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7 Spiritual Lessons Learned From 25 Years Of Marriage – Part 6

Written by: Christina Marlett, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Christina Marlett

Do you get upset when things don’t go your way? Are you trying to control aspects of your outer world such as people or situations? Do you struggle with letting go? Read this article to learn how to go with the flow more often so that you can have more inner peace, relaxation and fun in your marriage or relationships.

happy couple sitting on white coach eating snacks

Greetings and salutations! Here we are at the sixth installment of the seven most powerful spiritual lessons I’ve learned over 25 years of marriage. Last week, in Part 5, we looked at how to action love in Strive to Feel Fully Alive. This week, it’s all about going with the flow.

The sixth spiritual lesson

Going with the flow

At the beginning of our relationship and for quite a number of years thereafter, I didn’t know about going with the flow. I didn’t have words for it or even know that it was a thing. I must say that now that I have an awareness of this concept, my life has greatly improved. The twenty-something version of me was very controlling. Being a highly productive-super-achiever-type person meant that I had a tight grip on as many aspects of life as possible. If life was a steering wheel, I was white-knuckling it. In this installment, I’ll share some ideas and concepts that have helped me release my grip and have more fun. If you implement some (or all) of the ideas, you can expect less stress, more fun, increased inner peace and decreased fear.

Perfect timing

When Paul and I began our spiritual journey in earnest, one of the first ideas that made a big difference was that of perfect timing. We started using the phrase “We have perfect timing,” regardless of the situation and it helped us develop a greater sense of trust in the Universe. For example, one time we were driving somewhere and on the outside, it appeared that we were really late. As a result, I felt stressed and was doing a little bit of freaking out. Paul said, “I know it’s hard to trust that we have perfect timing but we do. It seems like we’re late but we’re going to arrive in perfect timing. We just have to trust because we’re not seeing the big picture right now.” Of course, he was right. The person at our destination wasn’t even ready for us so it turned out that our timing was perfect. We’ve had so many situations like that over the years that we’ve both been able to relax more and trust in the flow of life. The great thing about perfect timing is that it applies to many situations; traffic, certainly and also things like other forms of travel, opportunities, jobs and whenever it seems like we’re not getting what we want. We just remind ourselves about perfect timing, relax more and ease back into the flow of life.

Relationship seasons

Another concept I learned toward the beginning of our spiritual journey was that relationships have seasons. Spring and summer are pretty fun. Everything goes fairly smoothly, which feels great. Then there’s fall where something is shifting and letting go is required. Winter means that something has died or is dormant or resting. It could be an old pattern, a belief system or a way of showing up that’s no longer serving. It might be just in one person or it might be in the relationship. Having that awareness has made a huge difference to me in our marriage. There are times when there’s so much togetherness and closeness. Other times, we need our space. Younger Christina got worried during the relationship seasons of fall and winter because it was different. More Aware Christina now knows that there’s nothing to fear. For each of us to grow and evolve, of course, we need to let go of old beliefs and patterns that are no longer serving us. Once that happens, we require time to ourselves to see who we are as the new and improved version of ourselves. If Paul needs space, I now go with it. Most importantly, I no longer think of it as my responsibility to cheer him up or change his state or mood. What a relief! If it’s winter outside, I don’t have the power to change it into summer (short of a trip to Mexico which would still only be a temporary reprieve) so I just flow with what’s happening and know that it will pass. I no longer panic in relationship winter and that means way more inner peace – hooray!

Embrace what is

Taking that last concept a little further, I’ve learned to embrace what is. Oh-so-much suffering comes from clinging to how we thought things were going to pan out or holding on to how they used to be. That’s the greatest form of attachment that Buddhism talks about that is at the root of all suffering – being attached to your thoughts of how things were or should be. Rather than create all that inner distress, I’ve learned to embrace what is. This concept is obviously a work in progress because those “used-to-be” or “should-be” thoughts can be extremely mesmerizing and convincing. I have an example for you from real estate land. Paul and I have owned and rented homes at different times in our marriage. I love renting because it’s so simple, house issues are never your problem and you can be very mobile, moving when you want to move.

Paul, on the other hand, mentioned several times that he preferred owning because he felt like there was more security and that’s something he likes a lot of. We owned a home for a few years toward the beginning of our marriage and then rented for about a decade. A couple of years ago, Paul said that he wanted to buy a home again and so last summer we started looking because it seemed like it was his turn to get what felt best to him. I had gotten my way for a long time. After a roller-coaster house hunt, we eventually found the ideal home and took the plunge. The kids and I were excited. Paul had a lot of fear come up and it was really tough for him. I had to let go of the idea of the house-buying experience being happy and exciting for him and instead embraced that it was a huge growth opportunity. I was mystified when, after we signed all the mortgage papers, he said that he preferred renting. “What? We bought this house for you! Because you said you wanted to own!” I exclaimed.

“I know,” he said. “I changed my mind.” “Well, we’re committed now,” I replied. “I know,” he said again. It took a lot of personal inner work for Paul to adjust to our new reality. Our purchasing and moving experience turned out very differently from how I thought it would, so I just had to release my expectations, embrace the reality that showed up instead and go with the flow, being as supportive as I could. I’m gratefulI knew about staying in my own energy and going with the flow because it meant I didn’t have to suffer on top of everything by being attached to what I thought was going to happen. Embracing what is means accepting how others are going through their journey. It also means feeling the feelings that are showing up rather than judging yourself or thinking you shouldn’t be feeling that way. In this same example, there were times when I felt angry because I thought buying our house and moving were going to be fun and rewarding. Instead of talking myself out of feeling angry, I did the process I shared in the first post. It’s worth repeating so here it is again:

  1. Notice the emotion.

  2. Ask your body where that emotion is alive as sensation.

  3. Pay attention to the sensation; not to make it go away, but to love, accept and embrace it. It has information for you.

  4. Breathe into the area of sensation to get the energy moving.

  5. Optional: you can even move that area to encourage the energy to flow.

Over and over, I did that process for the anger and other emotions that appeared. Rather than suppressing what showed up by talking myself out of it or ignoring it, I loved what was present. I’m proud to say that I didn’t unleash any of those uncomfortable emotions on Paul. It took a monumental effort to deal with those big feelings in a mature way and to let Paul have his own experience. I just looked at the bigger picture and knew that, thanks to the major life experience, whatever was coming up for both of us was getting revealed to be healed and I went with the flow as much as possible. Embracing what is takes devoted practice and it’s so worth it because it dramatically reduces stress and makes a bumpy road of life smoother.

Letting go

The concept of letting go is a big one that takes many shapes and forms. There are full books on this topic. What I’ll share with you here are some little nuggets that have made the vast idea of letting go more strategic and actionable. Paul introduced me to the concept that plans are only estimations of the future. I used to get very attached to outcomes that my mind made up and would then feel devastated, angry or disappointed when things didn’t turn out as planned. In more recent years, thanks to this idea, I’ve learned to not get too attached to plans. When we make them, I now have the awareness that they may turn out how I expected, but probably not, so that’s a-okay. There are definitely times when I still get disappointed, but not in the same “dagger-through-the-heart” way that I used to. Another thing that helps is that I don’t take it so personally when plans fall through or change. I’ve learned that it generally has nothing to do with me if outcomes are different from what was expected. I recommend adopting the phrase for yourself too: plans are only estimations of the future. I hope you’ll notice that it helps you go more with the flow of life. Another way to practice letting go is to not control (everything). As I mentioned earlier, I used to control as much in my outer world as I possibly could. My inner world was a different story. I let my mind run wild. It bounced around like an untrained puppy and just thought whatever it wanted to.

On top of that wildness, I believed my thoughts, no matter what they were. If my mind said, “I’ll do that later, ”I truly thought I would become some sort of magical person who would actually do whatever I was avoiding later. It turns out my mind was lying. I also believed other tricks of the mind like when it made up assertions of what other people thought of me or would think of me if I behaved in a certain way. All lies. I’ve learned to let go of control in the outer world and focus instead on what I can control inside, namely my thoughts. If I’m feeling a way I don’t love feeling, I now ask myself, “What was I just thinking?” Then I observe the thought rather than dive into it. If the thought made me feel negatively about myself, I know it’s a trick of the ego. The intuition only ever speaks in neutral or positive. If a thought has more of a negative result in how I feel about myself, I know that it’s not true and I don’t have to believe it. This knowledge has made a huge, gigantic, enormous difference in my inner world. I used to be so hard on myself and very unkind. Thanks to being more mindful about the thoughts I think and choosing what to believe and what to release, I’m now able to let go of what doesn’t serve. That means that in my outer world, I’ve let go of trying to control how everyone shows up. It’s such a huge load off my shoulders! I can just let people be who they are and let things unfold as they’re meant to without my intervention. I don’t need to prove that I’m right or that my way of doing things is the best way (so often). That tendency still shows up but I don’t act on it as much as I used to and I know that’s a huge relief for Paul and my kids. Letting go is a great way to increase your ability to go with the flow. The top ways I’ve been able to work with the idea of letting go are to:

  • See plans as estimations of the future

  • Not control (everything)

  • Understand what is intuition and what is ego

  • Accept other people’s way of doing things by not needing to be right (all the time)

Joy-based decisions

The last thing we’ll cover that helps to go with the flow is to notice what’s underneath the decisions that are being made. There are basically two ways to make decisions; either from fear or from joy. For the most part, people make decisions from an unconscious place of fear. It might be fear about money, time, repercussions, what other people will think or some other kind of lack.

At some point, I learned that there was another option; to make decisions based on what will bring joy. A whole new world appeared. I started to observe what was underneath my decisions and I noticed that they were mostly based in fear. With that new awareness, I started to ask myself some better questions when the lack showed up: What will bring me the most joy? What would I love to do? Which option will bring me the most happiness? By asking these questions in the face of any decision, we get to access our heart’s wisdom rather than believe the smallness of the ego. Logic and reality have taken more of a backseat in my decision-making, which has allowed greater flow because trust in the Universe has increased. Take our house purchase, for example. Our dream home turned out to be a bit of a stretch financially. Rather than make a fear-based decision and let it go, I asked myself if I would love to live in that home and neighbourhood. “Absolutely!” was the answer. The kids felt the same way. After seeing so many questionable dwellings, this house was a big yes. Even though it was uncomfortable, especially for Paul, we put our trust in the Universe and followed the feeling of joy that was permeable in the house. Logically, it didn’t make much sense, but happiness and joy gave us the answer and direction we needed. Sure enough, ever since we moved, new opportunities and income have flowed into our lives. Another thing to know about fear is that it will be present when you’re up to big things. If you always stay in your comfort zone and hang out with the familiar 24/7, there won’t be much in the way of fear. If you’re tuning into your growth edge and getting uncomfortable in the name of expansion with joy as your guide, you’ll be in the flow. As often as possible, make your decisions where the destination is happiness and joy. Your heart will always be the best guide. Going with the flow has so many aspects. In this post, we covered the ideas of:

  • Perfect Timing

  • Relationship Seasons

  • Embracing What Is

  • Letting go

  • Making Joy-Based Decisions

Going with the flow is a powerful way to show up in life and especially in a relationship. Someone who doesn’t have the ability to go with the flow experiences high stress and has to be right most or all of the time (which makes them not super fun to be with). Someone who learns how to go with the flow has great inner peace, is relaxed, is wonderful to be around and has more fun. Thankfully, I’ve become more of Option B. As a result, our marriage is better than ever.

What’s your current experience? Stress/controlling/not having much fun or inner peace/relaxed/wonderful to be around? If you’re having more of Option A, choose an idea from the list above that resonates (or that has a lot of resistance around it) and get curious about how you can use it to bring more flow into your life. Inner peace, fun and relaxation are just around the corner.

Visit my website for more info!

Christina Marlett Brainz Magazine

Christina Marlett, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine As the creator of Courageous Self-Care, Christina is passionate about helping stressed out high achievers learn to lead their communities, families and themselves from a place of wholeness, overflowing energy and deep self-respect. She excels at helping overwhelmed leaders revitalize their energy from the inside out so that they can be productive and peaceful at the same time. Christina is a certified Embodiment Coach, Body Awake Yoga teacher, Happy for No Reason Trainer, Energy Codes Facilitator and BEST Practitioner who helps you take inspired action so that you have epic relationships, vibrant health and so much energy that people will ask you what you’ve been doing differently.



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