Every one of us, both directly and indirectly, affect each other. Yet relationship can create such untold problems! Sitting in solitary bliss with our heart wide open and love pouring out toward all beings is relatively easy, but as soon as we come into direct contact with another person then how easily all our good intentions get thrown out the window. Our ability to stay open and loving, our selflessness and generosity, all this and more are immediately confronted by someone else’s wants, needs and neuroses.

So relationship is not just an integral part of being alive, it is also the most vital and challenging teacher that any of us could ever have. It’s definitely not always a bed of roses.

Shortly after we were married, we went to India and spent our honeymoon in yoga ashrams and Buddhist monasteries. We were fortunate enough to have a private meeting with the Dalai Lama at his residence in McCleod Ganj, in the foothills of the Himalayas.

“After some forty minutes of talking I was feeling so moved by this gentle and loving man that I just wanted to stay there,” Ed recalls. “I didn’t want to leave! I was completely in love with the compassion and wisdom emanating from this delightful being. Finally, I said to His Holiness, ‘I don’t want to leave; I just want to stay here!’ I thought he would say yes, how wonderful, I see your sincerity, but instead he just smiled and said, ‘If we were together all the time, we would quarrel!’”

Now, after more than 30 years of working and living together, we have been there, done that, and collected a whole range of tee shirts. Love definitely works but we have found that relationship is based not just on how much we love each other but also on how much we are willing to live with each other’s neurosis. So we have come up with a few guidelines:

1. Not to wobble at the same time. If one of us is getting wobbly, having a challenging moment, or is in need of being heard, then the other one puts their own stuff aside and is there, present, listening, receiving. One time, when were we both needing and wobbling at the same time it meant there was no hearing or healing going on, so this ground rule has worked wonders for us.

2. No shoulds, should nots, ought tos, or ought nots. This one came into play as we began to uncover many of the assumptions, role-playing, and conditioning that we both brought to our marriage from past experiences. This allows us the freedom to be who we are and to be accepted as we are.

3. The ceiling is both white and flat. If we are having an argument and we stop to see what is going on, then we often realize that we are both talking about the same thing, just looking at it from a different perspective. One of us is saying the ceiling is flat and the other is saying it is white, but it’s the same ceiling!

4. No Finger Pointing. We were married in Scotland at Samye Ling Monastery. Afterwards, the Abbot said to us that if we ever have a disagreement we should walk away form each other and consider what we had said that caused our partner to be so upset with us. This is about taking responsibility for our own words and behavior, rather than pointing the finger or blaming someone else.

5. Meditate. This has undoubtedly been the thread that weaves us together, the grace that reveals we are both worthy, and the endless well of inspiration that restores and renews us both, individually and together. We are quite sure that without meditation we would easily have retreated to opposite sides of the planet!

May all your relationships thrive and blossom!