The other day in my office, a couple was in distress. She began to yell and attack her husband of 20 years, dumping out bitterness, resentments, and disappointments that had stockpiled inside of her. I had to shout above her voice to ask her to calm down. “Let’s use this opportunity to acknowledge your upset AND see how to rebuild the relationship you want,” I suggested. She was shaking and could not calm down. When they left, her husband looked into my eyes with a pleading for help. I emailed her later and suggested we have an individual appointment to let her vent and clear out some of the upsetting memories and unmet needs. She agreed, fortunately. Sometimes the SH*T has to hit the fan before changes can be made.
Relationships are messy.
Pushing each other’s buttons can cause blowups or avoiding each other (classic Fight-Flight). The challenge is to be aware of the upset, own it as your own (your buttons were there before your partner came along, most likely), then advocate for yourself to meet your needs. Healthy communication and shared desire are essential.
Many people in dysfunctional relationships—where conversations explode or break down so the distance between the couple widens—continue to do harm to each other. Quiet periods are interspersed with attacks of blaming and shaming. This can lead to inner turmoil, sickness, injury, abuse, divorce, legal messes, substance abuse, infidelity, and hostility that ripples out to the greater family and community. Oh, so difficult and painful.
Jim and I guide people who are locked in that state to have at least a functional relationship, where the couple may say, ”we get along ok.” They are able to manage the household and finances, raise the kids. They are often hardworking people who are caught up in their busy daily routines. They often don’t see the possibility to be able to relax, let loose, have fun, and dream big.
We have identified stages of development for couples. So we described above, the dysfunctional, chaotic, destructive types of relationship.
Then we have more functional types of relationships. This involves taking responsibility for one’s feelings, needs, wants, desires. (Have you heard of being emotionally intelligent? Take a quick quiz online—just search for EQ or emotional intelligence.)
Building skills to constructively resolve conflicts and developing attitudes to collaborate with their beloved allows for more soulful, vibrant partnerships. This stage of development describes the more high-functioning couple, with a greater likelihood that they will positively impact their children, families, communities, and the world. They are influencers in positive, proactive and important ways. The ripple effect is potent!
We like to depict this development toward being healthy Soulful Couples with the metaphor of a Mansion of Love. Picture a large sprawling palace with glorious landscaping, filled with all you desire, infused with LOVE.
The dysfunctional, reactive, victimized couple lives in the basement, minimally getting by. They need to come out and see the light of day! They can practice skills to deactivate their old patterns and learn new ways of relating. Many we have worked with have moved up to being more functional.
The functional couple lives on the main level of the Mansion, as productive, busy people. They are vacillating between being anxiously in a hurry to get stuff done, or so exhausted, they’re crashed out on the couch for the weekend. The Soulful Couples are expanding their consciousness and awakening to who they truly are, beyond the programming of their past.
They view the Mansion of Love as their birthright. They expand to occupy more rooms of their Being. The Soulful Couples long to actualize their potentials—to really go for Life!
The Soulful Couples carve out time, space, and energy to honor their natural rhythms, with fulfilling work; restorative relaxation; hobbies and interests; romantic, sexual, and sensual engagements; and quality connection with others. They set intentions for goals and visions, and are proactive in building the life of their dreams. Connecting spiritually is essential—they express gratitude, humility, a desire to awaken and use their lives fully. They support each other’s life purposes and being of service to others.
What would you add? Let us know in the comments below.
Where are you in this Mansion of Love?
Chat with your partner or a friend about this, and see how you can move along on your path to being more soulful.
Let us know how we can support you. We can engage with you in person and online for coaching, events, and programs.
And for a lively conversation that’s full of inspiring ideas for helping your relationships thrive, check out our podcast, “Give Your Love Life Some Love,” on www.soulfulcouples.com.
Your Relationship Coach,
Ruth Sharon, M.S.
Coach for Soulful Couples
P.S. Have you experienced coaching with us, read one of our books, or attended a workshop we facilitated? We’d love to hear your feedback on our Yelp! page.
Ruth Sharon is a relationship coach, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). Her passion is facilitating couples to enhance the vitality of their relationship and make healthy lifestyle choices. Ruth shares her wisdom, compassion and humor with individuals, couples, families, and groups. Ruth and her husband, who have been married since 1970, co-authored Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship, SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2014. They are delighted to offer coaching for couples and singles, in person and virtually, as well as transformative couples’ retreats, seminars and online courses.