It's been almost 17 years since the first publication of Daphne Rose Kingma's groundbreaking book, The Future of Love.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the beloved therapist and author when her book first released. I was interested in knowing more about her concept of soul mates. As it turned out, her powerful insights about how the soul guides us to true love inspired me deeply and influenced my approach to ministering to couples.
She was one of the first people who clearly pointed out: the soul does not see a difference in religion, culture, skin color, or physical appearance. And, when people of different worlds find one another and find love together, it is the work of the soul.
Kingma has spent decades counseling and consulting with couples, and individuals, and writing books on how to make sense of our relationship experiences. Her other books include: Coming Apart: Why Relationships End and How To Get Through The Ending of Yours, Finding True Love, Weddings From The Heart and, most recently, her book for troubling times, The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart.
I wanted to share excepts our our original interview because her words are still helpful to couples as they navigate their way through challenging times.
LAURIE SUE BROCKWAY: Relationships. It's tough to be in them, tough to be without them. Why are we so romantically challenged?
DAPHNE ROSE KINGMA: I think in a way it's because we've been sold a mess of pottage. We believe relationships are supposed to be perfect, that partnership will always be ideal, that marriage is the one thing in life that can't corrode or corrupt. But the purpose of relationship is to really grow our souls. It's very hard to keep that in mind because we are so romanticized about relationships.
Sometimes people find themselves disappointed even after finally finding love.
We're just so engaged with our emotional lives that to find out that they too are going to go through the chaos (of the times) is very disturbing. Looking at the whole phenomenon of our relationship lives in a spiritual context really is the only way that the suffering experiences of relationships make sense. I think we're all trying to make this transition from personality to spirituality. That's a very big step, a huge step -- and we're not certain we're ready to take it. It's very scary -- in this culture, especially -- because we've really elevated relationships to the level of a God. So, to not have them be absolute in our lives -- absolute fulfillment, absolute security, absolute comfort, absolute witnessing of who we are, absolutely indestructible and forever -- is every challenging.
It used to be that a relationship is shelter from the storm, a sanctuary, but even very spiritual, soulful couples are challenged daily by the real world.
The human experience is an interesting tension between the material and mundane world, and, on the next level, the emotional. It's a mixture of those levels with the transcendent spiritual. We are uniquely called to continue to move back and forth in this reality where we get to experience it in terms of great awakenings, soul connection and divine love, along with Saturday night dates, co-parenting the kids, socks on the floor, red roses, car accidents, hospitalizations. We're being invited to experience love as it is infused in this material plane.
Soulful, passionate romantic love is here to stay, right?
Absolutely and I call that "Illumined relationships." But I think what we need to realize is sexuality is the divine attraction and romance is the Spirit's way of inviting us into the relationship which will then invite us to grow. American consciousness is stuck at the romance step.
When the excitement dies down and reality bites, we get nervous and think 'this isn't working.'
Exactly. We mistakenly think that it should be a 45-year romance as opposed to a 45-year journey of spiritual evolution or of psychological evolution -- and hopefully both. The romantic myth is held in a container with very specific attributes: It must be daily, domestic, exclusive and forever. And we really believe that these are the four tent pins that will hold up the romantic myth. In fact, they don't. They hold up daily life and a lot of times they don't hold up daily life that well. Romance imagines the 100 per cent connection. It really is like God: You're going to make all my dreams come true, be the perfect partner, protect me, be the great lover, the perfect parent. It's the expectation of perfection. That is what the high energy of romance is. Its like you're the one, forever true, only you, it has that quality of ...
A devotional, yes. And because we haven't made the distinction between that spiritual longing -- the longing for God, for absolute union -- we are continually disappointed in our relationships.
What does it take to make a relationship strong and long lasting?
A conscious awareness that these relationships are a spiritual as well as a psychological undertaking. And that the tests and crises within them are always an opportunity for spiritual expansion. Which means, put in simple terms, a greater capacity for love, and a more inclusive love. It's like this: Can you love the person who's driving you crazy? It's always a question of can you expand your capacity for love?
That's a great test many strive to pass.
In this culture, we have not seen many examples of: what does a relationship look like when it's really about love? We've seen it when it's about keeping up with the Jones's, when it's about healing the wounded child. We haven't seen it when it's really an embodiment of love. We need to see what it is to treat your partner as a king or queen, to lovingly hold the person you love, to live your sexuality as an experience of opening consciousness as well as physical passion, to live in an environment that is peaceful. I know a number of couples who's spiritual work, I believe, is just to hang around and show people what love looks like; to embody what marriage looks like when it's lived on the spiritual level. And that takes consciousness of saying: We are undertaking this. And we choose to go through those rites of emotional and spiritual passage in a relationship that will bring us to a larger place.
Do you believe all relationships are gifts?
I believe a relationship is a very profound spiritual gift. Think of it this way: You cannot insist a relationship into your life. You can't say, "This is Friday. I'm going to go downtown and buy myself a relationship." You can buy yourself a shirt, a car or a bottle of orange juice but you can't do that with a relationship, so it is a spiritual gift.
In recent years we have seen an extraordinary trend of people finding love where they least expect it. When we drop our expectation of love having to "look a certain way," it really opens up the door to great relationships.
At the soul level we are open...to that person who is a different color, speaks a different language, or is deaf. This is about surrendering. We are brought the experience of love that our soul needs. The nature of the soul is it's so powerful that it draws us off our ego, off the path where we think we are in charge, and surprises us about the nature of love.
Are these relationships easier or more comfortable?
The truth is, very often, soul connection relationships are the most demanding because they come into our lives to require us to let go of something that we're really entrenched in or to transform us in a way that's very difficult. The soul is trying to bring -- and bring and bring -- home the lessons.
How does the soul speaks to us and move us in relationships?
The soul uses the personality -- aspects of the personality, such as passion, need, childhood wounds and hormones -- to take us to a lesson. It's like you walk by the bakery, and smell the fragrance of the fresh bread. That's what draws you in. That's why some relationships are such a surprise: Oh, why am I with this woman who doesn't speak my language? Why am I getting married when I swore I never would? I don't know if we actually know where our souls are taking us, in the moment, unless we are very conscious. We may have that ineffable feeling that says my soul is telling me to be here, but a relationship is always an interplay of the personality and the soul. They are both always growing but it's hard to see what the soul is teaching is until later.
People often wonder, 'How will I know he/she is the one?' What is your spiritual Litmus test for knowing the soul has delivered us to the 'right' place.
Whenever we feel love, wherever we are changed by love, the soul is at work. But in a given time frame, it may not look right. You can say, "Well this is the last guy on earth I thought I would of fallen in love with, but I am feeling love here." That's the soul at work.
So should we follow our hearts to love, or should we follow our souls?
I think when we follow our hearts we're being led by the soul. We can trust love. Love is always a journey and people want it to be a destination. Its like, okay, I've got that nailed down, now I can go and work on my career. But the real experience of love is a continually unfolding journey.
Visit Daphne Rose Kingma's at her website to learn more about her books and her work today.