You want to feel a creative, vital connection with your partner. You know that with the love you share, you can create a beautiful, cooperative life together.
But many of you, even in committed relationships, experience a lot of friction. Tension can arise around the simplest projects: picking up the kids at school, who will get gas and wash the car.
Such tension, if repeated too many times and for too long, leads to distance and feelings of isolation. Sometimes you wonder, “How can we learn to work together?”
Many of you haven’t learned the finer points of cooperation yet. It’s not your fault. You grow up watching power struggles and arguments in which one person ‘wins’ and the other ‘loses.’ This modeling is your training ground.
Fortunately the Ten Practices in The Path for Couples teach you powerful spiritual and psychological tools which eliminate painful friction and which lead to connection and cooperation.
Couples can learn new levels of collaboration and connection.
Here’s an example of how this healing can work for you.
Barney and Jen were washing their car, and got into a huge fight about which soap to use.
They were discussing it in a session with me, Jen said, “I had gotten this particular soap for the finish on my new car.”
“How did I know? I’ve washed a car a thousand times.” Barney got tense just thinking about their conversation.
“Barney’s the car nut, and I felt him start to take over the conversation, and the project. But then I remembered what you said about the connection,” Jen noticed. “I realized that I felt separate from Barney, and that felt bad. So I stopped.”
“And that was great,” Barney said. “I was giving her my rap on soaps. Which she didn’t need. When she explained she had called the dealership and had bought the soap, I went ‘well, okay.’ I got the information I needed and relaxed.”
Jen laughed, “We spent the afternoon squirting each other with the hose. Those conversations used to lead to so much distance and trouble.”
“The teaching you gave us, about keeping the relationship first, helped us wash the car, and each other, with great love and joy,” Barney laughed as well. “We were using that intention. And when I started to feel all righteous and all-knowing, I noticed it.”
“Self-awareness,” I commented.
“Right, then I thought, how could I speak to Jen in a more respectful way?”
“That’s my intention too,” Jen said. “And I felt it. I felt Barney soften and ask me a question, instead of telling me what to do.”
“What a change that made,” Barney said. “Who knew?” And they both laughed again.
And their laughter was a sign of positive energy that had been freed up to serve their relationship and their love.
How many of you have started a huge fight over soap, or where the tooth brush goes, and then asked yourself, “How did this get so heated?”
As you go through the Ten Practices, in couples counseling, or while you read the book A Path for Couples, you learn the answer to that question. You learn how your own fear and resistance arises, and how through open communication you can let go of anxiety and cooperate more with your partner.
The secret, as Barney said, is maintaining a strong connection with your partner, whatever kind of soap you wind up using. And you learn why that matters so much.
The tension doesn’t come from the soap, it’s your insecurity, or your fear of being overwhelmed, or your fear of saying what you want.
Using the Ten Practices, you can learn how to joyfully and lovingly solve the myriad problems of complex modern life. You experience ease, joy and creativity, not tension and separation.