Angus and I interviewed Ankush Jain recently for our Rewilders Community, and he reminded us how people could give up too easily. In life and relationships, we can get used to an unhealthy normal. We often don't see where we have given up hope due to our inability to see possibilities even though the potential is there. Our conditioning clouds our judgment, and we trust the lens through which we see life rather than recognizing that we don't see the whole reality with all its possibilities.
This made me think about relationships and how couples can feel they are in a rut that they don't know how to get out of and give up hope. It is easy to feel frustrated and helpless when nothing seems to work to achieve sustainable change. Or a numbness can set in that subtly sucks the joy from life as we become increasingly disconnected from the present moment.
I know because I have been there. There was a time in my marriage when I had settled and was resigned to my relationship being good enough but not great. I have compassion for myself now. I thought I was being mature and realistic about marriage. I didn't think I was giving up. I thought I needed to ignore the feelings of dissatisfaction and grow up. I see now how I was living out my conditioning. Feelings of safety and stability seemed to require giving up hope for deeper intimacy and connection because I was exhausted from trying and failing to create change in my marriage. I believed there was something wrong with me. I wanted too much. I was too demanding. I was too idealistic. I was being unreasonable.
None of this was true, given what I know is possible now. I was going about trying to make improvements in a misguided manner. I had it backward, waiting for things to change before being fully and unequivocally two feet in. Ironically, I was the one not fully open to intimacy, and I didn't know that my conditioning was getting in the way. My father abandoned me as a toddler, and I wasn't going to risk those feelings of rejection again.
I suffered in my relationship because I held myself back from intimacy and tried to protect myself with judgment and criticism. I wasn't doing this consciously, but I was doing my best I keep myself safe. I did not understand that my experience was created from the inside out and that my behavior was getting in the way of the loving, tender, intimate relationship I yearned for. Instead, I saw Angus and our life circumstances as responsible for me not being happy rather than seeing the role my thoughts and beliefs played in the creation of my experience.
I was grateful to be introduced to the teachings of Sydney Banks, which showed me that not only was there nothing wrong with me for feeling what I felt, but also my wellbeing was not dependent on others, including my husband Angus, and circumstances. This helped me to stop going down the rabbit hole of trying to change my experience by managing my thoughts and other elements of my life. It pointed me to look in the direction of my true nature for wellbeing.
Seeing that I could listen more intentionally to my wisdom meant I didn't have to battle my limiting beliefs, judgments, and negative thought patterns. Instead, a simple shift in noting the quality of thinking I was respecting was enough to loosen my attachment to conditioned thought patterns that did not serve me. And as they shifted, my reality changed. My inner shifts allowed me to see a clearer reality. This change in perspective allowed me to experience greater compassion, understanding, and love for myself and others, including Angus.
What made this possible was seeing the role my state of mind played in my ability to experience wellbeing and the quality of my experiences. Becoming aware of the transient nature of my thinking and how distorted thinking influenced my perceptions made it easier to be with the habitual thoughts in a lighter way so they did not dominate me, and I could also experience the innate wisdom and resilience available to us all. This made it easier to navigate life and relationships with greater ease while experiencing more inner peace, regardless of my external circumstances. This was a byproduct of looking in the direction of the universal intelligence behind all of life, that unknowable space of mystery that is noted experientially by the hallmarks of love, peace, joy, and wellbeing.
The transformation of my marriage did not start with my relationship or my husband. Instead, it began with my healing that occurred simply by falling out of my judgments against myself and into a more profound feeling of love and wellbeing within myself. This is the transformative potential we all have inside of us. By recognizing the inside-out nature of our experience and tapping into our innate wisdom, we can experience more wellbeing, improve relationships, and navigate life with more clarity, resilience, and peace.
The knock-on effect was more authentic communication, a more profound feeling of compassion, and an increased ability to be vulnerable in my marriage. This was all possible because I experienced a greater sense of safety and freedom within myself, allowing me to live in the present moment more and respond in real time to Angus rather than reacting to him from the distorted lens of my conditioning and past hurts.
This dramatically improved our ability to communicate effectively and foster a harmonious relationship. From there, I could listen to Angus with a more open heart. Empathy and curiosity were not techniques to practice but were naturally present when I was less anxious and more centered. This brought out the best in Angus and allowed me to experience his best self rather than his worst traits. Trust, mutual respect, deeper understanding, and compassion flowed from there.
Remembering we all perceive reality through our unique thought systems helps to cultivate understanding and empathy. This allows us to see our partner's psychological innocence and understand them rather than try to change them. From this vantage point, it is much easier to work through differences and find common ground because of the greater clarity and neutrality available when understanding is there.
Also, knowing we all possess innate wisdom capable of guiding us through life's challenges, that this is the ultimate resource is transformative. When I felt this, I experienced a huge weight lift off of me. When we tap into this wisdom, we access a deeper understanding and insight that transforms our communication. Trusting in your partner's innate wisdom and encouraging them to trust in yours fosters a deeper connection and helps with collaborative problem-solving.
Fundamentally, we can all tap into the same inner well of wisdom. Experiencing the oneness beyond the illusion of our separate selves is a beautiful way to open up to a deeper shared intimacy. The defenses melt away, and you can experience each other with tenderness and gratitude. Allowing your partner to express themselves authentically while holding a heartfelt space for the beauty of their expression.
This presence is vital in relationships. Being fully present when engaging in conversations with your partner by releasing distractions so you can focus on the here and now creates a safe container for open dialogue, and authentic expression makes room for authenticity, honesty, and vulnerability. In this space, it is easier to release attachments to agendas or desired responses and allow the conversation to unfold organically. By relinquishing control, you create a space for genuine exploration, where you and your partner can discover new insights and perspectives.
That is a gateway to intimacy and understanding. Inviting your partner to share their deepest thoughts and emotions and reciprocate by offering yours in return. This mutual vulnerability fosters trust, compassion, and emotional connection. It's in the raw and unguarded moments that we find true intimacy.
Gratitude and appreciation become natural expressions in this environment. Genuinely seeing your partner and acknowledging their efforts, strengths, and unique qualities is not a technique used to nurture the relationship, but natural and effortless expressions of love that come from an overflowing heart. By expressing genuine gratitude, you uplift the energy of your connection and deepen your bond.
My journey with Angus has shown me that relationship transformation begins with one's own healing and awakening to the essence of who we are. From there, love overflows naturally, and communication becomes effortless. Recognizing the power of thought and our state of mind's role in how we see our partners and reality, in general, helps us see when we are caught up and need to take care of ourselves. This makes it easier to honor the universal wisdom within each of us and unlocks our potential for intimacy, connection, and deep listening that naturally creates a space of understanding, empathy, and love. Opening up to who we are is the key to a more fulfilling and harmonious relationship.
Who knew Angus and I would be able to be in a constantly evolving relationship where we keep opening up to deeper levels of love, intimacy, and freedom? Where we work together and support other couples in deepening their intimacy and opening their hearts to each other!
I would never have imagined what was possible in my relationship. So I encourage you to open your heart and allow yourself to fall into that space of love within yourself and see what unfolds from there in your relationships and life. Open to what is beyond your wildest imagination because infinite possibilities exist, even if we can't see them.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In the first season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couple's intensive retreat programs that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilders Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.