Look at your past relationships, you may see that you have rushed into this stage at one time or another, trying to save it or make it work. This stage, when it occurs naturally, happens around year 5 or year 6. It will make itself evident and will grow from a deep and meaningful foundation. When ignored, the couple will experience boredom, insignificance and a lack of real passion.
This is where the “lights” come on, and you are looking for your unique contribution to be expressed in the world, beyond just being a couple. People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression.
Scientific research shows that having a connection to something bigger than ourselves, a religious belief, or a spiritual side to our lives makes us happier and healthier.
Martin Seligman – the founder of positive psychology – describes meaning as a vital component of happiness and well-being. Studies of couples who believe their lives ‘have meaning’ show big benefits for well-being.
There lives within us a passion, a passion for something, a motivation to make some kind of difference, to leave a mark, a legacy. Although finding meaning is about connecting to something beyond ourselves, it also seems to tap into to something fundamental within all of us. For some people this becomes obvious early on – for example a calling to teach or become a doctor or to follow a particular faith, raising a family. For many however it is a search that can take a lifetime. Sometimes a practice, such as meditation, can help us become more in touch with our feelings and deepest selves. The following statements will begin to ring within you as stage 5 evolves:
Life is precious. The benefit we have over all other life on earth is the conscious awareness of our ‘self”, our “life”. We don’t just breath, eat, and sleep. We have the ability to use our talents and desires in fantastic ways. We need-we want to accomplish something. We may not be sure what that something is, but it exists and we want to investigate.
Life, as we know it is short. When we are young, time has little meaning to us. Through our adult years, life fills up with the process of living. Time for reflection has to be “taken”, it’s rarely available otherwise. And at some point, mortality stares us in the face. The time to accomplish is “now”.
Something bigger. We are a very small part of a very large universe. When we die, most of the other 7-billion plus people on earth won’t notice. We are part of a larger cosmic existence and are connected. We want our connection to account for something that contributes in some way.
We are unique. We are part of a larger whole and yet we are still unique. Everything on earth is unique in some way or another. There is no one else who has the exact makeup that we do, and no one ever will. We have a unique contribution to this planet (to this universe?), one that makes a difference.
Being truthful and loving matters. Loving me teaches those around me to love me. Loving “me” authentically has love experienced, expressed and expanded around me. The couple we are, is that expression, experience and expansion in reality.
Some couples said this about their “couple purpose”:
“The answer to this question has changed over the years. In the past, we have done animal rescue. At one point we worked to raise awareness about the rise in antibiotic resistant infections in mainstream society.”
“Last year, my husband and I donated some weeping willow trees to a local park that had lost some over the winter. I think that I feel like my life has meaning when I am able to act in accordance with my beliefs.”
“Living in integrity gives my life meaning. Being able to help steer my kids in the right direction, knowing that they are able to talk to me about anything and know I won’t judge them.”
“Knowing that we will soon be teaching people the science of happiness through our 12-step program and change not only where we live but hopefully the whole culture of the UK and eventually the world.”
“We were brought up in religious families and, although we don’t follow any religion now, we are spiritual people. We’re all part of a bigger web of life and much more inter-connected than we realize. For us meaning and purpose come from doing a job that we feel makes a positive contribution, trying to be great parents – and doing what we can to care for the world around us – the environment, other people and so on.”
“My wife and I write music together and perform. Our children are grown. This keeps us close and gives us a sense of purpose. Our lives are happy and full.”
“My partner and I tried starting a business together, but it wasn’t as fulfilling as we had hoped. It didn’t make the kind of difference we needed. But that lead to coaching others in starting their businesses and getting off on the right foot. We’ve now been doing this for 6-years and have found it to be an extraordinary expression of our talents and our contribution.”