A friend wrote to me:
“I’ve always had a longing to have a strong man in my life. Even the powerful, independent women I admire and seek to emulate, for the most part have had the benefit of strong men – either as friends, colleagues, or partners.
“My problem is that the man I loved, who was powerful and good, is gone forever. But he stays in my heart and makes it difficult for me to love someone else in the same way.
“I think I am attached to the idea of being a “one-man woman,” but at the same time, I long to have a relationship. Help!”
I answered my friend:
Over the course of many lives, we must eventually develop a perfect balance of male and female qualities within us. As we advance spiritually, our ability to express “masculine” strength and “feminine” kindness and compassion grows. We are usually drawn to a partner in whom we sense the qualities that we need to develop in ourselves in order to develop that perfect balance. In time, as we become balanced, the need for another person to help us develop those balancing qualities is transcended altogether.
For a strong woman such as you are, to desire the company or assistance of a strong man is natural. As you know from the example of the strong women you admire, there is no contradiction between having personal strength and wanting to form deep and meaningful relationships with others. You were fortunate to have such a connection. Naturally it is disappointing that it did not last for an entire lifetime.
How will you reconcile your attachment to this man, with the fact that you probably have many years still to live, and that you want to make the most of those years spiritually, and find increasing happiness?
I recall a woman who was widowed after 60 years of semi-successful marriage. A friend tried to comfort her, saying, “You’ll see him again.” Her reply was, “I think 60 years was long enough.”
The form of the man you loved, and the way in which you loved each other, are gone. Never again will you be together in the same way. But the essence of what you loved in each other is untouched by his departure.
Sometimes, an experience is given to us and we know that it will never be repeated. “I’ve had the love of my life, and there will never be another.” Even though there may be loneliness in the realization, there is also a calm, uplifting reassurance in contemplating that whatever God gives us, and what He takes away, are always spiritually right for us.
In your case, perhaps you should ask: Why would loving one person make it inappropriate to love another in the same or even a greater way?
This reminds me of a touching experience I had with a friend. His wife was pregnant with their second child. He came to me, deeply concerned. He said, “How can I be a good father to the new baby? I love my first-born so much that I can’t imagine loving another child as much as I love her.”
All I could say was, “Love is infinite. Don’t worry. It will be okay.” Not long after the child was born, the father told me with tears in his eyes, “You were right.”
The love that we develop in our hearts is meant to be shared and continually expanded. To hoard it, and to focus on a single person whose memory lingers from the past, is to betray the love that you had, not to express your loyalty to it, by allowing it to grow.
As Paramhansa Yogananda said, our loved ones are taken from us so that we may learn to expand our hearts to others, and not focus our love too narrowly.
It may or may not be your destiny to have another equal relationship in this life. There is no reason to think, however, that would be more noble or loyal not to have it.
Be completely sincere and open with God. Tell Him of your longings, and of your confusion. Place it all in the lap of Divine Mother. Follow the advice that Paramhansa Yogananda gave for how to pray: “Be thoroughly convinced that He has heard you. And then – go about your duties, seeking not to know whether God will grant your demand.”
Talk to Him when your heart feels restless or sad. If it is spiritually beneficial to you, God will send you a partner. If none comes, know that God is helping you to grow in other ways. The way to meet our karma and learn the lessons it wants to teach us is to accept it calmly with joy.
I will pray for you.