All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.

~ Havelock Ellis

So for a while now we’ve been talking about Spring Cleaning and the importance of lightening our load so we can live our best, most fabulous life. But once we lighten our load, does that mean we hold on tight to what we have?

In terms of relationships, initially it’s important to identify who to let go of but also realize that even within the relationships we hang on to, there still needs be an element of letting go.

As Ellis’ quote suggests, there must be a balance. And it is, indeed, an art. Meaning, it ain’t easy.

If we let go too much, we can come across as uncaring and apathetic. But if we hold too tightly to a loved one, we risk smothering the relationship. Holding too tightly can lead to control, manipulation, and resentment that overtime, can erode the structure of a healthy relationship.

If a truly solid marriage is when two whole people come together to share a life, then we need to maintain the integrity of our wholeness while living a life together.

Think of the beautiful pillars that hold up a temple. They are each strong in their own right but must maintain a certain amount of space in order to uphold something bigger than themselves. Engineers work hard at finding that perfect mathematical balance.ย The same principle goes for relationships.

We need to allow our partners their individual liberty. To allow them to maintain that beautiful autonomy that perhaps we were so attracted to in the first place. Give them their space. And expect the same in return.

I’ve seen it happen several times to close friends. A couple starts off enraptured with one another and one or both of them loses part of themselves in the other. I’ve been guilty of this myself. It may feel good at the time, but in the long-run, this can be a recipe for disaster. Even landed a friend of mine’s husband in a mental ward because he couldn’t handle the separation she was inflicting on him for wanting to be “her own person” again after years of being enmeshed in one another.

I think this is a common mistake when we’re younger and still searching for our identity through others but I’ve seen it happen to older adults as well.

So I think it’s important to always keep this top of mind and remind ourselves that when we start to feel the slightest bit controlling in a relationship, to back off. To know that we don’t have to exert power over another just to get our way. But through love, listening, understanding, and clear communication we can have our wants and needs met and live a happy life in tandem. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kahlil Gibran beautifully articulates the concept of letting go in his poem Marriage

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

So what’re your thoughts? Do you think this concept of letting go is necessary for a lasting relationship? Have you ever lost yourself in someone? Any advice from the married folks out there on how to maintain your sense of self in a long-term relationship?

Photo courtesy of Frank Selmo