The other night I had dinner with a friend and she asked me about the agreements my husband and I had made when we decided our relationship would be different from anything either of us had ever had before.
Listening to her question, I was suddenly silent but then I remembered.
It was shortly after he and I had confessed our love to one another and were discussing our future.
"If we're going to be together it has to be totally different from anything we've ever had before," I'd offered. "So many relationships end up being about power or control and I don't want that anymore."
He'd agreed and added, "Most relationships are based on conditional love, too. The 'you only love me because.' Those end up being about tearing each other down."
"Can't there be another way? Another kind of relationship that lifts both people up?"
"Yeah," he replied, "but it has to be about God first and about honoring the God within each other."
Instantly I knew he was right. "That's it!"
So what exactly is that, honoring the God within each other?
A simple way to think about it is the Hindi greeting, Namaste, commonly used across India but also often spoken amongst yoga practitioners. Translated it means the divinity in me recognizes the divinity in you.
Honoring the God in one another is about appealing to the higher self in all of us, the one yearning to be seen, heard and acknowledged. It's about me rising into this space within myself and then seeing it in my partner and speaking to this aspect of him or her.
This kind of commitment is a relationship based on mutual love and respect.
It's wanting your partner to live her passion, and encouraging her to take leaps and risks when they feed her and move her toward fulfilling her dreams and happiness. It's giving your partner space to grow and evolve even if it means they leave you or aren't always there for you.
This actually recently played out in my intimate relationship.
In 2004, my husband and I started a business together. After working side by side for nearly a decade, I was ready to move on. I knew it was time for me to shift careers yet I felt bad about leaving him to run the business on his own.
He could have easily fed that guilty place in me and said things to trigger it. Then I would have stayed because I love him and because I felt obligated since we'd started the business together.
Instead, he encouraged me to leave.
He was excited about what I was doing and the new direction my life was taking. It meant his life got harder initially, because it took time to fill the void I left. But he never wavered in his support of my new venture.
Now, he's happier than ever and so am I. My shift allowed him to step more fully into roles that he had shied away from too.
He chose to remember our agreement of honoring the higher self in each of us, the God. He gave me both the room and the encouragement to follow my new path.
Change isn't always easy, especially in our intimate relationships. It causes us to shift too as we make room for the other person to unfold. Yet when we choose to honor each other and celebrate who we are, not only is it more fulfilling but energizing too.
Positive change brings new opportunities and enthusiasm, which can be contagious and inspiring. We all know how good it feels when we're in our flow. We are more alive, more present and more connected. Isn't that what we all want for ourselves and for our loved ones?
Shakti Sutriasa is the Founder of DecideDifferently.com, offering life coaching, counseling and workshops that combine modern psychology and spirituality. Shakti is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and has an MA in Education. To learn more Click Here