Author Archives: Christian Pedersen
I was looking in my partner’s eyes and for the thousandth time feeling like something was missing. I so wanted to feel intimate, but as usual, I didn’t. I felt empty and lonely.
Even when we were lying in each other’s arms, making eye contact, I felt nothing. I kept looking for that magical in-love feeling, the sense of connection and oneness that people talk about in fairy tales. But after years, the feeling still eluded me. Why didn’t I feel that?
I was pretty sure it was my partner’s fault. If only he were different, I would feel more loved and swept off my feet. Maybe if he shared more of himself with me? But when he did, I still felt nothing. Maybe if he touched me more? Nope. That didn’t work either. Maybe if he acknowledged me more? Was more present? Looked more deeply into my eyes? Was more awake and sensitive?
I tried for years to figure out what HE was doing to “make me” feel so disconnected and separate. Oftentimes, we both looked at what he was “doing wrong”. Try as we might, nothing he did ever made any difference. We only got farther and farther apart.
One night, when I was yet again wanting to feel in love, I had a realization that changed my life forever:
Wanting and having cannot exist in the same space at the same time.
I realized that I could not WANT intimacy and EXPERIENCE intimacy at the same time. As long as I was “wanting” love, I would never “have” the experience of love and intimacy I desired. It wasn’t possible. Why? My wanting took up all the space!
No wonder nothing my partner did made any difference!
It didn’t take a rocket scientist for me to realize that this was not the only place I was wanting.
I was stuck in wanting everywhere in my life.
I wanted to lose weight.
I wanted to make lots of money.
I wanted to feel loved.
I wanted to do important work.
I wanted to be healthy.
I wanted to be beautiful and thin.
I wanted to be a great mom.
I wanted to be a good lover and a good wife.
I realized, that even when I did lose weight or did make money or did hang out with my beloved, I DIDN’T FEEL ANY DIFFERENT!
As I looked more closely, I began to see that I attached “feeling” states to certain “forms”. I realized that I believed the “form” or acquisition of a thing would make me feel a certain way.
I thought I would be happy when I lost weight. But I wasn’t.
I thought I would be connected when I was in a relationship or if my man was a certain way. But I was still lonely.
I thought if I bought real estate and made lots of money, I would relax and enjoy life. But I didn’t.
I thought if my kids loved me, I would feel loved. But I still thought I wasn’t enough.
Frankly, I was shocked.
Every external thing I went after did not actually make me feel any better when I got it.
I began to see that there was a difference between the “thing” I wanted and the experience I hoped I would feel when I got that thing. I saw that the “thing” and the experience were not connected at all.
My happiness and love did not live in any “form” in any-thing.
I started noticing how commercials keep us mixed up. They are always giving us the message that if we buy that truck we will feel powerful, or if we buy that mop our kids will be happy, or if we buy that shampoo we will feel special and in love.
So now what? If my happiness does not live in a thing, if nothing out there will make me happy, then how do I get happy?
Well, it took me a lot of years, but I finally figured it out.
Go straight for the feeling experience.
I developed this powerful process I call “Living in the Question”. This question tricks my mind into imagining myself having the experience I really want.
It goes like this, “If I were (feeling experience) right now, what would I say? What would I do? How would I be?”
So now when I am lying in bed with my man, I ask myself, “If I were in love with my man right now, what would I do? What would I say?”
And whatever answer my mind gives me in the moment, I do it. I imagine myself feeling in love, and the feeling of love comes from within me. I instantaneously step into a love space.
Or I ask myself how I would be right now if I had already lost all the weight I want to lose, and I find myself eating better food and having more energy – which is the reason I wanted to lose weight in the first place. I can feel what I want to feel now without having to lose a pound.
This question has been my lifesaver. I now know how to move out of wanting into having.
I am much happier, peaceful and loving now than I have ever been. I don’t try to change my externals, though I still have fun playing with that stuff.
And I don’t make my beloved wrong anymore.
Now, I look in his eyes, breathe in sync with his breath and dive into sweet deep love with him. It is so beautiful to be joined with him, to feel that sense of oneness and connection I longed for all those years.
And guess what?
It’s better than all those fairy tales…
For many people in relationship, fights about how much quality time to spend together or apart is commonplace. Usually one partner is arguing for more time together, while the other is arguing for more time to him or herself.
Watch our video here, and/or read the full article below the video.
There are two sides to this intimacy-freedom spectrum: there is a preference for intimacy or freedom, and there is a resistance to the other side. In other words, if I prefer intimacy and connection, I generally resist space and freedom – for myself AND my partner.
This is complicated even further by the fact that our needs and desires are constantly in flux. Even if one partner has a preference for more connection or space than the other, personal space and connection needs can vary from day to day. For example, I may want more connection today, but more space tomorrow and the next day.
This dilemma has a positive side. I just feel SO GOOD when we are together (or apart), that I want more of it. I want that feeling to stay and never leave. I want to hang on to that particular experience!
But sometimes this dilemma is fueled by fear. I don’t want you to go away because I am afraid if you leave you will never come back.
The more couples fight about this, the more they solidify their own position and preference and the more they resist their partner’s need. This pattern, in the end, only keeps the arguments and dissatisfaction going.
Given that there is an intimacy-freedom spectrum, it is inevitable for couples to find themselves having differing needs for connection and space. Rarely do couples hit the balance point where they both want the same exact amount of time together and apart.
So, what to do when you find yourself at odds with your partner’s preference?
For starters, explore. Where are you on the spectrum?
Do you find yourself preferring connection and dreading separation? Do you resist or pout or make a scene when your partner needs space or pulls away emotionally? Do you forget to take care of yourself because you are so focused on being with your partner?
Or do you prefer being alone and dread too much time together? Do you make plans away from the relationship without consulting your partner? Do you stay up late to avoid going to bed at the same time? Do you resist intimacy or sexual overtures?
So, explore your general preference.
Both space and togetherness are essential for love’s continued expansion. It is essential for any expansion and growth.
Think about it.
Your heart muscle opens and closes.
Your lungs expand and contract.
Your muscles tense and relax.
The seasons come and go.
The moon waxes and wanes as the earth shifts.
The waves and tides come in and go out.
There is a natural ebb and flow to the ever-changing energies of life that keep things moving, evolving, growing …
The same is true in relationship.
Relationship needs to breathe. It needs to move. It needs the space to grow and change. It needs an out-breath and an in-breath. It needs togetherness and separateness. It needs freedom AND connection. That is why this issue is so present for most couples in relationship – because both aspects are so essential to mature, healthy love.
Think of it this way …
When you get attached to connection, and you resist taking space or allowing your partner to take space, is a bit like trying to not breathe out. It is impossible, for one, and if you do happen to be successful, you will die. The same is true of relationship. Your relationship will die without breath, without movement. It will die if you ONLY have togetherness or you ONLY have space.
Or here is another useful image.
When you get attached to space and freedom, and you resist coming together in complete union with your partner, it is a bit like trying to keep a wave from coming onto your shores. Sure, you can build a wall to keep the water at bay with a lot of effort, but that wave is going to keep banging up against your wall over and over again for as long as you’re with this partner.
Imagine how it would be if you allowed for and celebrated both aspects. You come together and experience delightful bliss in deep intimacy and sex AND you go out and experience the richness of your time alone with yourself or others. You enjoy the exhale, and you allow the inhale. Both aspects give, both are nourishing and both contribute to your expansion as individuals AND as a couple.
How that looks in relationship is not resisting or arguing for one or the other of these states.
If you are the “connecting one” in the relationship, instead of pulling for your partner to come back when he emotionally withdraws, remind yourself that the wave is going out to sea. The wave is going back out to its source and will return invigorated with new vibrancy to add into the relationship. He is going out to sea FOR the health of the relationship. Remind yourself that he will be back – stronger, clearer, and more available for connection when he returns.
And if you are the “space one” in the relationship, instead of snubbing your partner’s overtures for connection, freely step in with your appreciation for your partner’s open heart. Reward her love and desire for you by meeting her with your openness and availability.
When you do this, a wonderful alchemy emerges. Your togetherness builds and reinforces your freedom. Your closeness infuses your solitude with confidence, love and presence. And vice versa. Your time alone is this nourishing opportunity to refuel your connection with yourself and spirit, so that you are more available and open for love and intimacy when it comes to you.
So don’t try to hang onto that wave or breath – no matter how good it feels. It will kill you and the relationship. Let the wave have its way. Trust that whatever you prefer will come back around, and enjoy the ride along the way.
As a coach, over and over again I witness successful people with great lives and loving relationships lament their failure because they don’t measure up to some outside image of what they think they need to be happy.
Many couples divorce and many singles stay single in search of that perfect ideal relationship.
In the Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz talks about how having many options produce unhappiness. With more, better, different, faster choices in front of us, we continually compare what we have with what we could have, and this comparison has us feel unhappy with our lives and relationships as they are. We keep ourselves wanting what we don’t have.
Jon Jandai, on a Ted Talk I listened to recently, spoke about growing up in Thailand where he worked two months out of the year – one month planting, and the other harvesting, rice. The remaining ten months of the year he and his family had free time to be with themselves, take naps, visit with friends, garden, create art, read, and attend festivals. His community was poor, but they didn’t know it until television made its way into his town.
People went from being happy with their lives to feeling discontent, like they should have more and better. Jon’s parents sent him to Bangkok to get an education, so he could have access to this better life.
While he was working hard for eight hours a day at school, he wondered why? And for what? He already had a good life. He didn’t have to work more than two months out of the year and garden for fifteen minutes a day to have enough food to eat for him and his family of six. And he had enough rice and food left over every week to sell for extra income. It took him two months to build a house, that he could then live in for free for the rest of his life. He didn’t need clothes, because visitors coming through often left clothes behind that he could wear.
What was really better about what he saw on television? Where people work hard at jobs they don’t like for 40+ hours a week, take thirty years to pay off a mortgage on a house they own, make purchases on things they don’t really need, constantly buy new clothes to stay in fashion, and have but two weeks off a year for vacation.
We are continually bombarded in our lives with images of people who have more than we do. Millionaires who have luxury cars, vacation homes, boats, planes, nannies, personal chefs and have achieved a high level of success. The rest of us look on in envy, believing that we are poor in comparison, and that our happiness lies in some faraway distant future when we should attain some arbitrary level of material success and fame.
In this constant comparison, our otherwise good lives – perhaps average lives, which today are good lives – look like a failure.
Likewise, movies and television showing hot sexy thin tan young people falling in love and living happily ever after have our relationships look substandard by comparison. “Sleepless in Seattle” spoke to many who would love to replace their partners who snore and fart and belch and pick their noses with that handsome mystery rich prince who will sweep them off their feet and take care of them forever.
Alan Watts said that the act of wanting a more positive experience is in and of itself a negative experience, and the act of accepting a negative experience is paradoxically, a positive experience. We say it this way. “Wanting and having cannot exist in the same space at the same time.”
I recently worked with a couple that had been dating for two years. They loved each other deeply and had scheduled a session with me to help them with their breakup. The Relationship Completion process I gave them to assist with their separation process backfired, and only had them fall more in love with each other.
As we worked together, it was more and more apparent to me that they were stuck in some outside form that they believed they needed to be happy. Because their partner didn’t look like how he or she should, they thought they should move on to find their Prince/Princess Charming.
But when they slowed things down, they could see that they have what really matters most: undying love for each other, the ability to share and talk about anything, hot sex, the ability to take responsibility and work through challenges together, and the desire to really be there for each other.
They were able to see where they could join each other more completely to both appreciate their pretty miraculous life and relationship, while having fun creating new possibilities for the future. Witnessing their breakthrough, I imagine, was like Jon seeing that he already had the life he was presumably working hard to attain.
So what is the message to all of us?
Quit comparing. Quit thinking that what we have isn’t it. Quit looking for where our partner isn’t perfect. Or as Barry Schwartz says, have fewer expectations. Appreciate what we have now. Be in the moment. Choose to feel good. See “average” and “what is” as success, as having already arrived.
Christian and I endeavor to do just that. As we sit on our deck in the sunshine – we have a choice. Do we look at the large pile of bark that needs to be scattered about, the large yard of lumber that needs to be cut and stacked, a roof that needs to be repaired, a driveway that needs paving, and the carpet with stains, or do we appreciate getting to live in this amazing house with yard and pool and garden and flowers and birds and a cat?
Do we focus on not having made love last night cuz we were too tired, or do we have fun remembering the great sex we had last weekend and the grand time we will have tonight? Do we focus on how little money we have in savings, or do we focus on feeling grateful for the money we do have? Do we lament our business not being huge and famous, or do we appreciate getting to do meaningful work for the hundreds we DO get to serve?
We always have a choice. One leads to happiness and one doesn’t.
FOR A LOT OF GUYS, intimate relationships are hard work!
It’s uncomfortable, way too emotional, and you’d rather just not deal with it at all, and hope it’ll work itself out. After all, she normally returns to her senses after a while. Right?
Even when deep down, you know you have some problems in your marriage or relationship, you might be saying what my friend said right after he found out his wife had fallen in love with another guy: “I knew we had some problems, I just figured we’d get to it some day”.
But here’s the great news.
It really isn’t meant to be that difficult, and it’s absolutely attainable to make it smooth and easy.
And if you’re being totally honest, wouldn’t it be worth a lot to feel admired, loved, and appreciated by her? Doesn’t it make you feel taller when she thinks you’re the best guy ever?
You just need to know some key points, and then do your best to practice them. By doing so, you can actually make it easy for her to see you as the man she fell in love with.
- She’s not like you. Never will be. Isn’t supposed to be. So don’t try to convince her to stop being “so emotional”. Simply accept that she has a different “operating system” installed than you do. Accept that her emotional way of processing information is as valid as your logical way of doing it. Just different.
- The #1 thing she’s looking for is trustworthiness and reliability in you. Why? So she can feel safe and relax. When she feels safe and relaxed, it’s really easy for you to relax and enjoy life.
- Face your own discomfort with her intense emotions and conflicts in general. You cannot make emotions or conflicts go away, period, so you might as well make friends with them. How? Own your discomfort about it, admit it out loud.
- Pay attention to her. Be an attentive mate, just like you were when you were first courting her. Chivalry never goes out of fashion. So notice how she dresses, notice when she comes and goes, hold her hand, touch her cheek … BE there in a way that she can feel. Don’t just be the silent brooder in the corner.
- Find your own power. Say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no. Don’t pretend to listen for 10 minutes while thinking, “blablabla, she’ll be done soon”. Be honest if it doesn’t work for you to be talking with her right now. Stand up for what’s important to you, in a firm, but non-aggressive manner. Let her feel you have a spine, and don’t just along with anything she says so you can avoid a conflict. She’ll respect the man you are when you do that.
Now, sure, there’s a lot more to the equation of having a great marriage. But if you can keep these five in mind, and use them as a starting point, you’ll be ahead of the game, and might even produce some serious breakthroughs and sexy action!
“I am not enough.”
“I am not supported.” “No one loves me.” “I am too much.”
We all have some negative self-talk that lives in us.
Almost every single person will tell you when they’re being deeply honest, that they don’t feel good enough or loved for who they are. These negative messages plague our daily lives and mess up our careers and relationships.
Negative beliefs that we have about ourselves present themselves in every relationship that matters. They arise in stressful situations – whenever things aren’t quite going the way we want them to. When our boss yells at us, when our kids get bad grades, when our partner forgets our birthday or there are dishes left in the sink, we are right back to thinking we are unlovable or unworthy.
Sometimes it even feels like life is conspiring to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.
We seem to keep attracting and recreating situations that reinforce these negative beliefs.
We are shocked when our partner does that SAME exact thing our mom did way back when, and we find ourselves once again feeling that SAME exact bad way about ourselves.
To make our lives better, we try to make sense of these negative thoughts, try to understand and figure out where they came from.
We blame our parents for having yelled at us, for leaving us when we were young, for having affairs, for fighting, for drinking, for calling us names, for telling us we were not measuring up. We remember specific incidents from our childhood, when we first felt inadequate, unworthy, unloved, and we re-play them over and over again in our minds, proving that we were unfairly done wrong, victims of unconscious, unaware, stupid parents.
We would love to eradicate these negative thoughts. We try thinking positive. We say affirmations. We attempt to forgive our parents and re-write our past stories through therapy and books. But as much as much as we try to change our experience in life, we feel trapped in these old patterns, resigned to feeling bad about ourselves forever. Life just reinforces our negative beliefs faster than we can un-do them.
But what if …
What if we were supposed to have these negative thoughts? What if it was inevitable and part of the human design? What if these thoughts were fundamental to our makeup and part of the perfection of who we are?
Let me explain.
It is pretty much impossible to grow up without the thought that there is something wrong with you. Think about it.
When we are children, we see from a child’s point of view. When I got in trouble for riding my tricycle far down the street when I was 4, I made up that I wasn’t enough and that it wasn’t safe for me to follow my heart.
But from the point of view of my parents, who had no idea where I was for too long a time, they were merely frightened that something terrible had happened to their little girl. I mistook their fear and upset as being a statement about my inadequacy – something they never intended to communicate.
Since then, I have felt like I was not enough many times in my life, and I must say, that insidious belief has benefitted me greatly. It has fueled my interest in education and personal development, it has challenged me to take risks and grow myself in ways I never would have imagined, it has sourced my deep compassion and love for other human beings in struggle, and it has been a great source of my humility and vulnerability in leadership.
My recurring thought of not being enough has even birthed a business where I encourage and empower people to see their beauty, and to have regard for the positive intent behind their flaws and negative beliefs.
If I had thought I was enough, or more than enough, I might have become an arrogant, boastful, heartless, unconnected human being.
I was working with a woman who had the unfortunate experience of watching her mother die at her own hand. In our work together, she discovered that her profound fear of depression and aloneness kept her strong and alive.
Another woman, who was raped as a young girl, now works for CPS saving young children from violence and sexual abuse. A young man who was lied to as a child has become one of the most intuitive and accountable human beings I know. In the end, each of their tragedies and corresponding negative beliefs birthed much-needed gifts.
Consider the possibility that your negative aspects are there to serve you as much as your positive ones.
They are meant to be here. They are your friends. Instead of trying to get rid of them, use them. Each negative belief carries a rich gift, not only for you, but also for the world.
He wanted to buy a boat. She didn’t.
She preferred saving the little bit of money they had left over every month until they had enough saved up before buying something extravagant like a boat. He didn’t want to wait. He pictured holidays camping, fishing, and skiing with his kids – all of which in his mind required a boat. They disagreed. They fought. They went round and round.
One day, he went out and bought a boat without the “go ahead” from his wife. She was pissed. He parked the boat in their driveway – a neon sign in her mind of his lack of regard for her concerns.
Unfortunately, even though he got the boat, he didn’t get his dream vacation. For one, after buying the boat, he and his wife couldn’t afford to take it anywhere and actually use it. And two, she was so angry that she didn’t want to have anything to do with the darn thing. It just sat there in their driveway for who knows how long as a memento of their lack of alignment.
Conflicts like these are commonplace. When in relationship with anyone – whether spouse, children, parents, co-workers, friends, or ex’s – it is inevitable that I am going to want one thing and somebody is going to want something else.
Examples abound: I want to go out to the movies and you want to stay home. I want us to make dinner together and you want to putz in the garage until dinner is ready. I want to have sex and you don’t. I want to invite my family home for the holidays and you want to vacation by ourselves in the Bahamas. I want to move in, get married and have a baby and you want an open relationship with Shirley. I want to move to another country and you want to stay put. I want to splurge and buy a fancy new car and you prefer saving every penny and driving our ten-year old dented Ford until it dies.
At first glance, in conflicts like these, it looks like we are on opposite sides of an issue, where only ONE of us can win and get what we want. I, of course, want that winner to be me, so I push and pull and argue for MY position without much interest in even listening to your position lest I be swayed in your direction. This way of approaching conflicts keeps us at a standstill, with little or no movement on issues that matter most to us. Or, like the couple above with the boat, one person moves ahead and on the surface gets what he wants, but with a large negative lasting consequence to the relationship. If left unresolved, some issues become deal breakers that lead to estrangement, separation or divorce.
Luckily, we have a whole new way to approach conflict that leads to connection, love and harmonious solutions.
First, it is essential that we move as partners rather than as adversaries when disagreements arise, to believe and trust that whatever is coming up is happening FOR both of us for some positive good purpose.
Second, we must really listen to each other to understand each other before lighthearted creation is possible. What do we want? And why is it so important to us? What is it we want to create? What is the concern we are trying to take care of? What is the experience we are going after? What are we afraid will happen if we don’t get what we want? What old stories are getting activated that aren’t really about the current issue at hand?
Once fully expressed and heard, it is helpful to take on the other person’s point of view so you can step into the other person’s position fully.
And then to take ownership of the other person’s position, concerns, needs and wants as fully as your own, to commit to win/win solutions. Commit to not moving forward on any major decision until there is full and complete alignment. Come up with creative solutions that take care of both of you.
We believe that every time there is an impasse, that something even better wants to be created. For example, had that couple with the boat worked with us before taking action, they could have emerged happier and closer than ever with a win/win solution like renting a boat for a weekend on a lake with friends as one possibility for how to both get their needs met.
Just as we can’t see the forest through the trees, it is challenging to see new possibilities from inside of our own conflicts sometimes without guidance and support. If you are feel stuck in conflicts and impasses that go nowhere, if you trigger the bejesus out of each other to the point of saying and doing things you regret, or if you feel resigned about ever getting what you really want in your relationship world, we strongly recommend you join us for The Gift of Conflict workshop April 29-30 in Auburn.
For the first time ever, we are opening up this course to people outside of our Mastery Program, so that you too can benefit from the tools we teach at the Gift of Conflict for the rest of your life. Act now while space is still available!
She wanted an open relationship, but he didn’t. After months of endless processing, he finally relented. Reluctantly, he allowed her to date others, and at some point, finally went out on a date of his own. He fell in love with someone else. She freaked out. Now she wants monogamy and he wants an open relationship. They have switched positions.
She wants more sex but he isn’t interested. His libido is gone he says. We work together in several coaching sessions to revive his drive and reignite his interest. As soon as he is amped up and ready to go, she finds excuses for why she doesn’t really want to. They have switched roles.
She wants to get married but he isn’t sure. She threatens to leave him, saying she doesn’t want to be with someone who isn’t committed. As soon as she takes a break from the relationship, he realizes that he can’t live without her. He proposes, but she declines because she isn’t sure he is “the one”. They have switched places.
What the heck is going on?
We have seen variations of this pattern over and over again throughout our entire coaching career. I have seen it in myself as well. I want one thing, or so I think, but as soon as I get it, I am then not so sure. I strangely seem to want something else – sometimes the exact opposite of what I was just fighting for!
These scenarios are commonplace in our relationships.
• One of you enjoys a clean tidy house and the other prefers it a mess.
• One of you wants children and the other isn’t ready.
• One of you wants to commit and the other isn’t sure.
• One of you likes to save money while the other is a spender.
• One wants sex and the other couldn’t care less about it.
• One is social and wants to go out and the other is content to stay home.
• One of you wants monogamy and the other wants an open relationship.
• One of you likes loud music and the other likes it quiet.
• One wants more time together and the other wants more space.
• One of you likes to camp outdoors for vacation and the other likes to stay in a hotel, shop and visit museums.
• One of you wants to live together and the other wants to continue living apart.
The list goes on…
It is easy in these moments of conflict and incompatibility to question whether or not you are well suited for one another. You may wonder if you will ever get what you want in the relationship and even contemplate ending the relationship in search of a better match.
At first glance, these incompatibilities look like either/or scenarios where one of you is going to get what you want and the other isn’t. This sets you up for a fight against each other as adversaries as you endeavor to “win” your side.
But conflicts like these aren’t winnable, because there is something going on underneath that is bigger than the either/or conflict on the surface: a deeper truth, a deeper desire, a deeper need, a deeper fear.
We offer a radical new way of looking at conflict that transcends the either/or paradigm. Our unique system allows you to find the AND in your conflict, the place of overlap, the opening in the middle where there is alignment, where there is connection, where there is agreement. In that middle place, creative solutions abound that will surprise both of you.
In our work with thousands of couples and singles, we have come to realize that external conflicts in relationship are an expression of internal conflicts. Meaning, if I have a desire for sex and you don’t want sex, some part of me wants sex and some part of me doesn’t.
The same is true for you. Some part of you wants sex and some part of you doesn’t. When I own both parts in myself and you own both parts in you, we are then able to work as partners on the issue rather than as adversaries to find common ground and discover creative solutions.
I worked with one couple that was at an impasse. She wanted monogamy and he wanted an open relationship. They both loved each other deeply and didn’t want to lose their relationship, but they didn’t know how to move forward. Just for an experiment, I invited him to say he would marry her and invited her to say he could be with other women from time to time. They both felt completely relieved and excited as they said their respective phrases. Turns out, both of them wanted security and freedom, marriage and open relationship. They lit up, walked out hand in hand and got married soon after. They raised a son and had a few sexual liaisons with others from time to time. That was 25 years ago.
They found their “middle”, that win/win solution that felt good and right to them and allowed them to create exactly what they wanted in their relationship.
It is important to note that solutions are not a one size fits all. In other words, what worked for them might not work for you even if you have the same problem. You need to find your middle, your opening, your solution.
We have successfully helped many couples and singles to solve recurring fights, conflicts and challenges once and for all by finding their “middles”.
Don’t hesitate to contact us for support if you find yourself in some of these similar predicaments.
Or consider joining us for our phenomenal Gift of Conflict workshop! (Registration is open for the first time to non-Mastery Program members.) Click here for more information or to register.
Really. There is no need to stay stuck in conflicts. No need to keep fighting about the same things over and over again.
With a little help, you can discover the breakthroughs and creative solutions that will delight and grow you to the next highest version of yourself and your relationship!!
“Intimacy Kills Passion!”
Experts have discovered that not all couples end relationships because they are unhappy and miserable. Many actually leave perfectly happy, intimate, loving relationships that are working.
Why? Why would anyone leave a good relationship?
Because they feel flat and un-alive in their relationships – they feel like passion is missing.
You see, there is an interesting thing that happens when we love someone and live with someone a long time: we lose our wild attraction for our partner. It happens to the best of us!
Why? Because intimacy and passion are two opposite and conflicting needs that we all have in relationship.
Think of these two needs like breathing. When you breathe in, you cannot simultaneously breathe out. You can do one or the other. One at a time. The same is true for intimacy and passion. You are either being close OR passionate. So the closer we are to our partner, the less passion we are likely to feel.
Let’s tease this out a bit.
One need we have in relationship is for intimacy, togetherness and connection. When we feel close, we feel comfort, stability, safety, trust and familiarity in our relationship. This need for intimacy and closeness is best met through complete honesty and transparency in our relationship. The closer we feel to someone, the cozier and sweeter our relationship feels.
We also have another need – for passion and adventure. This need requires space and separateness. It requires a willingness to risk stepping into the unknown. This energy is free, wild, edgy, reckless and self focused. Its components are the exact OPPOSITE of those that have us feel intimate with someone!
You might be able to recognize this in sex. The more attentive and careful we are, and the more we stay within the safe zone of what we know works, the sweeter our sex is. But it also has less passion and aliveness! Because, to create wild hot sex, we need to feel free and uninhibited to step into new places, to experience the mystery of the unfamiliar.
Sometimes why people have affairs or do porn or get divorced is to recreate that experience of the mysterious and unfamiliar in their lives. They miss the aliveness and passion that goes along with an adventurous spirit.
It’s ironic. Intimacy kills passion. The closer we are to our partner, the less space there is, an essential component of passion. The more familiar we are with one another, the less mystery there is between us. The more patterns we have in our relating, the less present we are to new experiences. The nicer and more caring we are, the less selfish we are and the less willing we are to take risks that might jeopardize our relationship.
So what can you do to create more passion and aliveness in your relationship? To prevent intimacy from ruining your great relationship, but without having to have an affair or split up!
Take risks regularly. Break up patterns. Do things you have never done before! Have a picnic in the living room. Try a new sexual position or do something sexually you have always wanted to but been too afraid to.
Go out on dates to places you have never been before – museums, comedy clubs, or classes.
Play games that encourage you to risk fully expressing yourself. Create mystery by talking about aspects of yourselves you have never talked about. “If You Really Knew Me…?”
Make requests for things that really matter to you, especially if you think you might not get it. Take space apart so you can appreciate missing each other and the thrill of reuniting!
Talk about where you play it safe in your relationship, and what you would do if you stepped outside your comfort zone, and then take those risks!
Consciously move to take care of these two important needs and keep the best of your intimacy and passion in your relationship! Both are essential for a thriving relationship!
P.S. If you would like to revive either your intimacy or passion in relationship, join us for the Couples Experience! In this course, we will support you to get closer to one another, and to dare take fun risks together to spice up your passion! More info here …
Last night, my daughter asked me to rub her back. I noticed myself hesitate. My addiction to my phone took over – I wanted to keep doing emails, reading Facebook news, and beating people I don’t even know at Scrabble. I had to remind myself that my relationship with my daughter was more important than distracting myself with my phone. I made myself put it down and a sweet interaction and conversation ensued as she laid on the floor of our living room in the dim quiet light while I massaged her aches away.
This experience is happening to me more and more these days. I notice myself preferring texting, posting, swiping, liking, blogging, scanning countless images, videos, and devouring the latest gossip or news snippet to *being* in my REAL life and relationships. I postpone going to bed to get one more word in.
But it isn’t just me. It’s all of us. I can barely have a conversation with my children anymore without several interruptive pauses as they respond to the latest “beep”. We are hard pressed to get through a meal as a family without looking up something on our phones. The phone is the last thing we look at before sleep and the first thing we look at when awake. We take it with us every time we visit the bathroom. It is frightening to watch myself and my family glued more and more to our screens. We are like addicts in need of our technological “fix” lest we die from withdrawal, boredom or loneliness.
Last year, when I heard that a friend of mine had a death in the family, my heart went out to her. I lovingly sent out a text to let other friends know so they could send their condolences. Upon hearing the news, another friend of mine immediately went to her house to offer support. I was shocked to realize that it had never occurred to me to do that. I had forgotten that a text was a poor substitute for real human contact.
What is happening to us? How is this digital age impacting our relationships and our families?
We talk less, interact less and get out of the house less. We rarely look at each other and we have less sex. We take fewer risks. We hardly ever reach out to each other by phone and have an extended conversation. We have fewer deep, rewarding interactions with our spouse, children and friends. We are lonelier, and more disconnected and isolated than ever. This new way of living is becoming more and more a new way of not living.
We see the impact of this digital age all the time in our relationship work.
We come across many singles who are understandably desperate for intimacy. So-called “dating” sites are like shopping catalogues for the perfect specimen, and the few dates with prospective partners that occur after meeting online are but judging fests with little or no genuine connection. Most singles are touch and affection starved. As a result, many feel hopelessly sure there is something wrong with them and afraid they will be lonely forever.
Couples surprisingly feel just as lonely and disconnected in their homes and marriages. They can go months or even years without talking, looking at each other or making sweet deep love. Many men disappear into their work, computer or porn worlds while women contemplate divorce in secret while losing themselves in TV dramas, house and kid logistics, or careers. Turns out many couples are just as love and touch starved as their single counterparts.
Many of my women friends who have relatively happy lives are sure they are the only ones who never get out much, are never invited to parties or events or dinners. But in reality, all of us are merely spending way too much time on our screens, pretending we have lots of friends and connections as we scroll through pages of posts and pictures, and feeling involved in life by proxy as we Netflix the latest episode of our favorite series.
Just look around the next time you walk into a coffee shop – there just isn’t much real-life human interaction and conversation going on anywhere these days. It is no wonder we are lonely. And the cycle is self-perpetuating, as we go to our screens to find the connection we long for, the very thing that keeps us feeling disconnected in the first place!
I am 59 years old, so I have known life without smartphones and computers. I remember playing outside and spending hours camping and swimming and playing games when I was growing up. I remember reading books out loud with my parents before bed and having conversations about our “day” over dinner. We worked together in the yard, cooked meals and cleaned up together and engaged in crafting projects, and played with our animals. Watching television was something that happened sparingly in the evenings. Going to the theatre was a rare special treat.
My past helps me remember that life is richest and my relationships more meaningful away from electronic gizmos. Each activity in real life that I design into my day contributes more to my body, heart and soul than any news feed ever has. I play volleyball six hours a week. I teach myself to learn new songs on the piano. I gather with women in a spiritual group. I coach clients and lead workshops. We engage in community workdays, where some ten families alternate going to each other’s houses once a month to work together on a project of that family’s choice. Christian and I take walks regularly in nature. We vacation at new places every year. We dance and laugh and crack jokes and sing songs. We have a “no phone” table policy, with and without kids, which means mealtimes are conversation rich. Making love is a priority for us every week. We invite friends over for dinner and games and holiday celebrations that are purposefully interactive, playful and memorable. For example, over Christmas, we played fun white elephant games, lit candles on our tree in reverential silence, sang songs, and went caroling with friends. On New Year’s Eve, we dined with two other couples and played a game called Sparked that inspired us to share stories, laughter, tears and love.
Each real life activity encourages us to meet the unexpected play of life in motion with undivided focus, to be in the time consuming messiness, awkwardness, deliciousness and pleasure of real relating and living in all its variety.
Still, even with knowing all that I know, I feel the pull of the screen…
Christian and I judge our children and their friends for having phones glued to their hands, even when together, with little eye contact and real conversation. For them, like us, the pull of technology is constant. But they know the richness of life without phones too. Our son came alive with purpose and perspective when he volunteered in Bali this last summer, a location with sketchy Internet. He appreciated more than ever in retrospect his media-free Waldorf Education and vowed to spend fewer hours on the computer upon his return. Our daughter enjoyed the peaceful beauty of nature, singing songs and working together in the elements when she joined her class for an 8th grade field trip on the shores of Maine without phones.
Both of our children and their friends appreciate it (even though they hate it) when we tell them to put phones aside for a meal, an activity or visit – they literally come alive as they engage with us, each other and their surroundings.
It is more and more imperative that we insist on making time to really be with each other in this life; to not let the pull of our screens put us to sleep to what really matters. There is nothing that fills us up more than genuine interaction with other human beings, than being present to the beauty of these bodies in this life with all of our senses. No one wishes they had spent more time on their phones when faced with death. They wish they had danced more, loved more, played more, touched more, laughed more.
Personally, I think that is what makes our live trainings so powerful. People are supported to actually look at each other, talk to each other and work through conflicts together. In the process, souls are nourished, hearts are blown open and people are massively transformed in a way that can only happen in community with others.
I will never forget one man, sharing with tears in his eyes, that his wife hadn’t looked at him like that for years. Another woman, on the edge of divorce, fell in love with her husband again after just a few moments of guided heartfelt sharing. A single man, who had given up on love, months later was in the relationship of his dreams because he dared physically reach out to someone he was interested in 2,000 miles away.
Meaning, contribution, mystery, play, passion, love and transformation show up in real life; it is not replicable on a screen. It is in relationship with life and others that we see and feel ourselves, where we are supported to grow and experience and play and transform and create and manifest.
I believe that in this digital age, we are challenged more than ever to create meaningful, passionate, joyful, love-filled lives and relationships. And for those of us who happen to still remember life before TV and computers and phones, well, we may be the last generation to impart to our youth the value of eye-contact, delivering appreciations, having loving sex, being vulnerably honest, sharing deep feelings, taking risks, being in nature and focusing our attention on who and what we love.
To do so, we will need to find the commitment and courage to disconnect from our own technological gadgets, to get out of the house, to make sex, love and relating a priority, to model what is possible when our lover or children ask for our attention and we don’t hesitate to put down our phones.
Note: If you would like to deepen your relationship and life experience in 2017, you are invited to put down your phone and join us. loveworksforyou.com
Any thought or comments, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
A mother of three recently confessed to me in private, “I just don’t have it in me to work on my relationship or give to my husband. I feel so depleted and spent. My heart is shut down. I go from work to taking care of our kids and back to work again. I am over the top done. I swear, if he asks me for one more thing, I am going to scream.”
We women are typically the caregivers, the homemakers, the child caretakers, and sometimes the money managers and breadwinners too. In our nuclear family or single homes, there is often much more to do than we have time for.
When our lives are full at work and at home, we have a tendency to put other people’s concerns ahead of our own. We are so busy responding to the needs of our kids and clients and spouse or dates, that we often don’t even know how we feel, much less what we desire. We don’t know what to do that would be nourishing for our heart and soul.
We aren’t aware that we haven’t been paying attention to our own needs until we burst into tears or scream at someone we love.
Without realizing it, we get so caught in the logistics of life, that we forget to cry and laugh with the people closest to us. We begin to feel lost, disconnected and alone, and we begin to make up that there is something wrong with us because we have all the trappings of a good life but we still feel so lonely inside. We forget that we are beautiful and powerful and lovable, that our lives have a larger purpose, and that we are not victims, but rather master creators of our own lives.
That was true of Laura. She was so disconnected from her beauty and power and humor that she withdrew into protectiveness around other people. At the last retreat, she was so supported, loved and celebrated, that she is now taking acting classes, feels more open and comfortable meeting and interacting with people she meets, and recently had to adjust the mirrors in both her cars because she is sitting taller in herself!
If you would like to be reminded of the perfection of your life, including the messy parts, and if you would like to reconnect with your power and purpose and beauty, and if you would like to devote some nourishing time to yourself just because you deserve it, you are invited to attend Love’s Secret, a retreat for women who want more.
In this intimate retreat, limited to 16 women, you will get to sink down into safe space and connect with yourself like you haven’t in a very long time, perhaps ever.
You will actually get to “feel” your feelings, talk and be heard, and be supported to expand into your power. You will be fed nourishing organic meals, receive a massage if you wish, take long walks, and be supported by a group of supportive sisters to rediscover your unique specialness.
This retreat is so empowering and nourishing, that some women attend every time it is offered! Vicky, who is about to attend for the third time, said, “This retreat changed my life. It totally transformed my relationship with my husband and my children. I changed so much that even my daughter commented on how much happier I am!”
If you are longing to nourish your soul, your mind and your body, please join us for a retreat that promises to rejuvenate you from the inside out.