The Test of Love

All relationships face three trials of the heart and the challenges of love. What are these tests? Understanding these trials can be experienced in any order, they are:

  • The trial of facing challenges together
  • The trial of acceptance
  • The trial of joy.

No matter which test begins a relationship, it is important to ultimately experience all three trials to build the foundation of true love. The question of integrity is presented at each trial and reveals the truth of the relationship’s strength. Some relationships begin by facing challenges while others begin with the connection of joy or even acceptance and friendship. However the relationship begins, the growth cycle of the relationship will eventually move through all three trials. Some relationships only move or live through one cycle, however short or long, and then reveal a new cycle. When the new cycle begins, a choice to continue the relationship in that next cycle is presented. Sometimes the relationship ends, sometimes it is possible to make a commitment to each other, to grow into this next phase. Sometimes the pressures of the next phase bring separation as the only way the couple can honor each other and fulfill their needs for individual growth and soul evolution.

Determining the type of connection you have with another is predicated on your own requirements for your own joy. As a woman, your joy is paramount to your spirit’s health and the health of the world. Some relationships are only meant to be experienced to help you live through a certain cycle, and others are more enduring. The type of relationship you experience is the type of relationship that speaks to your soul. What your soul requires is the unfolding of your own growth. The experience of your life’s relationships mirrors the journey of your soul. For some people, growth requires transitions in relationships; for others. a long lasting commitment can be made based upon the recognition of love. What type of relationship does your soul require? How can you recognize a deeper love? Understanding the three trials of love can help evolve the relationship while pursuing and honoring who you are in that relationship.

The trial of facing challenges together develops the strongest connection in a relationship because here you learn how to keep each other safe. The challenges that bind people together also have the ability to reveal a supportive love that is immense. Whatever the challenge (or combination of challenges) whether financial, physical, emotional, social, spiritual or mental, each will bring recognition of the relationship’s strength and durability.

  • What challenges has your relationship faced?
  • How has your relationship dealt with these challenges?
  • What was your contribution?
  • What was your partner’s contribution?
  • How has your relationship come out on the other side of the challenge?
  • How do you ultimately love one another?

The trial of acceptance reveals the true nature of each other’s sense of humanity. This trial teaches us about the excesses of pride while strengthening our ability to accept ourselves and each other as women and men. This also reveals how the excesses of pride can threaten the very existence of a relationship built upon mutual love and respect. Sometimes it is necessary for one’s soul growth to rightly claim its pride. To be able to build one’s self-esteem is congruent with the importance of the unfolding life. During this time, a relationship can undergo many hardships as partners cry for growth. Sometimes, it is only one person in the relationship that experiences a need for something more, sometimes both. How you act during this cycle of acceptance allows you to understand your own requirements for self-love as well as your partner’s. This challenge develops the recognition of your mutual respect and value for one another as human beings.

  • Do you accept and respect yourself as a woman?
  • Do you accept and respect the man in your life?
  • Do you experience respect as a woman in your relationship?
  • How does he show you that he loves and values you?
  • Can you give yourself permission to grow, evolve and change?
  • How can you allow the other to grow without feeling threatened?
  • What is it about your relationship that enables you to make a commitment to the growth of one another?
  • Can you remain together at this time or do you feel the need to separate?
  • How can you honor each other during this cycle of a relationship?
  • How do each of you show appreciation for the value of one another?
  • Is that working?
  • How can it be better for both of you?
  • What does that tell you about your relationship?

The trial of joy can be the most fun, but potentially and surprisingly it may be the most damaging. It is easy to become a “victim” of the innocence of joy. The soul is attracted to joy, to the experience of pleasure and the potential for fulfillment. During this cycle, the challenge must be made conscious if the relationship is to survive. Understanding the nature of a relationship requires a unique blend of both feeling and thoughtfulness. Feeling results from specific connections experienced and thoughtfulness is the explicit awareness of the types of bonds exchanged through love.

How these feelings are experienced, is determined by not only the depth of connection toward one another but also by the investment toward fulfillment each has for the other. It is here where true fulfillment or merely the illusion of fulfillment is revealed. Any fall from joy, loss of fulfillment or the recognition of worth, from whatever height, is the loss of love with particular effects for both women and men. For some, this trial can be devastating while for others the transition is experienced more casually. Since the loss of joy so often equates to the loss of love, managing well in this cycle requires recognizing joy as paramount for relationship survival.

Joy can be seen in any number of ways: for men, it is often the need to be physical in order to maintain a connection to the source of the woman through play and sexual activities that allow him to relax and have fun. For the woman, joy is often the experience of moving toward her own fulfillment in relation to herself and with others. Feeling support as she moves toward her fulfillment, she senses her own value, she can experience joy. This is why it is key to “know thyself:” the need to consciously understand how you want to be fulfilled. Unconsciousness is the creation of illusion, the very hotbed of broken dreams and a course toward victimization. On the other hand, commitments based on promises made clearly, with integrity, and acted upon from a place of consciousness, create a space for the relationship and for each partner to flourish in joy. This challenge is the recognition of depth and desire.

  • What is your joy, your sense of fulfillment?
  • What joy brings you together?
  • What joy is felt to be missing?
  • What do you receive for the expression of your joy?
  • What brings out your joy?
  • Can you let the man experience his joy without recrimination?
  • Do you support a man’s joy?
  • Do you feel your joy is gratifying?
  • If not, what do you feel you need to feel more gratified?
  • Is this missing sense of gratification due to your own lack of self-awareness or is it because you are not receiving something?
  • What do you need to be more aware of for yourself or what do you need to receive?
  • How will claiming your joy affect your relationship?
  • What pros and cons must you weigh in order to claim your joy?
  • What type of joy is your highest priority?
  • What structure defines and contains safely your relationship of joy?
  • Is it working for both of you?

Lasting relationships will experience and appreciate all three trials of love through time while other relationships are only meant to live in love for the duration of a single test. Innocence may be the basis for our emotional connection (and better yet if it is!); however, the exchange of energies and love between a man and woman is best when structured. After honest courtship or an innate “knowing”, an arranged relationship or marriage needs to be understood and established, even if in a work environment where roles are clearly defined. Relationships to be healthy must be built upon trust, yet innocence is not an excuse for the absence of wisdom except in our youth.

A sense of “victimization” takes place when one or the other feels somehow short-changed in the relationship. The value first given and wanted is no longer appreciated. That does not mean the value is not there, but solely that either person is no longer satisfied with what is and wants more. How is trust built in a relationship particularly when the integrity of one person or situation is questionable? Why do we feel called to live in such a relationship?

Trust is built by honoring ourselves with integrity and by becoming conscious of the choices we have made, for better or worse, realizing our own illusions and falls from love or our failed attempts at both self and supported fulfillment. What does your man give to you and want to give to you? Is that fulfilling? Trust in the relationship is built in time and through the three trials of love. The test of love is knowing yourself and your value, sharing yourself and your love with others who appreciate and value who you are in both your love and joy.

May all your lessons in self-knowledge keep you safe and happy in the unfolding of your life and love…

Stephany Lane Yarbrough

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