Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Holy relationships and the first principle of UU

Allen, you asked about your marriage and you said you were feeling very confused. You told me that part of the time you love Allison dearly more than anything and at other times you can't continue the relationship and just want to leave. We laughed about your feelings about the relationship being a real roller coaster ride.

Most relationships whether we recognize it or not are based on a "give to get" model. We give something, sacrifice, in order to get something, reciprocation. Unconsciously we feel guilty about this manipulation, and we hate ourselves for exploiting the relationship with the other. Further, we become resentful when we don't get what we believe we are now owed because of the sacrifices we have made, and so we attack the other for faults we attribute to what we believe they have done or not done to us based on our deal. As you have felt, Allen, this dynamic is insane and is doomed to failure because of it is built on the premise of the ego which is the "give to get" model.

The opposite model for relationships is the Holy relationship which is based on unconditional love. We turn our relationship over to the Spirit of Life and seek interior guidance based on faith in the goodness of the universe that the relationship can be transformed to a Holy one. The ability to do this is based on the implementation of Unitarian Universalist principle of affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We focus on the divine spark in the person and forgive the rest of the drama. A sense of peace fills us when we can "turn it over to our Higher Power."

Allen, I don't mean to imply that this turning over of our relationships from "give to get" to unconditional love is easy. It takes repeated intentional efforts over a period of time sometimes. It is not a light switch we can just turn on and off, but rather a process which we have to patiently persist in implementing. However in the long run we become aware of increased happiness which is our natural inheritance from our creator.

I sometimes ask people when they say they "love" another person what they mean by that and people are hard pressed to describe this thing they are calling "love". "Love" is a word too easily used without much thought. I had somebody tell me yesterday how much he loved me because he was upset and wanted attention and support from me. Telling someone that you "love" them often is a manipulation wanting reciprocation of some sort. This interaction is, of course, not love at all but exploitation. When we are told we are "loved" by another in this way we often feel unnerved, anxious, maybe somewhat annoyed and we want to get away from the person. It is at this point that we can ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and with this intention lean into the relationship a bit by giving our attention to the other person nonjudgmentally for a brief period and see what happens.

Allen, some people enjoy riding roller coasters and some don't. Even those that do wouldn't want to ride them everyday. It seems that you are not enjoying your roller coaster ride and want to get off. You can't get off in the middle of the ride. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and allow the roller coaster to come safely to the end of the ride and then approach any future roller coaster riding with a peaceful frame of mind recognizing that you are not in charge, and are willing to have the experience transformed into an experience of flow.

It remains to be seen what will happen with your relationship with Allison. If you decide to love the relationship with her unconditionally you will be well in any event. Your loving the relationship with Allison unconditionally does not depend on what she does only on what you do. You have no control over her only over yourself. How you proceed in your relationship with Allison is up to you and God. If you are are willing for God's will to be done and not your own you will be on solid ground to proceed.




  1. Interesting ideas! Thanks. First principle loving seems different from what you usually think about love being.

  2. What's the likelihood that Allen and Allison can work things out? The story reminds me of the Old Ladies Home Journal column, "Can This Marriage Be Saved?"


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