Let us look at the very basics – the giving and receiving in the relationship. Fundamentally, that is what the relationship is all about – that you give, and that you receive. But in order for a relationship to work well, and become dynamic, both parties ought to master both giving and receiving. If both parties mainly are concerned about receiving, the relationship will not last long. The best recipe for success and making a relationship last, is to learn to give unconditionally. Two mature persons with such an attitude, usually get on well together.
Therefore, before you marry, you are meant to develop your ability to give. You develop your heart through a growing period, by experiencing different phases of love. That way, you and your ability to express love become mature. Becoming a more mature and giving person is a gradual process that requires time and effort.
From the viewpoint of giving and receiving, the first phase of such a development begins already at the infant stage. Then life is all about receiving love from mum and dad. The little one is completely dependent on his or her parents.
Children come from the love relationship between father and mother. That’s why the child’s heart is extremely sensitive to the relationship between mum and dad. The little one feels so happy when the parents express their love to each other. The child stage is incredibly important. If the child feels that it is loved by the parents, there are good chances that the child, when it grows up, may himself get a solid marriage and become a good father or mother. Parental love is the children’s decisive foundation in life and represents the motivation for them to develop their own mind and heart. When the child feels mother’s and father’s love, the child’s heart develops.
The next stage in the development of heart, is siblings’ love. The child starts learning to give. It shares with others, exchanges things and discovers that by giving, something comes in return. That way, you get friends and develop the ability to express siblings’ love or love of one’s neighbour.
In the first phase of life, as a little child, you experience vertical love from your parents. Parents and children are on completely different levels of development. Therefore, we use the expression “vertical love”.
Siblings’ love, on the other hand, is a horizontal love between parties at roughly the same level of development.
At this stage, you begin to discover a new world of love, that between man and woman. This is also a horizontal love relationship, between two at a similar stage of development. Impulsively, they want to find such love and develop a burning desire to find a partner. A deep relationship between man and woman is however the most intimate and important of our horizontal relationships. In order for you to succeed in this central relationship, it is important that you have a mature attitude. The best preparation is to learn to stand on your own feet and at the same time master the art of giving and investing yourself. The best is to be able to give unconditionally. Then it becomes possible to create a beautiful world of love together.
Parental love is the deepest form of vertical love. Through your love for your children, you even begin to fathom what is the spiritual axis of the universe – the parent-child relationship between God and human beings – and God‘s intense parental love for his/her children. Thus, we see how in our inner development toward spiritual maturity, we are meant to go through the four distinct stages of children’s love, siblings’ love, marital love and parental love.
More about Four Realms of Heart
You need spiritual insight
When it comes to relationships, it is very important that we learn to see each other as eternal beings. Your eternal part, your spirit, is meant to grow through the various relationships in life.
One big problem in today’s materialistic, secular culture, is the absence of precious spiritual insight vital for our relationships. The most precious part of a person is the internal side, the spirit or soul. Nowadays, many build their identity and self-image on the physical body. There is social pressure to have a perfect body, a pressure exploited eagerly by commercial interests.
Without the concept of soul and spirit, we cannot discover and understand the inner essence of a person. We only see the outer shell, the physical body. With such a limited view of life, we will have big problems building lasting relationships.
When your identity is based on your body, its needs easily become what life revolves around. Such a lifestyle makes you selfish and unable to, even disinterested in, creating lasting relationships. A relationship that lasts requires noble qualities of a different dimension than the body’s needs – self-sacrifice, altruism, unselfishness. Those are spiritual qualities. You need a spiritual outlook on life in order to create a lasting relationship. And so does the person you would like to share your life view.
Text: Knut Holdhus