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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…
“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
When Christian and I first began our long-distance relationship (with me in California and him in Denmark), I found myself toggling between pulling on him for more connection, and appreciating what we had.
Without exception, every time I approached him from a needy, longing place for more connection, he pulled back in resistance. Every time I relaxed into appreciating what we had and trusting that everything between us would turn out in the end, he came forward.
• She wants to be with him. He wants space.
• He wants sex. She wants to talk.
• She wants commitment. He wants freedom.
• He wants to have fun. She wants to work on the relationship.
• She criticizes. He withdraws.
Unfortunately, this pull-repel dynamic is self-reinforcing.
When one person wants more and “energetically” pulls on their partner to come closer, the one being pulled on backs off and resists in reaction. This has the “Puller” only pull harder. The pattern repeats itself, sometimes for years.
What keeps this dynamic going is the assumption that our partner is doing something TO us on purpose, for some negative reason. We take their pull or withdrawal personally.
But it isn’t personal at all!! Both parties WANT LOVE!! That’s the bottom line! A desire for love is what is underneath all of this craziness! Both parties are screaming for love, crying out for love in their own way, but neither can hear this call for love because each is too busy screaming for love themselves!
Discovering this was a life-changer for me!
When Christian withdrew, instead of taking it personally and assuming it meant he didn’t love me or didn’t want to be with me, I saw his withdrawal instead as a call to be appreciated for who he was and for being enough for me. So instead of pulling for more, I stepped in with love and fully appreciated him. I was surprised to discover how quickly he softened and came forward.
Same vice-versa. When I complained about our lack of connection, instead of taking it personally and assuming it meant he wasn’t enough and wasn’t doing it right, he thanked me for loving him and wanting to be closer to him. In the face of his appreciation, my pull disappeared.
When you find yourself in your own version of this pull-repel dynamic, try stepping in. Listen to the desire for love underneath your partner’s words and actions and respond to their underlying positive intent.
Say things like, “Thanks for wanting to be closer to me. Thanks for wanting to marry me. Thanks for wanting to have sex with me. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for wanting to be appreciated. Thanks for wanting to be free to be yourself with me. Thanks for wanting to talk and make our relationship better.”
The second either party steps forward, the pulling and resisting stops. From there, genuine connection can occur. Love is felt. Freedom is available.
Remember, your pull-repel dynamic is but an ineffective cry for love. When you step in with love and gratitude, you replace the pull-repel dynamic in your relationship with a mutual giving of love and appreciation that will create an upward spiral of nourishment, love and support in your relationship.
PS. Here’s an old YouTube video we did on the push-pull dynamic (please bear with the video quality! 🙂
Divorce statistics hover between 50% and 73% (from first to third marriages).
But, did you know that women are more likely than men to initiate divorce?
Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, examined data from Stanford’s 2009-2015 “How Couples Meet and Stay Together” project, a nationally representative longitudinal study of relationships and breakups. * While breakups between unmarried couples were gender neutral — men were just as likely as women to initiate them — when it came to divorce, Rosenfeld found that wives initiated 69 percent of splits, compared to 31 percent of men. **
This matches my professional experience in the relationship field as well.
I was invited once to a women’s group as a guest. There were six of us. We had gathered to support each other. After hugs and snacks, we arranged ourselves in a circle.
As we checked in, it turned out that every woman except me was in the process of divorce. They were leaving their men. They were fed up.
They had heard for too long that they were too emotional and needy.
Their desire for affection and attention and intimacy had been missing for too long.
They had been lied to, ignored, taken for granted, yelled at and not talked to or touched, in some cases, for years.
Their requests to work together on the relationship had been declined. Their men said working on relationship was too hard and took too much time.
They talked about how their men didn’t take responsibility, were defensive, blaming and critical. They said their men were resistant to looking at themselves, to growing and learning anything new. They said their men were cut off from their emotions and unavailable for deep connection. They agreed that their men did not take their concerns seriously and were not interested in creating solutions.
Each woman in turn said they felt powerless to affect change. They were unhappy in their relationships, and married to men who weren’t willing to work to improve their marriage.
So, what to do?
These women did what many self-respecting, dissatisfied, frustrated women do. They left their men in search of connection and intimacy elsewhere.
Huffington Post printed an article on August 3, 2016, by Brittany Wong, a divorce editor, detailing six reasons why women leave their marriages.
1. Women feel taken for granted and overly responsible for the relationship.
2. They keep having the same argument with their partner.
3. They’re not satisfied with their sex lives.
4. They don’t talk and emotionally connect with their husband like they used to.
5. They’ve outgrown their partners.
6. They get to the point where divorce is the only way to put themselves first again.
Women don’t start with divorce. They start with complaints about a lack of communication, intimacy or fulfilling sex. They make requests to go to therapy or take a relationship workshop or communication course to get support. They ask for more quality time with their mates.
But many men miss the clues that their wife is unhappy and on the verge of calling it quits. A friend of ours, Machen, shared his experience, “I didn’t realize my marriage was in trouble until my wife said, ‘You are moving out – today!!’ In retrospect, I could see that she had tried to tell me many times that she was unhappy, but I hadn’t been listening.”
Luckily for Machen, he and his wife worked on their marriage after they separated, attended our LoveWorks trainings, and reunited.
Most men are not that fortunate. They reach out for relationship support when it is too late, when their wife is already out the door and unwilling to work on their marriage.
Our message to you?
Don’t wait to get help!
Rekindle the love and passion in your relationship now before it is too late!
Here are some warning signs that your relationship or marriage is in trouble:
1. You feel annoyed by your wife’s requests or demands for relationship help
2. You don’t have much intimacy in your relationship
3. Your sex is non-existent, predictable or boring
4. You fight about the same things over and over again
5. Your wife doesn’t talk to you about herself and her life
6. You don’t make time, or look forward to spending time, together
Now we know that men are not intentionally inconsiderate and selfish. And it is not that they don’t care about their marriages and relationships! They just never learned about women, about how to treat a woman and how to make a woman happy.
In fact, most men, if you talk to them and really listen, are working REALLY HARD to make women happy, and feel like they just can’t win no matter what they do! Sadly, they end up working their butts off at all the wrong things, doing what their partner actually needs.
This quote sums it up:
To prove his love for her, he climbed the highest mountain, swam the deepest ocean and crossed the widest desert. But she left him – he was never home.
Here is the kicker …
It is EASY to satisfy a woman. If a man treats a woman right, he gets all the freedom, sex, appreciation and love he wants. And when she is happy, when she is filled up emotionally, she ain’t going anywhere!!
Most men just don’t take the time to learn…
If you aren’t having sex, if you are fighting all the time, if you are living in silence, or you are living like roommates dealing with logistics …
You have a BIG problem.
Men, don’t wait until your woman is fed up and walking out the door. Take the time to learn how to make your relationship hum like a well-oiled machine. You will be amazed at how easy it is…
And women, don’t assume he knows how unhappy you are. He might be like Machen and simply not know.
We can help. We can share with you our life-changing tips, and tell you what to do that has saved and improved lots of marriages and relationships.
Call for a free consult or visit us at one of our free introductory presentations. Or jump into our two-day relationship training, Give Yourself to Love, that has saved many a marriage!
In the meantime, a few tips for you men:
• Express appreciation for what she does
• Ask her what you can do for her to please her
• Make eye contact and really listen to her when she talks
• Tell her she’s beautiful
• Ask her if she is happy in the marriage or if she ever wonders if the two of you would benefit from relationship support?
• Better still, YOU initiate something for your relationship. Buy a book, sign you up for a course. Show her, don’t just tell her, that you care about your relationship.
And a few tips for you women:
• Tell him how wonderful you feel when he gives you attention
• Express appreciation for what he does that really works for you
• Notice where he works hard to provide for you, the home, and family and thank him for that
• Ask him what he would need from you to be willing to work on the relationship together? To attend a relationship training or coaching session?
• Be affectionate, touch, have sex. In short, love him.
There’s a lot you can do to mend your love and make your marriage sing!
No one thinks, feels or sees the world the same. For one, we all have unique experiences and stories. On top of that, we have differing inherent personalities and values that result in diverse interpretations, preferences and behaviors. As a result, there are no two people who are alike in what they do, how they think or feel or what they care about. And that, flat-out, means miscommunications in relationship are inevitable.
One couple fought about how much detergent to put in the washing machine, certain they were the one doing it correctly. Upon further exploration, it turned out that the wife was basing her decision on information from the laundry detergent box and he was basing his on information posted on the lid of the washing machine. From their point of view, they were right and the other was wrong. But in actuality, both were right OR both were wrong depending on which information source they subscribed to.
Another example of a simple misunderstanding is when one partner deliberately stayed out of the kitchen to grant their partner creative cooking space (he valued autonomy when he worked), while the other partner felt unsupported and left alone in the kitchen to do everything herself (she valued connection and collaboration). Each had a different set of values, which resulted in different actions and reactions.
Here is a common scenario we have seen several times when couples in distress take time apart: One spouse assumes that the (temporary) separation is just one step towards an inevitable divorce process and quickly moves as if single. Meanwhile, the other spouse hopes the separation will result in newfound hope for reconciliation and is shocked to later discover their spouse has been unfaithful. In this case, same stimulus (separation), but vastly different interpretations about what that meant (divorce vs. reconciliation).
Christian and I have our own fair share of misunderstandings too. Last night, Christian looked for me throughout the house and didn’t find me. He concluded that I must have been in our daughter’s room behind a closed door, and, out of concern for not waking up our sleeping daughter, chose to not seek me out. I was actually in the darkened family room, and when I saw him look in my direction and turn away, I assumed he did not want to be with me at that moment. Both of us made up that the other one was unavailable for connection based on erroneous interpretations and as a result, we missed out on being together for over two hours.
Misunderstandings are bound to occur in the best of relationships. And each one is really a call for deeper understanding. Because everything another person does and says makes perfect sense from THEIR world. When we have “walked a mile in their moccasins”, we see things from their different vantage point that suddenly has their behaviors, thoughts and feelings make sense.
So ask questions to help you understand the inner workings behind your own and another’s behaviors. Why did you do what you did? What prompted that choice? Where was your focus that had you walk over that sock in the middle of the floor?
Once we understand what is behind what we and our partners do, judgment, resentment and exasperated frustration can be replaced with understanding, compassion and even, on a good day, heart-filled laughter.
An interesting thing happens when you love somebody.
You get scared that the relationship will change and the love will stop.
Love and fear go together. In fact, the deeper the love, the deeper the fear.
When my son was in my belly, and later in my arms, I had never felt such deep love and devotion for another being as intensely as I felt for him. My heart was busted open with a doting that could only be described as deep divine worship.
Around the same time, I had recurrent fears of him falling into water and disappearing out of view, forever out of reach from my desperately searching arms. The panic at the thought of losing him was equal to the intensity of my deep love for him.
Similarly, when Christian and I were first in love, I remember feeling close to terror at the thought of losing him. After an intense lovemaking session, where my heart and body had been blown open and surrendered to love’s bliss, I would sob like a baby in fear.
It is natural when you love someone deeply, to want that person to stick around – forever.
It is a sweet desire at first, but it begins to mess things up.
When you love someone deeply and you want them to not reject you or leave you, you start playing it safe. You begin to withhold that thing that might piss them off, you don’t ask for that thing you really want, you don’t initiate that unusual sex position you have always wanted to try, and you don’t talk about that thing they do that drives you nuts.
You shut down more and more and more until your relationship is predictable, safe, and completely devoid of aliveness and passion!
For some of you single folks, your fear prevents you from creating relationship at all. You don’t ask that person you are attracted to out on a date for fear they will say no; you don’t risk making that move to call them on the phone, or to cuddle with them on the couch or to kiss them goodnight, you don’t tell them the truth about how you really feel… Instead you stay home alone safely in anguish, wondering what you should do.
Here is a secret: You cannot have love without fear. They go together.
Fearless love isn’t about not being afraid. It is about loving while being afraid.
Fearless love is about daring to feel – everything. It is about telling the truth to yourself and about yourself. It is about taking risks. It is about taking responsibility for and using everything that shows up to grow your Self.
Fearless love is having the courage to stare squarely at the truth that all relationships transform. Nothing stays the same. Your relationship with your lover will change over time – whether you stay together or not. Your children will leave home. People you love will die.
Christian and I dared from the beginning to tell the truth. I told him the day after we met that I had fantasized about making love with him before falling asleep the night before. He told me he was scared to repeat his old patterns of being sexual and wanted to save himself for the “one”. I told him about my fear of being too old and not pretty enough the first time we were intimate.
Even now, after a decade of living together, we tell the truth, take risks and interrupt patterns. We say things like “I notice I am feeling really irritated right now.” We take trips on the road without knowing where we are going or where we will stay. In the middle of sex, we dare to share a wayward thought. We try different foods and diets. We take on learning new skills, like piano, volleyball and espresso making. Christian recently initiated a couple of new hot lovemaking experiences that added to our already rich sexual variety. When we are sad, we cry and when we are angry, we express. We read books, take courses and participate in a mastermind group that keeps us challenged to step outside our comfort zone. Most of all, we choose daily to generously go out of our way to love and care for each other.
Fear arises when you love deeply, when you take risks and play at the edge of your game, when you dare to speak your truth, ask for what you want, or follow some inspiration. Fear and excitement are brothers. Fear and love are sisters.
Everything in life is temporary. The only constant is change. That can be a scary reality for all of us.
Instead of pushing fear away and trying to play it safe, bring your fear with you when you love. Use it to accentuate your appreciation for the moment. Use it to fuel your courage to be yourself, to take risks and step out. For the ones who do, have the best lives and the best relationships!
Check out our new Fearless Love workshop!
September 25-26 in Corte Madera!!