We teach courses all over the world and have discovered that whatever the culture, whatever the language, people often don’t really, truly listen. Listening is usually perceived as a passive act, but we have discovered that when “true listening” is present, satisfying communication is sure to follow. This is devoted to the art of listening. If you discover those things that keep you from listening, you will simultaneously discover many of the things that get in your way in relationships and in day-to-day interactions. If you learn the art of
listening, you will become more effective, productive, and satisfied in all aspects of your life.

True listening is not something that we have been taught growing up in our families, amongst our friends, or in school.

True listening requires being in the moment. It also requires letting go of your point of view, your thoughts, and your agendas. True listening is an art.

Have you ever examined whether or not you are truly listening? Have you identified what inhibits your ability to actually hear what another person is saying with the intention of seeing what he or she means from his or her point of view? What we are talking about here is a self-education program.

First you must have the desire to discover how you listen and interact with your life from a nonjudgmental point of view. It is not about trying to change or fix what you notice in the self-examination of your behavioral patterns. If you just notice how you are relating to your life, that in itself is enough to complete previously
disturbing patterns of behavior. Frequently, no other actions are needed.

This also applies to the way in which you listen, don’t listen, or distract yourself from listening.

If a person doesn’t feel heard, then frustration builds and misunderstandings are sure to happen. It requires a degree of openness, however, to actually hear what is being said. There are impediments to truly listening to your partner. People frequently are not open to hear simply because they are already involved in a thought or an action. But as we have seen with the Second Principle of Instantaneous Transformation, we can do only one thing at a time if we expect to do it well. Making sure you have your partner’s attention is the best way
to start when you are saying something of importance.

If your partner says, “I really enjoy taking cold showers,” and you think this point of view is stupid, you will disagree and comment in your head rather than just hear what he or she is saying from his or her point of view. Often, many of us are so fearful of being manipulated into doing something we don’t want to do, that we resist hearing for fear it will be another request put upon us that we don’t want to fulfill.

If you are preoccupied with a thought or something you consider problematic, then you can’t truly listen because your mind can hold only one thing at a time. If you are worrying about something, then you won’t hear what is being said to you.

As we discussed in earlier chapters, our minds are like computers and they can only operate with what they already know. For instance, if you hear a word that you don’t already have in your mental data bank, you are likely to fill in the blank with one your logic system assumes is the same or a reasonable facsimile.

When you are in a relationship with someone, after a period of time, you believe that you know this person and, by extension, what he or she is going to say before it’s said. When the first few words come out, you assume you know where the sentence or story is going. So your mind fills in the blanks with what you
expect to hear, and you stop listening to what your partner is actually saying. You may be right most of the time. But there are times when your partner is going to say something else, and you are not receptive because you already have the ball in your mitt. Or you may not even hear what is being said because you
think you know it already and have moved on in your thoughts. If so, chances are your partner will feel disregarded.

At this point, we must talk again about the Second Principle of Instantaneous Transformation: no two things can occupy the same space at the same time. If your mind is already busy with what you intend to say when you get your chance, then you can’t possibly hear what is being said to you. And that is on the most
basic level. If you are mentally defending your point of view— often completely unaware that this is what you are doing—then you won’t want to hear what is being said, as in Roger’s example of wanting to be paid his 6 percent right away. When you are defending yourself, your mind will manipulate what is being said so that you can disagree, prove it wrong, and prove yourself or your point of view right.
Have you ever found yourself finding fault with your partner’s use of words or a particular word rather than
allowing yourself to hear the essence of what he or she is saying? Frequently, when people engage in conversation, they are trying to prove that what they believe to be true is true. So when we listen to each other, we are still holding on to our point of view.

One day, while walking down the street on the Italian Riviera, we saw a three- or four-year-old girl having a conversation with her father. What impressed us most was how she expressed herself with her hands. The cultural way of gesturing in that region is to wave one’s hand emphatically as an extension of the words. The girl demonstrated a smaller version of the gestures going on all around her. She didn’t think about learning
this way of communicating, it was absorbed along with the culture.

You have also absorbed culturally influenced ways of relating, which include not wanting to appear stupid, wanting to be right, and trying to look good. These ways of relating have become filters through which you listen. So listening is not simply an act of hearing what someone else has to say. Each communication goes through a quick check to see how it might affect your agenda to get ahead, be smart, or look good.

A major inhibitor to listening is your agenda. Wanting something when you talk with another person is not a problem—if you are aware of it. For instance, if you are a salesperson who gets paid a commission on items sold, you obviously want potential customers to purchase something. However, if you push to meet your agenda rather than paying attention to your customers’ needs, you are sure to turn people off and lose sales.
In effect, going for your agenda often produces the opposite of the desired result. This holds true for personal relationships as well.

Please don’t misunderstand. There is nothing wrong with having an agenda. If you want a better relationship or more intimacy, for example, that is not a problem. The problem arises when you are unaware of your agendas and are mechanically driven to fulfill them. If you are aware of the things you want (or don’t want), then you can hold these preferences in abeyance and actively listen to what your partner has to say.

Sometimes you just have to take a nice, deep breath and tell yourself that what your partner has to say isn’t going to hurt. It helps to take a deep breath, relax a little, and listen without defending yourself. The ability to listen without defending is a very powerful tool, but it takes self-discipline to allow yourself to actually hear what your partner is saying without protecting yourself or trying to prove that your point of view is right.

If your partner is telling you about something you did or didn’t do that upset him or her, if you realize that you couldn’t have done it any differently than you did, it is possible for you to have compassion for yourself. And when we say compassion for yourself we are talking about a state of grace, of self- forgiveness.
Most of us have the mistaken opinion that we could have lived our lives differently than we did, but if you look back, you will see that everything you did in your life was perfect as it was, has led you to this present moment, and brought you to where you are now. Though you may think in retrospect that you could
have done things another way, when you were actually living through those circumstances, you did only what you could do at the time. You couldn’t have done it any differently in reality.

To make this point clearer, let’s go back to the camera analogy. If we were to take a picture of you
sitting down and smiling, in the same instant that the camera’s shutter opened and closed, could you have been standing and frowning? Of course not. Well, two seconds before we took the picture, could you have been different than you were in that moment? The only answer we can come up with is no. Using this camera analogy, if you tease it back in time, you can see how everything that has happened in your life could have happened only the way it did and not the way you think it ought to have happened. This opens the door for the possibility of compassion—compassion for yourself and for others.

In philosophy, there is the concept of determinism versus free will. Determinism means that your life is predestined, and you really don’t have a choice in the way things are. Free will implies that you have total choice in the way things are. What we are saying is that you have no choice in the way things were. You may think that the way things were should have or could have been different, but the reality is that you have no choice now. Things were the way they were. You may have a choice in how things turn out in the future, but the past is already written and you couldn’t have done anything differently than the way you did.

The only thing useful about thinking you could have done things differently is if you want to use the past to torment yourself. We have found that tormenting yourself does not produce great relationships, so we suggest that you don’t do this.

Even if you accept our premise that “what’s done is done,” the past is still open to interpretation. Dwelling on the past is how many torment themselves, thereby fettering their ability to create magical relationships.

And so the story goes. You can reinterpret any event in your life to fit your current outlook or agenda. The truth is what happened has happened, and if you see it and let it be, then you can get on with your life. “What?” you might say. “Don’t I need to make myself remember and punish myself for wrongdoings so
that I will never do them again?” No, you don’t. If you see something you did or said in error and actually see it without judging yourself, then you have already learned your lesson. Punishing yourself and feeling bad does not help. If you have truly seen the error of your ways, you never have to repeat it.

It doesn’t matter how well you communicate, how sensitive you are, how in love and perfectly matched you are with your partner, sooner or later you will do something that blows it. When that happens, there is actually a magic wand that can dissolve the hurt and restore your relationship. As mentioned in the sex and intimacy, a sincere apology can mend a world of hurts. There are some tricks to having an apology work and also ways of ensuring that when you do say you’re sorry, it will not inflame the situation more.
If you apologize, really mean it. There is nothing more maddening than having someone say he or she is sorry just to placate you when the person really still thinks his or her actions were right. Here is an example. Try saying these words out loud and see which feels better: “I am sorry if I hurt your feelings,” or “I am sorry for hurting your feelings.”

At the same time, if your partner sincerely apologizes, you must be prepared to accept it. By the time he or she finally “admits” the wrongdoing, you may have a backlog of examples of how he or she did the same thing on other occasions. Rubbing a person’s nose in it will only reignite the fight and certainly will not make it easy for your partner to apologize again in the future. If you are punished for being truthful, you are much less likely to be honest.

It may be true, in a bigger sense, that what you do does not hurt, disturb, or upset your partner, but on a day-to-day level, there is plenty you can do that can have damaging effects. Saying you are sorry—and meaning it—only hurts your ego, but it can rebuild the bridge between you and another person. Then you can experience being in love long after the rose of the first attraction blooms and fades.

Oftentimes in a relationship, one or the other of the partners sees something he or she would like to fix in the other. Sometimes it is an annoying habit, but frequently the difficulty arises when your partner is in pain and you can’t seem to help him or her. Pushing your partner, even for his or her “own good” can cause a backlash of resistance. Of course, resistance energizes the First Principle again: what you resist persists and grows stronger.

This interaction taught us a valuable lesson that has supported us in working with people. We have discovered that if people truly want to free themselves from the confining nature of self-defeating habits, negative personal history, and the story of their lives, we can assist them in doing that. If, however,
people say they want to be free of the limitations that have followed them through life but are actually comfortable in their cages and are unwilling to give that up, then reaching in to take them out becomes a violent act. And they will fi ght to defend their right to stay in their cages, immersed in the reasons for
their inability to be happy and healthy and live in a state of well-being.

We don’t mean to give the impression that you shouldn’t be willing to give your partner a helping hand. What we are suggesting is that sometimes people say they want help but really don’t. We have learned to respect a person’s right to stay in his or her cage. It has been our experience that if we exercise patience and keep pointing to the door, then anyone who truly wants to be free will find his or her own way out.

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True physical intimacy is an active component in a magical relationship. It is not something to be taken for granted, but rather something to nurture, like a delicate flower. When a couple allows themselves to become vulnerable with each other and uses the opportunity of being sexually expressive to let go of the cares of the day and communicate their love for one another, sex leaves the realm of being a mere physical act and becomes a sacred expression.

If you want to create closeness and true intimacy in your sexual expression with your partner, take a look at the components that are built into you genetically and culturally. Both of these, if left unexamined, can act as impediments to true well-being.

Little children have no concept of right and wrong, good and bad. They are immersed in the family culture with its religious and social mores and taboos. By the time you are an adult, chances are that you have conflicting ideas about sexuality. Because there are such pressures not to have sex before you are ready or before you are in a socially, morally acceptable union with a partner, individuals often absorb the idea that sex is bad, dirty, or evil. It is hard to switch from the idea that sex is wrong to allowing yourself to fully enjoy and appreciate this most intimate form of self-expression between two loving individuals.

Many times your early social conditioning is a silent partner that accompanies you to the bedroom.

Many people are born into families that have been structured and instructed in the areas of sex and intimacy primarily by religious organizations. Most of us grew up in families where if sex was mentioned at all, there was a sense that it was not the same as discussing the food on the dinner table or talking about your day. If sex was mentioned, there was some taboo attached to it, whether stated or insinuated. As we move into our teenage years, hormones override inhibitions. As we enter puberty, those hormones instinctively guide us toward reproduction and the survival of the species. These forces are very strong and can carry us beyond our socialized inhibitions. For many couples we have coached, it was easier to be sexually expressive early in a relationship. When they are younger and their relationship is new, the excitement is enough to override
the social and cultural conditioning against sex. Later, however, as hormones slow down and a backlog of unexpressed communications build up, people discover that they have to generate being physically intimate. In other words, they can’t always count on the fact that they will have sex on a regular basis; they may fi nd they need to set aside time for romance.

Early in a relationship, even bad breath can be sexy. But when the fi res of passion die down through insensitivity to each other, stresses at work, and the incredible demands of parenting, then physical intimacy becomes yet another demand made upon the couple.

Many people don’t realize that sex and intimacy become less pleasurable when there are even small, withheld communications.

Frequently these withheld communications build into resentments, with sex becoming part of the battleground. The withholding of sex becomes a weapon to use against a partner as revenge for transgressions, whether real or imagined. If you are withholding sex from your partner as a form of
letting him or her know that you are angry about something, this is one of those times that fully demonstrates you are more interested in being right than in being alive. This form of fighting denies you pleasure, warmth, a feeling of closeness, love, touching, and physical intimacy. But you get to be right that your partner did it wrong, and now you are punishing him or her—and also yourself—which leads to feeling less alive.
Before the two of us got together, we each had other partners. We came to our initial date with a history of things that worked in relationships and things that were problematic for us. Very early on in our dating we talked about what was important to us regarding sexual intimacy. This in itself was a breakthrough, because in the past, neither of us had had such a frank conversation with any partner at any time during a relationship, much less in the very beginning.


Over the years, the two of us have become more intimate.
Intimacy is a natural by-product when we communicate with one another, and as we became more trusting, we also dropped our shields. As we opened our hearts, any unaware or insensitive behaviors hurt more acutely. It was important to realize that something that might have been a small transgression at one time took on added weight as we became more vulnerable. Since this is the case, another important tool has been learning to use the three golden words: “I am sorry.”

Saying you are sorry, and meaning it, is a miraculous healing tool. We once coached a lady who said she would “rather crawl over ground glass” than tell her husband she was sorry for anything. As soon as she realized that the only thing she had to give up was being right about her point of view, saying she was sorry wiped away years of resentment. The most challenging time to apologize is when you don’t feel you have done anything wrong. At these times, it is important to rely on your listening skills. When you are truly
listening, you are listening with the intention of hearing what the other person has to say from his or her point of view. If you can see your partner’s perspective, it is easier to let yourself apologize.

The person who gets hurt most when you don’t forgive, when you hold a grudge, is you, because you have to hold on to it. And if you have hateful thoughts, then they run you—they don’t help you at all.
If you have a relationship with somebody, without forgiving them for what they did or didn’t do, you can’t
have true intimacy. If you have a list of his or her transgressions, every time you try to be intimate, that list comes between you. So you may have sex, for instance, but it won’t be truly nurturing if you’re holding on to things that your partner did wrong in the past. Please don’t misunderstand us. We are not saying that you should turn a blind eye to things that your partner may be doing that do not work for you. Part of what has allowed each of us to keep moving to deeper levels of intimacy has been the willingness to be straightforward with ourselves and with each other about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. However, there will be times in any relationship when each of you will do insensitive things.

Many people have ideas or fantasies about being sexually free and expressive, but when faced with the reality of the sexual act, oftentimes old conditioning and programming takes over.

When you are raised to believe—or know—that sex is bad, dirty, immoral, or sinful, then those beliefs unexamined will severely erode the possibility of having a fulfi lling sexual relationship with your partner.
We knew a man who used to go drinking with his buddies, and the conversation would frequently turn to sex and their girlfriends and wives. During these get-togethers, he and his friends would fantasize about what they would like in a woman.

“Oh, I would really love it if my lady were more aggressive. You know, be a tiger in bed,” he’d say.
One night, his wife loosened up and became the tiger he had always wanted, but the strangest thing happened. In the midst of their lovemaking, he got scared and started to worry.

He had thoughts like, I wonder where she learned how to do this? I wonder if she was some kind of professional before I married her? What have I gotten myself into?

Immediately, he found himself getting tight and withdrawn, and their lovemaking for that night was over. His judgments of her were so apparent and suppressive that his wife never again allowed herself to be so self-expressive and free. Another client of ours reported that she once had a partner who was extremely disturbed when she made sounds of any kind during intercourse. He was unwilling to look at the possibility
that he was prudish, and she felt so diminished by his judgments that she quickly ended the relationship.
Again, if you want to have a magical relationship, you must be kind to yourself and your partner. You must also have the courage to decipher those socially conditioned responses to sex and intimacy so that your prejudices do not dominate your most intimate times together and sour what would otherwise be wholesome.

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There is a mechanical behavior that is so prevalent and so normal that it goes largely unnoticed, yet it remains one of the strongest impediments to creating and maintaining a healthy, loving relationship. Over the years, the two of us have seen many different variations of this phenomenon, and rather organically, a term for what we have observed has emerged.

We call it a “relationship splitter.” It is a behavior that is first seen between children and their parents, and it expands into later life. It may be innocent at first, but if left unexamined, you may not see it when it is happening and it will destroy the possibility of having a magical relationship.

A relationship splitter is a person who has a specific type of incompletion with his or her parents. This person will usually have bonded with the parent of the opposite sex to the exclusion of the other. In early childhood, this behavior may be seen as cute. It can be sweet to see a young boy who is so attentive to his mother or a young girl who loves to be with her daddy. But if it continues into adulthood, it becomes a way of relating
that automatically disrupts or destroys all relationships it comes in contact with.

Initially, the child may have been enrolled by the parent of the opposite sex into an ongoing war with his or her spouse.

So in the case of a mother and son, he becomes her confidant as she complains about her husband. Another way this dynamic can evolve is in the case of a man who is much more available and open in his self- expression with his daughter than he is with his wife. These children grow up very attuned to being
attentive to one parent while competing with or excluding the other. This mechanical way of relating eventually follows these individuals into all interactions with all couples.

If a child bonded with his mother and competed with his father for her attention, he would naturally reject any overtures of friendship made by his father. As he gets older, this type of young man is likely to say that his father was cold or distant or always rejected him. Rarely would he see his part in his estrangement from his father.

Now let’s take this individual into adulthood. People bring along with them their schematic for relationship, and that program is played out in their lives indiscriminately. So if a man has been a disruptive force between his mother and father, when he enters a social situation, he will mechanically reenact his unaware behavior with any couple—or any individual who is part of a couple—that he comes into contact with. In fact, we
have seen that people who are stuck in a relationship splitting mode will usually only be interested in garnering the attention of someone who is already in a relationship while generally having little or no interest in available single men or women. Within this type of person, competition seems to be a driving force. If the relationship splitter “wins” the unavailable individual and lures him or her out of an existing relationship,
then the new romance is already over before it begins. Relationship splitters have a very hard time growing and maintaining relationships of their own. Their immature way of relating is dependent on being the focal point and causing a disruption between any two people already in a couple.

Sometimes relationship splitters will be unaware of their effect on others. It is as if their early way of relating with their parents is so ingrained that it supersedes all other ways of relating, and each new interaction is like a blank canvas waiting to be painted with the message, “Wouldn’t you rather be with me? I care for you and am so much more interested in you than he/ she is!” Then as these people go through life, they are surprised
when others react negatively toward them.

It is important when investigating this automatic way of relating that you are grounded in your anthropological outlook and nonjudgmental way of seeing. If you misidentify relationship splitting as a “bad” thing, you will not be able to see all the nuances of your own ways of relating, and you will develop a lack of compassion for others who exhibit this behavior.

In  several anecdotes that illustrate different relationship splitting scenarios. There are so many variations of
this phenomenon that it is virtually impossible to cover them all, but we will present some of the archetypical themes so that you can learn to identify them in your own life.


There is one other type of relationship splitting phenomenon that is probably the most challenging. This is the individual who divides you from being in relationship with yourself. When you are out of sync with yourself, all of your interactions with others suffer as well.

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People talk about the gender war, but they don’t see the subtle and not-so-subtle ramifi cations of unaware behaviors that have been handed down to us through the eons of time, and how these ramifi cations can impact relationships. There used to be a strong and clear division of labor between men and women. The men worked together and the women worked together, which then created two separate subcultures within
the culture as a whole.

This societal division was not equitable. It was fostered in a time when humanity was openly savage and brutal, where “might meant right” and where the larger of the species dominated those under their rule. In most cultures, men, who were physically stronger and more powerful, ran the show. There was cooperation only regarding survival and the needs of survival. The men hung out with the men, and the women hung
out with the women.

That’s the way it was for millions of years. Humanity has only recently discovered the possibility of creating environments that are not based merely on survival and physical power. In the last hundred years, the tribal structure, the family structure, and our cultural heritage have been changed by modern technology and a shifting of social values. Not so long ago, one could not survive outside the tribal or family unit. But with the advent of modern technologies, humanity has been thrown irrevocably into a new time where gender does not determine your social station for the rest of your life.

There was a time in this society when a woman could be only a teacher, librarian, nurse, secretary, clerk, housewife, or mother. The possibility for a woman to become a doctor, lawyer, bank executive, plumber, or police offi cer was slim to none. Until fairly recently, these professions and many others were off-limits to women. Now they are available, but there is still the social baggage—resentments and prejudices—that has
been handed down about what is “woman’s work” and what a woman is good for.

Traditionally, a woman’s identity was tied to her role as part of a relationship in which she was expected to maintain and care for a family, and a man’s role was associated more with having a job and being the breadwinner. If you want your relationship to flourish, it is important to become aware of the stereotypes and prejudices ingrained in your thoughts. They create the background over which your current relationship is played. There are many different facets to the war between the genders, and we are going to outline them so that you can become aware of them as factors that can undermine an otherwise healthy relationship.

A couple once came to us for counseling because they had read some of our articles and wanted help with their relationship. The four of us sat down, and we asked what was happening between them. Steve and Terri, who had been married for almost thirty years, started to lay out the source of their strife. We were surprised at the particulars.

If you want to attack a woman, one effective tool is to criticize her attractiveness, weight, or appearance. An effective tool to attack a man is to criticize his ability to produce or provide. If you wish for harmony in your relationship, it is important to be aware that both you and your partner have culturally ingrained hot spots. If you know what they are, you don’t have to unwittingly trigger them.

You are probably familiar with the phrase “war between the sexes,” but have you thought to investigate all of the fronts on which the gender war appears and is fought? It is essential to bring awareness to all of the ways you have unknowingly been recruited into the fight if you want a magical relationship.
The two of us were once on our boat, slowly cruising through a marina on the way to the gas dock. From a distance, we heard angry voices shouting. The man’s voice said something like, “You never . . . ,” and at the same time, the woman’s voice was yelling, “You always. . . .” As we motored past their boat, which was tied to the dock, we saw that the woman was seated, busily filing her nails while shouting sarcastically over
her shoulder at her mate. He was standing glowering behind her, beer in hand, yelling down at her back. The name of the boat was (and we are not making this up) Family Tradition.

You have learned a lot of your attitudes toward the opposite sex, including body postures, tone of voice, and other ways of relating, from your family. If you want to see how you engage in the gender war, then simply dispassionately look at your own family life. If you can look at anything from your own childhood without judging what you see, you can begin to unwire the legacy that has been passed down from generation
to generation.

Don’t forget the first of the Three Principles of Instantaneous Transformation: what you resist persists and grows stronger. If you are judging the way your parents related and you have vowed to do it differently, then you most likely will relate in one of two ways. As you get older, either you will become more and more like the parent whom you resisted, or when faced with conflict, for instance, you will do the opposite.
If he or she was a person who yelled and you promised yourself you would never yell at your spouse, then in times of stress, you may suddenly “snap” and yell at your partner or you will become quiet and withdrawn. Neither position creates the balance people are craving.

People who are fighting with the opposite sex will often try to gather agreement from everyone they come in contact with to support their point of view. This is such an automatic behavior that the prejudicial viewpoint will naturally slip unnoticed into conversation. If you don’t bring awareness to this condition, it will erode even the best relationship.

Women often suppose that men are prejudiced against women, and men suppose that women are prejudiced against men, but generally neither gender looks to see the prejudices they have about themselves. If you don’t become aware of your own internal prejudices about people of your own sex, you will unwittingly assign these prejudices to your partner. In other words, you will blame your partner for your own unexamined viewpoint.

To see and neutralize the gender war in all its forms, you need to become aware of the attitudes and stereotypes you have unwittingly gathered about the opposite sex, as well as those you have collected about your own gender. In this day and age, both men and women can perform almost any job. However, over the course of their lives, everyone has been exposed to cultural norms, and eventually these generalities become superimposed over reality.


The unexamined gender war affects not only the relationship you have between you and yourself or you and your mate; it also affects how you relate to everyone in your life. By simply observing your automatic attitudes without judging what you see, your way of relating will transform in a profound manner.

If you want to submit articles, poems, love stories, love letters, write ups you like to share to us and to the world. Kindly email us at We will email you back once it is up on our site with credits and feature you as the author of the month. Continue supporting Thank You my Loves! ;) 
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The story of your life exists in your mental commentary about yourself and your life circumstances. Join us now as we return once again to the New York City Monday evening Instantaneous Transformation seminar, as written from Ariel’s point of view. Come explore with us and the other participants our transformational approach to creating magical relationships. It is also an opportunity to continue investigating the ways in which you categorize yourself.

Things in the room that Monday evening got quiet for a moment. Well, actually for more than a moment. Sometimes when the topic we have been discussing comes to a natural conclusion, there is a gap. When this happens, the silence becomes deafening as people mentally scramble to figure out what to do or say next. Of course, this is the same gap that comes before most acts of creation or before engaging in something new and challenging. It is the time when the mind steps in and tells you all of its reasons why you aren’t up to the task ahead or why you shouldn’t take that risk. You’re too fat, it whispers, you might be rejected. You’re too old/too young, it repeats insidiously. Don’t even try. You’re not qualifi ed. You might look stupid!
In our evening sessions, these quiet moments are the times when many have to wrestle with this private voice and the idea that what he or she has to say might be dumb, boring, or insignificant. Folks are fearful that what they are worrying about others might find unimportant, or they are afraid of finding out something bad about themselves.

As we sat there that evening, our eyes averted to the floor so as not to add any heat to the group’s already rising internal pressure, I was reminded of a film I used to check out from the school library when I was in fourth grade. The technology was a lot different back then. It was a lot less sophisticated than what is available now, but when I was nine, it was exciting nonetheless.

There is one thing I am certain of, though. If a person wants to stop fighting, anything can be used as an excuse to finish the battle. But if that same person wants to be right, if he or she is protecting his or her 6 percent, nothing—no matter how inspired—will be enough to have the conflict resolve. It was clear that this couple had so much invested in being right, that to give up making the other out to be the bad guy seemed
like an unthinkable sacrifice. They were each listening to an old familiar tape loop.

It was the one that ran the list of the other’s transgressions, and the soundtrack went something like this:
No, you don’t understand, it really is his fault. You don’t know him like I do. There was the time he . . .
I know how challenging it can be to let go of the story that someone else is the source of your misery. But I also know from experience that it is worth it.

Over the years, we have noticed that how an individual thinks is normal to that person. So if a person is depressed or worried, that is the way it is. But we have also realized that when a person lives in the moment and stops worrying, that becomes normal too.

If you want to submit articles, poems, love stories, love letters, write ups you like to share to us and to the world. Kindly email us at We will email you back once it is up on our site with credits and feature you as the author of the month. Continue supporting Thank You my Loves! ;) 
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If we were to ask you where you grew up or went to school or inquire about your favorite foods, you would be able to supply the answers in great detail. Your story contains the history of your life and relationships, highlighting those wonderful, positive experiences as well as the negative ones.

People define themselves by their stories. If you want to know what your story consists of, start to notice the labels or internal conversations that you have. Here are some examples of the ways in which you might categorize yourself:

Man/woman Stupid
Single  Divorced
American  Intelligent
Not good enough  Teacher
Good listener  Misunderstood
From a broken home  Christian/Jewish/Muslim
Alcoholic  No good in relationships
Mother/father  Too fat

Of course, this is just a very limited list that we are using here as an example of some of the labels that people affix to themselves. If you look, you will find that there are many labels from your own experience that you can add.

Your story—whether good, bad, or indifferent—is limiting. It defines what is possible for you in your life. Once in place, a story is self-sustaining. It gathers evidence to prove itself right.

A computer can only extrapolate from what it already knows or, in other words, out of the information that is
contained in it. It cannot conceive of anything outside of its known set of information. It is the same for the human mind. It is impossible to conceive of possibilities outside the known.
There is a principle in quantum physics that states that a subatomic particle can exist simultaneously everywhere in the universe. A particle has infinite possibilities of existence until it is measured. Once measured, however, it is forever defined by that measurement, and that is its only possibility. Human
beings also have infinite possibilities for their lives. But, as with subatomic particles, the moment you label yourself, you restrict your potential from limitless down to the narrow label by which you have defined yourself.

Let’s take a moment to draw a distinction between the fact that you are a man or a woman, and using the label of your gender as a primary source for your self-identification.
Here is an example: George is a man. He can either filter his life events through that perspective—use it as the reason for things that happen and justify his actions by saying, “I am a man, therefore . . .”—or he can live his life as a human being who happens to be male. In the former scenario, his gender dictates and determines his interpretation of his life experiences. 

In the latter, the individual that he is determines his life and he just happens to be a man. The first allows no responsibility. Everything is blamed on the gender he was born with: Because I am a man [or black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, young, old, tall, short, Christian, Jewish, etc.], that is why people treat me the way they do. The second allows for responsibility, the ability to respond appropriately, to the events that occur in his life.

Here is another example of how taking a fact about your life and using it as a label limits you. Colleen got a divorce, and the separation was painful. Two years later, when she started to get her life back together, she joined a support group that was comprised of men and women who were going through the divorce process. It was helpful to know that she wasn’t alone in grieving and in her sense of confusion and anger at the dissolution of her marriage. However, the group also had a limitation that soon became apparent. Its dynamics were such that people who started to date and have fun were not well tolerated. There was an unstated commitment to being part of a group of “divorcees.” 

You have a story about the way you are, but you also have one about the way things should be. You have a system of rules that dictate your behavior, and many of these rules are unexamined. 
They were given to you or made up by you when you were young. This system includes what is proper behavior in relationships—how a man should be, how a woman should be—and if you blindly live by these rules, any relationship is doomed to fail.

If you pigeonhole yourself and use the rules of etiquette to determine your proper behavior rather than looking and seeing what your truth is as an individual, then there is no possibility for true self-expression. The culturally imposed dictates of proper male or female behavior, or the resistance to those rules, run your relationship, if not your life. 

As you grew up, you were programmed with overlapping sets of rules, and they conflict with each other. Here is an example: One day we got into an elevator and pressed the button for the lobby. Two floors down, a woman got into the elevator car. She appeared to be an executive employed in the building. Before reaching the lobby, the car stopped again and two men entered. When we arrived at the ground floor, the
woman got irritated with the men for not stepping aside to let her exit first. If you were to ask her, she would probably tell you that she wants to be treated equally and that she doesn’t like it when someone is condescending to her because she is a woman. But she also has unexamined rules of etiquette that confl ict with her experience as an individual. This type of conflict can destroy the possibility of having a magical relationship— I want to be an independent woman, but why didn’t you open the door for me?

These rules of etiquette, which are culturally derived from the past, may not be relevant or true for you as an individual. And if you apply them to relationships, you will always be inappropriate. To be appropriate, you must look and see what is true in each moment rather than apply a rule. When you get into the moment, you still have the story of your life, but it loses its power over you.

Reality is a function of agreement. In other words, if enough people agree that something is true, then it becomes the truth. Ultimately it may not be accurate, but for the moment, by virtue of popular opinion, it is. For instance, there was a time when everybody “knew” that the world was fl at. It was the prevalent point of view and held to be the truth. In our world today, there is the view that we are the result of our upbringing
and our experiences and that these experiences have not only formed who we are, but will also determine what is possible for us in the future. From this point of view, our lives are predetermined by what has happened in the past. In effect, the story of our lives, left unexamined, has ultimate power over us.
We would like to offer another possibility: a transformational point of view. From a transformational
perspective, it is possible to notice that you have a story or an idea of who you are, but you do not have to
believe that this idea is the truth. What if that story actually has nothing to do with how you live your life or
how well you create relationships from this moment forward? This is what it will take. You will have to start looking to identify how much of the time that story is actually a complaint. You will need to see how your internal conversation complains about your life and justifies itself for complaining.

Here are some examples of how the conversation that you listen to and believe to be you might sound:

I am depressed because it is raining.
I don’t really want a relationship anyway.
My parents raised me wrong.
I am upset because my boyfriend left me.
I am better off alone.
I am no good at dating.
I am a mess because I came from a dysfunctional family.
I am not relationship material.

If you bring your awareness to the conversation you listen to, you will start to recognize certain patterns of thought that heretofore you believed to be true. Again, our definition of awareness is a nonjudgmental seeing of what is. Awareness allows for recognition. Recognition leads to resolution. As you recognize thought patterns and do not make what you discover right or wrong (again, awareness is a nonjudgmental seeing),
you will not have to believe or engage in these thoughts.

Letting go of your story will take courage—a lot of courage— because the story is familiar. It is like an old friend who has been there with you forever. The story is the known. But with courage, you can be your own Columbus, off to discover a whole new world.

By definition, a victim is one who is abused in some way by another or by life’s circumstances. Have you ever seen a happy victim? One of the prerequisites of being a victim is to be sad or demoralized or upset. Frequently, we victimize ourselves by listening to our own thoughts and believing that what we are telling ourselves is true.


Let’s revisit the Three Principles of Instantaneous Transformation in relation to the story of your life. First, what you resist persists. Therefore, anything that you have resisted in your life story, such as your parents divorcing or your own failed relationships, will persist and tend to dominate your life. Second, no two things can occupy the same space at the same time. Third, anything that you allow to be exactly as it is will complete itself and lose its power over your life. 

You can either be right about your story or you can have a life and create the possibility of magical relationships. 

If you want to submit articles, poems, love stories, love letters, write ups you like to share to us and to the world. Kindly email us at We will email you back once it is up on our site with credits and feature you as the author of the month. Continue supporting Thank You my Loves! ;) 
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If you want to create a working, supportive relationship with another, it is imperative that you be willing to be complete in the relationship you have with your parents. The dictionary defines complete as “lacking no component part; full; whole; entire.” But what does being incomplete with your parents mean? It is when you are looking to prove them wrong or right for what they did, or didn’t do, or when you endlessly search
for their weak points.

When you reference how you are living your life in comparison to how your parents have lived their lives and to what they did or didn’t do for you, then you are incomplete. If, for example, in your opinion they were either there too much and smothered you or they were not there enough and you felt abandoned and misunderstood, these are symptoms of being incomplete. One way or the other, your source of identity is
in relation and reaction to your parents. If you are saying that your parents are responsible for the way you relate, then you are incomplete with them.

We have seen many adults who were children of highly successful people be failures in life and relationship because they wanted to prove to their parents that their parents did it wrong.

Any time things started going too well, these people would sabotage the possibility of their own success. Being right was more important than being happy. The aversion to being like one’s parents is nondiscriminatory; you can’t just pick and choose the parts of them you don’t want to be like. If you are trying to not be like them, you will avoid even their “good” traits.

You can’t be yourself if you are avoiding being like one or the other of your parents, because then you are not living your own life. If you are resisting your parents, or going for their approval for that matter, then that relationship will persist, and each action you take will be filtered in a nanosecond through your idea of how they would do things rather than simply being yourself.

If you are still blaming your mother or father for the way you are, you will be handicapped in your ability to have a fully satisfying relationship. Your relationship to your parents is your archetypical relationship to men and women. They did not do it wrong. They were just living their lives as best they knew how, and you happened to be born into that family. Your parents probably didn’t take any courses on parenting or on how
to have satisfying relationships. Neither did their parents—nor theirs. Until recently, probably within the last fifty years, there weren’t any classes in parenting or relating. The way people are is the way they learned to be in the families in which they grew up. And, more than likely, your parents did the best they knew how to do.

From a child’s point of view, your parents should have done things differently. Children’s perspectives are centered on themselves and on what they want. They cannot take into account all of the complexities of earning a living, having to relate with other people, and being responsible for the well being  and survival of the family. Children, by definition, have an immature and limited perspective of reality and can filter day-to-day events only through how these events affect them and their desires, preferences, and wants.

At a young age, you made decisions about who your parents were and then have held those decisions over time as though they are true. Most people don’t realize that many of their opinions were formed when they were in a childish temper tantrum or contraction many years ago.

Either you can dwell in the events of the past—real or imagined— or you can include them and move on. This is the Second Principle of Instantaneous Transformation: Either you can be dedicated to reliving the past and trying to fi gure out, change, or blame others for what happened, or you can live your life including but not being dominated by those past events.

A fellow came to see us who considered himself an adult. According to the story of his life, he had survived his painful childhood. But his interpretation of the childhood he had survived came from the distortions and misrepresentations of a child’s mind.

When people are preoccupied with their internal conversations about their childhood, they become paralyzed and ineffective. Their lives become a series of investigations into why they act the way they do and what caused them to be “screwed up.” There is a pitfall in rehashing one’s life. It is paradoxical: On one hand, it is laudable to investigate those things that seem to inhibit productivity and well-being. But on the other hand, this same investigation can keep you lost in looking to blame something or someone outside yourself for how your life is showing up. When this is the case, then you will keep going back to thinking, If I had a different family, then my life would be different, or If my parents didn’t get a divorce, then I wouldn’t have trouble
in relationships.

There comes a point in each of our lives where there is an opportunity to actually take control. Taking command of your life requires putting both hands on the steering wheel and going forward. If you are addicted to looking at your past to determine your future, it is as though you are driving down the road looking in the rear view mirror to figure out what turns are coming up ahead. Then you wonder why your fenders are so dented by life. To take control, you have to let go of your past and be with what is rather than blame things on the history that came before.

What we are suggesting is that there is a possibility outside of the psychological interpretation in which your life is determined by pivotal events that happened in your childhood. If one chooses to use a psychological model, then those past pivotal moments determine one’s life. This means that there is no possibility to ever recover from those events. There is available to humanity, at this point in time, a paradigm shift from cause and effect to “isness”—from a psychological paradigm where our lives are determined by events in our past to a transformational approach where things just are the way they are, not because of some prior event.
This is another example of the Second Principle of Instantaneous Transformation:No two things can occupy the same space at the same time. You cannot be living your life directly if you are already preoccupied with figuring out why you are the way you are.

You can either be actively engaged in your life or thinking about your life.

You cannot do both simultaneously. If you are living your life directly, you discover the possibility of true satisfaction and well-being, a sense of security and capability. As a result, you stop worrying about whether or not you are “doing it right,” if other people would approve of you, or even if you would approve of yourself.

Most of us don’t look at our lives as though we are scientists. Usually when something happens that we don’t like, we do not go back and investigate the precursors to that event. We don’t look at what was said or done that led to the eventual trouble. So it appears to us as though the other person unreasonably
got upset, and we rarely look at our part in the matter of how that person responded to us. What did we do, or not do, that set him or her off?

If you want to submit articles, poems, love stories, love letters, write ups you like to share to us and to the world. Kindly email us at We will email you back once it is up on our site with credits and feature you as the author of the month. Continue supporting Thank You my Loves! ;)
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One of the most basic inhibitors in a love relationship is the resistance to being told what to do. People are afraid they may be dominated by their partner’s desires and somehow forced to go along with or do things that are not what they really want. On the surface, this is a reasonable concern. No one wants to be a “doormat” or lose his or her independence. However, it never occurs to most people that even resisting
simple requests is a basic behavior pattern that started at an early age. Have you ever watched a very young child throw a spoon or something off his or her highchair, over and over? Even if the parent says “don’t,” this action is like a very fun game to the child. When the child becomes mobile, he or she continues the game by running in the opposite direction from the parent. Saying “come here” is tantamount to a command to run somewhere, anywhere else.

Avoiding being told what to do is so normal that it has followed most of us through the many stages of our lives largely unnoticed. In the next section, Ariel relates her experience of first noticing HER and how his way of being was so different that it set him apart. In this story, you can see how mental processes follow us from an early age and how they become so normal that they are transparent. Perhaps it will take you back to times when you constructed the groundwork for your relationships as you know them today.



When discussing being a “yes” to your life, it is important to establish what is meant when we use the terms surrender and succumb and to distinguish between the two. There is a vast difference between surrendering and succumbing to the requests made upon you by your life and your partner. Surrender is when you take on another’s request of you as though it were your own. Succumb is when you do what is requested of you and
victimize yourself for having to do it.

How many times have you said, “Yes, I will,” to what is requested of you and then resented that you had to? This is succumbing. Succumb is when you complain in your thoughts about the injustice of the request and how you are doing it only because they asked it of you, not because you want to.
We define surrender as allowing yourself to do what your life requests of you, and sometimes, your life shows up as requests made by your partner. Surrender is when you fulfill a request as if it were your own idea in the first place, with the intention of having it be a really great idea. This is distinctly different from fulfilling the request with the intention to prove to your partner that he or she was mistaken or misguided to have asked in the first place. In other words, if you succumb to a request, you will not have fun and you will be proving him or her wrong. When you succumb, frequently you will hurt yourself somehow to show your partner just how wrong he or she is. When you surrender to a request, however, you both win and experience satisfaction as a result.

Many people find surrendering very challenging, because once they are in a relationship, they start competing with their partner. This dynamic can be especially strong for women who compare themselves and their achievements to those of their mate and want to prove that they are equal to, as good as, or, in fact, better than a man. It is also strong for men who have been programmed not to let “girls” get ahead of them.
Many women have not discovered that they can just be themselves and still include their femininity. They haven’t seen that they don’t have to be manly in a man’s world. They haven’t recognized that they can be very potent and powerful as human beings without force, because force looks really bad on a woman. Of course, it doesn’t work so well for men either.

If you have the choice, the ability, the willingness to surrender, then you are truly independent. It takes a very strong person to say, “Yes . . . yes . . . okay, yes . . . yes . . . sure . . . alright . . . yes.”

If you have the ability to sidestep the early programming of not wanting to be told what to do by another, then you actually have the ability to honestly say, “No, I don’t want to do that,” when “no” is your truth. When you have the ability to surrender, you become powerful in yourself, and your union with a new or well seasoned, there is the possibility of surrendering to your life and your partner and having your relationship enter the realm of the miraculous.

Sometimes when approaching the idea of surrendering to one’s partner, people get worried they will lose themselves, get taken advantage of, or become a “doormat.” If you find yourself with one of these concerns, then take a step back and realize that dissolving your automatic “no” truly has nothing to do with your partner and everything to do with how you approach your life. Start with noticing your thoughts and attitudes about
normal day-to-day activities. For instance, when you brush your teeth, do you still resist “having to”? Or have you ever noticed that you will leave unwashed dishes in the sink and then pass by them throughout the day, even though their mere presence is a request to wash them and put them away? Or how about making your bed, paying that bill, balancing your checkbook, returning that phone call, or replacing that burned-out
light bulb? When we are talking about surrender, we are talking about developing the ability to be a “yes” to the “requests” life makes upon you. When you become practiced at being responsive to your environment, saying “yes” to your partner becomes a wonderful dance of taking care of each other rather than a begrudging, list-keeping tit for tat.

If you want to submit articles, poems, love stories, love letters, write ups you like to share to us and to the world. Kindly email us at We will email you back once it is up on our site with credits and feature you as the author of the month. Continue supporting Thank You my Loves! ;) 
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We reach the last, but not the least, stage in our journey. We have looked at ways that you or your partner may have been unready for a major relationship, even though you were a good match. But what if you were ready in those respects? How did it go wrong?

We’re now getting down to avoidable mistakes, the kind that make you lie in bed at four in the morning thinking, “I blew it with that person; I could have done better. Because the time was right; all the pieces were in place.” This is where we look at things that were in your power to change. And the reason they are so worth looking at is exactly that. You can change them next time. A little more alertness, effort, courage, or simple caring can save the day. So each of the following reasons why things go wrong will transform into a positive recommendation.

Sometimes happiness itself is the hurdle you can’t get over. If you’ve been in the heart’s wilderness and then good news comes along, it could just throw you for a loop. You find yourself for the first time in your life joined to someone you could really get along with, and that can make a person uneasy. You aren’t used to it. Maybe it won’t last. Maybe it feels implausible, or even corny.

Maybe it makes you nervous because it would be so great if it turned out to be real. The stakes are so high; there is so much to lose. A sort of performance anxiety sets in, like that of an Olympic gymnast who has done this maneuver a hundred times before, but now is shaky because this one is for the medal.
Fear sets in. So you do something to muck the situation up. That way the tension is broken and the fear of falling relieved (you can’t fall if you’re already on the ground). Some demon within makes you behave badly, so you can return to the ordinary, a more comfortable place to be.
Fear is a slippery emotion, because it conceals itself from us just at the moment that it grips us. It likes to work incognito, to be the invisible puppeteer. It packs a sort of double-whammy: it makes us hide, not
only from the external thing that scares us, but also from the fact that we are afraid. The trick, therefore, is to detect when you are scared, call the knave by his name and not allow him to transfer his force in some
other direction, like spite or malice, mischief or flight.

So if, in your next relationship, you find yourself about to tip the boat, stop and figure out why. If the answer is fear, fight it directly, don’t fight the relationship.

setting the bar too high
In answer to skepticism about lasting love, we sometimes hear people say, “My grandparents are still madly in love after fifty years of marriage.” For some reason, this kind of thing is less often reported about one’s parents. Maybe the lesson here is that grandparents have had enough time to set their expectations realistically. They are wise enough to be pleased by a lot of things: still being alive, still having the ability to
go for a walk and read a book. And still having each other. The rest of us should be so smart.

transferring discontent 
There are bound to be a lot of times when you are dissatisfied with life. The weather is drizzly; your favorite politician is being slandered; home prices are falling; gas prices are too high; the corn flakes taste bland; and your hair looks thin in the mirror. A deep human instinct tells us that the best relief from the defects in our own existence is to find flaws in another person. And the  opportunity is enhanced if that someone is close, is known in lavish detail, and relies on our support. Most people have some sensitive areas, and no one detects them better than a spouse. So we slip into the habit of critiquing each other. It can be dangerous. About avoiding a partner whose tastes you just don’t appeal to. It’s like installing a derogatory critic in your life. Definitely a bad idea. But no one is perfect. Even when two people basically dig each other, there are going to be areas that one could find fault with if one wanted to try. Most people are their own worst critics; they don’t need any help. So a good rule of thumb is not to lend a hand.

don’t pick on things a person can’t change
Most good people are conscious of their flaws, both physical and mental, and are hoping to be deemed acceptable in spite of them. They may even dream that their mate doesn’t notice these blemishes, or thinks they are unimportant. The thing is, if you say something, you can’t take it back. If you tell your lover that you find his tenor voice annoying, or that his lack of articulateness irks you, then he is stuck with these news items. And the announcement may well cause them to get worse.

how about things a person can change?
This target isn’t much better. That’s because most of us are already working on the areas where we know we could improve; or if we aren’t, we want to be.

For most of us, it is much harder to climb that mountain if our spouse makes it their idea, or makes their love contingent on our doing it.

The take-away
If you feel discontented sometimes, don’t inflict it on your partner; try to deal with your own issues directly, and maybe even ask them for their help. That way, you protect a precious thing. During the first enchantment
of being in love, we tend to idealize our partners above all others and see them as perfect. That’s nice for them, being adored at that stage when we don’t know them so well, but what is even better is being loved later on, when we know them through and through— faults and all. The pledge of that first infatuation is redeemed when your partner finds that they are loved in that more informed way. And a little restraint can help convey the good news.

reining in conflict
When two people basically like and love each other, the last thing they would want, or even believe possible, is that they could become enemies. That’s why it’s very important to keep the reins on hostility. Once loosed in the room, hostility can sometimes feed on itself. It’s as if it comes with its own escalation pill. It goes ahead and takes over the script, writes lines that are meaner and more injurious than the two people really mean. But then they have to back up those lines. So it’s better not to let it start. Conflict is bound to arise in a relationship. Life is too complicated for everybody to get every decision right the first time. Somebody
will get it wrong, and the other person may see that, and there it is: disagreement. Or there is no right answer, just two different preferences, and both can’t be accommodated.

But disagreements can be resolved without getting hostile. We can have an open discussion or even a spirited debate, and we can listen to each other and find common ground. Here are three good ways to resist the lure of hostility:
• Don’t get mad at the other person for disagreeing with you. As if they have no right. They do have a right!
• Don’t let cowardice lead the way, by being afraid you’ll lose if you submit to a calm discussion, and getting angry in advance over that imagined outcome. Better to be brave and say your piece.
• If you secretly think you’re wrong, don’t blame your partner for that. Admit it.
If a couple follows these (hard-earned) suggestions, they’ll never get to the next stages of the process, which (if memory serves) may witness such ploys as fighting dirty, taking unfair advantage, and using volume or manipulation to try to find a shortcut to victory. Or doing what political ads do nowadays—attacking the person instead of the position they’re taking.

The rule of karma applies here, and it applies to the couple.
Every time two people let themselves slip into hostility and viciousness, it becomes easier for them to make that transition (equals harder not to) the next time they encounter conflict. The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde contains the same lesson: every time the good Jekyll took the potion that made him turn into the bad
Hyde, it made the leap easier in the future. Until by the end, Jekyll was changing into Hyde without taking the potion, and he couldn’t get back to his good self because there was no more of the chemical available. So a couple can watch their good self recede into history, no longer reachable because they have betrayed it too often.

Such a tragedy can be avoided with a little courage, a little compassion, and a steely desire to maintain civility. That can get a couple through rough times without damage to the warmth that they’ll need when times get better.

frivolous straying
Very often, the way that two well-matched people end up apart is that one of them falls in love with somebody else, and by the time that peters out, it’s too late to go back.

You don’t miss your water till your well runs dry. But a good rule of thumb here is try, try very hard, to imagine being without your water while the well is still flowing. Picture life without your partner, before you slip out the back door. Think what it would be like not to have access to them anymore. Excitement is alluring. It can make mere contentment seem like a trifle. But as we have seen, the thrill of falling in love is often fueled by the very unsuitability of the object. Long shots are fun to bet on, but they have this nasty habit of not coming in. So those blah times that couples go through are dangerous. They make you restless, make you think you have to do something rash. Better to do something for the couple you’re already in: ask your partner out on a real date; do something racy and different with them; invite some people over that bring out the best in the two of you; apply yourself to some task that your partner cares about.

the big chance
A kind of pall can fall over a couple if they pass up a big life opportunity out of caution, or even worse, out of lack of faith in the couple. It can be very hard to live with someone who put on the brakes at the one moment when all the resources were there and the signs were right. The moment may never come again, but the chance to think about it will remain.

So when a big chance comes along, don’t give it a no vote on some automatic, superficial ground. Take a real look at it and make sure you’re finding out what your partner really feels: how much of their heart is invested in it. And hopefully they will do the same for you. Even when a courageous move doesn’t work out, there’s the bond forged by the fact that the two of you were willing to try.
Sometimes you just have to say, “Let’s go for it.”

attention deficit and contact surplus
If you miss enough episodes of a series with an on going plot, you may not be able to engage with it  anymore. That’s true of relationships too. Partners can drift apart because they forget to tune in on each other’s inner story. In our world, time is such a threatened commodity that a couple may have only cursory conversation on a typical weekday. A quick check-in and a short exchange of facts. That isn’t enough to keep the fire burning. If, after some years together, your spouse no longer took the time to draw out your thoughts, you may have developed a gagged sensation, as if your microphone had been shut off and your voice wasn’t
wanted. Those empty moments, when you had something heartfelt to say and your partner skidded right past it—did they eventually make you want to leave the venue?

We need to find out what our mate wants to talk about today— not what we want to hear about. And when your partner tries to talk to you about something that wasn’t on your radar screen, make time for it. Don’t present yourself as available for conversation if you aren’t. Don’t ask a cursory question and then tune out. Don’t always be doing something else while your main squeeze is talking. And don’t let any of this be done to you by someone you love. Not enough attention is one thing; too much contact is another.
For most of us there is a cycle of needing company and needing solitude.
It is fatiguing to constantly be monitored by another human being, even one you love. So don’t forget that on occasion, the best gift you can give your partner is to be unaware of him. Go out, get scarce.
We are very forgiving of our friends. We show our fine ability to get along with others by not expecting any one friend to be all things to us. That’s a nice favor to extend to one’s spouse, too.

Finally, don’t resent your poor partner for knowing you. That’s what keeps you from being alone.
television: the nemesis across the room In the evening, two people sat down on a couch feeling friendly and
close. Three hours later they got up to go to bed, feeling completely alienated from each other.
What happened? They watched a television. Most of us agree that TV is harmful to children, and their hours
should be limited and controlled. But we pretend that at some magic age that stops being true. I disagree: I think it’s bad for adults too. And I especially think that it can be bad for couples who watch together.
I’m not talking about when you and your mate rent a great movie or watch a program you both like. The more selective you are, and the more control you have over commercials, the closer to benign TV is. And today’s DVR’s, TIVO, and on-demand can do a lot to put you in charge.

No, I’m talking about when you and your mate expose yourselves to the raw world of television, and especially when one of you has the remote in hand and you share the bizarre experience we call channel-surfing. (Which is never really shared. The one holding the remote control cannot possibly make the same
moment-to-moment choices that the other would make—so the mutuality is an illusion.)
I have to admit I have a personal vendetta here that I need to get off my chest. But I think I’m really onto something that affects couples, a toxin that can slip too easily into our shared lives. So if you bear with me about the nefarious things that TV does to us, I think it will have a payoff about relationships.

a rant only a tv-addict could have written
A television is a weird animal. Because we are so used to it, we have forgotten what an intruder it is in the room. Because it is visual and auditory and moving, TV triggers social reflexes in us in a way that,
for example, reading doesn’t. As far as your nervous system is concerned, the people on the screen are in the room with you, and so are the people laughing on the phony laugh track. I’ve actually been embarrassed by my partner walking in the room and catching me grinning at Jay Leno and his guest as if I was on the set with them! The problem is, it’s unilateral. You acknowledge the performers, but they rudely ignore you. And when they do things that should be private—as increasingly happens these days—TV doesn’t worry about
sparing your feelings, any more than a too-thin motel wall would.

It’s as if a bunch of people you don’t know were to camp in your living room and carry on, not in any way concerned that you are sitting there. TV bombards you with other people’s worlds—their victories, their supposed glamour, their moment-to-moment choices. By doing so it invalidates you. Since you aren’t on the screen, you don’t exist.

But wait, that’s not all! You also get the following invasions of your dignity:
• TV tells you that how you look, and whether you manage not to look old, is the most important thing about you: and it dictates what the “correct” way to look is. In every area—body, face, teeth, eyes, wardrobe, weight, shape—it’s on your case.
• TV tries all the time to make you feel inadequate. It says: “You aren’t young enough; you aren’t famous enough; not rich enough; not good enough at what you do. You aren’t the best because if you were, you’d be on the screen with us. You aren’t having enough fun. Look at us cavorting, grinning, laughing people, and you just sitting on a couch.”
• TV tries to scare you. It says, “We have just discovered a new disease that you probably have; notice how familiar the symptoms sound; you’re going to die if you don’t buy this new drug.”
• TV isolates each spectator from the others, because each of us is sensitive to different things. It makes you feel alone, afraid of being found out as too hurt or too turned on. So it has an inherent separating force. When a man and a woman watch together, the woman may feel upstaged by the female flesh running rampant on the screen, and the man may feel caught somewhere between voyeurism and cheating. Half the time we watch things we half-hate; but when someone else is there, they may not catch this nuance.
• TV is ADD gone wild. Not only do endless ads interrupt programs, but programs interrupt themselves with little animated figures advertising other programs. No wonder so many of us have ADD, especially those raised by television sets. Our hard drives get regularly defragmented, but it’s our brains that really need it.
• TV is soaked in the logic of the ego. It used to be that people who were famous only for being famous were laughed at, but now they’re honored as much as those who earned their fame by actually doing something. Pundits always rave about whether some politician’s statement is a winner, not whether it’s true.
People who cheat and lie are admired if they get what they want. Television is like a goad to the toad inside you. If you watch enough of it, your heart starts to atrophy.
Commercials are the worst. They take the highest artistic skills and prostitute them. Much of the time, they deceive. They have to, because their product doesn’t really do what they say it does, whether that product is a drug or a soft drink or a politician. During commercials, you and your true love are sitting silently,
being forced to watch a stream of lies. It’s almost like a form of humiliation.

No wonder you may rise up after a few hours of this, feeling cut off from your own self and estranged from your partner. Couples should protect themselves against this influence. In fact, free-range television—by which I mean channel-surfing—is so personal a form
of intercourse with such a sticky entity, that it may be better practiced alone. When you surf with someone else, the cognitive dissonance between you builds up and becomes more awful with every choice that the other person wouldn’t have made, and every flickering image that you aren’t seeing the same way.
Okay. Rant over. Thank you for listening.

As I suggested earlier, there are ways to avoid the worst of TV’s impositions. There are wonderful things to watch, and most of them are available in a commercial-free form, at a time chosen by you, not them. When you’re building a relationship as a couple, make a habit from the start of doing other things besides TV. Be conscious about what television offerings you choose to share, and later on, make sure that the tube doesn’t creep into a position it doesn’t deserve.

the opposite of sex
Between two people who love each other, good sex not only provides hours of enjoyment in itself, but it does a whole lot to keep other things spinning along.
• It helps keep the romance alive. It’s more than natural to hold hands across a table in a nice restaurant if you had orgasms together the night before.
• It gives you a break from the ceaseless grind of logistics that is modern life, makes time stop.
• It encourages emotional openness, closeness and forgiveness.
• It alleviates the natural irritation of living in close quarters with another human being.
• It avoids the problem of not having sex.
• It’s good for your self-esteem, and your sense of your own attractiveness.
• It’s good for your health.
• It cures at least one kind of frustration, thus making others easier to bear.
• It makes you feel so young.
And the list goes on.
So if good sex turned into no sex in your last relationship, you may not be wrong in counting that as a real factor in sinking the alliance. Which raises the question, how do two people who once had enjoyable sex end up not having any? Well, it could be that:
1. they weren’t really sexually compatible, and after some time together, that fact emerged;
2. they were sexually compatible, but they never took the trouble to learn each other properly;
3. they had it goin’ on big time, but they let it slip away;
4. the relationship went so sour that it killed the sex;
5. the years took it away.

Factors 1 and 4 may not be that easy to deal with other than by finding a better-matched partner, but the rest deserve some discussion. In fact they go together.
As people get older (especially men), it may take a little more to start them up; at least Mick Jagger said that in a song. And as two people who are running a household become overly familiar with each other, wearing every possible hat other than “Sensual Being,” that spark of mystery can easily fade. People get into habits that are less than sexy. Everything is about getting through a To Do list, including the last thing on that list, falling into bed exhausted. That’s why it can be an advantage if, in the days when sex is the path of least resistance, you and your partner take the time to explore each other’s fantasies and find each other’s happy buttons. This sort of expertise can come in very handy later on, when sex becomes a little less inevitable.
Ironically, when people are courting and they have the excitement of newness (and often youth) on their side, they seem to make much more effort to present themselves as glamorous and seductive, than they do later on when this kind of help may be more sorely needed.

Long ago in the twentieth century, I remember a strange custom that I witnessed in the older generation. A man came home from work, dressed in a fine suit and tie (back then a lot of men had a relationship with someone called a tailor). Did he immediately cast off his duds and reappear in an undershirt and shorts? No,
he stayed to pour a drink for his wife, who may have worn sloppy clothes during the day (more likely not) but who thought it a good idea to dress up for dinner. That’s because the early evening, every day, was a date, and the kids were supposed to stay out of the way because there was adult bonding going on, and it was sexy and romantic— it was foreplay.

Now I would not want a return to those thrilling days when men were men and women had few choices for personal fulfillment. But there may be a lesson there for us moderns. Maybe we could remember to stimulate each other visually; maybe we could on occasion dress as nicely for our lover as we do for the coporations who exploit us. Maybe more evenings could be like dates.
Another good idea is to be aware of timing. If you know a time when you both tend to be most sexual, maybe that crucial window of opportunity should be honored as a good thing. And if you know an easy way to use wardrobe to get your partner hankering after you, why not go there unexpectedly? Men are so simple that it’s a pity not to take advantage of them.
And finally, let us remember what a mystic once said. Even when sex is too high a mountain to climb, there’s a meadow that’s pretty easy to get to, where a lot of the same flowers grow: it’s called cuddling.

how to get what you want 
There are two possible approaches when your needs are not being met by your partner. The first one, which is very popular, is to sit and fume and get righteously indignant because after all, your partner should know what you want and should give it to you. The second method requires a little humility and a tad of courage,
but it has a major advantage: it works. Ask your partner for what you want.

keeping the faith
Life is like a canoe trip.
The morning may consist of taking down the tent in the rain; the afternoon may be a grueling slog against the wind, digging your paddle in until your arm is aching, in a fight against a lake that seems to go on forever. But then you get to the next campsite and you’re sitting on a rocky point eating hot wieners and beans, and suddenly the whole past day looks brilliant, and you remember the way the sun glinted off the waves in the afternoon.

Life involves a lot of soldiering on, having faith that things will get festive again. And being with a great partner doesn’t change that. The relationship itself will have routine stretches: there will be times when you can see no glamour and no glow to the other person, even though nothing very bad has happened. And then of course, something bad will happen.

But then . . . something good will. When it does, relish that moment together, celebrate it and allow it to radiate its charm back over the trek that got you there.

making loyalty stick
When you’ve done really well, see it through.
A woman’s partner was floored by a life-threatening illness and she was utterly stricken by the thought of anything happening to him; so she waded into the situation and took care of him in every way, making sure the insurance was handled right and the hospital care was the best, staying at his bedside for long hours, fending off careless medical personnel, saving him from the wrong foods, protecting his job . . . and then he began to recover and finally, months later, he started to feel good again.
The moment of victory. Her partner thanked her and hugged her, but he felt so well, was so insouciant, that it seemed he didn’t fully realize what danger he had been in, or what lengths she had gone to, to protect him. At this point a strange, tiny voice passed like a shadow through her mind, saying, “How can he be so carefree? Is he taking this for granted? How shall I punish the scoundrel?”
But then she caught herself and thought, this is where I wanted him to be. Not even knowing how close he came to the abyss. I got him here and I am going to keep him here.
Loyalty is so good if you make it last for the duration.

There is no greater blessing than having a partner who looks back at their past and is glad that you were in it, and conscious that you pulled them through some hard times (they may even know how hard). I don’t mean that it’s fun to bask in someone else’s gratitude (although that’s true). I mean that it’s good to know that someone else has a positive view of the human heart, thinks it’s something that can be counted on, because they can look back and know that when it really mattered, you came through.

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My Beautiful Distraction