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