Relationship Mysteries: What Am I doing with You Anyway?
Why We Choose The Relationships We Choose
Relationship deja vu: Do you ever feel like you married your mother? Your father? Your own dark side?
Does it feel like deja vu all over again, when you see your Grandmother’s stern glare or your brother’s bullying
stance, overlay the face of your partner?
Maybe you don’t recognize those faces from your past yet. Maybe you are only aware that no one on earth (with
the exception of members of your immediate family) can push your emotional hot buttons quite as quickly or
intensely as your most intimate relationship.
If you look closely, and you are able to short-circuit the emotional roller-coaster of action-reaction long
enough, you will probably see another face pop out, just like one of those 3-D pictures. The truth, as I
see it, is that our most intimate relationships are those that most closely mirror either our own most challenging
aspects of personality (the parts of ourselves that we try not to own), and/or the aspects of one or more
of our core family group. We unconsciously choose these mirrors because our Soul knows that these unresolved
issues from our past are the very issues that keep us from progressing and growing.
Our closest relationships offer us wonderful opportunities for spiritual growth, sharing, learning and healing
the past. When two people come together with spiritual awareness that enables them to fully know and expect
that each will trigger the other into looking at challenges that impede growth and acceleration, and when
each is fully committed to healing themselves, the relationship can be a catalyst for transformation in both.
On the other hand, if the ego maintains control, relationships deteriorate into battles of will which can
distract both people from their spiritual path for years, or even for life.
Intimate relationships, in particular those involving a commitment of marriage, require a great deal of personal
honesty to work to the highest potential. Since it is difficult for many of us to completely trust another
human being, to the extent that we can allow ourselves to be completely vulnerable, the relationship becomes
a symbol of our relationship to God. I believe that the extent to which we can merge with another is an exact
indication of the extent to which we can merge with God. In developing trust, respect, honor, and faith with
another human being, we are working out a deeper relationship with Godforce.
If you can consider the idea that relationships are mirrors, and that part of the responsibility of being
in one is to clear and heal past hurts, release limiting beliefs based on past experience, and open the heart
that has been closed by past damage, then it is easy to see why our closest relationships are the most challenging.
If one of the partners doesn’t want the lesson presented, it makes for a tedious path. If both resist, it
is an exercise in futility and a choice to walk through life in chaos and conflict. Though it is hard to
believe anyone would make that choice, the reality is that many of us find it easier to argue and defend
our position than to get to the bottom of what is really bothering us.
In our most intimate relationships, many of us are finding that we can no longer insinuate, imply or suggest
what we mean. At a certain point, telepathic communication between two people becomes so strong that any
dishonesty or hedging will only add fuel to the fire of the ego and make trust harder to accomplish. If you
doubt this, think how many times you complete each other’s sentence or know when something is bothering the
other person, even though they may have said nothing directly.
For healthy relationships, direct and honest communications ultimately become imperative, and no where are
they more important than in our most intimate, close relationships. We must begin to say what we mean, and
mean what we say.
Of course, the other side of communication involves listening. For many of us, the mental activities are so
active that we have to re-learn how to hear what someone is saying to us. Listening is a fine art, almost
a lost art. To complete the circle of clear communication, we must be willing to hear what our partner is
saying, apart from any immediate response we might wish to insert.
Learning to let someone completely “have their say” without interruption is a challenge in this
fast-paced, action-oriented society, but it is crucial to good relationships. It has been my experience that,
as long as I am mentally defending my position, I hear very little of what the other person is trying to
One of the most valuable tools for honoring close relationships and for learning respect, honor, and listening
skills is The Talking Stick. The Talking Stick (Native-American in origin) is simply a Tree Person branch
that has been so dedicated as a Talking Stick to be used for creating more open and sincere dialog. Individual
indigenous groups have more specific information and ritual. I don’t represent myself as any kind of authority
of Native ways – that is the work of the Elders within each of the Native Peoples – but only share the value
I’ve received through use of this communication tool.
How to Utilize The Talking Stick
First, there must be total agreement between the two parties that, when The Talking Stick is present, the
rules of the ritual will be honored by both. The rules are simple.
When one wishes to be allowed to speak fully, freely, and without interruption, they pick up The Talking Stick.
While it is being held, the other person listens Only. The other person doesn’t interrupt or insert. The
other person attempts, to the best of their ability, not to interject vocal, or even physical responses to
what is being shared but to Only listen with an open and nonjudgmental ear. When the one who is talking is
finished, The Talking Stick is laid down and the other person then has the opportunity to pick up the Stick
and to speak openly and freely.
One of the great values of this tool, from my own perspective and experience, is that you may begin to realize
how much of what you started to say was only reaction. By the time the stick is passed to you, something
has shifted. In the waiting, there has been a change.
There is a new attentiveness, and less of the need to defend or put in your “two cents worth” after
every sentence your partner says. Somehow, this simple yet profound process teaches us how to ferret out
what is most important within all that is said by our partner, and we learn to respond to what is most important.
A lot drops away, and loses importance, when we are forced to only listen.
Eventually, the mind lets go of all the various things it thinks it wants to say, since it begins to understand
that it cannot speak just yet. In that mental release, new understanding is possible. I learned about the
Talking Stick through Lakota friends. I am deeply grateful for this knowledge, and feel the use of this Sacred
Tool has enriched my life.
If you really want to gain the fullest benefit from the relationships you have chosen at this time, make a
Talking Stick and use it. You can find a special stick in the woods, use a length of cane, or any other natural
item. Personalize it with spiritual medicine that represents both you and your partner (and children, if
you have any – they should be in family circles and listened to as closely as you will be learning to listen
to each other). You can add feathers, crystals, stones, sprigs of sage, etc. If you’d like further guidance,
in creating the Talking Stick according to Native-American tradition, seek the guidance of a teacher of Native-American
Though it may be challenging at first, to let someone speak without the need to interrupt or respond, you
will find that it becomes more and more a way of communicating, even when the stick is not present. The more
you use it, the more you will learn about patience and the more you will discover about those closest to
you and also, about yourself.
I’ve often thought that it would be a perfect world if we could all walk as if each person, at all times,
carried a Talking Stick.
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