Sometimes you just have to fight about it. As human animals, conflict is not only a natural outcome of partnerships and family units; it is an essential part of building unity. Our differences may make life more interesting, but learning to deal with them effectively and with love is a challenge for which we are often not well prepared. Learning to speak authentically even if it creates conflict is a basic skill to sustaining relationships. Likewise, developing the insight to see through someone else’s eyes and have disagreements that build instead of undermine our relationships require both courage and a real commitment to stay.
Archive for the 'Air' Category
We finally have the scientific equipment to verify what we have always known: our drive to be social, to be connected to each other, is actually hardwired. Our need for connection and drive towards empathy is not a result of environmental influences but rather a function built into the brain itself. Daniel Goleman, PhD, a New York Times science writer and bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, has taken his research to a whole new level and has published Social Intelligence.
Wind power is one of the fastest growing alternative energy sources available. What could be cleaner than capturing the power of the moving air and turning it into energy? This is a powerful metaphor on a personal level and in our work to make relationships sustainable. The air in your relationship flows from the communication that passes between you and your partner. It is the currency of your relationship. It has the power of a wind generator to capture the essence of what it is to be intimate. It is the source and fuel for physical intimacy.
Taking into account significant gender differences in communication styles and comfort is an important beginning. Women communicate with about ten times the number of words as men. Knowing this fact will hopefully allow for differences without letting anyone off the hook. Everyone needs to stretch themselves when it comes to learning to communicate.
Language is the metaphor we use to communicate our deepest feelings. A couple’s sexuality is the most profound vehicle of communication of all. The words we use and our physical language of love define our love experience.
Penetration is the word often used to describe the culminating act of sexuality. It’s a word I often use when describing the best use of good lubricant. But it was just this week after using the word in conjunction with the act, that I wondered what I was saying. The verb “to penetrate” has six different definitions in the dictionary and as in the power of any metaphor, the meaning one attaches to the term may deeply influence our relationship to the act.
Serious scientific inquiry has proven this quote to be true. By all measures of health and well being, the single most significant predictor of life time happiness and longevity is being involved in an intimate and loving relationship. It is true across seventeen cultures and in longitudinal studies of historic events that the people who fared the best even through traumas like war and the Great Depression were the people in stable partnerships and families.
Yet even with all this evidence of the power of loving bonds, we are caught in a culture that throws away relationships as though they were used up convenience foods. What is the deal? Are some people just lucky in love? Some of it may be luck. If you grew up as a wanted and beloved child of someone then the chances are good that a positive and secure romantic style is on your side. If you didn’t have these advantages then chances are you fall into the avoidant or anxious romantic styles. All of these profiles or personality traits are linked to a child’s ability to attach early in life. New research suggests that these early childhood patterns go a long way in explaining people’s life long struggles with relationships.
The expo closes down and in minutes, the scenes of so many natural product companies become crated and ready to ship to the next business conference. Three days of meeting new people and greeting old friends goes by in a blur, our senses are overloaded with new tastes and smells, and we are caught continuously in conversations with fuzzy lines between important product education and perfect marketing pitches. Every now and again we connect, truly, deeply and without question with someone we have known briefly or someone we really needed to meet.
Finding those connections is the gift of our work. They make all the follow up calls meaningful and make sense of the drive to close the sale. We realize in these moments that the goal of the work is more than the bottom line results, and/or that the bottom line results are often the fruit of the real connections that we make. So many people have now tried our Good Clean Love products and been inspired by our sustainable love newsletters, that I felt more at home in this community than ever before.
Flying out of New Orleans, I am seated next to a gynecologist that I didn’t meet at the ACOG yearly meeting. I share my story about love products and my work about making love sustainable. He shares his story about how limited his time with each patient is and how awkward it is to discuss sexual intimacy. We talk about how little education and language we are given in our childhood and youth to understand our sexual nature and honor this part of ourselves. We even talk about masturbation and its dirty history of torture and shame and how difficult it is for so many women to touch themselves or in turn, to allow themselves to feel pleasure when someone else does. We talk about how important it is to honor your partnership as the center of your family and not to let your children’s needs overtake your marriage. He shares the pain of the early divorce he lived through in medical school. I share how much I struggled in my own marriage while my husband was in medical school. We talk about the incredibly high statistics of failed marriages in medicine- and then in life in general. I share my dreams of making a chair of loveology at a university. We have a real conversation.
Our breasts cover our heart. If you have ever nursed a baby, it is clear that our breasts are not there for adornment, they are a primary organ of nurturance and sustaining life. They are enervated directly to our sexual center, one of our primary sensory organs to awakening libido. Their attraction, often confused with size or shape, is truly about how they connect us to our heart and the pieces of life that are most life affirming.
The rate of illness in this region of our body is mind boggling. Breast cancer affects one in eight women everyday. Heart disease kills one in four women. Just last spring, when I was called back to re-image a lump in my own breast, waiting in the hospital gown for a “better view” of what was happening in my breast, the truth of these numbers hit home. Any of us can become part of these statistics at any moment. And I knew, sitting there, that for the one woman out of eight who gets the unfortunate response of cancer, everything in her world and relationships shifts at that moment.
It seems incredulous to me that I am grieving a goldfish. My past experiences of gold fish were always short lived and I warned my young daughter that her new fish probably wouldn’t last a week. But as week after week and month after month went by, she loved to tease me about Bubble’s longevity. A year into his tenure on the kitchen counter, we gave him some little frog friends, who he never took to and who didn’t nearly match his longevity. Watching him circle his little world, I often contemplated life in a fishbowl, but as he would always come to the side of the bowl I was standing near with his fish pouting looks, I often wondered who was watching who. Bubbles’ life was a long one in fish time; I was informed by pet store experts as I searched for a cure to his life ending illness. It was his time.
Animal friends live on a different time line than we humans. They teach us about the pureness of presence and their love for us is immediate and unconditional. We need them at least as much as they need us and not just for their companionship, but for the chance they give us, in their brief intervals on earth to let go. Their departures whether premature or timely given their size and breed are some of the most gut wrenching good byes that we have the opportunity to grieve. It is easy to love animals; they see the best in us and are devoted in their distinct and primitive ways. If you are lucky, you get to keep your own animal heaven in your heart which can call forth smiles and tears easily.
My husband is a man of very few words but this is what he said to me when I told him that sometimes I don’t know what I am fighting for in my life. Often when I return home from time away, the reentry is full of rebellion. The multiple demands of a complex family life feels like an intrusion rather than the life that I chose. Sometimes I can slide so deep into the rejection of these demands of marriage and children that the outcome of the story I am envisioning becomes unrecognizable. Spinning an internal story that blames your relationship repeatedly for some personal unresolved issue, or even for the frustrations and transitions that arise from aging will create a failed relationship.