Living Your Purpose and Relationships

“Our intimate relationships are profoundly influenced by the way we live our lives and the work we do in the world.”


Martha and John, together six years, were not happy in their relationship. Their communication was broken down. They were arguing more than was comfortable. Their love-making was unsatisfactory. They wanted help in all these areas.

While working with them, Joyce and I were exploring the timing of their problems. Martha felt that John had not been happy for about a year. John agreed. We asked if anything had changed at that time. They shared that the biggest change in their relationship was the birth of their daughter three years ago. They felt happy about becoming parents. The only change that happened one year ago was John getting a “real job,” that is, a job with decent pay and benefits. Previously, John tried to work for himself, doing what he liked to do, but never earning what he hoped he would.

I asked John his feelings about his new job. He was clear. He was doing it for the steady income. He didn’t like the job itself.

Martha, on the other hand, was a full-time mom. They could now afford to have her stay at home caring for their daughter. Was she happy in that role? For the most part, yes. She felt strongly about giving as much as possible to their daughter especially in her early years. She felt, however, overwhelmed at times, especially when John spent long hours at work. At those times, she often felt like a single mom. She was needing a break.

Interestingly, they didn’t connect the problems in their relationship with their choice of lifestyles.

But they are very connected. Our intimate relationships are profoundly influenced by the way we live our lives and the work we do in the world. For John to not enjoy his job (except for the paycheck), his soul is left unfulfilled, and this affects every part of his life: his self-esteem, his energy level, his physical health, and his relationships. For Martha to be feeling overwhelmed, she can’t give her daughter the quality of care she envisioned. The physical and mental fatigue corresponds to a fatigue in her soul, and there is little left for her husband.

There is a deep unhappiness at the soul level if we are not living our purpose here on earth. All of us came here to give gifts unique to our beings, gifts no one else can give. When we find out what our special gifts are, and then give them, we are fulfilling a part of our human destiny — and the assorted pieces of our lives come together like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

John complained when we pointed out this connection. After all, he argued, the stress of not having enough money must be greater than that of not living his purpose. This may sometimes be true, yet, in the long run, the stress of not living your purpose is far greater, and takes a huge toll. John and Martha knew this was true.

In Risk To Be Healed, I shared my own story of working as a medical doctor, becoming accustomed to regular paychecks, and painfully watching my soul wither because I was not doing the work I came here to do. Also, my relationship with Joyce was suffering at the time. I realized I needed to take steps every day to live my soul’s purpose. Little by little, I did more of the things that nurtured my heart, like writing, counseling individuals and couples, classes and workshops, time alone to meditate in nature. And doing these things started to bring fresh love to my relationship with Joyce. Eventually, I was able to transition completely away from the medical work.

Realize it is not necessary to make drastic changes in your life, like quitting your job, selling your house, moving to a different location, or starting a new career. Rather, it is important to begin now to take steps toward living your purpose. Even small steps. Start asking yourself, what brings joy to your heart? How can you make the world a better place? If you died tomorrow, what would you regret never having done? These and other questions like them can point you in the direction of fulfilling your destiny.

Even taking small steps in this direction will allow your relationships to deepen. Moving in the direction of soul fulfillment brings more soul to your relationships.

Two years later, John is now working out of his home doing something he loves. True, his paycheck is not guaranteed, but he has so much more energy and love to give to Martha and their two children. Martha is less overwhelmed than she was with one child and, with John there to help more, she has discovered and developed an artistic gift within her that just so happens to also be paying their bills. As of this writing, their relationship is thriving.

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