If a couple wants to thrive and really deepen over the long haul, they must have two pieces in place: 1) shared context and 2) share language/tools. In other words, if one person is growing and the other isn’t, it’s not going to work. One will simply outgrow the other. One will feel judged while the other will feel unmet. Of course, if the couple wants to stay in this type of relationship, they could make it work if the growth-oriented person chooses to abandon themselves and collude with the less growth-oriented person’s fear. “I love you so much, I will stop growing for you.” This “agree to disagree” approach is complacency rooted in fear for both parties. If they do try to make it work, it leads to endless frustration and struggle or, an overall giving up, settling, and checking out. I see it often. And, there’s another way. Believe it or not, I can have what I want relationally. It’s true. And it requires that I love myself much deeper than I thought was possible and that I heal my own past that is showing up in the present. If we commit to this, the game of getting the other person to love us the just right way, ends.
I sometimes hear a lot of serious body-based healers and therapists often say things like “the story doesn’t matter” or “drop your story.” By saying this, the impressionable client can end up making their story wrong and even try to distance from it. However, in my experience the story does matter. Especially in the context of understanding and transcending current relationship challenges. Like anything, the story has a place. “How” we see/view/relate to our story is everything. Story = meaning. Connecting dots and making sense of how and why I arrived here, is paramount for some of us. Understanding the story is often the very thing that unlocks the gripping in our bodies to allow deeper somatic discharge. Therefore our stories, used well, in conjunction with somatic work, can facilitate even greater levels of healing for our path.
I love this quote by a teacher of mine who helped me see the sacredness in everything. I’m posting here because this is what we are up to with this relationship as a path stuff—”sharing” who we are, as we are, with everyone. And, meditation alone won’t get us there. We have to turn toward each other and burn through what is in the way relationally.
“Strangely enough, at a certain point on the journey, the only way to go further is to actually begin to share it with others. And ‘it’ is not a body of teachings, it’s not a bunch of techniques, it’s not a lot of ideas—it is us, it’s our own life; it’s our willingness to share who we are with other people without any reservation.” — Reggie Ray, Dharma Ocean Foundation
check out this other good quote here by Pema Chodron
Initially, when a couple is learning new relationship/communication skills, the practice can feel exhausting, draining, depleting. Hours and hours (even days) can be spent trying to work through a small conflict or misunderstanding. This is a normal “stage” and a couple must move through this in order to get to the next stage. Yet, this is where many couples bail on the work.
Often one person (typically the more masculine partner) gets tired and starts to label their fights as “more drama.” This person usually complains that their partner is too sensitive or too emotional. They complain that the relationship is just too much “work.” They say things like “It shouldn’t be this hard.” Or “I’m game for reconnecting as long you stop making a big deal out of everything.” “Why do you have to be so emotional?” In my office I often hear or see this person roll their eyes at yet another fight or disagreement. “Can’t we just get along already?” Their frustration continues to increase. While their plight is understandable, it’s another excuse why they are unable or unwilling to do the work themselves.
But if, and when, they get in their warrior seat and choose to stick with the “hard work,” (with super solid guidance) they will invariably learn how to take responsibility for their experience and come out stronger, more
Much of my work helping folks live as mature adults in relationship involves boundaries. And here’s a common one folks are challenged with. It’s the difference between saying “can’t” and “won’t.”
Let’s say I’m being a complete jerk to you. I’m blaming you for my dissatisfaction in the relationship and when I get really triggered I call you mean names. Then let’s say you’re over it. You are finally fed up with me and my rude behavior. What do you say to me?
Try saying these two statements outloud to yourself and notice the difference.
I can’t let you talk to me like this anymore.
I won’t let you talk to me like this anymore.
They feel different right?
Taking responsibility is a critical relationship skill to learn if you are in long-term relationships. The quickest way out of any fight, is to acknowledge where I went awry. When I take responsibility for my part, you feel validated and there’s no longer a need to go on the offensive with me. This is the mature, conscious adult way. And, it is challenging.
Couples can really struggle with this one. It can be so tempting to sneak in some finger pointing thinking I’m taking responsibility. I might say “I feel like you….” And I actually think I am taking responsibility for my experience. I am not.
I feel like you are attacking me.” Will typically elicit a defensive response.
“I feel attacked.” Can’t be argued with. Responsible. Doesn’t mean you are being attacked, just means you are identifying a trigger that is
The other day at the pool I watched this interaction between a Dad and his 5ish year old daughter:
She hurt herself on the concrete. She looked scared and was crying.
Dad’s response? “Oh, don’t cry, you’re okay. Crying doesn’t do you any good.”
Girl keeps crying.
Dad says more firmly, “HEY. I said no crying. Crying doesn’t help.”
Girl tries to shut herself down but struggles to do so. They went back and forth a few more times and eventually the girl got quiet.
This dynamic is the norm and mirrors what I grew up with. The Dad doesn’t know any other way. No one showed him and he probably has had no one in his life modeling a different way. So, he’s “doing the best he can” right? He’s doing the best he can with what he’s been taught and trained to do, yes. And, due to his conditioning and upbringing, he’s not really interested in another
That’s right. Changing yourself is the fast track to relational depth.
Of course, I’m not talking about getting a new wardrobe or haircut. I’m talking about changing your internal world, the part that no one can see.
If I want more depth out there, I have to go deeper in here.
When I was 29 years old, I was in a lot of pain and doing a great job of hiding it. I dated a lot of women, but felt unsatisfied in every relationship. I wanted something more yet I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that I wanted. Looking back, I was longing for true love, a deep intimate relationship where I felt met, seen, and alive.
Because I didn’t know how to get what I wanted, let alone know what it was that I wanted, I blamed each of the women I dated and made my dissatisfaction their fault. I genuinely believed that I would feel better if