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Entries in marriage therapist (16)


The Best Thing in Life is Not Free

Whoever said, “the best things in life are free” was dead wrong. One of those best things, LOVE, actually comes at an enormous price. No, we are not talking about diamonds and pearls, but something even more precious to us--our ego. The ego is in the business of keeping us separate from others rather than feeling connected, and it won’t allow us to have true empathy for another. It is concerned with reward (what’s in it for me?) and image (how will that look to others?) and protection (don’t be open or vulnerable) and will do everything it can to keep us from seeing the connection we share. The more the ego is running the show, the less capacity we have to genuinely love. But to tame that ego is one of the greatest challenges we face as human beings.

I was reminded of this recently when I felt hurt in my relationship by something relatively minor, but my ego wanted to make it a big deal. It kicked and screamed loudly, throwing a tantrum in my mind like a 3 year old. That is one of the ego’s specialties you know, making something very important/dramatic out of something so small. I allowed it to take me down a path of negativity, judgment, and projection for quite a while before turning it around. Ironically, I coach couples every day on the importance of repairing hurt as quickly as possible, and in this instance I failed to follow one of my own principles. To my ego I say, "You may have won that battle but you will definitely not win the war!"

I know LOVE will be victorious as long as I am willing to pay the price of that oh so precious ego.



The Greater You Is Emerging!

Why are relationships very often so challenging? Shouldn’t something that is so fundamental to our existence be much easier? For some time now I have been exploring this question through both research and the battlefield of personal struggles. One of my findings is the following. Relationships bring to the surface our deepest held limiting beliefs that we need to shed in order for a greater version of ourselves to emerge. We are all walking around with unlimited, unconditional love within us that wants to emerge and express itself, but we resist it and hold back, often unconsciously. Our relationships are the perfect vehicle to help illuminate the things we need to refine within ourselves in order to evolve to greater states of love. What is truly fascinating is that just about every day we are offered opportunities with our partners (or others) that could propel us forward in our personal evolution—if we would just capitalize on them:

Am I ready and willing to forgive now?

Will I risk being open or vulnerable?

Am I willing to love my partner just as they are?

Will I claim my voice and speak my truth?

Am I open to receiving love from my partner?

And so on…

Saying YES to these opportunities requires that we let go of an old version of ourselves and make room for the Spirit of Love to come forth. The big problem, of course, is that in a relationship it is very seductive to wait for the other person to change first. I know this because I have been seduced many times and waited, and waited, and waited, and to my utter astonishment nothing changed. 

Are you ready to make the following commitment?  

For every challenge in my relationships, I will seize the opportunity to transform myself into a greater version of me.

Even if you don’t know how to transform yourself yet, it is important to make this commitment. If you do this with sincerity the next steps will become more visible, particularly if you trust the unfolding of this process. All you have to do is let that greater YOU emerge and express the infinite love from within.



Is the Cart Before the Horse in Your Relationship?

Take a moment to ask the question, “What do I truly want from my partner?” Maybe the answer is support, or intimacy, or connection, or love, or cooperation, etc. Try to come up with one word that defines what it is you truly desire from your partner in this moment. Now ask the question, “Am I allowing myself to receive _____________ (insert your word) from my partner?” In order to answer this question think about what it would feel like to be open to receiving _________________. Are you open to receiving it?

This exercise is important because if you want to receive something from your partner, you must first be in the energetic state of allowing it into your experience. Otherwise, you may sabotage or fail to recognize it even if your partner attempts to give it to you.

Very often we verbalize to our partner that we want to receive before we have cleared any internal barriers and resistance. The cart cannot go before the horse!



Do The Unexpected

Have you ever received an unexpected gift, whether material or otherwise, and noticed the positive impact on your emotional state?  The surprise of receiving something we did not expect usually has greater power than when we are already anticipating that something is on the way.  This Valentine’s Day, which is quickly approaching, why not reach deep into your heart (not necessarily your pocket) and surprise him/her with something truly meaningful? Let your soul guide you to give something that they would not expect, but that has deep meaning to your partner.

Better yet, don’t let Valentine’s Day be the only day you give gifts such as these. Find ways to give and express your love on just ordinary days for the pure joy of giving. You can begin right now!



Practicing the Fundamentals

In many endeavors, there are fundamentals skills that must be learned if we want to be successful. To be a point guard in basketball, we must learn the skill of dribbling. In martial arts, there are fundamental elements to kicking or striking that must be learned and practiced. To play the piano, certain hand motions and keystrokes must be perfected. Any coach or teacher will tell us that we won’t get very far in our pursuit if we have not learned the fundamentals. The same is true if we want to be a great partner. We must practice the skill of feeling and expressing APPRECIATION in our relationships if we truly want to be extraordinary partners!

When an investment appreciates, its value grows. In the same way, appreciation of our partner means that we perceive them in such a way that their value increases to us. The truth is that they are already infinitely valuable in the eyes of Creation, but when we appreciate them their value increases from our perspective. We notice an aspect of them that we see as valuable, feel it, and then express it to them. Paradoxically, this is a very self-serving act because we are the ones who directly benefit from feeling the appreciation. We are uplifted to a higher state of being.

Many of us are not very skilled at this fundamental ability, particularly if we did not grow up in a household where it was practiced regularly. This means that we must retrain ourselves to make it a habit, and the only way to do this is practice, practice, practice. The ego will try its best to get us to focus on our partner’s faults and limitations, because it mistakenly believes this is the way to fulfillment. I have had to put a great deal of energy into becoming more proficient at appreciation and I still have a long way to go, but I have noticed remarkable results when I practice it-—and so will you!