings. They are not only a source of love and belonging, they are also mirrors, showing us who we really are and teachers, guiding us the way to grow.
Like life, relationships are never constant and they never stabilize. Relationships need constant care. Listening is at the heart of everything. Then the ability to let go of what does not serve and turning towards each other cultivate the relationship.
I've come across a wonderful practice from Plum Village* about relationships that you can practice regularly to care for your relationship. It is called Beginning Anew.
There are four steps but the suggestion is the practice the first one for some time so that a loving base is created before you move to next steps.
1. Step: Watering the flowers of gratitude
Share the qualities that you became aware of your partner that you appreciate. Do this without exaggeration or flattery, i.e "You made tea and a hot bag for me when I had a stomach ache which made my heart warm." Practice it many months if you will to create a strong foundation.
2. Step: Confess your regrets and mistakes
This is time to share what you regret doing, having hurt the other person, i.e. I am sorry that I yelled at you the other day, that might have upset you.
3. Step: Communicate your preoccupations
Share what preoccupies you and makes you less available so that your partner is relieved from the concern that they might be responsible for the change in your behaviour.
4. Step: Express your hurt
Share the times you felt hurt by expressing how you really felt, not to accuse or judge. The intention is to increase the intimacy in the relationship by sharing, opening up and to heal. You will also listen your partner express his hurt. There might be different perception of the reality which you might want to correct or answer. This is not the place. This is the place for pure listening. You can arrange another talk some days later.
Relationships are precious and if you care about them, they blossom and make your life beautiful.
How will you practice "Beginning Anew" and care for your relationship?
*Plum Village is a Buddhist monastery founded by Thich Nhat Hanh. If you'd like to learn more about the practices like Beginning Annew, you may want to read From Teachings on Love, by Thich Nhat Hanh.
I wrote this post upon reading the article Beginning Anew on Lion's Roar magazine. If you are interested in Buddhist wisdom, I highly recommend Lion's Roar to you.