The Lovers Tarot card is a sort of a snapshot of a story we’re all familiar with: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The image is all the more poignant because we know the end of the story. This picture was taken when the beautiful angel was hovering over them as a guardian and protector. The very same angel would later cast them out of the garden because – horror of horrors – Eve munched on an apple and that pissed off their psychotic, bipolar god.
In many ways, this is a perfect metaphor for the process of, “falling in love.” And falling out of love.
When we first meet that perfect someone and fall in love, our brains and bodies are absolutely saturated with pleasure hormones like oxytocin. We become enchanted with the mere presence of our love object and the entire world seems to glow with a peculiar brightness and joy. Basically, we’re high as a kite and we feel like we’re living in a beautiful garden.
That oxytocin high lasts about two years (coincidentally, about the same time it takes to conceive a baby, gestate it, and get it on its feet) and then it just disappears. Suddenly our brains go back to normal. This is the, “reassessment period,” in a relationship where we take a good, hard look at our partners and decide if we really want to stay with them. If, all in all, we feel satisfied and happy with them, we stay in the relationship. If, after we come down from our oxytocin high, we discover that we’re living with a frog rather than a prince, we leave.
In other words, we fall out of love. We’ve been cast out of the enchanted garden.
I’ve been thinking about that process because of a subset of relationships that the amazing Sonia Choquette refers to as, “karmic relationships.” In her videos, she explains that these are relationships that involve a sort of a, “Soul agreement,” with the other person. The agreement is that we and the other partner are going to teach each other some serious lessons that will help us grow into our spiritual evolution.
And, “serious,” is the salient word there. These tend to be very, very heavy relationships.
There’s an element of compulsion in them, for one thing. We meet someone and suddenly feel a deep compulsion to be with them. It may not even be someone we particularly like. They may have values that are completely at odds with our own, or perhaps they’re physically or emotionally someone who is just not our type, not someone we would normally EVER be attracted to.
Yet, we are. It’s a feeling like two magnets suddenly coming into alignment and pulling us toward each other with an irresistible force.
They also tend to be . . . uncomfortable . . . relationships. In a romantic karmic relationship, we may feel a HUGE sexual attraction toward someone, but really, really NOT enjoy living with them. Or we may feel a strong emotional attraction to them but have a terrible, terrible sex life.
In one way or another, it feels like a bad fit for us, because it is. We’re not there to have a perfect relationship, we’re there to learn some heavy, hard lessons from being in each other’s lives.
That’s where it gets interesting because the timeline on a karmic relationship, the duration of it, is determined by when we learn those lessons and are ready to move on. It may happen in six months or it may take decades. In Sonia Choquette’s case, it took 31 years of marriage for her to get the lessons she needed to learn from her ex husband.
Which brings us to one of the most fascinating features of karmic relationships: leaving them.
When a karmic relationship is over, when we’ve finally learned the lessons we were supposed to learn, it becomes massively uncomfortable to stay in those relationships. As Sonia said, the price we pay for overstaying in them is absolute emotional misery. We really experience it as if we’re being spiritually expelled from them, as if we’re being thrown out of what we mistakenly thought was a garden but was actually full of weeds. The same forces that compelled us to enter into the relationship are now compelling us to leave. Lesson learned, relationship over.
If we ignore those compelling forces, if we insist on staying in the relationship even after the lessons from it have been learned, then we devolve into the couple from The Devil card. This is the same couple of people from the The Lovers card, but now they’re living in misery and pain. They’re chained to their karma, refusing to move on from the relationship and grow spiritually.
And, of course, if we examine The Devil card closely, we can see that the chains are very loose. They could easily lift them over their heads and be free if they CHOSE freedom. Instead, they cling to their misery.
Both Sonia Choquette and Louise Hay point to a very simple truth which our culture likes to deny: relationships end. And they end frequently. When they d end, we can either choose to be miserable, choose to stay ensnared in the karma, or we can stop to absorb the lessons that we learned from the relationships. We can either be bitter or we can bow gracefully toward our former partners and thank them for the lessons they helped us to learn.
And if we mutter under our breaths, “Thank you, you son of a bitch,” that’s alright, too. We’re just humans and this is just a school. We don’t have to get an A on our report cards every single time.