The world seems to be moving forward full speed through evolutionary leaps, and all aspects of life are in transformation, including relationships. I often feel confused or disillusioned by the idea of marriage and long-term commitment, though I think it’s natural considering that nuclear family structures have long been dissolving and unable to meet most social and spiritual needs. Today, so many of us feel the need to live in community (rather than in 2, with or without children), creating networks of connection and resources, moving with the rhythm of outward innovation and inner changes. So, what does it mean to be in a relationship as a couple these days? Who gets married anymore and why?

Spring weddingAt Damanhur, marriage revives the spiritual significance of walking a path together as unique souls on a shared journey of awakening. It also takes into account that life changes over time and highlights the importance of free will and choice in initiating and moving forward in relationship. How? There are some unique aspects to Damanhurian marriage…

Matrimonio a rinnovo. (Marriage that is renewed after a specific period of time.) Damanhurian ‘civil’ marriage is chosen on this renewal basis, beginning with a period of one year. This means when I marry a partner, we write a letter of love to acknowledge how we value each other and to define our intentions of shared spiritual growth and practical goals for the coming year, specifying things we want to change in ourselves through the mirror of the marriage. It’s then formalized in a ritual officiated by one of our monk-priests (male or female), celebrating the moment with community and family. Then at the time of renewal, we evaluate the path we’ve traveled together as spouses to then renew the marriage for another year, affirming previous intentions and launching new ones, if there are the results, energy and love to continue this pathway of inner refinement… or bringing the experience to a close. The intention is for relationships to grow and last, to overcome habits that can weaken them. Making a real effort to change every day, to transform aspects of the self during the defined time period.

Matrimonio esoterico. (Esoteric marriage.) This kind of marriage is a different kind union than the ‘civil’ Damanhurian marriage, and it’s also a commitment that is periodically renewed in time.

Wedded blissEsoteric marriage signifies soul union, moving together through the passions, joys and trials of life as a single spiritual being, even sharing each other’s karma. Entering into an esoteric marriage affirms the intention of returning to a state of primordial spiritual androgyny through union of feminine and masculine principles, which do not necessarily correspond to gender, as we each have masculine and feminine energies and qualities within all of us, whether we are men or women or beyond gender definition. It’s a choice of living in two as one complete being with masculine and feminine aspects integrated together.

The intention of relationship and marriage in this context is to end the infinite ‘seeking’ for that which completes us (masculine, feminine) outside of ourselves, in the other person, in our partner(s). Instead, the ‘seeking’ turns inward, within the self. I desire to complete myself as a soul moving from polarity to unity, so I seek, attract and enter into relationship with the masculine or feminine qualities that I haven’t developed yet, that I still need.

Eco helps nurture happy couplesAs long as I have this work of integration to complete, I may tend to repeat the same relationships, choosing to fall in love with the same characteristics expressed in different people. Sound familiar?… This cycle of repeated relationships transforms with awareness and choice, knowing that the longing for union with a love-partner reflects a deep intrinsic knowing that we were once whole as feminine and masculine united in a spiritually androgynous being. In this way, I choose to love my partner not because (s)he has and is everything I like, but because (s)he carries and naturally expresses characteristics that I need in order to become a more complete being. It’s a desire that runs deeper than any superficial preference and momentary attraction, and it can bring people into my life that are very different than me, and who are precious precisely because of this.

Once I have successfully integrated complementary qualities from my partner, a completion is achieved and sometimes it’s synchronic to move on to new experiences. This is why Damanhurian marriages are renewable, not because it’s something to take lightly and casually, but because a relationship may last a lifetime or it may be one of several phases on a pathway of spiritual completion.

What do you think love and spiritual evolution have to do with each other? Share in the comments below…