Today we co-exist with diverse models of partnerships and family relationships. The grandparents or the great-grandparents— who have always lived together. The separated parents. Young people who have brief flings with one another without commitment. Some people want to reproduce the grandparents’ model: it seems more secure. Others opt for solitude as their faithful companion. Others decide to adopt children from other countries. Some bring up their partner’s children. Others have children in vitro, with homosexual partners. Others decide not to have children or have them after the age of forty when they are professionally established.
All of these formulas open out in the present day like a rich social fan of different models of new ways of family living. In practically all of them, women continue to be the backbone, the fundamental axis that keeps all these new family groupings together.
These new groupings are making themselves a place in our social, educational and cultural spaces. Whilst as women we have advanced in all areas, men have watched, almost without participating, this female liberation that is transforming our social, cultural and relational foundations. In general, they have felt disarmed, not ready on an emotional level to co-exist with these changes which directly affect the sphere of the family group.
In a discussion group on self-esteem, various men confessed that they do not have problems in the professional arena, but that in the emotional and personal sphere they doubt themselves; they feel ‘disarmed’ and lacking in self-esteem. The self-esteem of most men is based on their professional achievements.
Another factor that affects men is that, in general, they find it difficult to be with a woman who is intellectually brilliant, highly educated, talented and professionally successful. For them, sharing life with a woman who has greater achievements and more resources in the professional world makes them insecure. They are afraid of being less than what she might hope for or desire, and of not being able to offer what has been traditionally considered the male contribution. They are subject, states Marina Subirats, ‘to feeling threatened by a loss of admiration or to doubt as to their own value and being reproached for their lack of achievement. Instinctively, therefore, men tend to make less of the positions reached by their partners, so that these latter will make fewer comparisons and demands’.
Taking this power game as a starting point, we need to understand the reasons that lead men to try to prevent or not make it easy for their wives to work outside the home. What is also the case is that through doing so they have been able to keep greater control of them. In the traditional social model, what prevailed was continuity, the children. For their sake, the woman subjugated herself and tried to keep hold of her belief in the handsome prince, in the king and protector of the home.
In these pages we will see how this traditional context continues to impregnate our spaces of relationships. In the chapters to come I offer paths towards reflection and radical transformation, from the inside out, in order to achieve a more harmonious co-existence. We will see how to connect to our essential identity, freeing ourselves from limiting conditioning, and we will focus our viewpoint and energy on creating bridges towards a world that is better for all women and men.
At the present time it is necessary to strengthen a vision in which relationships can come to exist in a harmonious complementarity. We need a complete transformation so that harmony in freedom is possible. Men have much to offer in this. Without mutual collaboration and understanding, we will not be able to go forwards towards a true encounter with one another. Let us be partners in the creation of a new reality in which relationships are the expression of our wholeness.
Fortunately, there are more and more men who are making an effort to reach a maturity that can make satisfactory relationships possible. We should all of us, women and men, work to facilitate and encourage this change in order to eradicate the violence, the dissatisfaction and the insecurity that reign in the present day in all spheres of human life. For this change to be possible, we have to look anew at the basis of our relationships. And this reflection should begin in each one of us, in me, and in you.
If, for example, your relationship with the other is based on a need, on the constant search for gratification, you will also establish a similar relationship with society: you will try to get society to fulfill your needs and your deficiencies. The fact of relating out of need, looking to the other to satisfy you, makes it inevitable that there will be expectations, conflicts, frustration and a permanent dissatisfaction.
Then you feel yourself to be a victim because things neither work nor are as you want them to be. This causes a state of constant complaint. The universe does not seem to dance to your tune, your desire and your will. You hope for situations and others to make you happy. And since this desired happiness does not arrive—or when it arrives it dissolves as quickly as sugar on the tongue—the dissatisfaction increases in scale, ending up as desperation or dejection. You feel that you can’t do anything to change what you would like to. You might also feel impotent in a relationship that does not seem to give you the satisfaction that you hope for.
In the pages to come I show the context in which our tendency towards dependence, and, therefore, permanent dissatisfaction, is generated. I suggest changes in perspective and attitude in order to achieve satisfaction, personal wholeness and harmony in relationships.
What do we want?
An important factor in connecting to our potential and transforming energy that would enable us to support each other in creating a new reality is the need to find out what our essential desire is. What do we want? What are we looking for? It is fundamental that we come to understand ourselves. Understand the self.
Who am I? What do I want? What is my identity? What is my will? From where do I act? From where do I choose? From fear and lack or from trust and abundance? Am I covering up a deficiency and am I hiding something, or is what I am doing born of desire?
What desire? What drives me? Are my actions driven by a mature love, a love that is worked at? Or am I seeking for the other to satiate my thirst for satisfaction, for pleasure and for love?
In this book we will see the repercussions of living in the paradigm that is based on need, on greed and an awareness that is based on what we are lacking. We will see how we can change to a paradigm that is based on the giving of oneself, generosity and abundance. Perhaps we should change the question and ask ourselves: what does the other need?
Rabindranath Tagore says:
I slept and I dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and I saw that life was service.
I served and I saw that service was joy.
This article is a guest post by Miriam Subirana. Author Miriam Subirana shares her profession as a painter and writer with being a teacher of meditation and positive thinking. She coordinates programmes, projects, seminars and retreats whose objective is to refind and live your own identity and enjoy a fuller life. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.
From Neediness to Fulfillment – Beyond Relationships of Dependence, Miriam Subirana, 978-1-78099-129-0 (Paperback) £11.99 $19.95, 978-1-78099-130-6 (eBook) £6.99 $9.99.
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