Tag Archives: falling in love

Love is the Goal, Discover Your Own Path

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 6.45.22 AM“In love lies the seed of our growth. The more we love, the closer we are to the spiritual experience.”–Paulo Coehlo

+++

A simple quote and image on Facebook today triggered a thought I’ve been nurturing for quite some time. Love is the goal, yes, but LOVE as a state of being can happen at anytime and over some fairly trivial things. The point is to notice when LOVE enters your life and do more of what makes you feel those warm fuzzy feelings.

Crave them when they are not with you. Enjoy and savor them when they are with you. And feel the complete fullness of life when you have been satiated by them.

I wrote a post yesterday about my perfect breakfast. What was interesting, was how much I love my breakfast. I crave it in the mornings. That’s a good indication that my body is getting some benefit from the combination of yogurt and low-sugar granola. But the experience of longing and fulfillment that happens each morning, is a teacher. I enjoy the craving. I enjoy the act of eating and savoring the meal. And I enjoy the warmth I get from being satisfied with my meal. It’s a perfect relationship.

That’s sort of how we want our relationships with people as well. Crave them when they are not with you. Enjoy and savor them when they are with you. And feel the complete fullness of life when you have been satiated by them. And I’m not just talking about sex here. Satiation comes from the ritual of the morning as you wake up together. Make sure you appreciate your partner just for being there. Celebrate what you have, getting ready, making coffee, eating breakfast. Celebrate the time you are together.

It’s the longing that can get us in trouble. We long for our connection and we turn to other things. I really like ice cream. But my craving for ice cream is different from my craving for my fiancé. They are also similar. I can sublimate my desire for love in many ways. By eating ice cream I get that fuzzy feeling during and after, but I don’t get any of the other warm fuzzies that true caring and nurturing can bring. Ice cream is a hollow craving. And ice cream bears no love for me.

Make sure you celebrate each other. Find the things you love to do together and do them. Make time for those things. Discover new things you might both like to do.

My mate, on the other hand, lights up with my attention and affection. What I give in love I receive back in laughter and kisses. This is the space we’d love to live in. And then… there’s all that other living we have to do. Parenting, if you have kids. Earning a living, to make the ship go. Exercise, so you have a long and healthy life. And chores, the struggle to stay one step ahead of entropy.

As we can remember our beloved during the day, we can remind ourselves of our deep love and craving of that other person. And this is not obsession, this is healthy desire. I don’t want to control or manipulate her, I just want to be beside her, touching the small of her back, whispering my joys into her ear. And you can do this with little connective texts throughout the day, “You crossed my mind and stayed there.” Little competitions between you, “How far have you walked today?” And little messages of caring, “I’m stopping by the store, is there anything you need or desire?”

Just letting the other person know you are thinking about them is a great first step in connecting for the long haul. Make sure you celebrate each other. Find the things you love to do together and do them. Make time for those things. Discover new things you might both like to do. And get out there and do them. An active love is much better than a sedentary love. If you love doing activities together, you get a double boost, love and endorphins. Go for it. Stay connected and celebratory as much as you can. There is plenty of time for the mundane, but it’s tapping into the extraordinary that’s the key to a long-lasting love affair.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

Back to Positive Divorce & Co-Parenting

related posts:

What I Learned From My First and Second Marriages

WHOLE-salsagirl

You learn a lot by getting married. You also learn a lot by getting divorced. While I was really ready to exit my first, abusive, marriage, I was also devastated when I actually took the ring off for the first time. The ring I had gotten hand-crafted in Santa Fe while we were vacationing there. The ring that gave me so much pride at first, and then so much sadness. Even as things were really awful between us, admitting I was giving up, I was getting out, was a major defeat. It was an ending and the start of my next learning experience, marriage number two.

I wanted and needed touch to keep me feeling “safe and loved.” She, on the other hand, needed my actions to show how I was going to support her.

This time I had a lot more wisdom. I went into this second marriage with my eyes open and my wits about me. Except that’s not quite accurate. I was still wounded from the previous marriage. I was a bit depressed and disoriented. And I wanted the relationship a bit too much. I wanted *a* relationship. I was hurting, and lonely, and in need. I was not healthy. But I was charming and aggressive and when an old high school friend showed up I was immediately in love. I know you might think the word “lust” but you’d be wrong. She was beautiful. She smiled with an energy that lit up the world. And I was in need of some light. I leapt and pursued her right out of her “boyfriend.” Then I became her boyfriend and soon her husband.

Except I wasn’t seeing or thinking clearly at opening of our relationship either. I had learned a lot from my first marriage.

  • a fiery artist might be burning with mental illness as well as creativity
  • a hot body does not make a relationship work
  • abuse can come from a woman half my size
  • competition in a marriage is a wacky thing
  • even if the person commits to therapy, doesn’t mean they’re going to do the work
  • you can try to get out of your marriage and fail more than once
  • no matter how bad it gets, a divorce feels like a failure

So I was making some changes in my second marriage.

  • a long list of compatible qualities and activities you like to do together
  • historical friends make quick lovers
  • an artist is good, but let’s go for a bit more balances
  • logic over passion might be a better fit
  • mutual understanding and compassion for dark periods (on both sides of the relationship)

And I was certain I had learned my lesson. I had grown up a lot since my first marriage and divorce. I was still in the middle of replacing a recent job loss, but I felt more stable. I was not really all that healthy at this point either, however. I was so hungry, and so passionate, that I fell head-over-heels in love and overlooked some things that would come back to haunt me.

This time we had kids. We took the fractured equation of our relationship and exponentially expanded the connection. We jumped into the parents journey together. And for a while we thrived. And we thrived even when things were hard. We battled through, side-by-side. We were in this together, in sickness and in healthy, til… Well, that’s the last part of what I learned.

Death is actually the only thing that will part you, if you’ve got kids. Even though we’ve been divorced for over four years, we are still connected at a deep level. We never escape the relationship with our ex-partner when we have kids. My first ex-wife, is a distant and silent memory. She used to call from time to time, but the new os on my phone allows me to silence even those attempts to … what, say “Hi?” Odd. And no thanks.

While we had made this mis-match work for the first 8 years of our marriage, as we grew into parents with school-aged kids, we began to think beyond the parenting role again.

But my second ex-wife is the mother of my children. And as much as I’d like to write her off, I have to deal with her on a regular basis. So you resolve yourself to make things as positive as possible. And you try and celebrate their newfound love, and how “the kids like him.” But it’s not easy. I mean, it’s not easy emotionally. The positive part is the only option.

Negative energy or anger is like drinking poison yourself and hoping it makes the other person sick. You can only control your own thoughts and actions. I’m happy that my ex-wife’s boyfriend is a nice guy. I love that he comes to my daughter’s volleyball games and that she wants to hug him too, before we leave. He’s a gentle soul, and he seems to care deeply for my ex-wife and my kids. That’s good for everyone.

So what did I learn in losing this second marriage that I want to capture to inform, perhaps a third run at being married? (I might consider it, but it would have to be a mutual need.)

  • two smart and energetic people can still fail at keeping their marriage together
  • it does not take an infidelity to break up a marriage
  • kids are a great reason to work hard at your marriage, but not a reason to stay together once the marriage has deteriorated
  • trying at marriage therapy is not all it takes
  • two people with kids can make a rational decision to get a divorce
  • the kids will survive, and many of their friends will have divorced parents as well

The book Love Languages gave me some great insights into what I want next. I am a touch-centered person. I thrive in connection and wither and die in isolation. As things got hard, however, my then-wife’s love language began to forcefully enter the picture as “do something for me.” While we had made this mis-match work for the first 8 years of our marriage, as we grew into parents with school-aged kids, we began to think beyond the parenting role again. We began to think about our lives as individuals and what we wanted as well as what we wanted for our kids.

Things drifted off course for us when the economy took another hit and my high-paying corporate job was eliminated. And even though they had given me a 6-month parachute, with benefits, we began to argue about money almost immediately.

Money is hard. And earning a living, and supporting a household in a nice neighborhood often requires that both parents work. We had tried and been mostly successful at giving her a lot of time “meeting the bus after school.” But as I was let go from the corporate grind, tired and fat, I didn’t really want to just jump back into the next big job. We began to negotiate. And as we found agreements and disagreements about money, and work, and what each of us should do next, we also retreated into our separate love language patterns.

She wanted me to be different, more trustworthy, more grown up. I felt grown up, but I wanted her to be more loving, more connected.

It was sad. I wanted and needed touch to keep me feeling “safe and loved.” She, on the other hand, needed my actions to show how I was going to support her. What I was doing for her became an indication of how much I loved her.

I get it, that women are often the keeper of the home and the hearth of the family. And as things get threatened, the woman is often the voice of reason and caution. This certainly played out in our roles as the money got tight, and we began to look for what needed to happen.

This is where our Love Languages began to kick into high gear. I wanted to be held. I wanted to cuddle and be close, physically. On the other hand, she wanted to build excel spreadsheets and get “clear on the money.” She wanted me to take care of things without her having to ask. She needed me to change and be more responsible. I just needed to be touched.

As the time drew on we got even more entrenched in our requirements. As I asked for more physical closeness she asked for more modifications to my actions. She wanted me to be different, more trustworthy, more grown up. I felt grown up, but I wanted her to be more loving, more connected. Our two systems of what made us feel loved was way out of balance. Things did not get better.

We started seeing a therapist, but he was helping us communicate. He was not a marriage therapist, and took no real investment in whether we stayed together or not. He was just what we needed, in a rational kind of what. But in illuminating our wants and needs, he was also allowing us to see how fundamentally different we had become.

When you start a marriage you have expectations and visions for where you are going together. When you have kids those ideas are massively transformed, and your ideas and requirements for love might change as well. We moved through major transitions before and after having kids. We loved with all our hearts. We counseled, we cooperated, we worked hard to put the puzzle back together again, but something was getting clearer and not just “fixed” by our therapy.

We both wanted something different from what we had become. And in our fundamental way, our love languages hold a nice outline for what broke down. I’ve learned that a touchy-feely partner is essential. My first girlfriend after divorce knew the Love Languages book and self-identified as a touch-centered person as well. Wow. She unlocked a new understanding of what is possible when you have two people who speak the same Love Language.

As much as we wanted to remain in love and grow in love as parents, there were some fundamental shifts that happened in our lives and in our aspirations. What I learned from my first “touch” lover was that my needs for closeness are fundamental to my complete happiness. While I loved my second wife deeply, and still love her as a co-parent, I never felt completely loved by her. Expressing her joy and love for me was not easy for her. I carried a lot of the “touch” energy for the entire family.

Now I know. And my first girlfriend and I are still friends. I will always be thankful to her for giving me a new baseline for what being in love feels like. I believe in love and believe I will get there again. I still have some healing and growth to do, obviously, before meeting my next “love.” But that’s okay, it’s not a race. I’m in no hurry. And I’m enjoying the journey thoroughly.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

back to Positive Divorce

reference: The 5 Love Languages  by Gary Chapman

related posts:

image: salsa brazil, vincent jarousseau, creative commons usage

The Dilemma of the Feeling Man: Stoic vs. Romantic

WHOLE-romantic

A while back I had the problem. A woman who was “dating” me didn’t want to admit to dating or even having a relationship. Something about that commitment, even saying the words, bothered her. Scared her. And yet we continued on in a “relationship” for a while. We limped along, in fits and starts and breakups.

She would break up with me when she felt things were getting too close. If I wrote a love poem, she broke up with me. If I said something too close to home, she broke up with me. So, with her anyway, I learned to be more circumspect. More withdrawn with my feelings and joy at being with her. I didn’t want to scare her off, but I was also a bit compromised in my expressions. Okay, so what was going on?

A recent post, brought some of this issue to light for me. From SkinnyandSingle blog:

Why did the chick cross the road?
To get away from the wonderful man who is falling in love with her.

I think most of us are afraid of this. We say we want it, but we sure throw our boots on and run like hell when it’s happening, don’t we?

Okay, so she’s talking about married men being more attractive to her. I think the issue is, the married man, is unavailable and that makes him safe and more alluring.  So what about the stoic man makes him more attractive than the deep-feeling romantic?

Perhaps at some level we are not willing or ready to “fall in love.” It’s an intoxicating feeling, and out of control. When love is in full bloom your senses and sensibility at taking a free fall. Both of my marriages were the result of a drugged-state of lust and love. Often it is hard to separate the two feelings. Sexual heat, and long-term compatibility do not necessarily go hand in hand, and in my case I’m 0-for-2 on that count. It might actually be the love-drug that is most frightening. At risk is the heart as much as the mind. If it’s just sexual, and just stoic then we can bypass the risk. Well, at least we think we can.

For a feeling person that running away is the biggest fear. If we allow ourselves to go deep into the passionate heart and we are left holding it in our hands as the partner runs away, it’s devastating.

But at some level we are skipping the depth of feeling that comes from opening up fully to the good as well as potentially negative effects of falling in love. I think the romantic believes in love, and believes and craves this intoxicated bliss. And I’m certain it can also become an addiction, preventing long-term and solid relationships, when the drug wears off, the addict will go searching for the next “high.”

And while I crave the high, I’m okay with the buzz too. And sobering up enough to assess the core of the relationship. At least that’s my hope. But what is so attractive about a man who stays aloof? With this previous relationship, I almost felt like the more I ignored her texts, the longer I waited to respond to a request, the more alluring I became to her. If I was too available, too eager, it frightened her off.

For a feeling person that running away is the biggest fear. If we allow ourselves to go deep into the passionate heart and we are left holding it in our hands as the partner runs away, it’s devastating. So we learn to curb our enthusiasm. We learn that love poems are for “later.” Or maybe for “never.” Is there value in the love poem? Am I really writing to the woman I am with, or am I writing to the woman I imagine, the ideal woman?

In another early dating negotiation, I met a woman who seemed interested, and who was highly attractive to me. But when I reach for the second date, she mentioned this other person, “she was seeing.” What? Um, why did she reach out to me?

As we emailed over the next few weeks, me in the friendzone, she complained about this man who was unable to express his feelings. Stoic. Maybe he was playing the aloof card to manipulate her, in some attempt to keep her interested. It sure killed my “romantic” play. As this woman and I communicated over the next few months, he broke her heart. And I continued to profess, “Well, we could go out,” and to no avail. When she also showed up on the dating site I have a profile on, I was again confused. “What’s happening?” I asked.

Even though the chemistry seemed to be good for me, and she said it was for her, something about the timing, or the risk of my overtly “romantic” personality was a turn off to her. And she continued to wax poetic on Facebook about her lack of companionship. Oh well, seems like she was continuing to hunt for the stoic. Of course, she was romantic herself, and perhaps that was the risk. Two romantics together, might make for some uncomfortable projections and unrealistic fantasies.

When she continued to push and pull, I began to feel a bit scraped up by the pushes. While my romantic heart is resilient, and my “casual” commitment was in place, I wanted someone to fall in love with.

At is goes, the stoic or fearful woman, eventually wore me down. And my squelched romanticism was too much to bear. I had to go on looking, even though she was who I wanted. I learned that if the HEAT is not reflected, or if the “run-away” response is too  pronounced it begins to be a buzz kill. There’s a lot of passion, but if you have to moderate all the time, perhaps it’s not a fit.

So what is it about my silences that kept her wanting more, and my love songs that freaked her out? Do women want romantic love? Or was it just too soon for this woman, to be ready for the heady fall? After a while the jokes, I’m “just teasing,” began to feel like distancing techniques. And I got tired of always having to let the jokes roll off my back. If I rose to the occasion, and bantered back, the results were ALWAYS BAD. She loved to dish it out, but couldn’t stand to have some of her “teasing” tossed back at her.

So when she continued to push and pull, I began to feel a bit scraped up by the pushes. While my romantic heart is resilient, and my “casual” commitment was in place, I was wanting someone to fall in love with. I guess I still am. And if that object of affection is freaked out by the very idea of love…

Okay, so how is a stoic man attractive? Because he is unavailable? Because he needs winning? It’s not me, but I could learn to be more reserved. If I wanted to. I don’t. Moving right along…

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

related posts:

reference: All the good ones are married – Skinnyandsingle

image: romantic moment in amsterdam, monique broekhuisen, creative commons usage