Ram Dass (formally Richard Alpert) tells the Sikh story of the Holy person who gave each of two of his disciples a chicken and said ” Go kill the chicken where no one can see.” One of the students went behind a fence and killed the chicken. The other walked around for many days and then came back to the teacher with his chicken still in hand. The Holy one said, ” You didn’t kill the chicken!” To which the student replied, “Well Master, everywhere I go, the chicken sees!” The point, for those of you wondering what chickens have to do with relationships, is that there are also unlimited opportunities for creating joy in relationships when we are conscious and willing to see them.
Most of us sleepwalk through life and our relationships. Somewhere about the third year benchmark we begin to take our partners for granted. The romance diminishes and is replaced with unconscious beliefs like, “ Well I work hard and come home every night don’t I.” Or, “My partner knows I love her. I don’t have to keep saying it” We stop speaking about the times we glance across the room and instantly notice all the reasons, once again, we fell in love in the first place. We stop laughing and spending sacred time, free of life’s demands, together. We assume we know everything there is to know about our partner and life slowly slips into status quo. That’s a dead place and the beginning of the death process for a relationship.
A lack of joy in relationship comes from a lack of aliveness and that is from a lack of connection to ourselves or each other. In some sense, one or both people in the relationship make conscious or unconscious decisions to maintain the status quo or keep things superficial. When you are conscious, there is always another, deeper level to which you can go and going there brings back aliveness and joy. Frankly, you could keep right on going into growth and deeper connecting until you both leave the planet, without a moment’s boredom. What are your partner’s dreams, hopes, fears, and visions for the future? What makes your partner feel safe, afraid, powerful, or powerless? What is your partner’s purpose and soul work? What dreams has your partner given up that he or she needs to go back and retrieve and revive?
Most of us really want an authentic and profoundly present relationship in our life. However, there aren’t many of us who have ever experienced that kind of connection, even from our parents. This means we are charting new territory. It feels safer to get to familiar levels of intimacy and then put the process on cruise control because going deeper may feel unfamiliar and frightening. Other reasons why we make contracts to avoid going deeper are usually based in fear. For instance, you may fear that going deeper will result in change and change could result in abandonment. Perhaps, you feel ill equipped to deal with your intense feelings or those of your partner. You may fear hearing your partner’s real feelings because you are worried that those feelings will reflect negatively upon you or something you are doing. Or, you may not be sure how to get out of the painful dynamics of control, manipulation, or shaming that get triggered when issues become heavy.
The first step in bringing the joy back into your relationship is to open the communication back up and begin talking to each other about your real feelings. There is a wonderful communication exercise you can download from my site that will assist you in this process.
If you commit to the process, you will find you are able to go more deeply into feelings each week. The result? More joy and a renewed feeling of closeness, and by the way, better love making. One gentle reminder! Be willing to laugh at yourself and the ways you each take yourselves out of the process. We have all invested great amounts of time and energy learning to stay safe and protected. Peeling the layers of protection off, if done without blame, can be amusing and exciting. Go for it. It’s a New Year and a new beginning.
© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2008