Many years ago I read the book, Soul Mates, Honoring the Mystery of Love and Relationship, by Thomas Moore. I was very impacted by what Thomas More discussed in this book. Prior to reading it I knew that in order for relationships to remain healthy, attention must paid to them but I had never seen the process described as he did in this book. He says that all of our relationships have a “soul” and that the soul of every relationship requires nurturing. Understanding this is an absolute requirement if we want the relationships we have to be healthy.
I have come to realize, as I have aged, that I have not always been the best at relationships. Sadly, it is not one of my strong suits. There are some who would so lovingly disagree with my statement, but then there are those who would jump on it with a vengeance in their agreement! Mostly I believe that long lasting, quality relationships have been elusive for me because of the nomadic life I lead. Also, I have a tendency to see potential in people – I see possibility but sadly, quite often fail to see what is “real” and thus enter into relationships with unhealthy people. To be honest, I haven’t quite figured it all out yet! The result is, however, that the relationships I do have are precious to me.
I have often found myself in one-sided relationships. Somehow I invested far more than the other person or perhaps cared more or maybe needed it more and therefore “fed” the relationship more. I found that if we connected at all, it was always me that called, me that wanted to make plans. There comes a point, if that has been happening for a long time, it becomes painful for me. When I did see it happening I would always try to discuss it, but somehow could not find understanding with the other person or a way to change the dynamics. At that point the relationship would change because I stopped feeding it. Without my continued support, the friendship faded away. We also see this in romantic relationships, one loving more than the other, and that too, is painful. After I became aware of the pattern in how I formed friendships, I slowed down the process, trying to take note of the give and take to see if balance was present before diving in headlong.
So what does Thomas Moore mean when he says that the soul of a relationship must be nurtured? What are the things we do when we care about someone? We check in on them on a regular basis. We try to get together when time permits. We let them know how we value our relationship with words and actions. We let them know on a regular basis, that we care. We do nice things for them and accept nice things from them. Our actions, our words, our behaviors all say, “I care about you.”
In a romantic relationship, when these things stop we feel taken advantage of, but how do we deal with it in relationships with a sibling, a child, a parent, or a friend? Do these relationships not also need nurturing in order to stay healthy? Absolutely! This is where the phrase, “love is an action verb” is relevant. If we do not say, do not behave toward another in ways that say, “You matter to me,” how is that relationship going to survive? I found this quote in my email today, “Love is not just a feeling, but a verb. It’s something we do, a bit of spiritual theater we enact through actions large and small.” (Mooncircles)
Most people, when their failure to nurture relationships is called to their attention, will say they are too busy, that there simply is no time in their lives. There may be truth in that, but I also see it as a matter of priorities. If a friend is at the bottom of our “to do” list – just how important is that friend? If an aging parent never hears from her grown children, or if one never gets a phone call from a sibling, I have to wonder if love even exists. Perhaps it is only a sense of obligation and not love at all. I don’t know.
I do know that when I have loved, it has been fiercely. When I make a friend, that friend really matters to me. If I still had a sibling to stay connected to, I would be thrilled. How blessed I would feel to have had the privilege of seeing my parents growing old. What a sense of loss I feel when I think about not having had that experience because I lost them when they were still so young. When I don’t hear from my own children for months on end or if they fail to display loving behavior, I have been known to say “whose children are these?”
I often wonder about this new social media experience we are involved in when friendships are made with a click of the mouse, where details of private lives are posted, mean and ugly comments are circulated, and people twist what others say. It is so easy because hey, who will bother to scroll way down to see what was really said, anyway? Are these “friends” taking the place of real friendships? And if we are simply too busy to keep up with our friends, why have we let that happen, and when did we stop needing friends?
The only thing I do know for certain is that I need my friends. Family matters to me, but I cannot live without friends. I cannot live without the deep connection that true friendship brings to my life. My friends are my chosen family. The love that comes from a good friend supports me emotionally and brings immense value to my life. I hope I am the kind of friend who gives back as well. In the end, what we share with those we care about is really what matters in life.
Deanne Quarrie. D. Min. is a Priestess of The Goddess, and author of five books. She is the founder of the Apple Branch and Beyond the Ninth Wave where she teaches courses in Druidism, Celtic Shamanism, Goddess Spirituality and mentors those who wish to serve others in their communities.. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College and is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine.