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ARE YOU ROOMMATES OR SOUL MATES?
How to bring back that “in love” feeling between you and your partner
DRS. PAUL AND EVELYN MOSCHETTA
Copyright © 2010 by Paul and Evelyn Moschetta One Not Two Press New York, NY, 10022 www.drsmoschetta.com www.areyouroommatesorsoulmates.com All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recorded, photocopied, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. Library of Congress Control Number: 2010907093 ISBN 9780-578-05826-9 Printed in the United States of America
We must understand love.“Our duty is clear here.” —Abraham Maslow . we must be able to teach it. to predict it. to create it. or else the world is lost to hostility and suspicion.
The book you hold is for those who want to meet the challenge of being a couple at the highest level possible. and see how they fit in your own lives as intimate partners. the insights gained and the skills that helped them turn their relationship around are presented here for you. not average. Some pointers will be easier to incorporate and use than others. If you are part of a couple but are reading alone be aware that any changes you make are bound to have an effect on your partner. It is a blueprint for state of the art intimacy. Some of these couples were on the brink of divorce but discovered that with a strong determination to stay together. and workshop leaders we have spent our professional lives helping thousands of couples solve relationship problems. Expect some reluctance and keep on showing up positively. it is common that he or she may resist at first but do not be discouraged. We believe you will find some radically new ideas here. talk about them. chances are the tide will turn and he or she will join your effort. Take small sections of a chapter and set aside a regular time to do the reading. there is no rush. In the following chapters you will find a step by step guide to re-vitalizing your relationship. When you change. if you do not blame or judge. It can be as brief as twenty minutes but do it regularly. Go slowly. Eventually. ordinary togetherness but exceptionally good loving. The best way to use this book as a couple is to read out loud to one another. the courage to look honestly at themselves and by making good use of professional help offered they not only survived but went on to be truly happy together. This is the best thing you can do for yourself. The lessons they learned. In fact. Consistency is most important. psychotherapists. in a couple relationship even small changes can have . your partner and your relationship. when you make some new effort on behalf of your relationship your partner may or may not join in. explore them together. Remember. Those having to do with internal changes are meant to be contemplated over rather than being automatically accepted or rejected.Introduction As marriage counselors.
This will give you a good indication of where you are starting off from. At a later time you can revisit the results and see how far you have grown from being Roommates to Soul Mates. Begin your reading by completing the questionnaires that you will find in the Appendix. Part Two will change how you interact as partners. . in truth they are inseparable and must work together.surprisingly positive results. This separation is arbitrary. Part One is devoted to rediscovering your best self.
We know from our own work that an even greater number are emotionally disconnected even if they do have . Their mourning is over lost love. whether you are engaged or newlyweds. And it doesn’t matter whether you are straight or gay. Continuing on together without a genuine. and anger. Sara cries quietly through red swollen eyes while Carl struggles to avoid a similar show of emotion. Carl and Sara are on the couch opposite us. sadness. What matters is: are you living together as roommates or loving one another as soul mates? Researchers are now estimating that one out of five married couples has stopped having a sexual relationship. They’ve spent the last twenty minutes trading accusations but now sit quietly. and it is filled with hurt. children. I don’t know where the love went. Years of trying to avoid this reality has only deepened it. They’ve come to a lifechanging impasse because a painful distance has grown between them. staring numbly ahead as if at a wake. and we’re working late in our midtown office. that’s the reality—pure and simple—we’re just roommates. working and raising children. mutually satisfying love seems empty and dishonest. or whether you are at the midpoint of a shared life together.” The most important issue facing you as a couple—the one issue that includes all other issues—comes down to this: Are you roommates or soul mates? It doesn’t matter where you are in your life together. In a barely audible voice he says. A whole life painstakingly put together. whether you are married. It is Carl who breaks the long silence. CHAPTER ONE ROOMMATES OR SOUL MATES? It’s a Wednesday night. “We’re roommates. Each no longer feels loved and cared about in a way that feels right for them. a home. Married for nine years with three children. Carl had called saying they were in a crisis. and family is about to come tumbling down around them. now it stands between them like an insurmountable wall of frustration and disappointment.
and rituals of a particular faith. with the beliefs. As you make progress along this path and your “me first” ego no longer has exclusive control. long-term relationships don’t want to be just roommates. A Soul Mate Kind of Love The passionate. They emphatically say they long for the “in love” passion of being true soul mates. At its core soul mate love has a strong spiritual dimension. It is responsible for practically everything you do and say. the giving and receiving of genuinely unselfish caring is what creates the special bond of emotional and sexual passion that does not diminish with time. Mild indifference covers sadness and hurt that simmers just below the surface. but it has a much more permanent foundation. rules. We are referring to a more personal and practical spirituality that expresses love through unselfish caring. The power of this caring is much greater than what most of us can imagine. It contains these factors. a more unselfish. In their place are silent routines and polite accommodations. By ego we mean the inner image you carry about yourself—the assumed notion of whom and what you take yourself to be. as well as partners in sincere. hot sensations tied to newness and novelty. So too is the desire to make each other happy. For many individuals moving away from an ego-based “me versus them” mindset involves a looking within to become clear about old ideas and beliefs that may be hindering a more accurate understanding of your true self. And it’s also not the temporary. The good things they saw and loved about one another are distant memories. Of course we all have personal issues—mostly fears and insecurities—that . caring aspect of yourself emerges. soul mate love that so many couples yearn for is not to be confused with just physical lust and desire. The romantic spark of attraction that initially brought these couples together now barely glows at all. Most people associate spirituality with religion. What makes this caring “spiritual” is that it requires getting your self-centered ego out of the way. And yet most husbands and wives.occasional sex. In our everyday lives and in our intimate love relationships.
be they real or imagined. In fact getting yourself strongly determined to “show up” differently rather than repeat the same old tit for tat arguments is one of the most important things you can do toward creating the soul mate kind of love you want. as opportunities to deliberately stretch past your selfish self to be more caring. Your present pattern of holding onto hurts and angers is coloring how you see and react to one another. Right now your job is to get very clear about how much you actually want to change your relationship. You must at least be able to get yourself to a neutral mode where you are not dwelling on past upsets and where you are not immediately ready to counter attack every perceived slight.get in the way of our caring for ourselves and others. We will show you how to do this in the following chapters. and every stressful event that comes up puts emotional and sexual distance between you and your partner. A half-hearted effort will accomplish very little. It won’t happen overnight. A good beginning is to put yourself into your partner’s skin and feel what the relationship is like from that perspective. but you must make a start at seeing your partner in a new way so that something different has a possibility of happening between you. You become roommate adversaries instead of intimate best friends and lovers. especially the difficult moments. It brings negative emotions into every next moment as it unfolds between you. every clash of needs. This pattern has to be interrupted. They become opportunities for our egos to play the blame game and spend a lot of energy making ourselves right and our partner wrong. the challenge is to give merit and value to the . It’s easy to act as if youare sure your view of things is right. every difference of opinion. When this competitive pattern takes hold. This is a mental and emotional change in your basic operating posture toward one another. The First Step Instead of falling victim to this pattern you can do something different. often bringing out the worst in couples. You can use the daily give and take between you and your partner. These issues become emotional “hot buttons” that create tension and trigger conflict.
and behaviors that sour feelings of love. but your partner must be your top priority. You can have as many as you can reasonably handle. One important caveat here: making each other a top priority in no way means blind loyalty to a partner who is physically and/or verbally abusive. This is a major ingredient in healthy love. make yourself a doormat. then putting one another first is the best way to avoid new bad feelings from arising. It doesn’t mean your partner is your only priority. or who is mean-spirited and maliciously manipulative. beliefs. You will not be . Can you convincingly describe what makes your partner feel unhappy in your relationship? Not your opinion about it.assured and justified about your own hurt and anger. And from this place of less selfrighteousness and less blame. Each of you has to practice putting the other first. Let’s also be clear that reining in your ego to be more caring toward your partner does not mean you have to neglect yourself. but what it is that she actually thinks and feels. This requires seeing with his or her eyes. hearing with his or her ears. A crucial requirement to having the “in love” passion you desire is that your partner must be your top priority.way your partner sees things. who is drug and/or alcohol addicted. and that also will be fine with you. You make it clear that your partner is your top priority when they see that you are willing and able to have their happiness and well being be just as important to you as your own. perhaps you can begin to empathize with one another and drop old attitudes. Of course this has to work both ways. In fact there are many times when you will make their needs more important than your own. or martyr yourself as a victim to another’s demands. Putting Each Other First If getting to a “neutral” posture so that you’re not carrying old bad feelings into each new moment is the essential beginning step. what her full subjective experience is living with you from day to day? Then and only then can you begin to act less self. feeling what he or she feels in the very same moments and situations that you personally find challenging. And it doesn’t mean that you’ll be dependently attached to each other.
And yet. Typically this is when you and your partner begin blaming and sniping at one another. Similarly when you are married or living intimately together and your need to love and to be loved fully is not being met. Being successful at work. becoming passionate soul mates has the opposite result. Your capacity to be your best in all parts of your life falls off dramatically. that there is another person who knows. psychological. Soul mate love is your heart’s true desire. it creates strong. you cannot be selfish. independent individuals who choose to be fully engaged in each other’s inner and outer lives. having financial security. These are the conditions that allow a soul mate love to find room to grow between you. unable to function on your own. to let go of old angers. are not fulfilled in love. . waiting for you to gather it up and apply it as a healing balm between you and your partner. and spiritual need that we humans have. This emptiness drives the lives of so many people who. understands. despite being very competent in many areas of their lives.clones of one another. Their potential for healthy growth is stunted. But your desire to share a soul mate love is in a different category altogether. love dwells in you. and enjoying pleasurable escapes make life easier. because it satisfies. In fact. to delay gratification. Being able to go past yourself. Going without having this need met makes us sick both physically and emotionally. and to look honestly at how you behave toward your partner is essential. to not consistently get your way. Knowing and feeling. once and for all. and loves us fully and deeply is a core biological. Your Heart’s True Desire Satisfying your different desires may bring you varying degrees of happiness. you feel empty and deeply unhappy. to not always need to be right. inside the bedroom and out. but none of that creates lasting happiness. without any doubt. but they do not thrive. at those same moments. the emptiness of feeling alone and unloved. Orphaned infants who are only fed and kept clean but are not held with warmth and affection survive. The major point here deserves repeating: to share an “in love” soul mate passion.
The consensus is that the nature of our true self is more non-material than material. soul mate love is your heart’s true desire. competing egos preoccupied with “me. and so it cannot bring soul mate love into your life.” “my. bits of energy and flashes of light. other people. Living in a tangible world of form and structure.And just as importantly. Unfortunately we’ve lost touch with this larger understanding of who and what we are. We all appear to parade around as separate. it would rather blame someone else. Yet since its earliest beginnings humans have experienced this essential life force spiritually. Our true essence can be likened to sparks from a sacred fire fueling all creation. Strong Medicine The need to get past your ego and access a larger dimension of who you are is a reality that your ego itself will resist. dynamic and flowing. self. and everything around us as solid. But this view of “reality” is not the whole story. we are conditioned to see ourselves. at itself. unifying reality that connects all seemingly separate entities. is more spiritual than anything else. separate entities with fixed boundaries. our fundamental essence . It doesn’t want to look within. Our culture glorifies the material life of the “rugged individual” and worships the pursuit of self-interest.contained. Our thinking minds can take us only so far in understanding this creative energy. Modern science tells us that our fundamental being or essence is not fixed and solid but intangible. So a part of you will find this . the ego you typically operate with is not capable of unselfish caring. We are. because it reunites you with the non-ego. In the writings of saints and sages from all of the worlds great religious traditions we find a recurring theme. that of an unbroken. It turns out that ancient mystics and modern astrophysicists share a similar view of ultimate reality. Having a clearer understanding of your spiritual nature is crucially important.” We’re conditioned away from the possibility of seeing ourselves as anything but separate centers of self-interest. most basically. as we’ll see in the following chapters. spiritual dimension of your being. Scientists who explore the ultimate essence of things (us included) report that this view is limited and masks a larger reality.” and “mine. because.
want. The more your ego is involved in these interactions. Your relationship. Becoming soul mates calls for taking a new look at how you see yourself. and you cannot pretend that it doesn’t apply to you. You create it moment by moment with your words and behaviors. deeply loved. the feeling between you as a couple. the less satisfying they will be. Remember that staying passionately “in love” doesn’t just happen. and I accept. complaints. Soul mate intimacy offers you and your partner the experience of being fully known. And only this “best you” can move your relationship past wherever it is presently stuck in old habits of bickering. It is a truth that you can’t ignore or modify to fit your particular story. bad or indifferent. and your relationship. whether good. It cuts through all your excuses. and love you as the one person with whom I will devotedly share my life. . you create it by growing past personal limitations through large and small acts of caring and kindness. boredom. It is giving and receiving the kind of love that says: I know you from the inside out. and getting your way. This is strong medicine if you are walking around only half awake. You will share a soul mate intimacy. and that means being true best friends and faithful. It is this “self” that has to consistently be there with your partner if you want to share a passionate. lost in the trance of life’s daily routine. and profoundly valued. your partner. soul mate love. This may make you uneasy because it holds you to the very high standard of bringing to your relationship the most grown up mature self that you have to offer. and rationalizations. Our goal is to help you change the quality of your day-to-day caring so that each of you will feel more fully loved. Taking full responsibility for your part of what happens between you and your partner will be a new effort. enthusiastic lovers. is the result of how you act and react to one another as each day unfolds. Loving this way doesn’t happen automatically.reality a hard truth that you may not be entirely ready to hear. I know your strong points and weak points.
family. However. For some couples tender. take care of the kids. and brittle. But some couples put too much emphasis on just being parents. healthy. but partners have made other things such as work. unromantic. because partners have to focus so much of their energy on being parents. Are you and your partner like most couples—wanting to feel “in love”? Do you want to share an emotional and sexual closeness that has you feeling loved. and cherished? Most couples want that closeness because it’s a basic human need. That is why it’s not surprising that partners find themselves falling into dead-end situations without really knowing how they got there. But inside things are dry. superficial. The result in both cases is the same: partners feeling disconnected emotionally and sexually. in-love feelings are smothered under layers of hurt. and better able to cope with the stresses of everyday life. work around the house. and hobbies more important than the feelings between them.CHAPTER TWO INSIDE A ROOMMATE RELATIONSHIP While they rarely talk about it with friends or family. To outside observers everything seems fine. Ending Up As Roommates The fact is that you can slip into being roommates at any point in your relationship. Then as their children grow . such an understanding about relationships eludes many men and women. disappointment. and even have something resembling a social life. For some couples the early years of having children are so demanding that their intimacy never recovers. desired. They go to work every day. friends. And this disconnection makes their relationship thin. This is as it should be. Having and maintaining this kind of soul mate intimacy doesn’t happen by itself. It requires an understanding of how relationships work. For others there is less hurt and anger. and having that need met leaves you happy. When children first come into a marriage a huge emotional shift takes place. They don’t hold onto enough of their previous friend/lover connection and their relationship becomes completely child centered. many couples are living as roommates. and businesslike. and anger.
A roommate marriage may have some soul mate characteristics. . Living within a diminished a financial reality may create additional tension. and encouraged. regrets. they are complex. they then have to work very hard to get it back. One or both partners. There are degrees of each type in every marriage. and vice versa. no relationships that are 100 percent roommate or 100 percent soul mate. these couples are left with only a dim memory of themselves as lovers. the better you’ll be able to correct or prevent it. The more you know about the process. So the possibility of becoming roommates is always there.up and need them less.” he may become desperate to find someone or something that makes him feel alive again. creating anxiety and/or depression. He may believe that he has been living his life to please everyone else. Now work and career issues often exert enormous pressures. may begin to doubt their worth and then feel inadequate. When both work and one earns significantly more than the other the stage is set for resentment. having not achieved a level of success they expected and thought possible. understood. In the grip of seeing his life as “more over” than “yet to be lived. Old unresolved issues having to do with power and control may resurface and threaten to take over the relationship. And this is in addition to making sure that children grow up feeling loved. In another category are partners in twenty-year plus relationships where fears about aging begin to loom larger. Without realizing it they have allowed their romantic togetherness to gradually slip away. Remember that relationships are not simple. These long-term relationships can suddenly crash when one partner decides that he or she just can’t go on doing the same old routine. which can happen at any time in a relationship. Affairs. are common at this point. because affairs break through the boredom and sameness of life as usual. and become determined to make his desires the most important. Other couples find the middle years (seven through fifteen) of a marriage or long-term relationship more difficult. There are no pure types. It is at this very hectic time that mid-life doubts. Here are two examples of couples with a high degree of roommate characteristics. and disappointments may begin to creep up.
” Ann says. . Barry worries about paying for it all.” Barry continues: “Sex is a problem because there isn’t much of it. We’re both so pressured that it’s easy to pick on one another. Most times it’s a quickie. It is mild. But it does happen—even if it’s in the middle of the night and we’re both half asleep. they still basically like one another and have a foundation of love feelings that they can fall back on. It’s not how I envisioned it would be. With the boys it’s a constant running from one thing to another. That’s the worst—when we fight and there is silence for days. and very ambitious. Weekends are devoted to the boys’ school and sports activities. It’s as if there’s no tolerance for mistakes. “but it’s true. were outdoor types. Ann tries. Ann is overwhelmed by the number of things she must keep track of and do every day. Both grew up as only children. because the lack of closeness they feel is largely situational. I don’t think we’re much different from a lot of couples these days. and two poorly trained dogs. It’s really hard with no family around. I try. If something goes wrong I can blow up. The question is: Where will they go from here? If they don’t realize their marriage is drifting and take some corrective action they may end up feeling more and more frustrated and disappointed.Ann and Barry When Ann and Barry married. the result of each of them feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. They seemed perfect for one another. As their eleventh anniversary approaches they have three sons. I know Barry wants more sex.” “Money is always an issue” says Barry. So far no deep resentment or bitterness has taken root between them. “I know it’s a cliché.” Ann and Barry have what might be called a mild case of roommate blues. and tension is high. “but it’s also a dump issue. were brief friends in high school. They had grown up in the same town. we are like ships passing in the night. a temperamental housekeeper. Life seems more complicated than when I grew up. and I know I do that. and then met again after college and began dating. for them as a couple. We’re running hard just to keep up. Time alone. two full-time jobsf. a huge mortgage. But not much about our life is. I mean you can dump all your frustrations on that one topic. but I’m exhausted most of the time. If I can get to the gym once a week I feel blessed. But it’s a win if we can just keep fights to a minimum. That’s a pattern I’m not happy about. is rare. over three hundred family and friends gathered to wish them well. Despite all of the stress.
“Ed and I have always had a rough time together.That’s hard to live with. We’re both stubborn and hate to give in. It makes life a constant battle. and I can’t take that. but nothing comes back to me. Some couples have more positive feelings and behaviors going on between them than others. ages five and three. She never has a good word to say. Ed’s always been that way. the likelihood of finding fault and blaming one another will increase. I have the den all to myself.As this happens. and I’d rather hang out there than listen to her complaints. roommate relationships vary. I’m no angel. While they still sleep together. Marne and Ed Marne and Ed have been married for seven years and have two children. We need to find a way out of this hole we’ve dug. and mine are just not that important to him. He blows up at the slightest thing I say. It didn’t use to be that way. He has two brothers he doesn’t talk to because of this.” Marne continues: “He’s difficult because he takes everything personally. She’s just never satisfied. but I can’t be wrong all the time.” Marne. I have a hard time accepting that. As a husband it’s a different story. It’s always his feelings that count the most.” “More and more I just want to be left alone. Ed has no idea how a woman wants to be treated. it’s as simple as that. He’s a good provider and a good father. Then the kids came into the picture. I do a lot for her.” Ed says. But more importantly. so I say screw it and go my own way. It’s not good. both examples show that roommate partners have stopped being intimately open and available to one . has her own view of the marriage. they have not had sex for the past eighteen months. “They can do no wrong as far as she’s concerned. Ed complains that Marne cares only about the children and her sister who lives nearby. “but with me nothing is ever good enough. of course. These days we’re like oil and water. If we try to discuss things he just starts yelling.” says Ed. and everything has to be her way or it’s wrong. He only sees what he’s not getting. She’s a perfectionist. and he’s very sensitive. He’s always feeling hurt about one thing or another.” These two examples illustrate what we said earlier. but that’s what it’s come to. “When she starts picking I just walk away. and things just got worse and worse after that.
You become irritable and impatient. Living as roommates leaves everyone stressed. And you’re not alone. The desire to be and stay close must become more important than your ego’s need to resist change. • Your partner makes everyone and everything else more important than you. because you’re convinced that your partner doesn’t care about them or will use them against you.” rarely enters your mind. because it has the possibility of drawing you together. even though now he’s trying to be better. from toddlers to teenagers. to get your way. Children. all across the board. when you are married or living together in a committed relationship. In other cases the distance is more about bad feelings (hurts and angers) than anything else. The following chapters will show you how to dramatically improve the quality of your caring for one another. Your ability to function effectively. “I love you. being emotionally and sexually distant is extremely stressful. promoting closeness rather than distance between you. • All you can think of are the past unpleasant things your partner has done. have fewer established coping mechanisms. They have fallen into being together from a distance. Being hungry for love can turn out to be a good thing for you and your relationship. In some cases this distance is due to being overwhelmed by the demands of daily life. • You get home and feel relieved when you realize that your partner isn’t there. and hungry for love. It is unselfish caring that puts love feelings into action. • Sex is a distant memory or an obligation that you do your best to avoid. and so they immediately absorb this tension. or to hang on to resentments from the past. • Doing something kind and thoughtful that says. Are you in a roommate marriage or relationship? If you have doubts here are some clues: What You Need to Know about a Roommate Marriage • You’ve stopped sharing your inner thoughts and feelings.another. . • You would rather be with your friends first and your partner second. decreases dramatically. Is living together from a distance what you expected from your relationship? Probably not. The tension this kind of dysfunctional arrangement produces drains your body and your mind. exhausted. At difficult moments it is this desire to love and be loved that can shape how you act toward your partner.
ask yourself. • The amount of pain in your relationship is greater than the pleasure. or your relationship. • You’ve lost interest in what might be going on in your partner’s mind. • You are staying together because of guilt and fear rather than because you like or love one another. Rather than becoming bogged down because of old painful patterns and unresolved issues. If this list convinces you that you and your partner have become roommates.” . it drains energy and paralyzes your ability to act on your own behalf. Being absolutely clear about how much you want to be soul mates is crucially important. • Your partner would rather hear himself talk than listen to your point of view. Don’t allow yourself to become immobilized by negative thoughts about yourself. Thinking negative thoughts has a consequence. • Doing something fun together rarely goes well. your partner.” but hasn’t a clue about how you need to be loved. • You consistently have the feeling that your partner would rather be anywhere else than with you. even after you’ve told her how painful it is. • Your partner says “I love you. • The prospect of being alone together on a vacation gives you an anxiety attack. Carry out this intention by being more unselfishly caring. remind yourself of it every day. • Your partner feels to you like a child that you take care of rather than a close friend and lover.• Your sexual fantasies include everyone but your partner. Keep that desire present in your awareness. • Besides work and children there is little else you talk about. • You resent playing host to his family. “Is it my intention to have a more mutually loving relationship?” Intention is desire that is backed up by will and purpose. and it will keep you positively focused and help you break out of automatically seeing one another as the “enemy. • Your partner keeps embarrassing you in public. be careful of the tendency to feel hopeless or discouraged.
Unfortunately. easily manipulated sense of personal identity. personal state of mind. be it a relationship. in love soul mate relationship is not possible when you’re operating from a survival mentality. have an image of themselves that has huge holes in it. conversely.Stuck In Survival CHAPTER THREE A ROOMMATE STATE OF MIND WHY? Why do so many couples who start off feeling like soul mates end up as roommates? Here’s the answer: they are trying to have an “in love” passionate heart-to-heart relationship from a self-centered survival mindset that is incapable of giving it to them. losing weight. The most important thing you have to know about this mindset is this: Creating a passionate. This ego oriented “me first” way of looking at the world has been inserted into your consciousness long before you had anything to say about it. as uniquely superior and special. many people. This inner voice directs the choices you make. If you’ve grown up in a culture that reinforces your ego’s need for instant gratification and rewards a “win at all costs” attitude. It dictates your likes and dislikes. And your state of mind is reflected in the voice you hear inside your head. In fact in everything you do. the reactions you have. or learning something completely new. The difference here is minimal while the result is the same: a fragile. . Whenever you take on any kind of challenge. We see ourselves as either falling short in one way or another or. for a variety of reasons. your mental attitude or state of mind is an important factor in determining your ultimate success. then it’s a strong likelihood that a survival mentality is your main operating system. and all that you see as possible for yourself between birth and death. the desires you pursue. and the fears you run from. a new job. hopes and dreams. All of us emerge from childhood with an image of ourselves as a separate individual with particular characteristics. your beliefs. It’s a pretty safe bet that most of the time the inner voice you hear belongs to your ego and its survival mentality. your thoughts and feelings and the actions you take all flow from your particular.
we have so many over-developed egos running around.This state of affairs is exploited by a non-stop media that has tremendous conditioning power.” When you totally identify with your ego and adopt. Your ego and its survival mentality work from the simple but all consuming principle of “me first. Self worth gets equated with the size of your paycheck. and always want to please. There is not much you can do to intervene at this level. In a world where nearly everyone is pushing to maximize his own particular self interest. but the basic theme is the same— men and women who operate out of survival-oriented mindsets. the better able you’ll be to break out of it and stop being just roommates. you will not be able to hold up your end of a soul mate relationship if you are operating with a survival mentality. from work and career issues to family and love relationships. They are generally more passive. Why? Because a survival mentality has self interest as its primary concern. In between these two extremes there are many variations. At the other end are individuals who are self-absorbed in a different way. It’s no wonder that.” The main agenda it has is looking out for “number one. The more you know about how this mindset operates in you and in your relationship. and on the other hand. but instead creating problems for themselves and everyone with whom they come into contact. . It is easy to critique others. wanting to be happy. conflict is inevitable. its way of approaching the world. and arrogant. But this is only one end of the spectrum.” No matter what the circumstances. looking within is the real challenge. without questioning. Remember. Most likely you think of ego-dominated people as being insensitive. Just check the news headlines and you will glimpse this mindset being played out in different ways on a global scale. What you can do is limit the influence of a survival mentality in your own life. In every part of your life. and how well you match up with the latest over-glamorized pictures of beauty and success. on the one hand.” “my. house. or car.” and “mine. The challenge you personally face is seeing how and when your own survival-oriented ego is at work. Let’s look at some of the reasons for this. lack confidence. bossy. an epidemic of depression and anxiety. a survival mentality causes conflict of one kind or another. you set yourself up for real life pain and suffering. your survival-oriented ego will almost always have you focusing on “me.
financial or emotional security. . large or small. Looking ahead to make future plans is obviously necessary. either its physical. It’s never satisfied with anything for any length of time. Another reason why identifying only with your ego keeps you on shaky ground has to do with fear. It’s always busy running from one desire to another. and spiritually off balance. completely identifying with only your ego leaves you frustrated and on edge a lot of the time. an experience you crave or something you want that you look forward to. When you look back it’s usually to brood over past mistakes. not being adequate. and like depression. Living in a media saturated environment we are bombarded daily with an endless array of “must have” products and services. This kind of looking ahead creates anxiety. by its very nature. Or maybe you’re more in the habit of looking ahead to the future rather than the past. fear is what it runs from. Isn’t there always something. This stirs up regret. leaves you feeling shaky and unsettled. and become depressed. If you pay attention to what thoughts actually take up large amounts of your mental time and energy. Finally as you begin to watch the direction your thoughts go in. hanging around in your mind? Your ego constantly worries about its security. If desire is what your ego runs toward. once satisfied. feel guilty. temporary satisfactions that keep you frustrated and in a constant state of wanting. soon fades and is quickly replaced by the next desire? Hasn’t this been a consistent pattern in your every day experience? Your ego is addicted to brief. Fear and desire are a very big part of a survival mentality. you’ll see how often fear and desire throw you physically. not being loveable. because your survival-oriented ego is. the fear of being “less than. That’s what your ego spends most of its time doing. emotionally.” When fear clouds your awareness. Much of the time isn’t there some fear or worry. insecure and restless. you become irritable and angry at yourself and others. you’ll see that with a survival mentality you’re almost always dwelling in the past or in the future. You can check this out in your own life. only to find that the anticipated happiness.First of all. It’s the projecting ahead with a sense of dread about some (often imaginary) fear or consequence that can be disabling. and you begin blaming yourself. The range of possible fears is endless. For most people a big fear is of not being good enough. jumping back to the past or ahead to the future.
But when you’re dependent you are more likely to be possessive and jealous. unable to forgive. and a willingness to please. your ego thinks holding on to hurt and anger is a good thing. Your insecure ego likes to depend on someone else. being able to rely on one another in different ways and for different things is essential. Of course when you’re married or in a serious long-term relationship. your ego jumps from thought to thought. • By making you dependent . did you notice your thoughts wandering off? If so. Now let’s see how it interferes with love and passion.Right now as you were reading this page or the previous page.” Just as a monkey jumps from one tree branch to another. from past to future and back again. experts at observing how the ego mind works. It makes everyday life even more stressful. We’ve looked at the ways in which your ego keeps you personally off balance and unsettled. where did they go—to the past or the future? Meditation masters. It doesn’t matter whether your survival ego is creating guilt and depression or worry and anxiety. At first dependency can seem like unselfishness. Whenever your survivalist ego shows up in interactions with your partner. feeling to feeling. This is especially true in the early stages of being together. Because it tends to be immature in its reactions. It believes this is a valid way to protect itself from future hurts. It can even seem like devoted attention. Many men and women are confused about dependency and love. Clinging to another person to make yourself feel safe is fine if you are a small child. . they are all emotionally draining. It also creates a constant wedge of recycled hurt and anger between you and the partner you want to love. But the reality is that it keeps you stuck in the past. you can be sure it will separate you emotionally and sexually. But as time passes its underlying insecurity begins to surface. But this is very different than depending on another for your basic sense of being safe in the world. Here are the five major ways that your ego makes sharing an “in love” passion impossible: • By holding on to hurt and anger . When you do it as an adult it makes people run in the other direction. You start to wonder if the real reason you are together is a fear of being alone. What happens next is that one or both of you begin to doubt your love. because that makes it feel secure. refer to it as “monkey mind.
Then you. because they believe that to do so will mean losing their individual freedom and identities. and her wounded ego may drive her reactions. Dwelling on all of this inner chatter keeps you preoccupied and not very present. She may feel shut out. maybe even annoyed with you. and the two of you are off on another tit for tat argument. there are a lot of men and women who use self protection to avoid giving themselves fully in an intimate relationship. This preoccupation creates a distance between you and your partner. in turn. and on and on. Eventually they revolt in one way or another. Self protection is another major part of a survival mentality. It sets up the likelihood that you’ll get the same in return. desires. meet her annoyance with your own. it leaves him or her feeling small and smothered. Holding back a part of yourself damages the sense of trust between you and . They hold back a piece of themselves so they are not totally vulnerable. Both are toxic to genuine intimacy. interested. me” it creates a nonstop chorus of your likes. slighted. Not many people enjoy living in a rigid dictatorship. This makes sense in the early stages of dating and getting to know someone.” Their survival-oriented egos believe that by being close they’ll get swallowed up. • By keeping you stuck in “me thinking. It makes the love you are offering feel partial and incomplete. Being fully open. fears. control brings resentment and loss of respect. So for self-protection they hold back part of themselves. or rejected.Havingcontro lisamain way your insecure ego attempts to feel safe. These are the people usually described as having “commitment phobia.Theothersideofbeingdependentistheneedtoberightandincontrol. But needing to be right and in control has a direct effect on your partner. But once you’re married or in a longterm committed relationship. dislikes. either as children or as adults. She lets you know one way or another that she is disappointed. and dominated. controlled. It is the same way in a relationship. So many people have had bad experiences in close relationships. Also. doubts. She senses that you’re not really there with her. and involved with a partner is equated with being weak and vulnerable. me. that they adopt a defensive posture to avoid being hurt. holding back for self protection can become self defeating. • By keeping you stuck in self protection .” When your mind is full of “me.•Byalwayswantingtobeincontrol .
Her father worked two jobs to support the family and was rarely home. As you slowly drift apart those original feelings of closeness. Here are the stories of two couples that show how a survival mentality interferes with love. Because the climate between them is so tense. Ironically. On the contrary. You each disclose less and less of your selves. and clueless about what your partner really needs from you. They bicker and have periodic major battles that leave both questioning their future together. you can be fairly certain that it will keep you self absorbed.your partner. possessive. soul mate relationships create an environment in which partners can be strongly independent individuals who are at the same time closely connected mentally. emotionally. you succumb to believing that losing such feelings is just a natural course of events. and real intimacy. excitement. using a survival mindset to hold back a part of yourself in a love relationship doesn't safeguard your freedom or your individuality at all. and based on unquestioned trust. As you can see. and sexual passion begin to diminish. A partner who does not understand your holding back behavior will take it personally and may become afraid and suspicious. But you will have created it. In fact. When he was . caring. and sexually. untrusting. Their bickering and lack of affection and sex makes them roommates. Sue and Dan Sue and Dan have been married for nine years and have a three-year-old daughter. which is crucial to keeping “in love” passion alive. Without rock-solid trust. open. Sue was the next to last child and has five brothers and sisters. And if you’re like the majority of people who don’t know that staying passionately “in love” is possible. your ego and its survival mentality is not going to help you share a soul mate kind of love. What happens next is that boredom and a sense of loneliness begin to feel routine. stifling spontaneity. when you hold back you create confusion and mistrust between you and your partner. each of you becomes less open and more guarded. Because they are genuine. This will certainly constrict your freedom and cramp your individuality. they’ve had sex four times in the last year.
It was Ben who pushed for them living together. and attacks whenever she feels slighted. I can’t be that spontaneous. He often acts as if only his needs are important. James. Amy was very cautious. I have a son. She never received the kind of love that children need to feel sure that they are loveable. She wants him to feel what it’s like to be kept waiting. who’s in a defensive posture most of the time. his ego is fighting against it all the way. She is easily hurt. I can’t count on being out every . angers quickly. knowing Dan is waiting at home.around he believed that “children should be seen and not heard. I can’t go out and see a movie or hang out with friends whenever he feels like it.” Sue’s mother was overwhelmed and depressed most of the time. When he gets stuck at work and keeps her waiting. Sarah makes sure she pays him back. When a cold or flu strikes. The tension in their relationship centers around Amy’s feeling that Ben doesn’t fully understand and accept the commitment that living together implies. whose needs also had to be considered. Fueled by her insecure ego this pattern is repeated over and over again. there is a lot of tension in the air. draining the love from their marriage. and distrustful. making sure that Dan’s friends don’t get more time than her own. This frustrates Sue even more. Everything I do requires childcare. For example. Sue’s unmet childhood needs to feel loved and wanted left her with an ego that is hypersensitive. Amy and Ben Amy and Ben have been living together for eighteen months. Growing up. When her attempts to draw out signs of love are disappointed she attacks and Dan withdraws. Amy explains it this way: “Ben doesn’t really get that I’m a single mom and not like a regular girlfriend. Despite feeling that they still love each other. Usually this happens with Dan. Before moving in together they had discussed what such a step would mean in terms of responsibilities and limitations. She measures his every word and gesture through her inner emptiness. because she has a four-year-old son. and that’s not easy to arrange. She keeps track of their social calendar. she’ll drag out her weekend errands. While loving Amy feels right for Ben. Sue felt emotionally ignored and neglected. she admits to exaggerating how sick she really is—as a test to see whether Dan will leave work early and come home to her. defensive.
Friday or Saturday night. I’m very competitive that way. I know on an intellectual level that I’m being selfish. I’m not easy to live with. I’ve always gotten my own way. Really it’s the other way around. nothing stops me. but that’s how I think. why not now?” “I thought living together would make us closer and able to be there for one another. I know that’s screwed up. I know it’s not fair. and I don’t like change.” Amy continues: “And the other thing is that I don’t want to leave my child that often. And believe me. but didn’t see how much changing it would take once we lived together. the last thing I need is more pressure. I mean giving up what I want to do and not having my way. I’ve made it that way by being so stubborn. I don’t like losing. why does he still act as if that’s only my job and how dare I ask him? Is that how it’ll be when we’re married? If not and he’ll be willing to do it then. but it’s just not working. But that’s what he wants to do—and watch out if anything gets in his way. but it’s just an excuse. My life has a certain pattern to it. and giving feels as if I’m losing. not helped. I think I’m generous that way. I’d be losing freedom or control over my life—that’s how it feels. Ben never offers to watch him so I can run an errand or go to the gym for an hour. but I still do it. I can see that.” “The other thing that’s upsetting. When it was Ben’s turn he agreed a lot with what Amy had to say: “I love Amy and can’t see myself living without her. But I know I can’t be this way if I want to be with Amy and James. I’m not good at giving. I hope I can change. I’m not good at letting other people have their way. but it’s hard for me not to do it. I do it.” Amy explains. because I may not have a sitter.” Amy concludes. I feel pressured by him. Living together has been hard because of this. “is that while he and James really get along and I can tell he likes James. I knew I loved Amy. I’ll be the first one to admit that. Even as a kid I made sure I got more attention than my sisters and brothers. But I’m not feeling supported as much as I’m feeling caught between being there for my son and pleasing my boyfriend.” . Letting go of something I want to do is hard for me. I thought he understood all of this.” Ben continues: “So far the relationship has been better for me than for Amy. If we’re living together and talking about getting married at some point and we’re a family. I complain a lot about how controlling she is. I don’t mean with money. If I want to go for a run.
It’s just not very good at going beyond itself to regularly make your partner a top priority. patient. • It wants its partner to be different. But more often than not. • It dwells on past regrets or future fears. Each morning you wake up . thoughtful. unselfish kind of caring you need to do to stay “in love. more like itself. and giving. • It gives and shares reluctantly. • It needs to be right and sees mistakes as weakness. Our need to have instant gratification sabotages our self discipline. It’s pretty much the same in your relationship. So instead of helping you to be kind. Can roommates really become soul mates? Yes they can. • It is defensive and hears criticism as a personal attack. because human relationships are self-correcting arrangements. it doesn’t forgive easily. It’s true that having a strong will can help you make your way through difficult times in a competitive environment. • It rarely puts its partner’s needs first. • It views the relationship as unpredictable and beyond its control.Like a lot of people Ben believed that his “me first” survival mentality was a good thing and that it served him well in a competitive society. it makes you less able to access these sensitivities. We struggle to stay focused and pursue goals that we say are important to us. The result is that we become quickly frustrated and easily distracted. so only gives partial attention—half listens. • It is frequently distracted. • It blames others rather than see its own shortcomings. it is pessimistic. it is not centered in the present. Self discipline and determination are valuable character traits. • It often feels victimized by life and partner.” your survival-oriented ego is a handicap. • It wants control and has difficulty compromising. Many of the problems that plague roommate couples happen primarily because they are reacting to one another with their egos firmly in charge. • It holds on to hurt and anger. our willful egos tend to be immature and impulsive. What You Need to Know about Your Ego-Centered Survival Mentality • It’s critical of you and judgmental of others. For the up-close.
More than any other factor. Demonstrate through your words and actions the love you yearn for. you personally determine the way your partner treats you. or you can choose to make something new happen by showing up differently. Love begets love. the tone. You can either keep behaving in the same unsatisfying way.and begin creating the substance. and it will come back to you. . and feel of your togetherness.
This awareness is your very nature. when there’s no need to be “on” playing a role—so you’re totally at ease and unselfconscious. your soul-mate self comes from and reflects an infinitely larger field of awareness. not understanding clearly what is really going on. Words can’t fully describe this all.CHAPTER FOUR THE SOUL MATE IN YOU We have just seen how your survival-oriented ego tends to grab all of your attention and make you act in self-centered ways. it is the very source of everything. And in most cases when you’re doing this. or working in the garden. Your soul-mate self is also there when you lose yourself in the flow of something you totally enjoy doing. Your chattering ego quiets down. when you are completely immersed in the moment. there is no “me” present. Now it’s time to get reacquainted with a different part of yourself that does know what’s going on and can help you avoid the trouble your ego creates. While your ego is concerned only with its own self interest. This is your soulmate self. Anything you can ever see or think about comes from this awareness. you rediscover your soul-mate self. playing golf. they can only point to it. You sense the presence of your soul-mate self when you are completely calm and free from anxiety—when you feel safe and secure with those around you. you’re on automatic pilot. whether it’s cooking. . And it’s your soul-mate self that you sense when you are deeply touched by innocent goodness or inspired by timeless virtues—or when you’re swept away by the natural beauty of nature. the essence of who you are.encompassing awareness. This is the basic reason why you say and do things in your relationship that push love away from you. in the space between thoughts. and in the silence that emerges. This soul-mate you acts from a different kind of awareness than that of your ego. It’s the soul-mate you. doing crossword puzzles. During any of these experiences. It is often said that it can’t be seen. Soul-mate awareness is all-encompassing. It’s the illuminating background source that both creates and lights up the world as you know it. but is that which sees.
it doesn’t criticize. And the soul-mate you is not full of judgments. Instead. and compassion. It was there at your birth and will be there when you die. and it doesn’t dole out guilt. while the other is quiet and content. Whether your life has been filled with good fortune or with heartache. noting everything that goes on in your inner and outer life. It is not self. Once the show is over and you’re back to your “real” world. it is always available to you as a source of clarity. How is it possible for your insecure ego to override your true self? Well. Now if you are like most people. It doesn’t nervously jump from one thought to another. It sees all the thoughts and feelings that move through you. if there are two five-year-olds in a room together. your survivalist ego regularly overshadows your soul-mate self. and one is loud. If you still believed you were the person in the movie and acted that way.Even though you’re not always in touch with it. your soul-mate self is always present. Believing oneself to be a fictional character is the kind of mistake that gets people hospitalized. you may find yourself identifying with one of the characters. the identification ends. it doesn’t worry about being embarrassed or looking good or appearing smart or clever in this or that situation. In fact your ego’s drama stories have had so much of your attention for so long that you’ve mistakenly identified with it and taken it to be your true self. It sees when you act in ways that bring harmony into your life and when you act in ways that are hurtful to yourself and others. your ever-present soulmate awareness has been an impartial witness to it all. At first it might be difficult to understand how such a thing could happen. Unlike your ego. demanding. It has no fear of rejection and needs no approval. But while it waits your ego is very busy creating drama in your life. Your soul-mate self never leaves you regardless of your life circumstances. . the soul mate in you is not plagued by fears and desires. it waits patiently to be recognized and embraced. which one do you think will get more attention? Your soul-mate self doesn’t make demands.conscious the way your ego is. animating your whole being. and uncooperative. It is always present because it is your true nature. it’s not greedy for your attention the way your ego is. your friends would start to worry. Therefore. love. When you go to the movies and become engrossed in the story.
But because you didn’t know better. You’re going to shift your identity away from your ego. primarily from habit. You are reactive rather than proactive. relying on it in any part of your life is risky business. But in your primary love relationship you do have a choice. and personal integrity are soul-mate qualities. Shifting Your Identity To create “in love” passion between you and your partner. This requires becoming very . Here your “me first” ego creates conflict. your ego is very often fragile and insecure. Bottom line: it keeps you stuck just being roommates. so that when you are with your partner it is your soul-mate self that is present. in your impersonal dealings with other people you may not have much choice because these interactions are generally so heavily ego oriented. This means making a correction to the inner notion of who you take yourself to be. It keeps you on an emotional roller coaster and limits your ability to love both yourself and your partner. Now. How do you make this shift in identity? By recognizing that most of the time you’re on auto pilot. Once you see this clearly and refuse to turn away from it (keep in mind that your ego wants to avoid seeing it). not your ego. because you don’t want to continue living in survival mode. you’ve been giving it top billing.It’s this same kind of mistake—this wrong identification—that keeps you believing that living from your ego is the best way to get your needs met. But as we saw in Chapter Three. What is crucial to understand in making this change in perspective is that in the production called “your life” your ego is a minor character . Now you’re going to try something different. This automatic reactivity allows your ego to run your life and ruin your relationship. This shift will have a dramatic impact on your relationship. empathy. not closeness. you are in a position to do something different. not ego qualities. reacting to people and situations. You’re going to stop allowing your ego to have so much control. Caring. You begin to shift your identity by activating your soul-mate self. because the personal traits that you need for an “in love” lasting intimacy come from the soul mate in you. shift your identity so that you’re no longer thinking and acting primarily from your selfcentered ego.
and come back to the present now moment. “pull the plug” on it. don’t go with your first impulse or reaction. without making any judgments. The more you pay attention. By doing this. You’ll also see how often your reactive ego is attempting to have control over what you say and do next. of envy and jealously. Now you have an opportunity to step back and redirect your awareness.conscious of and paying close attention to your thoughts and feelings as they move through you. Sometimes pulling yourself out of a particular thought pattern can be more difficult than at other times. and of self-condemnation and not being good enough— these are all common experiences. This watching is called witnessing. of guilt and anger. Learn to pause for a moment. your worries. be skeptical of what it says and of what it wants you to do. These emotions can overwhelm us. the more you’ll notice how often the production is all about you. Get yourself involved with something or someone that needs your immediate attention. your likes and dislikes. Feelings of worry and anxiety. Shift your identity by pulling the plug on it. the passing stream of thoughts and feelings as they move through you. At some point in this sequence your observing capacity returns. We all know that thoughts carry with them powerful emotions. Ego-centered “me thinking” is almost always about the past or the future. drowning in a whirlpool of negativity. Up until now. you haven’t paid any attention to whether your thoughts are coming from your ego or your soul-mate self. you’ll be shifting yourself out of your ego’s latest self. With this pause. As witnessing helps you tune more clearly into your ego’s voice. But we also know that such feelings typically reach a peak and then begin to subside. Pulling the plug means cutting off the mental and emotional energy that feeds your ego. through impartial witnessing. fears.created drama. your self-image. you . Now you’ll start watching more carefully what is playing on the screen of your mind. Witnessing is observing. and desires. You may also begin to notice how unhappy all of this makes you. When witnessing helps you to recognize that your ego is working to grab the moment. You get enough distance from the feelings to begin witnessing what has been passing through you. when in their grip we feel as though we are helpless. Your ego is addicted to looking back and looking ahead.
more eager to get ahead. If I spoke to a guy at work who was a real gogetter I would take that in and use it. It was me who kept bringing this expectation about him being different into every situation. overreacting with hurt or anger. Part of their marriage counseling called for Sally to begin watching this story line as it came up in her daily thoughts. If I saw a bag or expensive dress I wanted.create a silent moment where your ego no longer has your exclusive attention. or tempting you with desires that only cause pain later on—and you don’t go along with it—you also strengthen your soul-mate self.” Each time you recognize your ego being selfish or jealous. Sally and Bill Sally always knew. I would immediately go to Bill in my mind. so to speak. Watching my thoughts about it made it clear how much it affected my moods and how I treated Bill. He was happy and being nice.” said Sally. When the camp tuition for the kids came due. Sally saw this as weakness. especially toward Bill. needing to be right. she drove herself to get ahead and wanted him to do the same. And each time you see your ego generating fear and self doubt. Instead Bill was a hard worker who made a decent salary and was content to live within his means. It made me feel badly about myself and worse about Bill. This silent moment is the opportunity to shift your identity and allow a different voice. your soul-mate voice to come through. that she was disappointed in Bill. I saw how every day I woke up with an attitude and the poor guy wasn’t even doing anything to deserve it. The whole thing was out of control until I started watching for it. . This caused a lot of resentment between them. affecting everything I did. was a real eye opener.” “Seeing how much it was in everything I was thinking and doing. or manipulating for control—and you pull the plug on it—you shift your identity and strengthen your soul-mate self. even though we had it covered. and that Bill didn’t seem to think anything of it. She wanted him to be more ambitious. asking why he didn’t make more money. She reported the following: “Knowing I was disappointed and seeing it in action is two different things. It was just a part of my everyday state of mind. on some level. I would get bitchy that we had to save every penny for it. “I was so used to carrying disappointment around that I didn’t see how it was working in me. against Bill.
and especially as you try to hold up your end of a close. As soul mates you’ll stay in love and fight less. only your ego won’t be running it. Shifting your identity to be more connected to your spiritual nature doesn’t mean you lose your personality and become immune to fun and pleasure. or mean. that also will not change. Developing this kind of inner attention makes it more likely that when you and your partner are together. and shares easily. less worry and anxiety. You won’t turn them into me-centered drama stories. because your ego is no longer in charge. less self doubt and confusion. and guilt. You’ll also spend less time fighting. by bringing a “witnessing” attention to it. but when they do. or having control. it will be your soul-mate self that shows up rather than your ego. and less selfishness.” having kneejerk reactions to one another. being right. What You Need to Know about Your Soul-mate Self • It compromises easily and has no need for control.By watching your inner self talk. hurt. What you will have less of is the useless suffering. harsh. that won’t change. • It forgives easily and does not store grievances. not because you don’t get angry. gives. This makes a tremendous difference in how it feels to be together. You won’t become nasty. intimate relationship. These feelings will still come up. you’ll begin to see the traps that your ego sets for you as you go through the day. because you’ll have no interest in blaming. . If you are naturally perky and like to laugh. • It respects its partner as a separate individual. When a difficult moment or issue comes up. It will be easier to see the positives in your partner and the good ways you work well as a couple. If your style is more serious. you’ll have less attachment to being right or having control. or disappointed. You’ll handle these emotions more easily. your ego won’t make trouble with those emotions. • It accepts responsibility for its own behavior. because you won’t be on “automatic. You’ll have the same basic personality that you’ve always had. You’ll be less easily hurt or wounded. • It is generous. • It gives undivided attention and listens with love.
• It knows the relationship can help each other grow emotionally and spiritually. • It doesn’t feel like a victim. • It accepts criticism without feeling personally attacked.• It is willing to put its partner’s needs first. it is optimistic. • It lives in the present and can plan for the future. • It knows the relationship is equally created by self and partner. • It admits mistakes and is not afraid to be vulnerable. .
” Both approaches are ego-centered ways of interacting. and sincerely wants to see you happy and content. to be right. They are more interested in cooperating rather than competing. They have become aware that such antics lead eventually to hurt feelings and create mistrust. While the former steamroll over opposition. and to have control. Our work with couples tells us that there are six core ways that soul mates are different from roommates: 1. even in relatively good relationships. Lovers.CHAPTER FIVE CORE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ROOMMATES AND SOUL MATES The overall difference between roommates and soul mates can be simply stated: roommates are basically looking to get. on the other hand. The result is less conflict and longer periods where their relationship works well emotionally and sexually. The attitudes and behaviors they demonstrate shape how it feels to be together. Roommates want to get their way. as we use the term. have little interest in the games their ego wants to play for power and control. This kind of sexual passion does not burn out with time. share all of this as well as a thrilling sexual attraction that is passionate and completely faithful. the later it could be said “stoop to conquer. and apologetic. no judging—someone who is supportive. Roommates have stopped being best friends and lovers and instead . These simple words express volumes. while others seek the same ends through being passive. loyalty. Think of what it means to be a best friend: complete trust. The core differences between roommates and soul mates can be seen in how partners treat one another from day to day. Soul mates. eventually gets boring is not true for soul mates. pleasing. Soul mates are best friends and faithful. Some accomplish this by being rigid and overbearing. enthusiastic lovers. while soul mates are basically looking to give. encouraging. The commonly-held belief that sex.
They unfortunately have lost much of what initially attracted them to one another. Soul mates talk easily and openly with one another. Unquestioned trust creates and continually reinforces a climate of fairness and a gut-level feeling of safety and security that makes personal disagreements and life’s everyday hassles much easier to get over. or neglected. dreams. they share a level of trust that is best described as unquestioned . fears. 2. Very little is left unsaid in a strong healthy intimate relationship. Sex. In fact. This kind of communicating brings them closer. abandoned. from sharing responsibilities and time alone to friends and hobbies. as well as their victories. charming.behave more like battling siblings. to more clearly sense changes in the other’s mood or demeanor. when it happens. Because trust is high and judgments are rare. but trust can also be damaged by feeling controlled. confused. Unresolved trust issues often spread from one area of a relationship to another. They share their inner selves—their hopes. and self doubts. This kind of trust influences every aspect of their relating—from communication to sex. This ability reduces the likelihood of being confused by one . custodial details of everyday life. The good things that once drew them together—the funny. They are hurt. from money matters to in-laws. Trust issues are also far too sensitive and important to risk that they will heal with just the passage of time. Trust is also damaged when threatened with or actually being the victim of verbal or physical abuse. Soul mates trust one another completely. The result is that soul mates have a range of conversation that goes beyond the mundane. The trust between roommates has been damaged and needs repairing. feels more like an obligation or a tension reliever rather than a loving and intimate embrace. The most common trust problem has to do with infidelity. They develop the ability to read one another. sharing one’s thoughts and feelings becomes less risky than anticipated. because mistrust tends to deepen the longer it lasts. and stuck in survival mode with little understanding of how they got there. 3. and inspiring traits that made them special to one another have dropped out of sight. interesting. frustrations. This kind of trust is impossible when your ego is running the show. Most issues of damaged trust can be repaired and improved greatly. but couples rarely can do this kind of healing on their own.
and they bounce from one power struggle to the next. This is a natural outcome of being caring. repetitive and boring. rivalry and competition leave little space for cooperating together. they don’t play mind games to get one up. Soul mates like and respect one another and enjoy spending time together. generally suspicious of one another’s motives. They rarely operate on good faith and find it hard to give each other a pass when little things go wrong. 4. They make it clear. Instead of talking about their thoughts and feelings. kind.another’s behavior and minimizes misunderstandings. and attentive to one another. The result is partners who are tense. and this handicaps their communication.” Or they believe that the partner’s judging ego is waiting to make them wrong. This makes them feel more like adversaries. When a partner attempts to draw them out. by . and not wanting to appear vulnerable. Being open feels too risky and vulnerable. Roommate conversations are sparse and undeveloped. 5. They don’t feel that it’s safe to “self-disclose. What they care about and give attention to is being open and honest and feeling close and “in love. so they hold back some parts of themselves. they have never learned how to put feelings into words. Soul mates make one another a top priority. Sometimes partners do this because they are carrying an old. There is no pretense between them. Other partners have a limited emotional vocabulary. All of this makes it difficult to connect on anything but a superficial level. it feels intrusive and as if they’re being interrogated. roommates are more guarded. In both of these situations the danger is that conversation between partners becomes narrow. This closed posture reinforces the same in their partner. dysfunctional belief that “the less he or she knows the better. Very little energy goes into holding on to hurts and angers so they can place blame and cause each other to feel guilty. For example.” to really say what is on their mind or in their heart. Having shifted their identities away from their “me first” egos.” Roommates unfortunately repeat vicious cycles of disappointing one another. they rarely compete to be right or better in some way or another. they dramatically limit their egos’ ability to cause unhappiness between them. on guard. Because needing to be right and/or in control is important in a roommate mindset.
that their partner is their number one top priority. there is always someone else ready to make the partner you’re neglecting feel special. Partners with severely entrenched roommate relationships typically have very little sex (maybe three times a year). children. it’s a natural consequence of loving fully when your survivaloriented ego is out of the way. Roommates have lost that “in love” feeling and the satisfying sex that goes with it. Don’t take that chance. “Your happiness and well-being is just as important to me as my own. It’s acting towards them in a way that says. understood. and highly vulnerable to outside temptations. Feeling happy and fulfilled with one another sexually is a crucially important part of any serious intimate relationship. Roommates feel neglected and taken for granted. quick to blame and find fault. 6. Making your partner a top priority is part of knowing and loving them fully. This doesn’t feel like a pressure or a sacrifice. Remember. and loved. comfortable. For most couples sexual satisfaction has a dramatic influence on every other aspect of a couple’s life together. Instead of feeling as if they come first. happy.” When your partner knows without a doubt that he or she is your top priority it ignites a tremendous amount of love and warmth throughout your relationship. It’s not true that romance and passion inevitably wither with time. If they are having sex it’s often mechanical —they are merely going through the motions. anger. Love and passion—that “in love” feeling—diminish when hurt. they feel cherished by you and filled with the desire to give you the same experience. Any time a partner feels ignored and neglected you’ll have someone who’s angry and resentful. Soul mates appreciate this fact and make sure they are unselfish. and hobbies. partners in roommate relationships feel somewhere down on the list after work. They go out of their way to make the other feel safe.what they say and what they do. Remember. caringly attentive lovers who value their physical intimacy and never use it as a weapon. and loss of respect take their place. and a . The problem isn’t time. or mean spirited and maliciously manipulative. Sexual passion and satisfaction are at their peak in soul mate marriages and long-term relationships. extended family. drug and/or alcohol addicted. as we mentioned in Chapter One that making each other a top priority does not mean blind loyalty to a partner who is physically and/or verbally abusive.
Ask your partner to do the same kind of assessment. The above list of core differences can also serve as a guide to asses your own relationship. Even though they sleep in the same bed they may as well be in different rooms. In Part Two you’ll find seven Passion Builders designed help you put back that “in love” feeling between you and your life partner. Your combined observations point the way forward to take your relationship in a new direction. If you are currently stuck in a roommate relationship you can dramatically change the quality of how it feels to be together. a clear direction to move in. Between them is a no man’s land of awkward distance that neither feels comfortable crossing. Ask yourself how you and your partner measure up in each of the six areas. Attention to any one or more of these areas will add love and passion to your togetherness. To do this you need a realistic picture of your present situation. Give your mind and heart to the Passion Builders and watch what happens in your relationship. .good number don’t have sex at all. Get serious about your intention to live and love differently. and specific instructions on what to do and how to change your behavior.
Each is sure they are right and waiting for the other to admit being wrong and apologize. Use them well. Go slowly. These core skills and insights are transformative when you apply them to yourself. and trapping one another with examples from the past. attacking. Read them as a couple.PART TWO HOW TO GO FROM ROOMMATES TO SOUL MATES How can you get passion back in your relationship both inside and outside the bedroom? After helping so many couples face that exact problem we can tell you seven specific things that you can do to bring back “in love” feelings. It’s the opposite of what is needed to stay in love and happy with one another. They are not just more information to use to make your partner wrong. And just as importantly. blaming. In a very short time they are each hurt and angry.” They describe the right action needed to create and maintain an “in love” passion between you and your partner. find out what they bring up in each of you that is right now shaping how you may be treating one another. They then proceed to demonstrate this fact by interrupting and talking over one another. This is a fairly common picture of what happens when two egos collide. Passion builders are “right action prescriptions. Being soul mates depends on a way of communicating that goes beyond . their emotions get hotter and hotter. not listening. These seemingly simple insights reflect wisdom teachings with deep roots in psychological and spiritual understanding. PASSION BUILDERS CHAPTER SIX STAY EMOTIONALLY IN SYNC “We can’t communicate” is how most couples begin their first therapy session. While all of this is going on. That would be the roommate way of responding. talk about them. they mirror the search for love and understanding that other couples just like you are going through.
it likes to play things close to the vest. supported and encouraged comes when you reveal yourself without any pretense. Hopes and dreams. you’re in trouble. It is not cut out for the kind of sharing that will get you and your partner emotionally in sync. Sure it’s important to keep one another current on things that need to get done. Your ego cannot help you hold up your end of a heart to heart. fears. scheduled appointments. likes to judge and blame. large successes and small victories. It’s here at this deeper level of sharing together that lasting passion begins. What will keep you and your partner emotionally in sync and then passionately “in love” is communing together. If your process is good you will be able to talk about any topic effectively. Good process relies on two specific ways of talking and listening to one another: self disclosing and being a good sounding board . They come from the soul mate in you. soul to soul conversation. Then and only then is it safe to share your inner personal experience. critical ego is out of the picture. the stuff that bonds partners together as soul mates. The kind of talking and listening that you and your partner need to do happens when your judging. and the latest happenings with the children and so on. when shared together. This level of communing together is only possible when your ego is not part of the conversation. flashes of insight. They will carry your relationship safely through difficult times. process and content. All communication has two dimensions to it. supported. These two skills are the heart and soul of staying emotionally in sync. It’s in the sharing of this inner private world that you reveal yourself and invite your partner to know you as no other does. moments of gratitude. Feeling understood and cherished. The process component is more important than the content portion. Sharing these custodial details keeps the family enterprise running. But if your communication stops there. unexpected joys and disappointments are all. and it’s also where couples often lose touch with one another. feeling understood. revealing as little as possible. frustrated desires.talking about the routine aspects of daily life. doubts. By now you know that your ego. Communing together happens when you open up and talk about what’s going on inside of you at a feeling level. social events. not your insecure ego. as a misguided way of protecting itself. and accepted. .
I trust you and feel safe with you. She knows that Marty’s father died when he was six. a cherished desire. and Marty did the rest. or a painful memory. When you self disclose it’s like saying to your partner. Recently they took Ann’s dog to the beach and after playing with him sat down to talk. Both say their relationship is growing stronger with each passing month. you create the possibility of a soul mate connection. After college an uncle got him an interview on Wall Street. This enabled Ann to grow up in a well-to-do family. appear acceptable. Ann has always wanted to . and she worries about her little nephew Josh who is six years old. When you reveal a current worry. more fully known to your partner. and now at age thirty-six is a successful bond trader. while an older brother made a career in the military. sharing yourself in this way means taking a risk. so she asks him what it was like to miss him. You are more vulnerable when self disclosing because you are trusting that your partners response will be sensitive and supporting. “Here I am—the real me. hard worker. he steadily made his way through the ranks. when you reveal thoughts and feelings that make you more transparent. Both her parents and grandparents were well-educated. His mother and sister still live there. The same is true when you include your partner in positive moments of optimistic good feelings. In either case.” Gone is the effort to filter what you say in order to please. successful business people. and avoid being judged in one way or another. Ann felt a sense of gratitude for the opportunities she was given. For the last nine months. But without this risk you are stuck being roommates. Ann works as an editor at a publishing house. While Marty always felt he had a lot to overcome. or a sense of guilt or shame that you carry. Marty and Ann Marty grew up in a small Arizona town.Self-Disclosing Self disclosing happens when you talk about your inner state of being. Here’s an example of what it looks like to commune together. A disciplined. he has been exclusively dating Ann after meeting her at a friend’s Super Bowl party. Ann’s aunt and uncle are divorcing. She’s concerned that he’ll miss not seeing his dad all the time.
Ann: In what way? Marty: My father wasn’t sick—physically anyway. He is also afraid that telling the truth will be harmful if Ann is judgmental in some way. (Marty realizes he must tell Ann the truth of his father’s death or lie about it. The cops got there right away. He killed himself. (Ann repeats and reflects back to Marty the feeling he identified.know more about this important part of Marty’s life. sitting in the car with the engine going. He knows that to do the latter would hurt their relationship. Ann: For a little boy that must have been so frightening going through something like that.) Ann: What do you mean? Was he sick for a long time? Marty: No. (Marty has been looking for a chance to talk about this part of his life. He thinks about it for a moment and then continues. I’m self-conscious about it. I don’t remember too much of it. It was pretty sudden. (Marty has now opened himself to Ann and waits anxiously to see her reaction.) . People started coming over. not really. My brother found him in the garage. (She takes his hand in hers. I did miss him.) It’s not that easy to talk about. he committed suicide. and she came right away and stayed for quite a while. I’m so sorry.) Ann: Oh Marty. Ann: What was it like when your father died? Did you miss him a lot when you were growing up? Marty: Well it was definitely pretty bad at first. My mother was hysterical. Ann’s question gives him an opening.) Marty: It was a pretty scary scene. I’ve always avoided it whenever I could. Until now he has avoided it. but it was a lot more complicated than that. and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to ask about it. My aunt—my mother’s sister—lived close by.
Marty: I’m relieved we’re talking about it. It’s always been in the back of my mind to tell you. really. Marty: Exactly. Ann: Worried that what? . Now it doesn’t come up that much. Why take the risk? But I wanted you to know. so you always knew that people were thinking about it whenever they met you. something I had to hide so people wouldn’t think there was something wrong with me also. I couldn’t wait to leave. the whole thing is weird. Back then. Marty: Really? Ann: Yeah. because the hiding is automatic. but I was worried. Marty: Yeah. I just don’t go there with people. But still. Ann: Is that the self-conscious part? (Ann asks Marty to talk more about his feelings about the event. and being from a small town. I wish it wasn’t part of my life. Most of my friends here don’t know. I hate that it is.) Marty: What? Ann: That it’s weird. It makes me closer to you. in fact.. I don’t want stuff hidden between us. No one ever said anything.Marty: Yeah . seeing my mother and sister screaming and crying like that was scary. Ann: I’m glad you told me.) Apparently he suffered from depression all through his life. And for a long time I hated him for leaving us that way and for staining me with whatever it was—his weakness or whatever. and I hated it. In our town everyone knew everything about you. (Long pause.. but I felt it. I spent a lot of years growing up and cursing him for leaving me with something that I was ashamed of. Ann: You felt ashamed and like there was a part of you that you had to keep hidden. I guess treatment wasn’t like it is today.
and that you still turned out so wonderful. And she was able to demonstrate to him that she was trustworthy. Of course there are exceptions. And while important. Knowing what they are feeling at any given time is a challenge. the heart to heart. which keeps deepening the closeness between you. facts alone don’t always convey the whole picture.” When this happens it encourages further self disclosing. feelings don’t get much of their attention. She was sensitive to his feelings. I love you. but that’s not the rule. Because men tend to be so fact focused. . You’ll be able to self disclose by turning your attention inward (most of the time your attention is directed outward) and in quiet looking see what’s brewing on your emotional radar. It’s this kind of emotional openness that creates communion. That’s where you will discover unresolved ego issues preoccupying you in some way or another. they’ll often say what they’re thinking without seeing the difference. women are better at this than men. Men typically have a lot of ego energy invested in appearing strong and in control.Marty: That you’d think I came from some backwoods insane family! Ann: No Marty. she wasn’t critical or judgmental. soul to soul connection that sustains being “in love. Pay careful attention to whatever tends to hang around in the background of your awareness. I see the courage it took to deal with it. He also got to remove a potential stumbling block in their relationship. because Ann kept her ego out of the conversation. It makes me admire you even more. When asked what they are feeling . His fear left him. This helps her gauge the depth of his feelings for her. It’s a struggle for some women to dig deep inside. His choice turned out to be a good one. and her responses left him feeling accepted and valued. They tend to over focus on facts alone. Marty got to shed a burden that was weighing on him. The best that both men and women can do in this regard is to be clear about how essential it is to share both thoughts and feelings and then make an honest effort to do it. To self disclose you need to be in touch with your inner thoughts and feelings. Try to identify whatever it is you find there and express it to your partner. Generally speaking. Ann also benefited by seeing that Marty trusted her enough to take the risk. By self-disclosing Marty took a risk. I don’t see it as any kind of stain on you.
can be difficult. especially if it’s a topic we’re interested in. You don’t have to be smoothly articulate. By keeping her ego out of it she created a safe space. She stayed focused on listening for Marty’s feelings. Being a Good Sounding Board The other essential skill to create communion in your relationship is listening for feelings. While this kind of active. Ann was a good listener. With her ego out of the picture she avoided projecting her own feelings. was able to open up. . being quietly neutral. Granting this space is a precious gift that enriches both parties. interpreting. Also. non-judgmental listening may sound simple. This is how you create a safe space for the other to be in. or opinions into the conversation. or to rescue our partner from what we see as troublesome or painful emotions. not criticize.disclose. That’s because most of us are not in the habit of suspending our ego opinions and conclusions about what we hear. or editorializing. Ann’s intention was to understand and empathize with Marty.Don’t expect it to come out perfect. In the example above not only do we see Marty’s attempts to self. and then Marty. go together. And while these may be good intentions they get in the way by shifting the focus to our needs and the other ends up feeling neither heard nor understood. Listening without judging. we see Ann’s listening skills on display. thoughts. Remember you’re sharing your inner being not delivering a lecture. not analyzing. to find solutions. or solving problems. Both are absolutely crucial in your efforts to remake your relationship. our ability to listen for feelings gets compromised by our need to fix things. and her effort was geared to understanding. For many couples it’s a struggle when one partner wants to share an issue or concern. Be careful not to allow your ego to judge or censor you. spouting opinions. it’s not easy to do. The end result was that she was a good sounding board for Marty to let his feelings emerge. despite his fear. These two skills. Being a good sounding board means listening without allowing your ego to interject your own personal agenda into what you hear. because she was able to shelve her ego and keep it from interfering. self-disclosing and active listening. She wanted to clarify.
What’s she got to do with anything? Bernice: How she spoke to you . Justin. I wish he stayed with his friends instead of hanging around the house. Barry: I can’t take these weekends with so much fighting. There’s not an ounce of gratitude that I get from him. I know what’s going on. Barry: My mother. and go deeper into them is an act of love. all those years with your mother. Nothing I do is good enough. I do get really angry when you butt in not knowing what’s going on. and Bernice ends up right in the middle of it. Every weekend Barry and Justin begin fighting. Bernice: So. it takes a conscious intention to listen without your ego getting in the way.Barry and Bernice Helping your partner identify feelings. Barry: What are you talking about? I don’t scream at him. Barry and Bernice have been married for almost twenty-five years. But again. . Bernice: Oh. What don’t you tell the doctor about your anger .. See if you think Bernice listens in a way that makes it safe for Barry to talk about his feelings. works part time and spends the rest of the day smoking pot and playing computer games. I didn’t say that. how she put you down all the time.. Bernice: But look how you are with him.. you’re the innocent victim here? Barry: No. and I react. He opens up a fresh mouth to me. how you get with your anger and screaming. Barry. Their twenty-one-year-old son. and rage? Barry: What are you talking about? Bernice: You know.. own them. I just said he’s the type of kid who thinks he’s entitled to everything. During a counseling session Barry begins to talk about his relationship with Justin.
being a good sounding board means shelving your ego. While there may be some truth in her observations. Listening with your ego almost always divides you. Well. Where you notice. Barry. Before Bernice attempted to have Barry see things from her point of view. What can I do? Barry: The only truth you’re interested in is your own. I’ve got news for you: I’m not buying it. So she falls into analyzing Barry. and he objects strongly. then it would be Barry’s challenge to hear Bernice out. We don’t need ancient history here. Bernice: What did I say that was so terrible? The truth is the truth. she needed to fully listen and hear him out. It comes from your soul mate self and connects you and your partner. there you go again playing psychiatrist. Barry: You see. In this example Bernice pushes her own agenda rather than active listening and being a sounding board. It’s not fair. they’re ill timed and not sensitive to what Barry was trying to share. It just doesn’t disappear. She’s carrying too many loaded feelings about the issue to be neutral. You like to push it down and pretend it’s not there. That’s what you do with the kids too. That’s why we can’t talk about anything without fighting. All you want to do is make me the bad guy. Once he felt heard and understood. and I’m sick of it. Make me the bad guy. It doesn’t work. Bernice: You can’t sweep things under the rug. because it agrees with your warped perception. This is what you always do. They often end up feeling that they’re on different wave lengths destined to live as custodial roommates. in a conversation with your partner. okay? We’ve got enough to do just focusing on the two of us. and Bernice was not able to do this. that your colliding . not what happened back then. Barry and Bernice frustrated and disappointed each other. That’s what happened in the example above. She is more interested in venting her own feelings than listening to his. True listening has no motive behind it. We’re talking about now. As we said earlier. I remember the anger and abuse.Barry: Leave my mother out of this.
opening up to one another feels especially difficult. For these reasons a letter stands a better chance of defusing hurt emotions . talking over one another. Your partner gets to read your words in private without you or anyone else around to influence his reaction. you can revisit them an hour or two later. You can carefully think through what you want to say. using the skills of self-disclosing. and actively listening you and your partner will become good sounding boards for each other. You get an opportunity to express yourself freely without interruptions. because of lingering hurt and/or anger. on a second or third reading his ego response may be more filtered out because he’s had the time to think through what you had to say. b.egos have you shouting. At these times one of the most effective things you can do is to write your partner a letter.” Make the letter “T” with your hands and say “time out. c. Now it is your partner’s turn to actively listen. Maybe you feel more in touch with your soul mate self and are willing to reach out. They have the time and space to experience more than one reaction.” When you resume decide who will speak first. That response should first be a retelling of what you have just heard so your partner can verify you heard him or her correctly. No interruptions are allowed. Pen Power There will be times when. Once it is clear that you have accurately understood what was said you can proceed with your side of the issue. and frustration is mounting call a “time out. but you’re convinced that your partner will shut you down. we are not listening to one another. You’re both walking around with wounded egos. While your partner may not feel ready for a face to face encounter. Pen power has some clear advantages in this situation: a. It’s reaching out and making contact. let’s start over. Rewrite when your ego jumps in so that your message turns out just the way you want it. but from a safe distance. Putting your words on paper forces you to organize your thoughts. Use this formula whenever you see conversations deteriorating. Only when one of you has finished speaking does the other have a chance to respond. By shelving your egos. a letter is less intrusive.
It’s not up to you to fix it. • Don’t fix it. often have a far greater personal impact than a typed statement. If your partner is upset. but there is a lot to be said for a handwritten letter. watch your tendency to make nice. Keep your opinions. What thoughts are behind the thought you’ve let go? • Ask yourself what feelings are attached to the remaining thoughts. That’s why a letter of this kind is for especially difficult. and should not be a regular occurrence. beliefs. Don’t analyze and don’t give lectures. Don’t offer advice or solutions (even if you’re sure . name them. Being a Good Sounding Board • Shelve your ego. tense situations. • Direct your attention inward. • Put these feelings into words. here the effort is more important than the result. • Make your best effort to voice these feelings to your partner. Your handwritten words. • Don’t be a rescuer. KEYS TO STAYING EMOTIONALLY IN SYNC Self-Disclosing • Quiet your mind by letting go of thoughts about the day’s activities.and bringing some clarity when things have gotten so muddled that neither of you understands where the other is coming from. Don’t worry if you sound clumsy while doing it. regardless of the situation or problem being presented. Be as clear as you can about what these feelings are. The very fact that you’ve handwritten it underscores its importance. Most partners use email. Don’t rescue her by talking her out of her feelings. and conclusions out of the conversation and stay neutral. Instead put that energy toward finding out exactly what her thoughts and feelings actually are. • Identify the emotions that best describe the feelings. in your unique style.
. and I need the money.” Look for verification to see whether you’ve got it right. Fact: “I was fired today.you have the answer) unless you hear your partner say “what do you think I should do?” • Always listen to the feelings beneath the facts. .” The feeling might instead be: “I’m relieved. Facts can have different feelings behind them.” Maybe the feeling is: “I’m scared.. jobs are scarce.” • Reflect the feelings you hear back to your partner tentatively: “So what I hear you saying is . and ask for clarification if you’re not sure. I was bored and wanted a change.
Images distort the way we see ourselves and how we see and hear one another. each time a problem is not solved amicably. the scolding never happened. and they begin drifting apart. They prevent us from keeping each other new. Partners are not clones of one another. If only we humans could follow that example. . Here on the human plane we do just the opposite: we remember the past and think about the future. The down side in a loving relationship is that our ego uses these same abilities to create images of ourselves and of each other. so differences are inevitable. If you use a sharp tone when reprimanding your dog for some “bad” behavior. Animals appear to be ego-free creatures. When these skills fail and partners are unable to build bridges over their differences. Each time there is a clash of needs (I want this. does your dog hold it against you? No. there are varying degrees of negative feelings created. and personally fulfilling in various ways. safer. He or she is there the next morning. Over time. conflict develops. No matter how well matched a couple may be together. they will always have their differences. This ability makes our lives easier. They meet each unfolding moment fresh. and each time there is a hurt that is not healed. the way they react today is not determined by what happened yesterday. each time an appropriate expectation gets disappointed. Their awareness—their entire beings—seem fully focused on right now. you want that). living totally immersed in the present moment. tail wagging and as delighted as ever to see you. these negative feelings are continually being collected by your survival-oriented ego. Remember.CHAPTER SEVEN Keep Each Other New Why is it that animals are so much more forgiving than humans? If you have ever had a dog or a cat you must have noticed this. It’s highly unlikely that they spend time lamenting the past or contemplating the future. Living together brings those differences out more clearly and tests a couples’ ability to communicate and cooperate. Unless abused by humans. we have repeatedly pointed out that your ego holds on to hurt and anger. As far as your dog is concerned.
Laura and Beth Laura is a type A personality who runs her own law practice. and react to one another. because images keep you from meeting one another clearly and directly in each present moment. each unfolding moment is contaminated by negative thoughts. They lock you into recycling the same negative experiences of one another. she’ll happily tackle tomorrow. The more you react and respond through images. the more disconnected you become from one another. Highly structured and organized. Everything your partner says and does gets filtered through the image you have about them. They become an automatic bias that distorts your perception and your communication. What she doesn’t get done today. hear. a mental picture that captures your core complaints—the things that you wish were different about your partner. . So you have an image of your partner. In the same way. You may also attribute motives and intentions to your partner that may be completely off the mark. Having fixed images of one another hurts your relationship. She holds herself to a less rigorous standard. This is exactly the place where most roommates find themselves in when they come for counseling. Beth teaches yoga and is less compulsive and less structured in her approach to work and life in general.When negative feelings build up your ego turns them into a fixed image. because those images bring the past (images being a collection of past negative experiences) into the present. Once an image is in place you no longer see or hear cleanly without distortion. This is an extremely toxic situation for your relationship. your partner has solidified an image about you. In most cases these fixed images are unspoken and operate without your being completely aware of them. and she has one of you. Time management is something she is compulsive about. feelings. and memories from the past. In difficult moments with your partner your ego calls up this image as a way to protect itself or to gain an advantage. This means that the present is never free from the past. Now these images begin influencing how you see. This never works. she sets high standards of accomplishment for herself and for those around her.
She spent a sleepless night. They are not the entire story. The third reason why you may not be able to address images in your relationship without professional help is that the loaded nature of the topic will really test your ability to communicate along the lines we discussed in Chapter Six: Staying Emotionally In Sync. For her part Beth. once again. Here is where it is crucial that your ego gets shelved so that you can self-disclose and active listen as a sounding board. This is how they “see” one another. Hearing the not-so-flattering way your partner sees you is not easy for your ego to take in without feeling it has to immediately defend itself and prove you wrong. Discovering and dismantling negative images of one another is essential if you want to move your relationship to a more loving place. felt the unwarranted sting of Laura’s disapproval. but they very quickly and succinctly reveal major themes causing stress and turmoil in your relationship. and more importantly. it developed into a major emergency on a Saturday when they had theatre tickets with friends. Laura was disappointed and angry. First is that images are powerful shortcuts that go right to the heart of what is derailing your togetherness. She blamed Beth for ruining their time and went to bed furious. When Beth did not stay on top of a tooth that had been acting up for weeks. and you may need professional help to do it. Instead of solace and comfort she received anger and rebuke. triggering memories of similar disappointments and reinforcing her negative image.This difference in personality styles has led to tension and conflict. The second reason is that talking about images brings out defensive reactions in many individuals. reinforcing her image of Laura as harsh and judgmental. and it’s through these mental pictures that they relate. If you or your partner is highly defensive. Beth’s image of Laura is that of a hard to please “boss” who is never happy with anything she does. But it can be a challenging process. to images they now have of one another. Laura’s image of Beth is one of a “difficult employee” that she needs to constantly check on so her work gets done. It’s challenging for three main reasons. . then counseling is a must. because her mind kept churning over this latest example of Beth’s procrastination.
these are simple. Are there images at work in your relationship? If so. as someone who I have to check on and give direction to. You want to be supportive of your relationship while at the same time pointing to an issue that needs fixing. ask for clarification using examples. and here is the way to address them. pull the plug on them. As you read your partner’s statement make sure to witness your reaction. you as a couple may decide that you are up for the challenge. This has to be a simple. Work on it until it captures the essence of what you find difficult to live with about your partner. but not right now. Of course. share them with one another. getting help can be a good fall-back solution. You want to make it clear that you are not unhappy with the entire relationship but with only a small part of it.” Beth might say.” Beginning this way underscores to your partner that the feedback you are offering has to do with a relatively small part of the many interactions you have daily. But be careful. what are they and how do you begin positively working on them? These are the relevant questions. descriptive one liner. or it will lead to more confusion.” Again. but to see whether you can see any truth in how your partner is experiencing you. Begin by writing down on a sheet of paper the image you have of your partner. If the description seems totally foreign to you. If you see your ego kicking up all kinds of objections. “Laura sometimes I see you being harsh and judgmental. and if the process does not go well. When each of you has a statement you are satisfied with. so you can have some internal silence and get re-centered. and that is what your statement has to be. and these should be made clear also. “Beth sometimes I see you as unreliable. Now we are focused on trying to uncover and acknowledge difficult attitudes and behaviors that are causing unwanted emotional and sexual distance in your relationship. Your descriptive image sentence should begin with the word “sometimes.With these cautions in mind. asking for examples invites the past into the . Laura’s statement would probably say. and unambiguous one liners. there are wonderful things that you love about him or her. Your statement also has to be caring rather than attacking or blaming so pay attention to the tone of your message. direct. Your goal is not to defend yourself. If you need a model to help you. go back to the example of Laura and Beth.
reflecting the behavior of your partner that you find hurtful. Despite your best efforts to drop behaviors that you now clearly see are not good for your relationship. So keep it simple. disappointing. and lean toward embracing your partner’s statement as his subjective truth that you want to honor (as he will honor yours). When empathy guides your reaction it will close the distance now threatening to develop rather than making it wider. actually say the words “I’m sorry) honor your partner’s feedback. without blaming or being judgmental—simply and factually say. you are holding up an imaginary mirror. “You’ve got me so figured that out you won’t let me be new. it simply reflects back what is seen. It’s a moment of truth that challenges your willingness to make changes on behalf of your relationship. neither of you will ever feel. Beth procrastinating.... Now is when you must help one another.” In effect. do not allow your ego to jump in and act as your attorney. This means showing up awake and aware of how you are in interactions with your partner. and get back to showing up differently. and this can get dicey. Holding Up a Mirror Once you accept each other’s images the next step is to whole heartedly commit to not reinforcing those images by continuing the troublesome behavior. A mirror does not judge. a caring understanding of what effect your behavior maybe having on your partner.” KEYS TO KEEPING EACH OTHER NEW • Committ to helping one another discover and discard images from your . When your partner holds up a mirror to you. you—without anger. Apologize (yes. Laura being critical).discussion. or unloving. Now especially is not the time for being defensive. both you and your partner will very likely have moments where you “go on automatic” (i. When you each practice this technique and clean out your image closet. your relationship and consequently on you yourself. finding excuses and loopholes that allow you to avoid taking responsibility and owning your behavior. Rather you need to have some empathy..e. Each time your partner shows up reinforcing the image you have of them. “Right now is one of the times I experience you as .
adress them briefly and move on. simple sentence describing the image you carry about your partner. • Change your behavior.relationship. . • Take turns sharing your image statements. • Create a non-blameful. • Hold up a mirror when either of you goes on automatic. Actively listen to one another. • Don’t dwell on setbacks. avoid reinforcing your partners image of you.Do not allow your ego to become defensive.
Playing together is also an aphrodisiac because when you are having fun you’re more likely to be totally engaged in the present moment. How is it that playing together can be a strong aphrodisiac? We know from our research with couples in strong healthy marriages that playing together was one of the ways partners helped each other to grow individually.CHAPTER EIGHT PLAY TOGETHER Sounds easy. Daily pressures of one kind or another pile up to rob you of this view. worries. you are actively creating opportunities to see one another the way you first did. When you and your partner play together. Believing that their partner helped them stretch themselves to become a better person (better as in kinder. but recognizing cherished aspects of one another now. This is not merely remembering the past. You can think about having fun in the future. In fact. They know that playing together is one ways they nurture and take care of one another. these are the times when you remember what you like most about one another. you are most likely free of negative conclusions about yourself or your partner. That’s why we all like to play as much as we can. playing together helps bring it back. Each may have an interest. less frightened. and fears. If you look inside the lives of happy couples. Having fun helps you let go of small annoyances so that you feel better . right? Well maybe. you are free of pressures. but the actual experience takes place in the present. and when you are fully present and completely engaged. And when you’re lost joyfully in it. and able to tap into unexpressed talents and creativity) fueled feelings of passion and commitment. and that it helps keep their relationship romantically exciting. Having fun can only happen in this moment now . in the present. And while it can be a hassle carving out the time to do this. soul mates have learned just how important it is. or hobby they personally enjoy. Men and women who believe that their partner is instrumental in helping them broaden their horizons and fulfill more of their personal potential reported increased feelings of love. more courageous. you’ll find partners who make sure they play together. sport. desire and devotion. By playing together you can rekindle whatever it was that attracted you to one another in the first place. but it doesn’t get in the way of their having fun together.
but they also forget how to complement and . We often don’t recognize and remember the simple truth that we are called to take care of one another. and cherish one another. it’s very easy to forget. But we lose sight of the fact that our love for each other also needs our attention. We know plants need sun and water. Benign neglect is what happens when you give your time. In some couples the lack of playing together and overall lack of warmth and affection leads to a dangerous condition called benign neglect. energy. begin thinking about what that might be. Their inability to play is part of a larger problem—a general lack of nurturing in how they interact with one another. if you do not have something that both of you enjoy doing together. Every close. of elevating oneself by putting another down. not playing together is one of the reasons they are roommates in the first place. Unfortunately for a lot of couples. In fact. It’s also a way. Nurturing is about giving. Being playful should never leave either of you feeling embarrassed or humiliated. it’s too late. This kind of “fun” often has a thinly veiled hostility in it. no matter how subtle or cleaver. A good sense of humor and laughing together can lighten things up when one of you gets cabin fever or has a meltdown. It brings about a kind of “amnesia” whereby partners not only forget how to have fun together. So currently. having fun takes the form of teasing one another. It needs care and attention or else it begins to wither away. Doing it in public is practically a capital offence. your ego is only concerned with getting. And despite the fact that we promise to love. honor. And don’t be afraid to add something new to the list that neither of you have ever done before. We know children need to be loved and kept safe. but its effects can cripple a relationship. We call it benign because it’s the kind of neglect that seems harmless and non-threatening. because there’s no one reminding you of it. By the time your ego gets around to worrying about your marriage or relationship. It develops gradually. Teasing or making jokes at the expense of that other is never okay. Many of the roommate couples who come for help have completely stopped playing together.about yourself and each other. Your ego certainly won’t do it. and attention to everything else in your life except one another. intimate relationship needs to be nurtured. But being funny is not the same as teasing.
It’s a huge undertaking. Getting it up and running is all they think and talk about. and organizing phones. Andy is a graphic designer who also works long hours. forget how to be playful and flirt with one another. and new hurts are piling up with each passing day. and who do not make time to get away alone together. In the middle of all this Andy must find time to visit his elderly parents. Others however think it selfish to take time away from being with their children. Each always feels the other could be doing more. People go out of their way to help a stranger or to rescue a stray dog or cat. Taking some time away to reconnect as a couple is one of the best things you can do on behalf on the kids. Think about it. Most of all children need to grow up feeling secure in their closest relationships and immediate environment. Weekends are spent painting and putting up shelves. and money. age five or under.praise one another. In addition to their regular work. energy. Making each other feel recognized and cared about falls to the bottom of their “to do” list. Essentially there are three reasons why partners stop playing together and . Both are very ambitious. Given their individual talents they’ll probably have a successful business. The stress of all this has them picking on one another. logging inventory. Meanwhile their relationship is largely ignored. Andy and Steve Andy and Steve have been living together for seven years. will that damage ever get properly repaired so that it doesn’t undermine their relationship going forward? Another common example of benign neglect occurs in couples who have small children. they are starting a small retail business that demands large amounts of time. and advertising. Steve is a financial analyst who typically works until 8:00 PM. and forget to do the little things that comfort and console one another. or their hard drives. pricing merchandise. no sex when they’re angry. their bodies. There is little time for affection. computers. Some have no family around to provide childcare and that is a real problem. They’ll take impeccable care of their car. but how much damage will they do to one another in the process? And. and they’ll devote themselves to one hobby after another— and all of this while their relationship slips slowly into starvation mode.
it continues to flow naturally on its own. is sure to set you up to be just roommates. you slip into routines that quickly become entrenched realities. separate i-whatevers. separate lives. Your love becomes an afterthought. it comes alive in kindness. It’s sacred because the very life of your relationship depends on what happens here. Love has to be intentionally expressed. This belief. When you believe that love maintains itself naturally. Love is a verb. it is sacred ground. it feels weak and anemic to them. One of the ways you can remember to have fun and to keep each other . In an effort to get everything done. If you don’t express your love in behaviors that mean something to your partner. and affectionate attention. and also have a multitude of distractions at your fingertips. If both of you are working full time. You act as if there is nothing for you to do. but it’s really both a feeling and an action. First is a commonly held belief that once love is discovered. No care and maintenance necessary. an intellectual idea rather than a reality that your partner feels in her bones and that fills her heart. then playing together may not happen. behaviors that leave them feeling cared about and important to you. Time together becomes just as rushed and harried as everything else. Your private couple space is where your personal and intimate relating takes place. When you’re pressured and over stressed on the one hand. When you fill that space with affection. and respect your relationship flowers. The second reason partners don’t play together and that benign neglect is so prevalent is that the private space between you and your partner is constantly being whittled down. But the possibility of this happening gets slimmer everyday when you’re on overload.allow benign neglect to take over their relationship. caring. which your ego buys into big time. separate computers. because you think love feelings will automatically renew themselves. To escape. caring. people scatter to their electronic sanctuaries—separate TVs. just good vibrations forever. you set yourself up for neglecting the one you love. humor. Let’s be clear about this: love between adults does not maintain itself spontaneously. You make it happen by what you do and say. the number and quality of your face-to-face exchanges dramatically decreases. Love seems to be only a feeling.
Your ego always thinks of itself first and your relationship second. Nina suggested they go to a country inn for two nights while her parents watched the twins. For her part. or will it take me away from it? Nina and Harry Married for ten years. You would find that the things they say are important often don’t get much attention at all. and she looks forward to Harry coming home to both relieve her and be adult company. Nevertheless. Nina and Harry have five-year-old twins. which is: Will whatever I’m about to do or say bring me closer to having the love I want. my family. to my life? If you ask people this question. Taking care of the boys is more work than she imagined. my kids. you would probably find a lot of contradictions between what they say is important and what they actually do. He wanted to use the time off to address his projects.” But if you then followed them around for a week or two and saw how they actually live.feeling well loved is to periodically ask yourself this question: What’s really important to me. When Harry’s office closed for three days because they were moving to a new location. discounting it in favor of his own priorities. he always feels behind in the things he wants to get done at home. . they usually respond with something like. She felt exhausted and wanted time for them to be alone with nothing to do but be together. “my wife (or husband). then every important thing you do and say has to be measured against the next question. Nina persisted that she and they needed a break now. He kept asserting to himself reasons that justified his position. He saw himself making judgments about what Nina wanted. They argued back and forth with Harry saying that he didn’t like Nina making demands and giving ultimatums. Nina is on overload much of the time. and enjoys taking care of James and Ben. because they already had a vacation planned for the coming summer. One way you can remember what is important in your life is to make sure that your ego doesn’t make decisions that lead you toward neglecting one another. Harry dismissed the idea as unnecessary. He excels at work. He had his mind made up. James and Ben. These unfinished projects hang over him. If your husband/wife/partner and the relationship and family you share is truly a top priority. helps around the house. Harry is a compulsive list maker who prides himself on getting the most done in the least amount of time.
Giving in to unfair demands to avoid a conflict is not a real solution. That usually happens in a dysfunctional relationship where power plays are the main way that partners interact.” This internalized voice is the lingering echo from a mother or father who was in fact very strict and controlling. Typically. but for their relationship. Leo and Jean Leo had a mother who was in and out of psychiatric hospitals right up until he went to college. Leo: She rode me . with such a parent. he saw clearly the right thing to do. Once he remembered to ask the crucial question. It’s like having a very strict parent living inside of you. Being under the black cloud of a consistently critical partner practically eliminates playing together. that inner voice still wants to dictate how much fun is allowed. It also cuts off the flow of affection and fuels resentment. This means that a critical parent tape is always playing in the head of one or both partners. As an adult. and a lot of blame and guilt. His father was a timid man and no match for his raging wife who hated her life and picked apart everyone in it. rights and wrongs. ready to pounce whenever you don’t “behave. It is full of dos and don’ts. It’s important to understand that we are not suggesting an across-the-board appeasement policy to placate an irrationally demanding partner. one will have a critical parent script and the other will not. From this perspective. but they project that voice on to their partner and make the partner miserable as well. This sets up a damaging pattern. yielding only creates more problems. He made the decision without resentment and did not feel pressured into it.Then he remembered to ask himself: What’s the most important thing in my life? That led to another question: What’s best for my marriage? Not for Nina. shoulds and shouldn’ts. As you can imagine. In those situations. The third reason partners don’t play together is that one or both have strong critical parent egos . not for himself. feeling free as a child to play and have fun would not come easily. going away was the only answer. It is less common to find couples where both partners have strong critical parent scripts. whereby the partner with the critical parent script not only makes himself miserable.
be on the lookout for the next time you “hear” its voice. negative. You might find yourself thinking. He’s always got something negative to say. If you think your ego has a strong critical parent side. suspicious. If I make plans with friends. Whenever I try to plan something fun for us. and why didn’t I get more money. and then talk from your true self and not an echo of your past. This request will show that you are serious about changing and will bond you together in a positive way. it wasn’t possible. always criticizing—never a nice word. but I seemed to take it the hardest. For our whole marriage I’ve been trying to be good enough for him. Jean: It’s been fifteen years. and she made everyone around her miserable. Asking for help comes from and amplifies the soul mate in you and calls forth the soul mate in your partner. it’s never the right one. You couldn’t please her. I want some happiness in my life. Do not blindly follow critical parent messages. for the reasons we’ve discussed above. She was a sour. Playing together. Now I see that. Be skeptical of them. or judgmental. He’s an expert at finding the negative in anything anyone does. but I’m done now. Be extra sensitive to how often you sound negative. dogmatic. and I’m tired of it. Whenever possible. She didn’t only do it to me. and judgmental. we all got it. When you recognize that your critical parent tape is playing talk back to it with your adult voice. is an important step on the way from roommates to soul mates. I sound just like my father (or mother). Nothing I said or did was ever good enough. and I want to feel good about myself. unhappy person. Also ask your partner to help you in this effort by pointing out when you come across as harsh. Nothing is good enough for him. in some ways. If I sell a story to a magazine. I was afraid of her and angry as hell. I’m too thin. challenge them. Of all the things you can do to . I’d rather live alone than with someone who puts me down. When I don’t. I’m too heavy. it ends up with him angry or me crying.constantly. I’m a lot like her. Ask yourself how you (the adult you) think and feel about the issue or situation. I’m not going to keep trying to get blood from a stone. I do feel good about myself when I’m not around him. It is much better for creating “in love” feelings than inviting your survival-oriented egos to have yet another pitched battle. he complains about going. think before you speak. If I work out and lose weight.
4. KEYS TO PLAYING TOGETHER 1. Partners who grow by playing together strengthen their commitment to one another. Remember to ask yourself “what is really important in my life?” Honor the answer. Do not succumb to benign neglect. 2. . Find something new that you both enjoy doing together. Playing and having fun together is a strong aphrodisiac. take time to get away alone together. Answer it with your present centered adult.ensure that your love stays fresh and doesn’t lose that romantic spark. 5. having fun together deserves a place near the top of the list. 6. 3. Challenge all critical parent self-talk.
And when you’re sharing a life together. . Couples have a difficult time with anger. pumps you up. The first way is venting. It only becomes destructive when your ego controls how you express it. Knowing how to handle anger so it doesn’t pile up between you is essential. your ego goes with the most obvious emotion. over emotional. which is anger. blast everything and everybody way of releasing anger. you must be able to successfully deal with anger. The reason for this is simple: accumulated anger kills love.CHAPTER NINE CAREFRONT YOUR ANGER If you are a couple who want to be soul mates. lies fear. Unchecked blowing up sets off a chain reaction of emotion. on the other hand. Feelings of being scared. Individuals who allow their egos to vent this way rationalize it to themselves and others as healthy. Most people find it very easy to access their anger. more often than not. There is another reason why your ego hooks on to just the anger. This is the explosive. while in the heat of the moment. Your ego isn’t comfortable with this kind of attention because your ego itself is impatient and impulsive. It gives you a sense of power and control. There are three different ways your ego mishandles anger and allows it to pile up between you. some anger is unavoidable. When it meets this group of feelings. Although this power and control is at best temporary and mostly false. because venting has a way of escalating your original angry feelings. But explosive venting is just as destructive. hurt. But anger doesn't have to be an enemy. These are powerful emotions that require a special kind of attention that is sensitive. or guilty often carry with them a sense of being small and weak. hurt. and understanding. Anger. Underneath anger. and guilt. because it’s a complex emotion that has a lot of other feelings tied up in it. because holding on to or repressing anger is known to be harmful. Of all the emotions that come up in an intimate relationship. And the last thing your ego wants is to feel small and weak. the one that is potentially most destructive is anger. and then the other emotions get rolled up into it. we fail to see that. patient. and your anger gets magnified many times over.
Venting your anger has hurtful results, not only because harmful things get said (and often regretted), but also because the sheer volume and intensity of the anger pushes your loved one far away emotionally. When the storm dies down a huge void is left between you, and getting reconnected can be slow and painful. Each time you give your ego permission to create this distance by venting anger, some passion gets wrung out of your relationship. The second way anger dulls the passion between you happens when you allow your ego to hold on to it for long periods of time. Some roommates nurse their anger; they become preoccupied with it, brooding over it for days or weeks as though they had no other choice. Sometimes they even forget what got them angry to begin with, but they keep on being angry anyway. Your ego likes to believe that holding onto anger this way gives it some protection. It doesn’t. Nursing your anger this way only ensures that you’re always carrying some old hostility from the past and adding it to whatever new frustration or disappointment comes along. Every new situation, as it comes up, is immediately contaminated by the past. Having a reaction that’s appropriate to what’s happening right now, in the present, becomes impossible. Most of the time your ego will overreact and create problems where there needn’t be any. We all know someone who walks around with an angry chip on her shoulder. When you nurse your anger, you’re ensuring that chip will always be there waiting for an opportunity to unnecessarily complicate your life. So it becomes very hard to respond in the present without the old anger influencing you. Finally, there are some roommate partners who are so uncomfortable and afraid of angry feelings that they deny ever being angry at all. While growing up they got the message that it was okay to be happy or sad, but not angry. Being angry was labeled as bad or wrong. Or they may have grown up with a parent who was abusive when angry. As a result they may have a lot of internal conflict whenever they feel even slightly annoyed at someone. Often these are people for whom pleasing others is very important. Because of this they often say “yes” when they really mean “no.” They may be aware of their anger momentarily, but then push it away. Instead of being direct about how they’re feeling, their anger comes out in disguised ways as seemingly innocent teasing or sarcasm, or in attempts to induce guilt or envy.
To keep the passion between you growing, you need to learn a new way to understand and handle anger. Letting your ego vent, nurse, or deny anger only causes more problems. These are solutions that have negative consequences. They hurt your relationship. There is another way to deal with negative emotions that will not leave either of you feeling unfairly attacked. Soul mates carefront their anger. Carefronting means taking the hot emotion out of anger and seeing it as a natural part of a growing relationship, and not as a sign of rejection or failure. Anger is a physical/emotional reaction. There is nothing about anger, in and of itself, that is bad, evil, or destructive. It’s a feeling like any other —a particular response that moves through us at different times under different circumstances, much like hunger or fatigue. Unfortunately, because anger is so often mishandled, many people have been conditioned to think of it in negative ways. If you look closely at how anger works, you will see that you typically don’t separate the feeling part of anger from the issue that sparks it. The issue and the anger seem to happen together. But the two are really separate. One is an internal emotional reaction, and the other is some kind of external problem, disagreement, confusion, or clash of needs or opinions. The angry feeling comes up simultaneously with the situation, but the feeling is not actually a part of the situation. The first step in carefronting is seeing this difference clearly. Usually, this difference, between the angry feelings and the issue generating them, goes un-noticed, because we’re not paying attention to it. Our ego jumps in and mixes the two up. Once you see that the two are separate, you can begin to use your angry feelings as a warning signal that says, “Be careful; this is an issue that needs special attention.” Let’s deal first with the feeling of anger. When you bring a “witnessing” attitude (we first spoke about witnessing in Chapter Four) to your feelings you notice right away when they start to move inside you. They don’t catch you off guard and allow your ego to get involved before you have a chance to react. Witnessing gives you some time and some distance to adjust to the
hot emotions that usually go along with anger. With this distance you will have more control, so you can see that angry feelings need not frighten or overwhelm you. Nor will you be ashamed or guilty for having those angry feelings. You never feel ashamed or guilty for feeling hungry or tired. It will be the same with anger. When you stop labeling anger as bad in any of the above ways and begin to witness it without judgments, you will be on good terms with it. Witnessing enables you to keep your ego in check before it has a chance to make trouble. Now you can see angry feelings as soon as they begin to move inside you. Being friends with your angry feelings in this way helps you handle them comfortably and confidently, as they come up, sooner rather than later. Engaging angry feelings early is important, because the sooner you engage them, the less chance your ego has to latch onto them and create drama in the ways we described earlier. When you watch your anger, right from the beginning, as it first starts to move, you’ll have a healthy distance from it. You’re close to it, but not tangled up in it. Now you have some emotional space and some options. You have the chance to try a different approach. Instead of allowing your ego to vent or hold on to or deny your angry feelings, you can begin to practice letting them go. Letting go means allowing them to rise up and pass through you like a chill on a cold, drafty morning. Actually this is what happens naturally to your feelings when your ego doesn’t get in their way; they pass through you. Feelings come and go. They arise, bloom, and fade away. It’s only when your ego grabs hold of them that they get stuck. For example, having a happy feeling come up and move through you easily and freely is a pleasant experience. But if your ego comes in, you might start feeling guilty about being so happy, or you might have doubts about why you weren’t happier. It’s like seeing a beautiful sunset and being lost in the joy of it, and then your ego comes in and says, “Yes, but it’s not as beautiful as the one we saw in Hawaii.” Your ego takes the experience, labels and judges it, and makes it into a “thing” rather than a free, subjective experience moving through you. It does the same with anger. When you’re close to your angry feelings, when you let them move through you naturally and don't pump them up by venting them, don't prolong them
Only then will each of you feel safe in the face of the other’s displeasure without getting defensive. and we’ll get to that shortly. You can't deal with anger unless you both do it together. and don't stifle them by denying their existence. not your ego. Tell each other that it's okay to express anger. You’ll still be left with the issue that triggered the anger. Promise each other that you won't attack one another when you're angry. soul mates use it as “raw material” to help their relationship keep growing. early mentors to your authors. Ask one another for help when you are angry . Carefronting doesn’t mean you’ll never get angry. It means you give up being angry in a way that causes destructive episodes in your relationship and life in general. blaming or guilting one another for being angry are signs that your ego is back at work. and effective. See that any anger in your relationship belongs to both of you. 3. appropriate. Below are four steps developed by the Maces that will help you use anger constructively in your marriage. don't let it pile up . they will not dangerously pile up between you and your partner. you must pledge this to one another and keep it. Give each other permission to be angry . The longer you wait. The Maces were pioneers in the field of marriage counseling and relationship enrichment. Tell each other right away when you’re angry. and you’ll be in the dark about what’s prompting their behavior. You’ll come to own your anger in a way that puts the soul mate you. So ask one another . 1. the more chance there is that your partner will sense that something’s not right and begin to react. So your partner’s anger is as much your concern as it is his. Then when anger does come up and passes through you. Don't fall into being self righteous about your partners’ anger or your own.by holding onto them. They emphasized that most of the issues you and your partner fight about can be opportunities to help you grow personally once you deal with the hot emotions of anger. 2. in control. By defusing anger this way. This idea of using anger as a point of growth in a relationship was a keen observation of David and Vera Mace. This is crucially important. you’ll express it and whatever else you’re feeling in a way that is genuine. 4. because you jointly create your relationship.
for help with your angry feelings. Carefronting means being able to extend patience, kindness, and understanding instead of letting your ego take your anger and use it destructively in your relationship. Once angry feelings are no longer a problem, you can turn your attention to the issues that set you at odds with one another.
Successfully resolving differences is an important interpersonal skill. If disputes are not settled in some equitable fashion, hostility is sure to follow. Settling differences requires negotiating, and most of us are not trained in this practice. Thanks again to the Maces, we can offer three specific options to couples who find themselves having to work through a particular conflict. These three options are capitulation, compromise, and coexistence. Capitulation means giving in; it means giving a gift to your partner by giving them what they ask for or need of you. There are times when capitulation is possible, because you know your partner feels much more strongly about whatever it is that you are in conflict about than you do. So you give in; it’s that simple. Needless to say, in a competitive relationship capitulation will most likely not be an option. Your ego would cringe at such a thought. In a love relationship capitulation is a kind and gracious act that comes from your soul mate self. It creates a positive flow of feelings and closeness; it’s the kind of giving that comes back to you many times over. Compromise is a second healthy alternative to conflict. Without the ability to compromise, disagreements become bitter standoffs. To arrive at a fair arrangement, you both—without pressure or deception—will have to make concessions until you comfortably agree. Compromise means neither one of you feels like a loser; you’re both ready to give something up so your relationship can continue without resentment. When neither you nor your partner can capitulate, and despite your best efforts, compromise is not possible, then coexistence becomes the next option. This means choosing to live peacefully with the situation unresolved. You accept that a solution is not presently possible and let some time pass. Perhaps with time the situation will change or there will be a change in how
one or both of you sees it. But until then, you agree to respect one another’s view and keep the quality of your togetherness most important. At these times your ego will be sorely tempted to use power and coercion to break the deadlock. Even though using power is destructive to the basic fabric of the relationship, your ego will find a way to rationalize using it.
Being Good Closers
When it comes to handling angry feelings, the key difference between roommates and soul mates is that soul mates are good closers. They move quickly to close the emotional distance that anger may have created between them. Roommates do the opposite, they spend long hours, even days being angry and emotionally estranged from one another. This down time allows anger to pile up, and as we said at the start of this chapter, accumulated anger kills love. When faced with anger about issues they disagree on, soul mates keep their self-centered egos on the sideline. They know that their ego is not good at dealing constructively with anger. When hot emotions rise up they witness them, and their soul mate self steps forward to handle the situation. You can practice this right now. If there is anger sitting currently between you and your partner, go to your partner and say, “I’m sorry. Please—let’s not fight.” When either of you hears those words, you must welcome and accept them as a sincere offering on behalf of your relationship. You may still be left with an issue to resolve, but you will be doing it as friends, not adversaries.
KEYS TO CAREFRONTING ANGER
1. Find out how your ego typically mishandles anger. Do you vent, nurse or deny it? 2. Do not allow anger to pile up in your relationship. Accumulated anger kills love. 3. Learn to carefront your anger. Separate the emotion of anger from the issue or situation causing it. 4. Witness your angry feelings, practice letting them go. 5. Clarify the conflict. Practice the three C’s-capitulation, compromise or coexisting. 6. Be a good closer. Do not spend long hours with anger between you and your partner. Take the initiative, go to them and close the distance.
CREATE UNQUESTIONED TRUST
If accumulating anger causes the most damage to a marriage, then betrayed trust causes the most heartache. Trust is the sacred ingredient that makes all that is good and healthy between you and your partner come alive. When it’s breached, the pain is gut wrenching. And because trust is the foundation of a relationship it cannot be a part-time thing. It can’t be there one day and gone the next. It must be consistent and rock solid; in a word, it has to be unquestioned. In a soul mate relationship unquestioned trust means giving your heart to each other for safekeeping with absolute confidence that it will not be broken. It’s a trust that you have complete faith in, like the trust you have in the sun rising and your lungs breathing. Between you and your beloved unquestioned trust is a bridge that carries you from insecurity to genuine security. While it’s true that in the big picture of life there is very little guaranteed security, your marriage or relationship is one of the very few places where you can actually create it for yourself. Roommates typically have a hard time establishing this level of trust. The main reason is that they are relating to one another from their respective egos, and trust and personal integrity are not ego priorities. What your ego values is control. The more control it has, the safer it feels. Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel safe, but your ego overdoes it. It pushes so hard for control, that it becomes overbearing. Rather than encouraging trust, this domineering style stifles it. Not many people enjoy being in the company of someone who is controlling. Do you? How much control do you need in your relationship to feel safe and trusting? Most men and women have a tendency to think of trust exclusively in terms of sexual fidelity. This is a very limited view of the varied ways partners trust one another in soul mate relationships. The level of unquestioned trust we’re talking about actually has five dimensions: 1. Trust That You Will Be Sexually Faithful to One Another.
infidelity is one of the most severe traumas your marriage can endure. and you share its fragrance. Trust That You Love One Another Without Ulterior Motives. 4. Reject or Control One Another. It is taking something of great value. Also. because your ego finds a lot of opportunities to hold onto past hurts and quickly adds new ones to the list. The longer this situation continues the more likely it is that one or both partners will seek out other individuals as a way of getting their needs met. By coming through for each other in these five dimensions. Trust That You Will Not Abandon One Another in The Face of Anger. 3. Unfortunately. It is precious—something you trust that each of you will cherish and protect. 1. belonging to both of you. Without a doubt. soul mates create a special kind of trust that fuels their love and passion. A major reason for extramarital affairs among roommate couples is that the emotional and sexual base of their relationship has deteriorated. love blossoms. or Disagreements. personal ways of responding to each other. Trust That You Will Keep Each Other and Your Marriage A Top Priority. That is why infidelity is so painful and puts such a tremendous emotional and spiritual distance between you. When making love you express your affection for each other and develop your own intensely private. and treating it carelessly. The result is that they are carried over into adulthood where they re-surface as clinging and over attachment. 5.2. “in love” feelings diminish. Trust That You Will Not Harm. In your intimate moments. roommate partners sometimes have exaggerated dependency needs that were never met to a necessary degree in childhood. Without this kind of unquestioned trust. They set . To keep that from happening and to bring out the best in one another. Conflict. That essence is something that only you two have together. they are not a good basis for adult love. Trust That You and Your Partner Will Be Sexually Faithful Sex is one of the ways you communicate your deepest love feelings. the trust between you must be unquestioned. Taking sex outside of your marriage is breaking that trust.
I just couldn't believe it had happened. After that. hurt. The next story provides a good look into what’s required to reestablish solid trust in an injured relationship. and angry. they often look for other people also wanting to share sex and little else. being interested in and sensitive to what a partner may be thinking and feeling at a given moment. across-the-board intimacy—mental. that is. and anger. an extramarital affair is one of the toughest hurdles for couples to get over successfully. The hurt and anger were there. Wayne and Carol Carol called for help after she went looking for a calculator in Wayne’s brief case and found an incriminating romantic note. When pressed to be more connected at the other levels. having been pampered and spoiled as children. I felt sick. but my first reaction was numbness. Whatever the reasons. find it impossible to deny themselves anything. of “getting even. Most couples are not able to do this alone and eventually get professional help. Should I leave? Should I tell him to leave? My whole future. Partners must know what goes into the process of rebuilding damaged trust. Also roommates are generally not good at empathizing.the stage for the frustration and disappointment that eventually may led to an affair. the saddest day really. confusion. Their desire for full. sexual. The excitement of someone new gives temporary relief from feelings of boredom and inadequacy. Carol was desperate to understand Wayne’s unfaithfulness. and how to keep from getting bogged down with guilt and anger.” or just getting your partner’s attention. Carol and Wayne talked out all of their anguish. a sexual affair has long been a way to bolster a deflated ego. Once their sexual needs are met they feel satisfied. “It was the worst day of my life. They are sometimes a way of expressing anger. emotional. Of course there are other reasons for outside affairs. having a distant. superficial kind of closeness is more to their liking. I was numb. confused. my whole life was just collapsing all around me. to make sense of it so that it wouldn't remain a mystery ." To survive this crisis. Also. and spiritual—is not very strong. And there are some individuals who. It was the last thing I expected.
That was the first step: understanding why. That’s where the marriage counseling really helped us. and then something he would say or something on the TV or a movie would trigger it. directing her attention elsewhere. She placated Wayne without taking to heart what he had to say. She learned how to witness them. I knew she was right about wanting to understand it. and we’d be miles apart. Wayne talked about this: "We both realized that we still had strong feelings for each other. They had to look inside themselves and take responsibility for their own actions in the marriage. Wayne and Carol both had to work on rebuilding their trust. Carol had a part in it. She began to see that her ego latched on to these thoughts for self protection. I'd be feeling good. and I'd start to feel the rage well up and I would become depressed all over again. And all of this would happen in a split second. Then I’d get angry and quiet. but she would get defensive and the issue would be dropped.” As long as Carol held onto the thoughts of Wayne’s hurting her.” One of the first things Carol had to deal with was the images that kept coming up in her mind. Wayne also felt that Carol was not as affectionate and interested in him as . she could choose not to dwell on them when some association triggered them in her mind. There had been many times when Wayne had tried to talk to her about things that were bothering him. really. The thought would pop into my head at different times. but to let them go by. that we’d be able to. but that’s what we wanted. Carol had difficulty facing criticism and avoided confrontations. and I'd be off and running in my mind. and that we wanted to stay together. to watch them as they came up. Gradually she realized that while she couldn’t prevent the thoughts from coming up. I never wanted my marriage to end. I turned myself inside out getting answers for her and for myself. Marital therapy helped them see that although Wayne did the mistrusting action. Carol had to understand it though. After a lot of soul searching that’s what we came to: staying together. she kept herself from being too vulnerable. She wouldn’t just let it go. "I was always thinking about it. But this also made her anxious and irritable. By remembering the hurt. and then to not dwell on them. to know why. trusting him would be impossible. We weren’t sure we could.without any reason attached to it.
2. He literally saw the doubts "creep in and cross her face.she once had been. it became apparent Carol and Wayne had begun to drift apart before his affair. If you allow it to. It still comes up now and then. as we’ve said before. hurt. In fact. I wanted to show her she had nothing to worry about. or control one another. Trust That You Will Not Hurt. I knew I had to help her trust me again. In the counseling sessions Wayne was able to say all of this and Carol finally listened in a way that he felt heard. kept letting her in on everything I was feeling and thinking. While clearing up old issues and hurts was essential. Wayne realized that because he had the affair. or controlling one another will not be a consistent theme in your interactions. I didn't feel this was any form of control on her part. willing to look at their own behavior and change. It’s up to you and your partner to instill a sense of trust and confidence that hurting. they made a success of their marriage. it will be bossy and controlling. She always knew where I was going. Listen to what Wayne had to say about how he handled this: "I just kept talking to her. Because each of them was truly committed to their relationship." It took Wayne and Carol almost two years to deal with this breach in their trust. I would tell her everything—absolutely everything that was going on when I was away from her and when I was with her. your relationship will not move beyond roommate status." He did all he could to help prevent doubt and mistrust from taking hold in Carol’s mind. it was his responsibility to help Carol come to trust him again. or Control One Another If you want to be soul mates you cannot. Reject. If they repeatedly happen. This means. Your “me first” ego is incapable of being other centered. There was no way she could doubt me. the newly damaged trust was a top priority. He became extremely sensitive to her fears. rejecting. and you will hurt one another and push each other away. their relationship became stronger as a result of the way they handled this crisis. where she could reach me. Even though deep feelings were still there between them. but in a softer way. reject. Even in the best of soul mate marriages there are instances where one may . that you cannot allow your self-centered ego to shape how you act and react with your partner.
What helps them keep their ego in check? Being clear about what they value: the love between them. enjoying it. and I didn’t want to lose her. Pam and Ralph are a good example of a roommate couple who took their marriage to a new level. I’m grateful for that. But I didn’t know the first thing about being a good husband. The fact is I was an arrogant s. o. A vital key to their happiness is that Pam was able to meet much of Ralph’s gruff roommate behavior with a caring. and that saved us. or controlled. It's hard to explain how she put up with me. She taught me what love is . I always thought there was a better part of him that was bound to come out. Pam: In the beginning I felt hurt. I don’t know how she put up with me. Talk about ego. I wouldn’t stand for that. But I think I always knew. But there was a lot of jealousy and control. Others overcome tough roommate times to dramatically change the quality of their togetherness. rejected. was out on my own at an early age. It had to be my way or I made everybody miserable. I came from a pretty crazy family. and I love her for that. but they are minor in nature and few and far between. b. Ralph: She’s being very kind. and controlled most of the time. She didn’t act toward me the way I was being with her. rejected. What’s more. because I don't think any other woman could have managed with me.feel hurt. pig-headed. I was stubborn. they are quickly apologized for and made better before any real damage is done.” but neither are they ego driven. and I forgave a lot because of that. and didn’t trust any body—especially women. Soul mates aren’t “saints. soul mate patience and understanding. I couldn’t have been happier. She was able to understand me. even when he was being awful. treating it as sacred and a joy that they are profoundly grateful to be sharing. Pam and Ralph Some partners are soul mates from the beginning or they become soul mates early in their relationship. that he couldn’t help it—that he really didn’t know how to be in a relationship. All I knew was how to get my way with people. I saw how hard it was for him growing up. That’s how it is in business. There was never any physical or even mental abuse. When she agreed to marry me. and jealous as hell. taking care of it. But there was something about her that grabbed me. I knew his family. She has a lot of patience.
I didn't have to look or be . or because he’s afraid of being alone. Maybe it's only me. and not because of a financial or emotional dependency. Frank and Jennifer When they met Frank and Jennifer each had prior relationships filled with ulterior motives. and capacity to see beyond Ralph’s hard exterior to an inner goodness that she trusted was there. and no pretence between them. They don’t come from your ego. As a leading fashion model. no false images. and what I was feeling. This means you know that your partner wants to be with you for you. Trust That You Love One Another Without Ulterior Motives In a soul mate relationship you are sure that you are loved for yourself and not for some ulterior motive. I just wasn't ashamed to be insecure with him. things between them would have deteriorated badly. That's what I have gotten out of all of this—how long it takes you to develop. And you know. He never made any demands on me to be what I was not. it shows me that it takes a man such a long time to grow up.all about. patience. so there are no hidden motives. but I think it takes a man a long time to sit down and to really understand what's truly important in life. that Frank and Jennifer were determined to have one another feel safe at being themselves. Jennifer: With Frank it was totally different. or because he feels superior to you in one way or another. 3. understanding. These qualities of soul mate caring. He helped me feel relaxed and genuine. Ulterior motives such as these are missing from soul mate marriages. Frank was the driving force behind a large and very successful family business. I could be honest and let him know who I really was. Had Pam met Ralph’s difficult behavior with her own ego-centered reactions. or because he can’t take care of himself domestically and needs a surrogate parent. understanding. Partners put a high value on interpersonal honesty. He was always reassuring and loving me no matter how I looked or what I said. and a willingness to forgive are spiritual in nature. Jennifer also had achieved a great deal of success. What got Ralph and Pam through difficult times was Pam’s patience. It was because so many of their past relationships had been image based.
my looks. And we want a partner who is also being real and not playing a role to gain acceptance. thinking the other person would think I was weak.” Like Jennifer and Frank. These individuals have a hard time reconciling anger and love. Thankfully.perfect all the time. or a party lifestyle. I didn't have to pretend to be what I wasn't. You know that your partner is not loving the real you. . She would let me unwind when I needed to and was a good listening ear. Whenever we stray from this kind of honesty. She sensed my moods and would tell me she saw my worry or fears and was so supportive. and that really brought us together. and Disagreements. You know any love you receive is based on a myth you are presenting. But I knew Frank really wanted ME. There were times I'd get up tight with business pressures and all. He remembers wondering whether Jennifer might only be interested in him for the status and security of a comfortable life. Having a partner angry at them feels like a withdrawal of love. most of us have a strong need to be real and genuine and to know we are loved because of who we are. This fear creates all sorts of tension. That never happened with Jennifer. that’s not what Jen wanted either. they see the two as mutually exclusive. It was all about what was important to them. so the love has little value. Conflict. Frank: I didn’t want to be somebody's security ticket through life. Trust That You Will Not Abandon One Another in The Face of Anger. sex. For the first time in my life I felt I was loved for myself whether I could provide the best or not. I had a lot of experience with men who never valued me for just being myself. and with that comes the fear of being abandoned. In the past I’d be afraid to show this. Not only are they uncomfortable with their own anger. we mentioned that for some individuals anger is a frightening emotion. it was such a relief. It is being loved for who you really are that counts. but they are very threatened when someone they love directs anger at them. When discussing carefronting anger in Chapter Eight. Frank said he met Jennifer at a time when he felt caught in being viewed as a high-end business owner with a lot of money to spend. 4. we weaken the trust that’s needed to support a true soul mate to soul mate kind of love. When you play a role to gain love and acceptance it is ultimately selfdefeating.
walking out during an argument. you feel ignored and taken for granted. or repeatedly leaving for hours on end after a fight all undermine the trust that you won’t abandon one another during difficult times. You make it safe for the careful expression of anger and for disagreements to occur without raising a fear of abandonment by never using the threat of divorce as a weapon against your partner.miscommunication. Soul mates do this by taking one another’s fears seriously and treating them with respect. 5. when based on unquestioned trust. resentment builds. and self criticism. and blame. distance grows. If things get heated during an argument and you feel some distance is needed to cool down or get some clarity say that rather than breaking things off abruptly and leaving your partner to wonder where you’re going and when you’ll be back. and . Instead soul mates go out of their way to encourage. The good news is that marriage. You’re an afterthought. they instill a fear of being abandoned. as if you are something that your partner fits in to a busy schedule. not heard or understood at a level that warms your heart. the doing is rather easy. Fears of abandonment begin in childhood and are played out in adult relationships. All of these tactics convey the message that your commitment is partial and tenuous rather than complete and permanent. In the flow of everyday life there are a host of other priorities that are constantly pushing to take priority over your relationship. When those caring for a small child make their love conditional and withdraw it when conditions aren’t met. can help you get over such fears. A partners’ willingness to help in this way is a true sign of love and devotion. self doubts. When this happens regularly. This hurts. Threatening divorce. support. Actually. and assist one another in overcoming fears. unappreciated for all you do. They never use fears and insecurities to belittle one another or to gain an advantage in an argument. Trust That You Will Keep Each Other and Your Marriage a Top Priority Keeping your marriage and each other a top priority is one of those things that can be simply stated but is not easy to do. It’s the remembering to do it that’s difficult.
The attention you give your partner has to be the kind of attention you give to something that you are completely captured by. hearing with their ears. something that you are fully absorbed in. seeing with their eyes. fulfilling place. The second step is recognizing that he quality of attention you “shine” on your partner is different from the attention you give to work around the house. Not partial attention—there’s nothing special in that. their cars. What does this kind of attention look like in the every day interactions between you and the one you love? It looks like complete unselfish involvement. and by paying sufficient attention. and thoughtfulness that leave you feeling valued and cherished. you’ll recognize these moments. When you receive this kind of attention. when it’s appropriate and necessary. So many people are able to do this with their children. feeling what he or she is feeling. This will not happen by itself. that delights and excites you. You do this in each moment you are together. and this lifts your whole relationship up to a more satisfying. you direct your attention. It’s the giving of all of your attention that changes things. It’s sensing moods. it goes where you want it to. Each of you then is more tolerant of other people and priorities that must be . that you can’t seem to get enough of. you naturally want to reciprocate. their pets. The first step in having your partner know that he is indeed your major priority is the conscious choice you make to focus your full attention on him. meetings at the office. It’s pouring yourself into your partner. meeting (wherever possible) desires and easing burdens. their “things” but not with their partners. caring. unselfishly involved in and with the inner and outer details of your partners’ life.you start the slow slide toward being roommates. anticipating needs. It’s like a light beam you shine here or there so you can see more clearly. Making one another a top priority most often happens in little ways rather than grand gestures. something that you love. consistent signs of affection. It’s being completely. their clothes. or checking your e-mail. Having your partner feel that she is your top priority requires first that you make her the focus of your full attention. It’s the small.
5. Actively listen and witness your reactions before responding. Do not blame. And while they do definitely take time and energy away from your togetherness. 6. 2. concrete examples that illustrate this. If the answer is “no” write down two or three brief. you meet them gracefully. KEYS TO CREATING UNQUESTIONED TRUST l. Remember honesty must always be tempered by kind intentions. because you are not feeling deprived of caring and attention.met and satisfied. . When you have both finished going over the trust areas get together and talk over the results. Review the five areas of trust discussed in this chapter. Now go through the list again and ask yourself “do I come through for my partner in this way?” Again make a note of where you think you do a good job and where you think you need to do better. judge or make each other wrong. For each area of trust ask yourself “does my partner come through for me in this way?” 3. 4. Value each others feedback.
The problem of not letting go is more dangerous than it appears on the surface. The result is that they pile up like hot spots ready to burst into flames whenever something goes wrong. One of you will end up the winner in the short term. Now you might be thinking: What’s wrong with that? Shouldn’t you speak up for yourself when you think you’re right? That’s true up to a point. Why? Because defensively needing to be right makes it impossible for partners to talk through their issues. and who always had an excuse ready to explain away any behavior you took issue with? Obviously his needing to be right means you have to be wrong. who always insisted he knew better. You might as well go around wearing a t-shirt that says: I’m stubborn and foolishly inflexible. mutual understanding of one another’s point of view is not possible. Think about it.CHAPTER ELEVEN LET GO OF NEEDING TO BE RIGHT So often when couples come for help they start off like two dogs fighting over a bone. the need to be right becomes oppressive. It has a very destructive element in it. Would you be friends with someone who made himself an expert on every topic that came up between you. The person who consistently has to be right is very difficult to be around. and refusing to budge can make you feel powerful. you’re likely to pull it to pieces. Digging your heels in. But it’s a false power that comes at a steep price: damage to your relationship. Each locks onto their end of a particular issue and tugs as hard as possible to have it his or her way. but it’s a hollow victory if it brings your partner one step closer to a final breaking point. the bone is your relationship. People who want to be right use being defensive as a way to shut out what others have to say. Research studies have shown that defensiveness is a major predictor of divorce. . And no one likes being wrong all the time. there’s little chance issues can be successfully resolved. When there are several issues on the table the fur really starts to fly. being rigid. This is not an atmosphere that encourages love and passion. In the dog analogy above. And without this kind of understanding. but if you don’t know when to let go. and if you both continue pulling on your end. Without an open dialogue.
They both work full time and have a four-year-old daughter. thereby triggering one defensive and divisive standoff after another. be routine. She doesn’t like having to remind him of things that should. so you can do what’s best for you relationship. I should do more. Letting go means giving up your need to be right. Jan feels Dennis doesn’t pull his fair share of the work that has to get done. and makes commitments. went for a bike ride without his cell phone. What’s more important and more damaging is the process they are tangled up in. he says. which he then forgets to follow through on. she would give up insisting that Dennis do more of what she . They can’t seem to get what they need from one another. They both want the other to come over to their side. because it’s the right thing to do for your relationship. Dennis is angry and frustrated. Most recently he forgot to mail the mortgage payment and incurred a late fee. ”They want to get rather than give. If Jan practiced letting go. even though she’s married. and until she gets it. All of this frustrates Jan. strive to be flexible and change your behavior. Jan and Dennis Jan and Dennis are in a second marriage that is not going well. they adamantly stick to their position. and doesn’t call. It means giving up the pseudo moral high ground to care for what’s truly important—the quality of your togetherness. Her lack of affection and their infrequent sex have him feeling resentful most of the time. He feels unappreciated for all the things he does both in and out of the house. He has begun to think that he’ll never do enough to have her want him again. by now. which to his mind is a lot. Don’t make that mistake. This is exactly what roommates don’t do. she can only be lukewarm to him. Instead of becoming defensive and stubbornly sticking to your point of view. Each refuses to accept as valid the other’s point of view. He is frequently late. and started yet another house project while the last four are still unfinished. She wants more cooperation from Dennis. she feels she’s on her own. The complaints this couple have are common in marriage.Staying close and loving in your relationship partly depends on your ability to let go and surrender. and came back two hours later than expected. Each of them wants to hear the other say: “You’re right. she always has some thing else for him to do. Jan. is never satisfied.
would be free to give rather than waiting to get. What he did say finally left Jerry feeling heard and understood. because Bill always found a way to make himself right.” of believing oneself to be inferior in some way or another. That pisses me off. Bill and Jerry Needing to be right and the defensiveness that goes with it came up during a recent session with Bill and Jerry. ‘You’re right. Jerry brought up several incidents to illustrate his point. Again you’re right. But I get your point. To his credit. a particular way of seeing yourself.wanted as a condition for her being warmer and more affectionate.” When he finished. . I’m sorry. “I guess I never figured out how it felt on your end.” On Not Being “Good Enough” The root cause of the defensive. I thought I was just explaining things the way I saw them. I can certainly see how annoying that must feel if you think I always want you to be wrong. and you immediately start convincing me that it had to be that way. Bill met each example with an explanation of why he could not have handled things any differently. needing to be right syndrome lies in the feeling of being not “good enough. by not having a need to be right and being willing to let go. And giving the other what they need is the most powerful way of encouraging that person to give back. That was a dumb thing to do. How about. this is exactly what I’m talking about. he would do more to help out and be cooperative in ways that are important to Jan before expecting her to be more loving. If Dennis practiced letting go. when he did speak he did not go on automatic and respond defensively. Bill told Jerry he was being snappy with him and acting generally as if he were angry. “You’re doing it now.’ Most of the stuff is stupid little things. because I’m always wrong. This not being good enough feeling is the result of a distorted self image. It was an important moment of understanding—an example of the kind of communing together we spoke about in Chapter Six. I’m sorry. Jerry said that he was angry. Finally Jerry blurted out. and how you imagine others see you.” of being “less than. but they turn into huge fights. Each. I told you something you did that I’m upset about. Bill didn’t say a word.
So many times in therapy sessions the authors have wished we had that zapper. It is there while the thoughts have your attention. feelings. it has no independent reality or validity other than what you yourself give it.The alien we would eliminate is not some external monster but an internal one. treats them as real. What is important to realize about your self image—and its distortions—is that it is your own personal construction. After interviewing citizens who have had the misfortune of meeting up with a scary alien one of them takes a pen like object from a breast pocket and with a single click the unsuspecting whitness is zapped with a light beam that erases all memories of ever having seen an alien. fluid and changeable. What you would not have are all the . still have your particular talents and temperament. Thoughts. It is not permanent and fixed. It is a solution that pushes love away from you. beliefs. ideas. the damaged self image so many people carry. and sensations possible in the first place. you move away from your true self and become that defensive “know it all” person who needs to be right as a way of making yourself feel “more than. it is just the opposite. Now it is time to look into personal self images. you put it there. Ask yourself “Do I really need a self image”? How does having an image about yourself help you? Without a self image you would still be alive and aware. still have preferences and values you hold dear. It is not implanted in you by some outside mysterious force. In the movie “Men in Black” Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are undercover cops who seek out and destroy alien monsters. Your true identity lies in that unchanging background awareness that makes thoughts. The thoughts making up your image are based on memories you have about your self. and it remains unchanged once the same thoughts pass through you. and reacts from them. and the feelings attached to them have nothing to do with who you really are. Memories are nothing but thoughts (self-generated mental concepts) floating in and out of your awareness. The true you—the soul mate you—is there before the thoughts of not being good enough arise.” Here your imaginary ego creates a dysfunctional solution to an imaginary problem. When your ego grabs hold of thoughts about being less than.In Chapter Seven we saw how the images you and you partner hold of one another create bad feelings and hurt your relationship.
watch and become aware of how often you throw up a defensive shield to deal with the issues. Using “yes but”—always coming back with excuses and rationalizations to avoid taking responsibility for common. Once you know your defensive style you can be on the lookout for when you begin to reach for it. everyday mistakes. Shutting down and turning off—pretending to be disinterested in and unmoved by anything your partner says or does. needing to be bigger and better because you feel small and “less than. Passive aggression—denying your anger when disagreed with. Here are the most common defenses partners use to avoid owning their need to be right: 1. and . emotionally. There may be more than one. The practice of letting go. It is only when they are overused to stifle communication that they cause problems. Defenses serve a useful purpose. 5. because your insecure ego is speeding you toward another “needing to be right” roadblock to communing with your partner. It is not what happened to us growing up that is important. Once you slow down. if you say “none of the above.” check again. Stonewalling—stubbornly refusing to grant any validity at all to your partner’s view of things. concerns. what’s more important is the image we make of what happened. indirect ways you cannot be blamed for. the conclusions we drew about ourselves. so it comes out in disguised. there is a way to effectively counteract the image driven “needing to be right because I feel less than” scenario we just described. Competing—trying to always outperform your partner. others and the world in general. you will see that your self image and its need to be right shows up most clearly in how you react to things. or complaints that your partner raises.judgments about being deficient in some way or another. Become familiar with the above list and find the defense you most often use. Placating—pleasing at all costs in order to get your way. Counter attacking—throwing up a barrage of complaints and criticisms to drown out those of your partner. 2. In order to observe when this trait is operating in you. You can use it as a kind of warning signal that alerts you to slow down. 7. 6. Be honest. of mentally. When you look carefully. 4.” 3. There is a strong argument to be made that you would function better and be happier with no image of yourself at all.
We discover that this change in perception. We did not deliberately decide to hold onto the chair for dear life. shift your inner focus and step back and follow up from your more caring soul mate self. and that this tension is adding to our discomfort. background awareness that is watching all that is going on. we just slipped into being anxious and tense. jaw agape while every muscle cringes against anticipated pain. . If you have to be right your partner has to be wrong. We shift the focus of our attention away from the foreground unpleasant experience to the larger. It is a conscious decision to shift your attention away from whatever your ego is ruminating about (and making you miserable) to a larger presence of pure being that is calm and unaffected by the passing show now playing on the screen in your mind.physically stepping back and away from upsetting. we loosen our grip and put less energy into bracing our self physically. in where our attention is focused. We choose to let go and relax. But then we do make an intentional decision. how tight we are holding our self. We have less of our energy invested in the temporary discomfort and more invested in the larger presence holding or supporting our experience.” As soon as you witness yourself needing to be right as a first thought. KEYS TO LETTING GO OF NEEDING TO BE RIGHT 1. but you are responsible for the next one. And that situation now has all our attention. deadend thought forms can be extremely helpful. we suddenly see how tense we are. Letting go is a falling back to a clear seeing of your true nature. We all have had the experience of being at the dentist. And this shift dramatically changes the quality of the experience. No one likes to be wrong most or all of the time. decreases our overall level of discomfort. Similarly. given the situation. stretched out in the chair. Understand that needing to be right makes you inflexible and controlling. Here is an example. At some point in this uncomfortable experience. energy-draining. there is a well known saying in the A twelve step community that “you are not responsible for your first thought.
celestial beauties.” Defensiveness is a major predictor of divorce. The Englishman who.) One thousand years ago its inhabitants built beautiful carved temples in a joyous celebration of life. Feelings of being “less than” (or “better than”) come from a self image based on past experiences. 4. CHAPTER TWELVE MAKE LOVE AND SEX SACRED In Central India lies the small village of Khajuraho (couja-raho. semi-divine figures. cherubs. First. 6. and animals in an orgy of indiscriminate sexual activity. Do you have a core image about yourself? If so. Now make two lists. the sandstone used is a darker color .” 5. The erotic nature of a small part of this vast array of sculptural compositions brings an endless stream of tourist to this out-of-the way village. So what is really going on here? The compositions that run along the base of the temple wall (at eye level) depict an unbroken chain of men. Be clear about the specific ways you act from this image. 3. in 1838. Needing to be right is a defense against feeling “less than ” or “not good enough. animals and amorous couples. women. witness these behaviors and the feelings that go with them and pull the plug on them. rediscovered the temples called the erotic sculptures “indecent and offensives. The native sandstone proved to be a perfect medium for the sculptors’ chisels and the results are exquisitely detailed representations of divinities. Here. If you decide that having an image of yourself does not serve you well stop giving life to it.” He could not reconcile how scenes of men and women performing orgiastic sexual acts could be found in a religious temple. cut off the mental energy you invest in believing and dwelling on it. Next list the major ways your self image causes you to be unhappy. what is it? Write it down: “I see myself as --------.2. angels. list the major ways having this image about yourself adds positively to your life.
two have become one. Their loving embrace makes clear that the separate self-centered ego of each has been transcended. At the highest level on the wall are individual panels. Above this display are mid. They seem to embody a reverence for one another. it must be approached with a degree of self-awareness that goes beyond egodominated self-centeredness. the panorama of these delicately carved panels depicts the Hindu belief in the ultimate goal of life as moksha or liberation. Potential lovers gaze sweetly at one another to the exclusion of all else. the panels in which the figures are framed are smaller. but highlight unconsummated desire and adoration. a kind of impersonal. in an embrace of complete surrender. The first tier compositions graphically display beings stuck at a base level of awareness where love is subservient to ego-centered gratification. gazing lovingly into each others eyes. as if they are reflecting their own inner beauty back to one another. unawakened level of consciousness being acted out in random. and the figures seem to almost glow from within. each featuring a couple rapturously entwined. limbs totally entwined. mechanical sexuality. Also. The temple carvings illustrate how sexual behavior changes with increased self-awareness. Far from being ancient pornography. impersonal sexual behavior. The higher we go on the temple wall the stone lightens dramatically. In the very top-most panels we see a loving couple. Their souls have merged. The darkened stone used in these panels is meant to convey the dim. Here the stone has its lightest hue. They seem to shine (the color of stone used here is almost white) with the light of awakened consciousness.than that used for the compositions higher up on the same wall.level panels showing men and women carved with beautiful faces and figures accentuated by delicate features and elongated limbs. But in order to experience sexual love as a merging of souls. The temple carvings tell us that on the physical plane sexual love can be a vehicle where this union becomes possible. These panels pictorially represent the “me first” survival mentality we described in Chapter Three. Awakened sages hold that liberation from a life of suffering is attained by a merging of the human soul with the Devine soul. the scenes are no longer of indiscriminate sex. They . and the figures themselves are primitive and more crudely rendered. They are exchanging loving glances from afar with no physical contact.
What does it mean to regard something as sacred? That which is sacred is revered. the kind of passion that does not diminish with time. What is considered normal has been contaminated by what happens in dysfunctional relationships. is missing in couples who are living as roommates. In fact. it is being sacredly in love beyond the ego. you should expect it to continue. it is treated as special. or diminish it. If you have a thrilling sexual connection at the beginning of your relationship. such as having a child. it soon becomes buried under the burden of accumulated anger or the boredom of benign neglect. These influences can come from inside and outside your relationship. a chronic illness. But these . sexual desire will ebb and flow with other life events. over the long course of a relationship.discover the divine in each other. because they are surrounded by poor examples. and given a greater degree of respect than is generally given to other things. but if you mistakenly believe it does. looked after carefully. It is missing because their egos are such a disrupting factor in their everyday interactions. the vast majority of married partners and those in committed relationships mistakenly believe that over time it is natural for their sexual intimacy to taper off. the distorted view that sexual desire and passion is not sustainable actually sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy. This view has become taken for granted as the common intimate experience. You make it sacred by protecting it from influences that can damage. Now certainly. Our view is different. Partners who expect less and less from their sexual togetherness consequently put less effort into maintaining and enjoying it. because there are so many troubled relationships out there. It is not true that passion inevitably dulls with the passage of time. and deserves to be treated as such. This scared “in love” passion. it will. It will not loose its passion if you make it sacred. disrupt. And while they may start off glimpsing such passion. The sexual relationship between you and your partner is sacred. Roommate couples struggling to hold on to their best moments together are often pushed further apart. or emotional stresses such as loosing a job or dire money problems. Whether in the media or in their own social circle of family and friends.
it may take longer to become aroused. and I don’t deny it. Mark feels that Ellen pampers Lucy. I’m not a prude. but it’s hard to take when I’m in bed. In a healthy relationship where your ego is not running the show. for partners in long-term relationships. They may have sex less often. Ellen: In the beginning sex was a strong part of our relationship. In fact soul-centered desire and passion is not limited by time at all. This difference fuels a running battle between them that has their sex life on hold. hurt. Similarly. and I feel resentful about it. and I know he’s downstairs watching God knows what. and it’s this distance that weakens your relationship. situational disruptions—not a basic flaw in the core feeling of desire and passion. being older changes sexual patterns. The fighting and not getting along makes it hard to feel sexy. It’s not fair. and not encouraging her to be more independent. doing too many things for her. They arise spontaneously with and are inseparable from the quality of love you give each other every day. but that’s not all of it. You will be more prone to having your intimacy interrupted by ego dramas of one kind of another. they are timeless. then to that degree the sex between you becomes ego-centered rather than soul-centered. and anger attached to them. because we were very compatible that way. who are in their sixties. Mark and Ellen Mark and Ellen have been married for fourteen years and have a ten-yearold son and a seven-year-old daughter Lucy who has severe learning difficulties. and just adds to the resentment already there. To whatever degree you and your partner are roommates and have unresolved issues. desire and passion outlast temporary interruptions. You’ll spend more time sexually and emotionally out of sync with each other. I think . issues that have disappointment. I know Mark watches a lot of pornography on the net. but their fundamental desire and passion can remain in tact and undiluted. and that he has an unrealistic view of Lucy’s capabilities. But it’s been on a steady decline over the last two years. and beyond.generally are temporary. and they may fall into more predictable patterns of lovemaking. Ellen says that she feels constantly criticized by Mark. Mark: I knew the porn issue would come up. seventies.
a sexual escape sits in your laptop as an ever-present alternative. so it’s no big deal to her. Why try to resolve differences? Why make the effort to find out what each other is thinking and feeling? Why find compromises to difficult situations? Why take the time to play together when a virtual. More often than not. But I’m not that quick to get over a fight. It glorifies the skin-deep superficial aspects of human sexuality. Most of the sexual problems couples bring to therapy are not sexual in nature at all. and deception. and an hour later it’s like it never happened. pornography . Online sex is “vanity sex. and for yourself. It is not something done as a substitute for being with one another. I don’t do it intentionally. there are couples who enjoy watching pornography together. you do it by yourself. and that’s where the porn comes in. to yourself. when asked. be it sexual or not. The passion (really lust) it generates burns out quickly. shame. Whenever you hit a rough spot in your relationship. Online Sex Online sex is a relatively new element in the sexual issues couples bring to counseling. and requires a constant supply of interchangeable partners to sustain it. She can yell and scream. I’m just not so good at letting things roll of my back. Things stay with me longer. I’d rather be alone for a while. It is a divisive intrusion in a relationship where putting one another first is a cardinal rule. but the operative word here is together. This underscores that fact that if you take care of one another outside the bedroom you will be happy inside the bedroom.” It is all ego. always agreeable and available substitute can satisfy sexual urges? Getting involved with computer sex can be highly addictive. Elle comes from a family where fighting was always going on. And yet it must be said that pornography is a slippery slope. that their love making was problem free and fully enjoyable at an earlier time in their relationship. Instead of working things out with your partner when an issue comes up. it’s easier to take the path of less resistance. It leads to secrecy. They are relationship problems being played out and presented in the sexual arena. It is sexual acrobatics performed by men and women who barely know one another. The majority of couples who now say they have “sexual problems” will clearly state. I don’t consider myself addicted to it. but it has become part of my routine to get through the week. Mark and Ellen illuminate an important fact that can be generalized to fit many couples.Ellen is making too much of it. Yes.
doing what is right for your relationship rather than protecting yourself from a possible rejection. will have to rescue your sexual relationship. but the response must be one that shows a willingness to slowly go forward together with affection and a clear intention to resume being sexual. If you and your partner are presently not having sex because there are unresolved issues between you.” Obviously this can’t be a one-time event. If you are in the awkward place of not having had sex for a long time it can seem like a big hurdle to get over. friendship and romance come before sex. When one of you does reach out the other must have a response that is not rejecting but welcomes the effort. making your couple togetherness important enough to reorganize your time is saying to each other. Keep in mind that in healthy love. Just doing this. But you. finding a way back to being intimate is very important. With that as a guideline. This means acting on behalf of your relationship.) So having your sexual intimacy sit on hold while you resolve other problems is risky. “I care about our getting closer. Playing together is a strong aphrodisiac and can gradually lead to resuming sex. Remember in Chapter Seven we spoke about how important it is to play together? Well here is where it becomes urgent. The first step is one of you deciding to take the risk of doing something different. but the playing together must come first. . You will have to carve out from your already busy schedule the time for you to be alone doing something you both enjoy. as a couple. This requires rekindling your friendship outside the bedroom. The longer you go without sex. Of course this does not mean immediately having sex. the first step becomes making the time to play together a real priority.creates unrealistic performance expectations and reinforces every kind of physical self-image problem one may have. It’s important because most couples do not feel completely whole and connected when they are not having sex (assuming they are physically capable of it. and not be focused on sex. you will have to regularly spend this kind of quality time together to have it bring you closer. reconnecting becomes more daunting. The best way to approach this is to get professional help with your other issues so some progress is being made in that area.
Seth: Tracey is right about that. Anything just to relax and enjoy each others company. It’s not so much about having sex. We both put it in our calendars. it’s about relaxing and making time to be alone together. And again it’s something doable. it’s not complicated and it’s completely within our control.Tracey and Seth Tracey and Seth have been married for seventeen years and have three children ranging in age from two to nine years old. Tracey: Our sex life was disappearing and neither one of us wanted that. The sex just flows from whatever we’re doing that night. A scheduled date night may not. school and after-school activities are planned and carried out by a host of family. Getting everyone out in the morning and making sure child care. nothing elaborate with a lot of pots and pans. it gives us both something to look forward. The first time we did it neither one of us had any firm ideas about what we were going to do but eventually we found a routine. It’s like a surprise. Both work full-time and spend two hours each day commuting. Tracey: We do this after the kids are in bed of course. just something simple so we are eating alone together. whether it’s picking out a movie on TV or a game for us to play. One of us fixes dinner. at first. Seth: The idea of scheduling sex is a real turn off to me so I didn’t know how this was actually going to play out. We change our cloths just like we would if we were going on a date. one that was simple and that we could do given our daily routine. We were just too tired or preoccupied with other things to make it happen. seem like a good idea. That feels good. We scheduled it like we schedule everything else. friends and paid sitters is a huge undertaking. I’m a planner so I decided we would make every other Friday a date night. While managing to get it all done they found their sexual relationship gradually slipping away. So we had to find a solution. it’s a fun thing that we have the time scheduled in. The other finds something fun for us to do. We open a bottle of wine and don’t talk about anything heavy. But as more . Most of the time we end up making love but that is not the main goal. And. I like to cook also so taking turns with that is fine and we never know what the other will come up with as a fun thing to do. Even without mishaps it is a constant pressure and stress.
but genuinely noticing and commenting on things your partner does well. A look can speak volumes. and considerate in ways that you know your partner enjoys and considers important. but also not as a lead in to having sex. look to really see. especially when things aren’t going well. We all enjoy being recognized. Romance is being playfully attentive. and that make you glad he or she is in your life. especially when it comes from the one person who knows us like no one else does. It is being playfully affectionate (not teasing) in nonsexual ways. Cuddling is holding one another close. Romance is also a byproduct of being verbally affectionate. Romance is about making and sustaining eye contact. it renews love throughout your whole relationship. Say it often. don’t save it for special occasions.” make sure your behavior reinforces it. For some. When you do say. And most importantly. say what you mean and mean what you say. But these three words have an impact like no others. The eyes truly are windows to the soul. A date night is a way of playing together that has an element of romance about it. caring. this is a real challenge.and more couples have less and less time alone together it is gaining status as a plausible solution. “Love ya ” said over your shoulder as you walk out the door is not what we have in mind. but they are always a reaffirmation of that basic core feeling that bonds the two of you uniquely together. or intention. or in initiating affectionate. “I love you” to one another. And make sure you acknowledge those same attributes to family and friends. when it takes place in the comfort and safety of unquestioned trust. so take the time to really look. You . not merely notice. It’s cuddling for affection and bonding. “I love you. When sexual love is free from anxiety and not compromised by ego-created power and control games. meaning. Make it a point to look at one another with the clear intention to wholeheartedly take each other in. being extra thoughtful. Take opportunities to verbally praise each other—not superficial flattery. The further couples drift apart. Don’t be afraid to gaze into your partners eyes. things that you value and appreciate. But never say it as a throw away line. Being romantic might look like taking the first step in holding hands. It’s holding that gaze for an extra millisecond that conveys a special feeling. non-sexual touches and cuddling. say the words. the less direct eye contact they have. They can be said in so many different ways.
4. Say “I love you” often while looking into your partners eyes. Being romantically playful keeps your roommate ego on the sidelines. 6. soul to soul. Do you really want to be someone whose home life goes to hell because of on line sex? 3. . Make sure you offer a quality of attention that has your partner feeling fully known and deeply loved. There are real dangers associated with on line porn. 2. Forget what the media tells you about great sex. KEYS TO MAKING LOVE AND SEX SACRED 1. With this simple gesture you nurture each other heart to heart. non-ego self to each unfolding moment in your relationship. 5. Do not use your laptop as a sexual outlet. Be interested in the details of one another’s life on a daily basis.experience the bliss of divine union and create a reciprocal flow of deep. And you create it by staying consciously aware of bringing your best. Laugh a lot. It is all exaggerated nonsense and will leave you feeling inadequate. The power to create this reality lies within you. Do not allow your sex life to fall to the bottom of your “to do” list. having fun together helps romance to flower between you. Make it a priority to get away alone together. soul-centered caring that feeds and nourishes your relationship twenty-four hours a day.
and spiritual passion. judgments. generous. because they distort how you see. Self-disclosing: The act of revealing your inner world of thoughts and feelings thereby making yourself transparent and fully known in an intimate relationship. emotional. and capable of holding up your end of a genuinely loving adult intimate relationship. who are living together without feeling an “in-love passion” flowing between them. and react to one another. and self-expansion. Survival Mentality: A survival mentality is a “me first” mindset dominated by ego-centered concerns having to do with self-protection. Soul mates: Soul mates are partners whose living and loving together is fueled by a mutually reinforcing “in-love” feeling of sexual. “Me Thinking”: The voice of your ego inside your head constantly chattering about selfcentered concerns having to do with “me. an illusion and the cause of confusion and sorrow. forgiving. It is listening without “me-centered” opinions. and has a hard time going past itself to make your partner a top priority. likes to be in control. Roommates: Roommates are intimate partners. Ego: Psychologically speaking the ego is the part of you which experiences and reacts to the outside world. self. In an intimate relationship it holds onto hurt and anger. Unquestioned Trust: This is the kind of trust possible in an intimate relationship when . hear. Soul mate self: Your soul mate self refers to the part of you that is unafraid. Holding Up a Mirror: This is the process of non-blamefully alerting your partner that they are behaving in a way that reinforces a negative image you have about them. a false notion of who we take ourselves to be. and mine. Sounding Board: This is what you are when you listen to another without your ego getting in the way. kind. From a spiritual perspective the ego is nothing more than a mistaken idea.Glossary Carefronting Anger: Carefronting anger means taking the hot emotion out of anger by approaching it with care and attention the way you would a sick friend. They cause problems in relationships.” Pulling the Plug: The act of withdrawing mental energy from “me thinking. and conclusions distorting what you hear. Images: Images are mental pictures that partners carry of one another.” it is consciously choosing to turn your attention away from obsessing about ego dramas of one kind or another. my. married or not.interest.
partners are not operating from a survival mentality. and emotions as they arise and pass through you —being choicelessly aware of what floats by in your awareness without getting caught up in it. feelings. . Witnessing: Witnessing refers to your capacity to observe the movement of thoughts.
15) Romantic moments are not part of your relationship. 14) Your sexual fantasies rarely if ever include your partner. 6) In many ways you wish your partner was a different person. 5) You feel relieved when you get home and see your partner is not there. 10) Needing to be right is important to you because you see mistakes as weakness. 3) Even when your partner is being nice you can’t stop thinking of the unpleasant things they’ve said and done. before your own. 14) Forgiving others is difficult. 11) Doing something fun together rarely goes well. 11) You hear criticisms as personal attacks.) . 10) Your partner is more like a child you take care of rather than a close friend and lover. 7) Being alone together on a vacation gives you an anxiety attack. 3) Giving and sharing does not come easily to you. 13) You often feel people take advantage of you. 7) You blame others rather than see your own shortcomings. 6) You are reluctant to talk about things that bother you because your partner will not hear them. 12) Your relationship seems unpredictable and beyond your control. 2) You like having control and find it difficult to compromise. 9) The amount of pain in your relationship is greater than the pleasure.Appendix Survival Mentality Questionnaire Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions: l) You are often critical of yourself and tend to be judgmental of others. 2) You would rather be with friends than alone with your partner. 12) Besides work and the kids there is little else you talk about. (If you answered “yes” to 9 or more questions you are in a roommate relationship. (If you answered “yes” to six or more questions you are living and loving from a survival mentality. 8) Putting another’s needs first.) Roommate Relationship Questionnaire Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions: 1) Sex feels like an obligation you would rather avoid. 9) You often dwell on the past and feel regret or project into the future and feel fear. 5) You tend to hold onto hurt and anger. 8) 8) Despite saying “I love you” your partner hasn’t a clue about how you need to be loved. is very difficult. 4) Your partner treats everyone else as more important than you. 4) You are frequently preoccupied so giving others partial attention is the best you can do. 13) Your partner would rather hear themselves talk than listen to you.
5) Your partner can accept criticism without feeling personally attacked. 13) Long periods of angry silence are not part of your relationship. 9) Your partner forgives easily and does not hold onto grievances. 2) You are clearly your partner’s top priority. 4) Your partner has respect for your thoughts and opinions. 15) You and your partner trust one another completely. 3) You look forward to making love. 14) You consistently feel “in sync” mentally.Soulmate Relationship Questionnaire Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions: 1) Most of the time you and your partner find compromises to difficult issues. emotionally and sexually with your partner. 11) You can both laugh at yourselves. 8) Blaming each other when things go wrong is not something you and your typically do. 6) A long car ride alone together is something you enjoy. 12) You and your partner rarely fight over money and each other’s family. 10) You feel known and understood fully. 7) Your partner will easily put your needs first.) . (If you answered “yes” to 10 or more questions you are in a soulmate relationship.
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