You meditate, practice mindfulness, do inner child work, shadow work, burn incense, communicate with your spirit guides and are passionate about the spiritual path …
but the only problem is that your partner isn’t.
In fact, not only are they not interested in the spiritual path but they also have a hard time understanding why you engage in various spiritual practices in the first place.
A thought may have gone through your mind, “can this relationship survive?”
This is a troubling thought and may be accompanied by feelings of anxiety, emotional discomfort or even a sensation of looming endangerment. I want to help you reach some semblance of peace and clarity by the end of this article.
Is Your Relationship Doomed?
First off, this is a pretty loaded question.
The only way to determine whether your relationship is doomed to fail or not is to pay attention to the context of what is happening within it and your dynamic together as a couple.
Here are some red flags you should look out for:
- Your partner makes fun of you and your practice
- Your partner gets angry when you dedicate time to your spirituality
- Your partner tries to prevent you from practicing your spiritual path
- Your partner has created a spoken or unspoken “ultimatum” i.e. “it’s me or your spirituality”
- Your partner frequently criticizes your spiritual beliefs
- You feel the need to “hide” your spiritual practice and do it in secret
- You feel pressured to believe/follow what your partner believes
- You’re afraid of sharing your spirituality for fear of being judged or rejected
If you can say “yes” to more than one of these negative red flags, you should be concerned. Your relationship is oppressive and doesn’t allow you to grow as a person which means that there is likely an unhealthy dynamic going on. I would advise you to spend some quiet time across the next few weeks reconsidering your relationship. Why? Because you have a right to practice whatever form of spirituality speaks to your soul. You have a right to flourish as a spiritual being and be loved and supported – not rejected or judged negatively.
If, however, you can’t quite relate to the above red flags but your partner isn’t spiritual and you are, this is a positive sign (but also more complex).
I’ll explain why below.
What to Do When Your Partner Isn’t on the Spiritual Path
Understandably it can be frustrating and disheartening to live with (or spend a lot of time with) a person who doesn’t share the same aspirations, outlooks, or spiritual beliefs as you.
But I want to mention something very important here: beware of the ideals you create.
Concepts such as twin flames and soul mates can be useful in defining and understanding relationships, but they are ultimately limiting and constrictive when framed in the purely spiritual context. (Anyway, you can still have a “non-spiritual” soulmate or twin flame – if you like using those labels.) So if you are looking jealously at other couples who seem to “have it all” spiritually speaking, drop those rose-tinted glasses immediately.
“Spiritual” relationships are not the be all and end all. In other words, NO you don’t have to be in a spiritual relationship to be happy. No, you don’t need to share the same metaphysical beliefs or outlooks.
Because the most “spiritual” thing is ultimately love.
If we are talking about real spirituality here (not just the various methods, paths or mental beliefs), what ultimately matters is how much you love and accept each other, regardless of your differences.
Beware of the toxic comparison that makes you feel like you should both be on the same page about everything, like “other people.” Beware of the toxic comparison that makes you feel like you should be posting pictures of yourself and your partner on Instagram doing something “spiritual” like yoga – or go on week-long meditation retreats together – like “other people.”
As a person who has written a lot on spiritual relationships I can tell you this:
If your partner has the ability to love, they are innately spiritual. It doesn’t matter what they believe (or don’t believe) so long as they are able to open their heart to you.
So put your foot down and refuse to be pressured into believing that your relationship has to look or feel a certain way. Your relationship is unique, and so long as it is based on mutual love and respect, it is healthy and can survive.
A Little Side Note on Core Needs
As a slight diversion, I want to say that it is possible that you may have a healthy and loving relationship but the connection still isn’t right for you.
Why may this be the case?
The answer is that one of your core needs isn’t being met. If you absolutely feel in your heart of hearts that you need a partner who is on the same page as you spiritually, that is one of your core needs. And you need to pay attention to it.
There are no easy answers here, and all I can say is that if you are unhappy in your relationship despite the fact that it is loving and respectful, it may not be the right relationship for you.
Not everyone needs to be in a relationship with a spiritual person, but if you feel the deep core need to be, then you need to do some soul searching. Reflect on yourself and your relationship in five years time: does the thought make you happy or restless/depressed? If you answered the latter then it is unlikely your relationship will be able to survive simply due to the fact that one of your core needs is to have a spiritual romantic companion. And that’s perfectly okay. You will need to sort out your feelings and plan for the best path of action.
Here Are Some Essential Do’s and Don’ts
So now that we’ve cleared up whether a relationship can survive or not when one partner isn’t spiritual, here are some ways to ensure that your relationship continues to flourish:
- Don’t pressure your partner to adopt the same spiritual beliefs or practices as you – they must ultimately decide for themselves. So be cautious of trying to deprive them of that empowered choice no matter how zealous you feel. Honor their free will.
- Be careful of harboring negative judgment or a critical attitude towards your partner just because they are different. Remember that we are all at various levels of awakening. When the time comes (if it comes) your partner will awaken too.
- Don’t get lost in rose-tinted ideals and fantasies about who your partner “should” be spiritually speaking. Wanting or expecting your partner to be anything other than what they are is a recipe for disaster. Accept the full package of your partner (strengths and flaws alike).
- Don’t rely exclusively on your partner for spiritual nourishment – this point may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people out there expect their partners to be “all things and everything.” Take that burden off your partner and find a local spiritual group (or at the very least, one online) where you can express the spiritual side of yourself.
- Lead by example (don’t preach to convert). There is nothing as nauseating as a person trying to proselytize others – so don’t be pushy with your beliefs and outlooks. Walk the talk instead.
- Find and focus on the similarities between you and your partner.
- Regularly express your love, commitment, and affection (which itself is a spiritual practice).
- See your relationship as a “school of life” and your partner as a teacher in disguise. So much self-knowledge and spiritual growth can occur within relationships, regardless of how “spiritual” they are. Your partner will mirror your greatest hidden strengths and also your most feared shadows. So see your connection as sacred without being overbearing.
- Honor what stage your partner is at. Be careful of seeing yourself as more spiritually “advanced” than your partner (which leads to ego inflation) – choose to see both of you at different levels on the spiral of growth. Understand that your partner may be more developed in some areas of life than you and vice versa.
- Seek to meet each other at an equal level.
To summarize: pay attention to the context and dynamic of your relationship. If your connection is based on mutual love and respect then YES, it is possible to thrive and survive together. If you have a core need to connect with a spiritual partner, then NO, living with an “unspiritual” partner is unlikely to fulfill you. Although, before you jump to this conclusion, I ask you to consider what “spiritual” actually means to you – does it mean spiritual according to your path and beliefs, or something else? Also ask yourself, “Am I happy to do my thing and allow my partner to do theirs?” or do you both absolutely need to be on the same page?
Hopefully, you have a bit more clarity now as I know how complex and emotionally-charged this topic can be.
Do let me know if I’ve missed anything or if you have any advice of your own. I’d love to read your insights!