I know my marriage is an anomaly. Happy marriages are rare. For as much as we all long for a relationship that we can grow old in, we don’t really believe in them. I think this might be because many people confuse the early “in love” experience of relating with the ongoing effort of creating a love that works. The confusion is not unwarranted as the experience of falling in love might be the most powerfully transformative lessons our heart learns. We become a better version of ourselves as our biological urge to pair drives us and gives us new eyes to see ourselves and our loved one. This softer vision through our hearts trumps tolerance with acceptance and even allows us to imagine letting go of things we have long held dear.
Archive for the 'Sustainable Love' Category
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If ever there was an emotional state that we idealize it is love. We want nothing of its dark belly underside; we demand that it always show only its shiniest side to us. Many of us are unprepared for the battles that the heart must be willing to carry on in the name of love. We would more willingly dispose of the container and our promises of forever than have to sift through the stench of disappointment and hurts that are the products of love, as surely as are the moments of glorious connection.
I was so excited to have a preliminary interview on the Oprah radio network for my trip to Chicago. This chance to share my new book in a place where so many people could learn about it seemed too good to be true. It turned out that it was too good to be true. They rejected me- and I remembered again just how much rejection stings. It is a sticky experience too, like the super glue of negativity that has a cutting edge of self-doubt. It seeps into all the places where the residual scars of painful endings and disappointing events linger. It makes you question all of the goodness and assurance that seemed so strong in you just moments before.
My son fell from a roof last week and just like that all of life was different. This is often how life catches us off guard; with accidents, health emergencies or just bad weather consequences. Suddenly all that we take for granted, that we hold as the fabric of our lives unravels in an instant. It is at once humbling and awakening, as we hang dearly to the thread that was just a moment before the colorful tapestry we thought was our own. We hang on, searching for something to believe in.
It has sometimes occurred to me when I explain how to use love products that I should have made my tagline: “More is Better” because when it comes to using great natural and organic intimacy products, that is the truth. Unlike other creams that boast one little dab will do you, love oil and lubricant want to be used lavishly. Sensuality is born in touch and nothing makes a hand glide on skin while waking up your sense of smell like a healthy dose of love oil. Even those that claim they don’t need a lubricant will often agree after just one application that more is indeed, better.
Our relationship to pain in life is an interesting one. The idea that a successful life could be measured by the amount of pleasure or pain we experience is as erroneous as the idea that as humans we seek to avoid pain. In truth, many of us seek out painful experiences, or at least knowingly and willingly submit to them. This has occurred to me recently in the back and forth driving I have been doing with my son’s daily doubles soccer practices.
“The spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.”-Vince Lombardi
Winning feels a bit like a hallucination. I am so accustomed to the doing and the trying that for so long has characterized the incremental progress of Good Clean Love that being recognized as a winner feels a bit foreign. I won the Willamette Angel Conference here in my home town of Eugene, Oregon. It wasn’t my perfect polished pitch or even our understated sales projections that won them over; it was I believe the authenticity and courage that reveals itself in the work of creating something out of nothing.
Wilfred Peterson said, “Success is focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve.” This passionate courage and determination to become the person I wanted to be and the will to do the work that felt like it was mine to do has been the leader on many a dark day, when the numbers didn’t make sense and the world would not bend to my vision. There were many days that I could not understand what made me press on, except for my fervent inability to quit.
Long ago, I hung the lyrics to one of my all time favorite U2 songs “Miracle Drug” on the wall “There is no failure here sweetheart. Just when you quit…” and when it comes to the work of love in any form, I am convinced that breakthrough is just beyond the place where most of us give in and give up. Today was the breakthrough that was years in the making and how sweet to be recognized for the work of the heart that makes you who you are.
“Love isn’t an emotion or an instinct–it’s an art.” -Mae West
Done with conviction and commitment, the way great artists approach their masterpieces, our loving relationships sculpt us into the highest and best form of ourselves. This is their only job and their highest purpose. Through love we entrust our loved ones to mirror and elicit from us the aspirations and values that we have expressed so that the commitment to the relationship transmutes into a commitment to ourselves. The late Caryl Rusbult coined the term the Michelangelo effect to describe this dynamic of close intimate relationships in her 30 plus years of research. Her studies demonstrated that love thrived and endured when the relationship’s meaning was interpreted through both partner’s ability to focus on and achieve the personal growth that each held dear.
Michelangelo approached his art with this same eye of love. He said, “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” His work of setting free the figures that were sleeping inside the stone is the embodiment of love as art. His mastery and genius was the product of what he himself called: “eternal patience,” which reflects volumes of truth about what it takes to make love work in our lives.
“Love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image… otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ~Author Unknown
There is probably not a culture on earth that values the ideal of long-term love and marriage as much as Americans. While more than 90% of young adults aspire to marriage, fewer and fewer are choosing it because as a country and a culture we have the highest rate of romantic breakups in the world. Although we generally think about our relationships in very personal terms, it may do us well to consider the cultural values that provide their context. Media and advertising shower us with both a plethora of choices and the inherent message that we are entitled to the best; always with the goal of achieving and improving our happiness. Consequently, and perhaps even inadvertently, many of us are continuously in a self appraisal of our emotional wellbeing and personal life driven by the erroneous idea that there is always another choice available that would make us happier.