What thoughts did that trigger in you? Something like, “Uh oh…they must be in trouble” or “Hmmm, they seemed so happy”? In the past, that might have been my line of thinking. In fact in my past relationships, that would have been absolutely true. Heading into a therapist or coach’s office meant we were too late and it was time to negotiate a breakup.
Not this time.
My beloved and I have been in relationship for 11 years. For 9 of those years we’ve lived together and 6 years ago we married. For both of us this is the longest partnership we’ve had. We consider our relationship to be rock solid and our co-created commitment is to go the distance.
In order for that commitment to be more than a myth, we employ a number of practices that have us actively engage in the care and feeding of our relationship. We take annual “Relationship Retreats”, a day and a night during which we focus exclusively on the state of our union. We’ve enrolled the support of our community by participating in “couple’s circles” during which we reveal ourselves and bare witness to inner workings of other couples. Individually, we are each on our own journeys of self-discovery and we bring our learnings back to the other, injecting new tools and possibilities into our union.
Yet even with all that…we hit a plateau. Our evidence? You could say it was a staleness…a tendency to be in trance and habit and generally pretty lazy about our connection. Sort of taking it all for granted and being on auto-pilot. Our passions were flat and moments of deep vulnerability were becoming rare. Issues that challenged us intensified. Yet we were comfortable. Still rock solid…still happy…still enjoying each other. But we lacked energized focus and true undefended intimacy. Sounds a lot like long-term monogamy huh?
Of course we’ve experienced expansions and contractions, ease and hard labor. That’s the way of relationship. But I find that the closings of the heart can be subtle and there is often a build up, a kind of residue that we can become asleep to. When that happens, my heart hurts and longing becomes my way of life. No fun. We needed to wake up.
My man has always said it takes a village to raise a relationship and so, calling in the help of an experienced villager, we engaged with a somatic couples therapist and WOW what a brilliant move! I cannot say enough about the power of slowing down to really be face-to-face, heart-to-heart, sharing ourselves in the company of one who can see what we sometimes cannot. To have our love and health reflected back to us even as we navigate tender territories. To name dynamics that have until now, been unready to be seen.
It feels so good and right to ask for help as we navigate into the next, new level of our loving and to do so when there is no crisis, no real problem…simply the readiness and the desire to keep going, keep loving, keep learning. When I’m sitting in the coach’s seat, I trust that growth is never-ending and that deeper connection and awareness is always available. Now, sitting in the client’s seat I’m reminded of this truth in my own heart. It feels so good.