Dare to Be Happy
By Daniel Tipton*

Is Marriage a Special Relationship?

Relationships have been the most difficult part of ACIM for me to grasp. Especially since we, in America, have so many traditional ideas about how relationships are supposed to be. The eventual goal is to find that one person and be married. Right? However, to be painfully honest, the more I see those close to me in marriages, the more afraid I am of such a prospect. It looks like such a fear-laden struggle sometimes and it is no wonder to me that the divorce rate in the U.S. is right about half. I'm not against the idea of marriage. I'm for the idea of taking a closer look at the purpose of partnering up with one person for life.

I'm on a quest to understand ACIM's concept of relationships and to practice in it my life. When I was in San Diego over the summer for a conference, I had the chance to ask Dr. Gerald Jampolsky a question. I was not sure what I wanted to ask but it came out as something along the lines of “What the heck is a special relationship versus a holy relationship and how do I avoid specialness”? Even Dr. Jampolsky took a minute to either think or maybe appreciate my struggle. Smiling, he answered that all relationships contain specialness and that it also helps to try and keep neediness at bay. An interesting thing that happened after that is that at least a dozen people from the conference pulled me aside to either thank me for my question or offer their advice. I felt like my question was unorganized and not expressed all that well, yet I was being thanked by random people. This gave me the impression that I'm not alone in my struggle to understand relationships in the light of ACIM.

Dr. Jon Mundy came to Omaha so I took another opportunity to ask a respected ACIM teacher how I can avoid the special relationship. He responded that all relationships are special, but present an opportunity to heal. This was not new to me but still eye-opening because I had the idea that I was on a quest to find a holy relationship, and that any sort of specialness would be unacceptable. Dr. Mundy helped me see that I won't get around this specialness, or in other words the struggles will be unavoidable but not insurmountable.


I understand now that specialness is part of all relationships. However, I still look at marriage and wonder if it works with ACIM. Much of the time, our intimate partnerships go as follows: We treat the person differently than other people; We treat them better or sometimes worse than other people; We do things for them that we would not do for other people; We hold them to a higher esteem than other people;We treat them as if they are special.

So aren't many of our relationships set up to be special? In the traditional American marriage, I feel that the expectations that we have developed are steered toward an unnecessarily difficult course. If all of our brothers are equal partners, how does one pair up with one special person and not create a situation in which specialness cannot be overcome? If that one person is not special, then what is the point of marriage? These are the questions I ask with an open mind.

Since I've been single, I've had the opportunity to experience deeper relationships with my friends. Many times I feel that I am doing well and I receive gratification through practicing the law of giving and receiving and what I feel are a lot closer to holy relationships than I've ever had. I could be content with the way things are but feel pressure to find a mate. I feel pressure to find a single person to partner up with. I've had many short relationships lately and I almost instantly feel the specialness start to creep in. They seem to become much more work than they are worth. I'd almost rather have the freedom to offer my love when and where I am so called and not focus a majority of it on one person. This feels more along the lines of ACIM yet this partnership idea is always lingering in the back of my mind.

I feel that ACIM would have me simply let this go. Yet, my fear is that if I stand aside, I will be solo for life, and for some reason this is supposed to be awful.

ACIM puts a lot of emphasis on relationships and this is why I am taking the effort to understand them. I see people being married and seriously wonder if they have ever sat down with themselves and asked what their real purpose, if any, for marrying that person is.

ACIM says that “the ark of peace is entered two by two”. Are these “two by two's” married or partnered people or does this apply to all relationships? Are we called to pair up in the traditional way or is there something different? I like the freedom of being available to all who call and I can't see having so much freedom in a marriage. Add children on top of that and it sounds like I'd be booked solid. I am not saying that one cannot be “free” in a marriage, but for me and my understanding of ACIM at the moment, I will take more time to understand what my purpose is.



*Daniel Tipton, a member of Course in Miracles Society, resides in Omaha, NE and is currently working on a masterDaniel Tiptons degree in Counseling at UNO. Daniel is also one of the founding members of the new Miracle Cell Men's Team. He is in his second year of the 2 year ACIM Ministerial Program offered by the Community Miracles Center and will be assisting at the 2013 ACIM Conference which will be held in Chicago. More Conference Information here

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