Ocean of Love

A true marriage is a partnership between two equals for spiritual growth

Man and woman sitting in the beach

Marriage is a bond in which spouses are committed to their own, not to speak of their partner's need, fulfilment and growth.

Open Marriage disposes of the commitment, or the responsibility, aspect.

Freedom without responsibility is a sign of immaturity. Therefore, when Open Marriage is propagated as an alternative marriage style, it is really no marriage at all.

Today, with "open" experiments and divorce rates soaring high, it would be apt to say that there is an urgent need to explore fully the true meaning of marriage once again.

Marriage is not only an institute to enhance physical survival and continuity of life, but it is much more than that. It is not a bond between a male who is the provider and protector, and a female who bears children and raises them. If this was the only purpose, both roles would have fitted perfectly. But, it is much more. It is a spiritual partnership.

Spiritual goals

A spiritual relationship is a partnership between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth; and, today no marriage will last until it has this sacred element. Marriage is a bond, but it is not meant for limited reasons of survival, or continuity of life. The spiritual aspect of marriage is the vehicle for our personal growth; it is invaluable for this purpose.

If your marriage cannot work successfully, even though you are a successful entrepreneur, industrialist, professional, or artist, you feel as if you have miserably failed as a human being. What this indicates is that if you cannot use a loving relationship with one individual to look within and progress on your personal growth, you have missed the golden opportunity to evolve in love as a spiritual being.

There are cynical people who see marriage as a piece of paper, a necessary evil, a foolish idea, or an imprisoning fort. It is sad that such people shun the thought of experiencing committed and unconditional love. Marriage is one such opportunity where you can give yourself to another, and experience the joy of extending yourself.

When you have experienced this joy of giving your heart, it will expand to include the entire Universe. If you have never experienced such committed, dedicated and unconditional love - either as a giver, or receiver — you may tend to doubt its existence and disbelieve those who live the experience. But, if you have ever, even once, known such a love in your life, you will need no further explanation, or evidence.

Let us now talk about the type of love that we give and the type of love that we receive. When we talk of the kind of love that we want to receive, we emphatically specify that it be unconditional. However, when we are discussing the kind of love we are willing to give, this is just not the case.

Most of us want to be tentative, in case things don't work out. To give our word and promise to unconditional faithfulness are frightening. We want to leave the backdoor open — an escape route. It is so much easier to be a butterfly flitting from one flower to another; it is so much harder to take the plunge into an unconditional commitment. This haunting fear in commitment needs to be examined.

Unconditional love

The most disturbing fear is that a commitment of unconditional love may be thought to be denial or surrender of self, a sad farewell to a sense of separate identity. You may, for instance, fear that you will have to give up your individual interests and personal tastes.

In fact, if these fears were true, there would be no relationship of love because relationship means two. To cull Kahlil Gibran's purple prose from The Prophet: "Unconditional love should not be conceived as making two islands into one solid landmass; but, should rather be like two islands that remain separate and distinct, but whose shores are washed by the shared waters of love."

You get the point. The salvation of man is through love and in love. Try to contemplate:

Do I want to live such a life of love? Love is a monumental challenge, which challenges me to break the fixation that I have with myself. It drags me away from my infantile state to complete self-donation to a cause, or a person in freely given love.

That love demands that I learn to focus my attention on the needs of those I love. It asks me to be a sensitive listener. At times, love will insist that I postpone my own gratification to meet the needs of those I love.

Communication, the lifeline of love, will require me to get in touch with my most sensitive feelings and my most buried thoughts.

Love will make me vulnerable. It will open me to the honest reactions of others who I have allowed to penetrate my defences. If I have built protective walls around my vulnerable places, love will tear them apart.

Ask yourself whether you want love in your life, or whether you prefer to be an island, a recluse, a narcissist hiding your inner-self beneath your mask, or remaining a closed and secretive human being, or preferring to live in a world which has a population of one - and, that is YOU. Because, love would rip out of your hand everything that you hold dear and clutch on to them so tightly?

The big question: are you now willing to leave the confines of your narrow self to enter into the vast ocean of love and commitment?

The choice is yours.

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Minnu Bhonsle
Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.
Rajan Bhonsle
Rajan Bhonsle, MD, is a consultant in sexual medicine and counsellor. Along with his wife Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, who is a consulting psychotherapist and counsellor, he runs a unique therapy centre

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