Opposites attract – so why arrange a Marriage within a Subcaste? – 22 Oct 13

I yesterday told you about the advantages of being in a relationship with someone who has a completely different background, who comes from a different culture and who even speaks a different language. All our arguments indicated that such differences could make a relationship longer-lasting. Funnily enough, when arranging marriages, people here in India obviously think the opposite: they arrange a marriage of two young people not only from the same caste but even the same subcaste. Of course, they assume that their child’s future spouse would thus have enjoyed a similar upbringing and that this would be the base for the success of their marriage.

The basic thought or wish may be understandable. When you marry your daughter off to a complete stranger, you want to ensure that she comes into a home which is similar to yours, where the family thinks in the same ways, where they have the same customs and the same culture. In turn, when a new woman marries into your family and comes to live with you, you would want her to be as much used to the rituals of your home as possible. So if you are anyway going for an arranged marriage for your child, this is probably a reasonable thought.

The problem is that this idea is based on a sick system that divides people into higher and lower classes, the caste system. People don’t only believe that others of the same caste have the same kind of culture in their home – they believe that people of lower castes are dirty, that they are not worth as much as they are and that their son or daughter could never be happy with someone from that caste. So it is not actually only the honourable wish for your child to have a good life with an understanding partner, it is a proof of your contempt towards other human beings.

Additionally it is not even true that people of the same subcaste all get along well with each other, have the same culture in their homes and just match perfectly with each other! On the contrary, every single person is an individual and in every family, different attitudes can develop with individual experiences which influence the atmosphere in the home, which change the character of children while they grow up and which again makes individuals out of these children.

When you expect a person to be the same like you, you don’t even give the possibility and freedom to this fresh couple to develop that healthy relationship coming out of two different cultures. You are not open for change, not tolerant for something different, even if that could mean a happier and longer lasting relationship for your son or daughter!

So dear fellow Indians, even if you don’t accept the argument that the caste-system is inhuman and should be abolished, please at least listen to the fact that the same caste is no guarantee that your daughter or son will have a happy and lasting relationship. Think twice before you stop them from marrying the one they love because he or she is from another caste. They might have found someone closer to your heart than you know at first glance! Be open to the new and I am sure you will find beautiful new aspects in a completely different person!

Strangely enough, Communication works better with different Culture and Language – 21 Oct 13

When our friend Sylvia was at the Ashram, Ramona had a conversation with her which she told me about and which I thought was quite interesting. It was about couples who come from different countries and cultures, especially when they also speak different languages. Sylvia had read a study which had found that such couples last longer.

As one of two parts of such a couple, this was of course interesting to me as well and we talked further about the reasons why this could be true and made sense.

The first argument could clearly be that people who are in a relationship with someone who is not originating of their regular surrounding are more open towards people, things and thoughts that are not ‘normal’. They may like an adventure and get excited about new things or they simply don’t refuse something which is different right away but consider it at least. In a relationship this can mean a lot because as the years pass by, both persons will change. It is natural that new things appear in the personality of one or the other and there has to be a certain flexibility and openness in order for the relationship to last!

In an intercultural relationship, both partners are aware of the fact that the other one has made fully different experiences while growing up, was surrounded by people who thought very differently and probably also thinks at least slightly different himself as well. This is something that even happens within one country and culture, as the culture of two homes only two meters apart can be very different from each other! The benefit of the international couple is the awareness about this fact! They don’t just assume that they know what the other one means! They don’t just put an opinion into the space, thinking their partner would feel and think the same. They look back to confirm, they wait for the reaction and they are ready to explain if necessary.

This is where the next aspect comes into the picture: the language. Due to the difference of culture, an intercultural couple is ready to put into words what they want to say. A bilingual couple however puts even more care into their words because they know that it is either not their own mother tongue they are speaking in or not the other one’s mother tongue or maybe even both! A word can mislead so much when it is understood in a different sense and those couples often have to get a hint for the real meaning in the eyes of their partner, consider their feelings for each other and thus understand a word, sometimes even completely in the opposite way than its literal meaning.

In general, a relationship with someone from another country and culture and maybe even language forces you to do what some people try to achieve by meditation and other mental or spiritual practice: to be more aware of what you want, think and feel, act accordingly and express exactly the same. You are more conscious of what you do and say and what impact this has on the people around you.

While your love for a man or woman of another nationality may get you to do that, I believe it would be good if you considered actually doing this in your relationship with a partner or your own nationality as well. No, actually, I would suggest even doing this in all your relations of your life – be aware of your expression and not only your relationships but also your friendships will last longer!

When a Partner has lost his or her sexual Interest – 7 Apr 13

In the individual sessions that I gave, I was used to people who came to me with very intimate problems that they had not told anybody else about. It is people’s chance to open up in a surrounding where they can trust that no word will ever reach anyone they know. Our talk is confidential. Even in cases in which I became friends with the person who had come to me, I never talked about the topic of our session without them asking me to. I was thus not very surprised when a friend opened up to me about a very private issue in 2005.

He had actually got in touch with me through his wife. She had been going to different spiritual events in the area, had heard of me and had convinced her husband that it would be good for him, too, to come along. After getting to know me in a meditation they decided to take individual sessions, too, separate of each other. It was not until we met again though, having established a small friendship, that the man trusted me enough to talk about his relation with his wife. To make it very short, he was sexually unsatisfied.

He told me that he loved his wife dearly and that he had spent so many years and so many ups and downs of life together with her that he would not want to miss her anymore by his side. No, everything was fine except one thing: she had absolutely no interest in sex. He had approached her in many different ways, trying to be romantic or wild, to remind her of old times or to try something fully new but she just never felt like it. Over the course of years, they had become less and less sexually active, the occasions on which she responded to his advances became less and now that they were living their life in retirement, they had reached a state at which he believed that he may never have sex again in his life.

His story touched me especially because of the love that he expressed for his wife. He said ‘I love her and that’s why I don’t want to go to any other woman for my physical needs. I might find one who would be happy to or I could pay but I don’t want to do this to my beloved one!’ At some point in the development of this sexual crisis she had even allowed him to do exactly that. ‘I won’t mind if you go to someone else for that!’ she had said – but he had refused this offer.

He also told that her unwillingness extended to any kind of sexual action. ‘I would not always need to do it all but she refuses even doing a little bit!’ I heard his pain about the fact that they seemed like strangers to each other once they reached their bedroom, the place where they should be most intimate with each other.

Obviously that situation had caused conflicts in between them. He had sexual needs and that sexual energy started accumulating without being spent. To release pressure, he had started watching porn – but when she caught him, she showed she was angry and disgusted by this which in turn made him feel guilty. They fought about it and thus further increased the distance in between them on their bed. She seemed frigid about it, acted as though sex itself was something that only dirty people did and talked about.

They took good care however not to bring any of this dissatisfaction out into the world. In everybody’s eyes, they were the perfect loving couple. They also had no other issue than this! They could spend their whole day in harmony and nobody would notice anything, not even they themselves, until the evening time would come. They had a cover of the perfect couple for the world and even for themselves.

After hearing all of this, I clearly told him that I would have to talk to his wife too, and if possible to both of them together as this was a matter that concerned them very privately. He carefully asked her and she agreed. To make it short, I could feel a very common pattern of guilty feelings within her connected to the topic of sexual intimacy and could relate these to her traditional, catholic upbringing. In a few sessions with her and also with both together we managed to talk about these points. I talked about how natural sex was and that it was nothing dirty but something to enjoy intimately with your partner.

It was not easy for her to leave those long-retained feelings behind which religion had planted in her but at some point when we met again, they both told me that their bedroom had become alive again and that they enjoyed their physical intimacy again. I was very happy to hear that I was able to help them.

I know that there are a lot of couples who have not found help for such problems. It is always a very individual case, something that cannot be solved with one general suggestion and I hope that people find a counsellor suitable for their needs who can help them find back together because a relationship without physical closeness won’t succeed for long!

Devotion or Lack of Devotion responsible for Success or Failure of Relationships – 6 Jul 11

In the last weeks, while working all over Germany, I have given a lot of individual sessions. There were two sessions that I felt I would especially like to tell you about in one of my blog entries. They took place one after the other.

At first, a woman came to me who told me she is now a bit older than 60 years. She was determined to make a change in her life at that age. She did not come for counseling to ask me whether she should or should not make this change but already had decided that she definitely would change. She came because she had a bad conscience and felt guilty. She wants to separate from her husband, who is 80 years old. They have been together for 40 years and have two adult children. She said now she would like to do something for herself.

Just right after that, a young couple, both in their thirties, came to meet me. They have been in a relationship for three and a half years but as they live quite some distance apart from each other, they could only meet on weekends. Sometimes he came to her town, sometimes she visited him. Five months ago, the young man fell down from the roof of his house where he was working. He broke his spine and is now in a wheelchair. He is still being treated in the hospital and she picked him up to come to me together. They now make plans how they will go on living their lives with this change. They decided to move together, close to where she works and are happy that they can now make this step.

If you have read the two paragraphs above and came until here, I think I don’t need to tell you much about what was going on in my mind. It is the same that you are feeling now. These two stories are about the same topic but the persons go in completely different directions. The topic in common is clear: devotion. To both couples something happened that nobody could prevent. For the older couple, it is simply age. Everybody gets older. For the young couple it was an accident, something that can happen to anybody and at any time. In one story there is no devotion, even after spending this much time together. There doesn’t need to be a proper reason for separation, the lack of devotion is enough for the wish to leave. In the other story there is a lot of devotion. It shows the commitment, strengthens love and gives a nice feeling to the couple and to whoever hears this story.

Animals as Substitutes for Children or Partner to fill emotional Gap – 30 Jun 11

I think I have made clear that I am against producing animals only for eating them. In the same way however I am against producing animals for other selfish purposes: for your own entertainment or for your ego.

What is the reason for you to have a pet? Many times it is really only your entertainment and often even a substitute for missing social contact in life. I have met so many people who use their pets because they don’t have another outlet for their feelings.

Many of them need someone whom they can command. They enjoy the feeling that they say something and it is done. As they cannot do this with other people, they get themselves a dog and teach him what he should do. This makes them feel in power and makes them feel good about themselves. But is this the right reason for keeping a dog, just to have a slave-like being that obeys?

Others don’t have anybody in their lives whom they can hug, who gives them warmth and love. Many of these people are simply not able to make friends. They are not able to make contact with people in a normal way and this is how they feel lonely. The solution is to buy a pet. A cat that can lie in their lap, whom they can stroke and who comes to them because it is also just lonely and needs someone. They can talk to the cat and it never answers anything that they don’t want to hear. But shouldn’t you rather go out and learn how to get along with human persons, face the real life instead?

Sometimes cats and dogs even have to serve as substitutes for precisely a certain role: children. People who cannot have children or who are too busy to really have children, sometimes get a pet or two and behave as if they are their children. They call themselves mum and dad and have the feeling that they really have a little family in this way. There is however the fact that a cat or a dog does not have such a high life expectancy as a real child would have. So whenever the pet has to face its death, the ‘parents’ are devastated. After all, this dog was like their son to them! They try everything to save it, bring it to the vet and spend lots of money but in the end the dog will die before them. I have even met people who then, naturally after an appropriate time for mourning, went and bought another dog that looked just exactly like the old one, the same race, the same colour and the same height. They call it by the same name and become its parents again. Don’t you think you are cheating your own feelings? Buying children and when they die, you replace them again?

And of course cats or dogs are not as care-intensive as are children! You don’t need to be pregnant and give birth to them, you can simply go and buy them! It is pretty easy, they even give you a complete pack of accessories along with the pet when you buy it. For a child, you will be responsible at least for the next 18 years. You will have to send it to school, you have to take care of it when it has its own friends and when it makes its own experiences. A cat or a dog is not that difficult! For people who are lonely, pets are also easier than partners. They don’t argue, they don’t cheat on you, you don’t need to date them and convince them that you are the one – you just buy them and there you are! It is just so much easier. But again, is that really how you should live your life and how the animal should live its life?

Reconsider why you want to have a pet. If it is because of your ego and the wish to command or if it is as a substitute for human companionship or if it is only for your own entertainment, don’t do it. I love animals and for their sake I want to ask you to give them their freedom. Tomorrow I will write a bit about the cases in which I believe it is fine to have a pet opposed to those which I described today.

A Healthy Relationship with Equal Partners – 5 May 11

In the last week I described what can happen if your husband acts like your father or your wife turns out to be more and more like your mother. Today I would like to focus on how a balanced relationship should look like, so that both partners feel good in their role as man and woman.

The partners need to be in a balance with each other. We all have both, male and female energy, in us and in a relationship we need to find a balance of our energy and the energy of our partner. You could make a big analysis of whether you are more female or male and what your partner should be like accordingly. The truth is however that this is a matter of feeling, not of your thoughts or any calculation.

Don’t think too much about which energy is good and which bad but feel into it and be in love. If both partners are in their balance, they don’t start switching from one role to another, don’t pretend to be someone else than who they are and they don’t have to search in their partner anything else than he actually is. They feel secure because they know and trust each other and their love for each other. They don’t need to pretend because of this knowledge and feeling.

When a couple is in balance, the two partners are equal in importance for each other and both are in their full power. When out of balance, both are unhappy and struggle. Often one carries all responsibility while the other one is insecure and unable to manage things alone. But when both, man and woman, are in their full strength, they share their responsibilities and they both depend on each other with a trust that the other one will fill in his skills where they are lacking them. They respect each other for their qualities and here the man can respect the woman’s motherly ways without relying on them too much. The woman in turn can enjoy it when her husband takes things in the hand, in a male way of leadership, without feeling that she is incapable of doing things on her own.

This does not mean that the man always has to be dominant in his male energy. Of course it is nice for both sides when the man has the feeling he protects his wife and a woman feels protected by a strong husband. It is a natural and ancient instinct. Sometimes however the woman takes charge and lets him lean back with the feeling of having a safe haven where she is taking care of things.

It is the mixture that makes it balanced. Then nobody has a big burden because both of them are sharing it, carrying it together and helping each other out. Decisions are taken together and you literally go through good and bad times together.

The main thing was, is and remains love. If you have a deep love for each other, you want to see the other one happy and you get happy through his happiness and love. Love each other and be there for each other’s needs.