In researching the graduate school that I am hoping to attend, I joined an online co-hort that is currently in motion. One of the great things about the school I’ve applied to is, you are with a cohort from the beginning to the completion of the program. What I enjoy about the cohort postings is that I learn about the program in real-time, from real students. It feels a lot more genuine that simply relying on the admission’s sales team. The other day a student posted about two podcasts that she was enjoying, and I decided to check them out.
I’m now five episodes into the first season of “Where Should We Begin? With Esther Perel.” Perel is a Couples and Family Therapist, and the podcast is of live sessions that she has with her clients. One of the wonderful aspects is that she will often, in editing, pause to share about her technique choice and her intention for it. As a potential student, this is priceless! Interestingly, there seems to be a continuous theme running through each very unique episode, and that is a loss of connection between the partners. Be it from work hours, travel, adultery, children, or simply no longer making time to engage each other on that intimate level.
Note that when I use the word ‘intimate,’ I’m referring to that earned bond, and sense of understanding, that stimulates the closeness couples share with one another. I say earned bond because we have to consciously, and continuously, strive to cultivate it with our partner. Having coached several people, I can state that in my experience, it is when this bond is questioned, or lacking, that adultery occurs, or there is dissolution in the relationship. How do you define a healthy relationship? How does your partner define it? Likely, you are both going to define it differently, as you have independent beliefs about what ingredients create the healthy aspects that cultivate the relationship you are each desiring.
I was listening earlier today to a video series by Eckhart Tolle on love and presence. As a spiritual teacher, he states that there are many definitions of the word ‘love.’ From his perspective, true love reaches far beyond the relationship bond that couples share, but rather, he defines love as recognizing yourself in another. Seeing the oneness that is within, and innervates all of us. Curiously, when I was listening to this video, I was sitting on the floor, stroking the silky ears of my beloved vizsla friend, Zeus. As I stroked his ears and chin, he leaned his face into my hand. In that moment, I had a true sense of connection, as I recognized how we all seek love. I felt at one with my furry friend; acknowledging that we are one of the same. According to Tolle, this is how we truly love one another. He went on to express that couples must share this sense of presence with each other, as well as the sensibilities that we often refer to as ‘falling in love.’ He stated that when we only express the ‘falling in love’ emotions, they often fall empty and change without offering each other the true recognition of oneness that connects us all and creates a deep sense of compassion and curiosity.
In listening from so many various angles about how love stays love, and ultimately, healthy love, I always hear the wise words of Tony Robbins: “If you act like you did in the beginning of the relationship, there will be no end.” It’s true, right? In the beginning we carve out time, we listen with curiosity to fully understand and learn about each other, we express our passion, and we treat each other with gentleness, respect, and compassion. How far is your relationship from those beginning days? How do you work to maintain these aspects in your relationship?
If you recognize that you are not on the love path that you want to be on with your partner, what are you willing to do to course correct? Are you willing to be honest about what you’re experiencing? What you desire? What you feel? Here’s what I know – assumptions ruin relationships. Assuming your partner’s emotions, thoughts, reasons behind their actions… all kisses of death. Are you able to put your presence, and sense of ‘being-ness,’ ahead of your hurt? Can you approach your partner from this place? Can you expose yourself without blaming or shaming your partner? Can you ask for what you need without victimizing yourself?
If we polish our bond, each and every day, it is less likely to rust. And, if need be, let your vulnerability be the bondo filler you might need to repair any rusted away aspects of your life together.