“WIFFM” is the primary motivator for many people in their relationships. WIFFM is a marketing term for “What’s In It For Me?” We have been taught to value people for how good they will look on our arm, how close they come to our fantasy of the ideal lover, or how we imagine they will fulfill our desires. It’s about how it all looks, right? Except that when we focus on the outside, nobody is going to be good enough because everyone is flawed. Everybody. This is why we love the tabloids — we get to see seemingly perfect celebrities with their defects hanging out.
One characteristic of a spiritual relationship is that instead of focusing on the other person’s exterior, we focus on the perfection within. Just as we all have not-so-beautiful parts on the outside, we all have a perfect core inside at our center. When we want our relationship to have a spiritual component, we attempt to keep our attention on this perfection within, rather concentrating on what’s outside.
The great Tantra Master Osho once said regarding relationships, “The Other is always right.” I was stunned when I first heard this. Like most people, I had been constantly pointing out when I was right and my partner was wrong, all in the name of “communicating honestly.” In retrospect it was all a thinly disguised power struggle.
I argued with Osho’s statement in my mind, and then decided to see what I could learn from it. As a technique, I recommend it highly. You don’t have to agree with it to experiment. Practice interpreting that the other was right and you were wrong next time you are reviewing a fight or disagreement. The ego spends all its time proving that it is superior. See what happens from the perspective of love.
When you begin this discipline of seeing what is right about the other person rather than what is, according to you, wrong, you may start to experience your partner as your teacher, or guru. Some of the other attributes of spiritual relationships that people have mentioned are a placing a high value on listening, integrity, emotional openness, sensitivity, truth, having a raise the bar attitude, and having a passion for learning and growing.
When people’s lives are dedicated to something higher than just getting their own needs met, their relationships will follow suit. This can show up as a dedication to make the world a better place by working for the environment, helping kids, or serving some other higher calling. Your relationship will be dedicated to something more important than merely trying to get your needs met, and this is what we call a spiritual relationship.
© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth