Intimate Relationships and the Spiritual Path



The common wisdom goes like this: that the myth of “some enchanted evening,” when all is awash with the thrill of connection and the aliveness of new romance, is actually a delusion… a hormonally manufactured lie. That soon enough, reality will set in and lovers will awaken from their mutual projections, discover the psychological work involved in two people trying to reach across the chasm of real-life separateness, and come to terms at last with the mundane sorrows of human existence and intimate love.

In this case, the common wisdom is a lie.

From a spiritual perspective, the scenario above is upside down. From a spiritual perspective, the original high of a romantic connection is thrilling because it is true. It is in fact the opposite of delusion. For in a quick moment, a gift from the gods, we are likely to suspend our judgment of the other, not because we are temporarily insane, but because we are temporarily sane. We are having what you might call a minienlightenment experience. Enlightenment is not unreal; enlightenment—or pure love—is all that is real. Enlightenment is when we see not as through a glass darkly, but truly face-to-face.

What is unreal is what comes after the initial high, when the personality self reasserts itself and the wounds and triggers of our human ego form a veil across the face of love. The initial romantic high is not something to outgrow, so much as something to earn admittance back into—this time not as an unearned gift of Cupid’s arrows, but as a consequence of the real work of the psychological and spiritual journey. The romantic relationship is a spiritual assignment, presenting an opportunity for lovers and would-be lovers to burn through our own issues and forgive the other theirs, so together we can gain re-entrance to the joyful realms of our initial contact that turn out to have been real love after all.

Our problem is that most of us rarely have a psychic container strong enough to stand the amount of light that pours into us when we have truly seen, if even for a moment, the deep beauty of another. The problem we have is not that in our romantic fervor we fall into a delusion of oneness; the problem is that we then fall into the delusion of separateness. And those are the romantic mysteries: the almost blinding light when we truly see each other, the desperate darkness of the ego’s blindness, and the sacred work of choosing the light of mutual innocence when the darkness of anger and guilt descend.


Marianne Williamson is an internationally noted speaker, author of 10 books, Unity Church minister and a teacher and student of A Course in Miracles. Her most recent workshops focus on the topic of Enchanted Love: Building the Inner Temple of the Sacred and the Romantic.

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