For those of us committed to leading a long, healthy, happy life, chances are you are doing some, or all, of the following: nourishing your body by eating a non-GMO diet of organic super foods, exercising with daily cardio and strength training, attending hot yoga classes or Soul Cycle, drinking green juices (maybe even fasting) meditating and practicing mindfulness, sleeping in a dark, cool room on bamboo sheets, spending time in nature, attending personal growth workshops, reading self help books, and claiming to be on a spiritual path.
These are all excellent life-enhancing things to do…however, if you are doing all or some of these things, and then you go home and begin to have angry, judgmental, or toxic thoughts about your spouse, you end up wiping out all the time, energy, and money you just spent because your angry thoughts suppress* your immune system for up to eight hours!
The surprising, latest research now shows that the #1 thing you can do to have a long, healthy, happy life is to have a happy marriage! Chances are your relationship isn’t on your daily “To-Do list, ” but it should be!
Research shows that the happily married duo enjoys the benefits of The Marriage Effect which means that they are more likely to:
- Live longer.
- Be physically and mentally healthier and happier.
- Recover from illness quicker and with greater success.
- A study in the new University of Pennsylvania found that married people recover better from heart surgery.
How does one actually “have a happy marriage?”
We begin by understanding that love is more than just a feeling. Most of us began our relationship by falling in love, which is something I refer to as “natures trick.”
It’s a fabulous feeling of joy and bliss and unbounded happiness, it’s a condition in which air smells sweeter, and water tastes wetter ….and it’s also what I call “the socially acceptable form of insanity” because its actually a chemically induced concoction of your brain overflowing with dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin and other hormones.
And, unfortunately, this chemical high, also known as the honeymoon phase, normally only lasts 6 -18 months.
But real, mature, adult love is so much more than being in love.
In it’s highest sense, love is a behavior. It’s practice. It’s a choice and a decision. It’s an action.
And during the times when we encounter our partner doing something that is really annoying or exasperating and finds ourselves getting caught up in reacting, it’s time to practice Wabi Sabi Love.
Wabi Sabi is a little knowledge, ancient Japanese aesthetic that honors all things worn, weathered, old, used, imperfect, and impermanent. Most of all, Wabi Sabi seeks to find “beauty and perfection” in imperfections.”
For instance, if you had a large vase with a big crack down the middle of it, a Japanese art museum would put the vase on a pedestal and shine a spotlight on the crack!
Unfortunately, most of us were not born knowing how to “do” relationship. Even worse, we’ve been brainwashed by modern day society to seek perfection, which leaves us upset, angry, frustrated or dissatisfied.
I believe the word “perfection” should be changed to “pure fiction” because it’s just not possible! Seeking perfection just ends up creating ridiculous amounts of stress and disappointment.
Acceptance and, understanding, are crucial to achieving relationship harmony and by practicing Wabi Sabi Love, you begin to accept your partner’s flaws, limitations and imperfections.
This is the highest form of love, it is sacred love, and like most things worth striving for in life requires time, energy, practice and commitment to master. And it’s worth it because your relationship will blossom when you both accept, love, and respect each other, warts and all!
Wabi Sabi Love is about shifting your perception of your partners’ behavior to something fun and light-hearted instead of annoying.
For instance, when I first got married, twenty years ago, I found myself having negative thoughts about my soulmate every time I walked into the bathroom and saw that he had mangled by a tube of toothpaste by squeezing from the middle.
Many times I tried to show him the “proper” way to get toothpaste out by squeezing from the bottom and rolling it upward. He always looked at me like I was crazy, and nothing ever changed.
One day I decided to figure out the “wabi sabi” solution because I realized that my twice daily negative thoughts about my partner weren’t healthy. After noodling on this a bit, I suddenly had the thought:
“Thank God!” I married a man who brushes his teeth.” I saw that we could grow old together and chances are he would still have his teeth, which immediately had me let go of my judgment about how he squeezed the toothpaste.
He never changed.
Read More: How Our Souls Evolve Through Time
What changed was my “story” about his behavior.
(And yes, he still has all of his teeth!)
One of the fastest ways to begin to apply Wabi Sabi Love is to realize that no matter what crazy-making thing your partner is doing, they did not wake up with the thought, “I plan to drive my spouse insane today.”
Just like you, your partner wants to be loved for who they are, in spite of their short- comings. Make an effort to let them know they are loved even if some of their behavior is not. Work towards co-creative, Wabi Sabi solutions as a path to a long, happy, healthy marriage.
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