Most of my readers consider themselves pretty progressive, liberated, and new-fangled (rather than old-fashioned), right? Do you? I do, too, but I've also realized, in my quest for deep satisfaction and happiness in relationship, that I've had to drop layer after layer of old conditioning, belief, story, and cultural more, in order to forge the relationship I enjoy with Kurt today. More about that in this post: 10 Myths About Monogamy.
But today we're going to talk more about what's possible.
What you have to put in if you want more out of your relationship and what becomes possible when you decide to ask more of it. Next week, I'll also talk about what happens to those who ask less of their relationships, in each of these three ways.
I live at - and call you to - the intersection
between Sensation + Sensuality,
Spirituality + Soulfulness,
and Stability + Sustainability.
I know, handy, right? They all start with S? Forgive me. And let me elaborate:
Sensation + Sensuality:
This means a life where we feel what we feel, we are living from our bodies, noticing, attending to, and making room for sensation. It also means we're following our pleasure, finding what really brings us alive every day. In my world, sensation + sensuality come out in the form of drinking green veggie juice (for the way it makes my body buzz), speaking truths even when (especially when!) they're charged or difficult, naming my sensations - even when I can't justify them - rather than trying to make a rational statement or argument, and sending my consciousness down into my pelvic floor (with a little squeeeeeeeze!) to see what my source of deepest sensation, wisdom, and instinct (synonyms? perhaps!) has to say about a situation.
A hot relationship is founded on sensation + sensuality.
A hot relationship also makes room for more sensation + sensuality in our lives: it lets us rekindle dormant desire and libido, it develops our capacity to ride and enjoy a wider range of sensations, and it gives us more things TO feel, from the tea he makes her in the morning to the electricity they exchange in just a silent glance, over the heads of their children.
Spirituality & Soulfulness:
To me, this is all about meaning. The words related to the divine, to personal evolution, to non-linear phenomena, have all gotten so laden with cultural crud that it's hard to use them in a meaningful way because each of us has different baggage around them. So please use my two chosen words as triggers for your most meaningful word or words to signify meaning, substance, depth, growth, purpose, connection to something larger, and self-awareness. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout, yo? When we make relationship a path for self-discovery and for discovery of the divinity within ourselves and our partner, we elevate every area of friction to a priceless mirror, reflecting the next frontier of our personal growth and spiritual discovery. And when we make choices from the recognition that our relationship's purpose is not to gratify our ego's latest whims but to hone the shining jewels that are our souls, what we ask of ourselves and of one another shifts dramatically. The satisfaction the relationship provides skyrockets and the suffering it inflicts diminishes dramatically when we make that shift in perspective. That's why I make sure to forget, at least once a week, that our marriage is a spiritual path: it's so much fun to get over myself - AGAIN - and remember!
A hot relationship is founded on spirituality + soulfulness.
A hot relationship also makes room for more spirituality + soulfuness in our lives: it gives us a built-in place to practice spiritual qualities like lovingkindness, compassion, forgiveness, equanimity, and non-violence. And humility... Like the time I forgot to practice non-violence and THREW my wedding ring at Kurt as we argued in the alley behind our apartment. Right then, a car came speeding past and both our hearts stopped, I think, when we feared the platinum and diamonds (an heirloom his grandfather had purchased in the 1920s) would be crushed under its tires. So, um. Yeah: relationship shows us where our souls might have some growing to do. And then gives us moments together to experience transcendence, oneness, wonder, and timelessness.
Stability + Sustainability:
This is the arena - at least in part - that put committed relationships on the map. Our culture is shot-through with veins of messages like "marriage is a pillar of our society," "stable families help children grow up secure," and "if you can't make a lifelong commitment work, you've failed." Those messages, while containing kernels of truth, have gotten laden with all sorts of religious and moral overtones and have created intense pressure on people in relationships - or even seeking relationships. We crave the security, comfort, and feeling of accomplishment that a long-term union provides, but the performance anxiety that our cultural pressure creates can almost squeeze our skills out of us. At the same time, even for "liberated" women like me, ourselves raised by feminists, the pressure to "succeed" at staying married tempts us to sacrifice the other two hot relationship qualities on the altar of stability: "I'll give up whatever I have to, so long as it helps me hold my marriage together." For years, I kept my desires and frustrations pushed below the surface of my relationship (by eating muffins, mainly - literally "sugarcoating" my experience). I sacrificed self-awareness and truthful communication because I was terrified they'd jeopardize the stability of our marriage. 'Course they burst out from time to time (that's the nature of desires and emotions - they don't go away, they just wait.) and made a mess, but I figured that was all part of the recipe. What I've learned since I summoned the courage to risk stability for the sake of sensuality and spiritual unfoldment is that those other dimensions actually support the stability. That the sacrifices I made, and those my clients have been making when they come to me, are not necessary. Stability doesn't require shutting down. It does require commitment. It does ask that we not assume "the grass is greener" and take our mower to the other side of the fence every time we have a hankerin' for more chlorophyll. But it doesn't mean we have to cut ourselves off from our sensation, our desires, or our deeper yearnings.
A hot relationship is founded on stability + sustainability.
A hot relationship also makes room for more stability + sustainability in our lives: How cool it is, to be married to your lover... to have an affair with the same person who fathered your children (or birthed them)... to witness someone's growth over decades and to have them know you with a depth and a ferocity that has decades of momentum behind it. And then there's the other side of sustainability. As I've withdrawn energy from struggling and suffering in my marriage and invested it in finding satisfaction and sensation, I've come to enjoy a self-perpetuating generator of energy and inspiration. It's like the relationship used to be a light bulb that drew juice, and now it's a windmill that generates it. And what can we do with that super-charge? What have you wished you had the time and energy for? Anyone upset about climate change? Feel like campaign finance laws could use a little reform? Want to protect human rights or help build homes and communities or ensure access to clean water? Those are the issues Kurt and I now have the bandwidth to take action on (and links to some of our favorite organizations). What else breaks your heart?
Our planet and the village that call it home need the help of the privileged class you and I belong to (f'rinstance, we both have access to a computer and the internet, right?). We're the ones we've been waiting for. Not only as those with (allow me to flatter you) the intelligence, caring, and resources to make a difference, but as those who love love, who value sensation, soul, and sustainability. I know that we can heal what ails the world, and I sure as shit know it needs it. What inspires me most, though, is the recognition that the only reason we've been sort of "asleep at the wheel" as the leaders of the planet is that we've been suffering, ourselves. We've been wrapped up in the pain of relationships that are so good, yet so draining. We've been wrestling unnameable desires and "inappropriate" emotions and just trying to sustain our lives. That's what's so very very hot about hot relationship: by going for it, we not only get the delight we've been seeking for ourselves, but we also find the capacity to look beyond ourselves and take action to serve.
Let me know how these foundations and fruits of hot relationship resonate for you. Which is most important in your world? Which is hardest to create? Which would you like me to write more about? May you enjoy soulful, sensual, sustainable love.