Linda: Sometimes a partnership has to die in the old form it was in to give birth to a new healthy, wholesome one. The birthing process can be painful. Consider the story of Jeanette and Russell.
Russell: “A point came where the tools that we had been using weren’t enough. We had to make a descent into the pits of hell before we could come up.”
Jeanette: “After several years together, we found that we had reached an impasse. After years of building careers and raising children, I had reached an awareness that something essential was missing. Slowly, I began to define what it was that I was longing for. I wanted body passion, more sexual contact, and a more robust, sensual, lively connection. I had an overwhelming desire for long passionate kisses, and hours of lovemaking. I wanted variety in what we did, and where we did it. I wanted to dare to experiment with toys and fantasies. I yearned for us to dance nude with wild abandon. I wanted to soul gaze into each other’s eyes, and to have long intimate talks.”
“I wanted the sexual part of our life to have high priority status, not just something we fitted in after all our other so called “important” tasks were completed. I didn’t want to settle for less that full presence in our relationship. It was not an ultimatum, but a statement of my being. I had been aware of my desire long before I expressed these needs to Russell. By the time I expressed it, my desire for the experience that I was craving was practically overwhelming. I just couldn’t live without it any longer.”
Russell: “ When I heard her say, ‘I need this to be different or I won’t go on with this marriage.’ I got the message and dedicated myself to taking on a higher standard for myself. It required a fierce commitment to challenge the old pattern, which Jeanette had tolerated as long as she could. It wasn’t just a matter of her insisting on having more of me in the sexual arena, but it was for her a matter of asserting her own needs and owning her power. This crisis required a restructuring of our relationship. Jeanette had been a person who had been more compliant. She became more assertive and a more passionate presence.”
Jeanette: “This time in our life was a showdown. My fear of abandonment met up with Russell’s fear of engulfment. We knew that to go to the next level, we had to find some way for both of us to get our needs met. I had big abandonment issues. I’ve done lots of healing both therapeutic and spiritual, to heal the scared little girl inside. I chose Russell for his fearlessness and independence. I love being alone now, and I know that my well-being is not dependent on anyone else.”
Russell: “I realize now that I chose Jeanette for her deep capacity for intimacy, but when the crisis hit us, I didn’t know what I know now. It’s clear to both of us now how our fears were running us, but it wasn’t so apparent at the time. I had been hiding my own dependency longings and holding myself away from Jeanette. When she started to express her personal power, it was the most challenging time in our relationship because my self worth had been tied to Jeanette’s approval. If she disapproved of me, my sense of self crashed. I had to separate my sense of my own value from her opinions of me.”
“It has been the most challenging work I’ve ever done. This time was a major shifting point in my life. I began to see that how I was in the marriage was so different from how it was for me outside of the marriage. Outside the marriage I could stay centered and powerful. When Jeanette’s love was withdrawn, I would feel that I was dying. I had to learn how to stand strong, even in the face of her disapproval. I could see that without both her and my ruthless determination, I wouldn’t change. We both did a great deal of work on ourselves. Both of us learned to stand in the fire of those difficult times.”
Jeanette: “I was holding the banner for intimacy. Russell was holding the banner for independence. During the time when we were polarizing each other, we weren’t very open to learning. But there was another part of each of us that realized that we really did have a great deal to learn from each other. Russell learned about being present with me in the bodily way that nourishes me, and I learned a lot about letting him go. Once we figured out that we are each other’s primary teacher, we started cruising at a higher altitude.
Russell: “Once we got a grip on the awful cycle that had been holding us back, the entire relationship took a turn for the better.”
Jeanette: “Every single day, we demonstrate to each other how deeply we love and care about each other. Sometimes it takes the form of body passion that I was determined to join with Russell to create. Sometimes it takes other forms like speaking about what we admire in each other. But it was definitely worth all the struggle to arrive at this point of deep satisfaction.”
Russell and Jeanette took the breakdown in their relationship and turned it into a breakthrough. They learned how to stop struggling and began to cooperate. Instead of being so focused on getting their own needs met, they were able to shift into an attitude of concern around the other person’s needs. Instead of taking each other for granted, they did the things that nourished the relationship on a regular basis, and didn’t let things fall into disrepair. Jeanette got the body passion that she had been longing for years, and Russell got to know his own truth on a deeper level than he had even known it before. These two discovered that they came together to assist each other in getting free. Now I’d say that the birthing pain that they went through to have such a successful, fulfilling partnership was worth it. What do you think?
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