Expanding into Love is not simply about increasing romantic love; it is about increasing your CAPACITY to love, albeit in a very different way. It means developing the ability to accept people the way they are and seeing the divinity in them. . . no matter what.
In the early phase of our lives, before we have awakened to the truth that we are all one, romantic love tends to involve control, demands, domination, expectations and even exploitation of the other. It is a highly conditional kind of love.
(It is also what makes relationships perfect as a way to experience the pain of separation, that being the purpose of coming here in the first place.)
In the second phase of our lives, after we have awakened, it is our task to expand beyond that kind of love into a love that offers freedom, mutual respect, equality and honoring of differences.
By the way, this does not just apply to our romantic relationships, but to all relationships. (What if everyone did this? There would be no more wars.)
That said, however, this is no easy task. Old habits die hard. Our old ways of relating are unconscious and seem perfectly natural. Expanding into this new way of relating takes conscious effort and is really nothing less than advanced spiritual practice.
Incidentally, it is obviously best if both partners engage in this expansion of consciousness within the relationship. But it is not essential. When you do it on your own, it may pull your partner along anyway, almost without him or her knowing it.
But if he or she is totally resistant, then this becomes an even more of a spiritual challenge for you to find acceptance of him or her just the way he/she is. On the other hand, if the resistance is such that no progress can be made, then leaving the relationship might be the best option.
Assuming both are engaged in the process, the next step is to renegotiate the relationship in the direction suggested above. I suggest doing this in 4 stages:
1. Assess where things stand today, looking at how things have progressed since the beginning right up to present day. Obviously, both parties need to be brutally honest and accepting of the other’s assessment.
2. Look at your spoken (and unspoken) assumptions and expectations, demands and manipulations, and to see how they have worked out. Reflect on how you have given yourself away, compromised or sold out to get what you thought you wanted. Then, how much love do you have now and what kind of love has it become? Discuss where practical and/or structural changes might be made and what might need to be done to shift the energy between you.
Almost certainly, there will be some Radical Forgiveness and Self-Forgiveness to do at this stage. Make a list of all grievances, regrets, disappointments and guilt trips, and then do the forgiveness work. You really want to start with a clean slate before moving on to the next stage, which is where you begin to consciously renegotiate the relationship in very stark terms.
3. Establish the core values on which your future behavior in the relationship will be based, irrespective of how it had been in the past, requiring them to be respected and honored at all times henceforth.
4. Establish and declare your boundaries and whatever else you consider to be the conditional factors in deciding whether or not the relationship continues.
If you are looking for a clear and focused way to do this work, I suggest you look at our brand new Expanding in Love Online Workshop. It includes the Assessing My Relationship online worksheet, which enables you to look at how things have progressed since the beginning right up to the present day. It takes you through all 4 stages, just as if you were attending a live workshop. . . and for a limited time, select a free bonus gift when you sign up.
I wish you success in this challenging endeavor.