A journalist interviewed me regarding intimacy in relationships. One of her questions was, "What are some of the easy ways in which husband and wife can bond - without candles and wine and expensive lingerie?"
Easy ways? Well, it depends on what you mean by easy!
More from YourTango: The Goals of Controlling Behavior In Relationships
Bonding has nothing to do with candles, wine and expensive lingerie. It has to do with intent. The Inner Bonding process teaches that in any given moment we are in one of two possible intents:
- The intent to have control over getting love and avoiding pain
- The intent to learn about being loving to ourselves and to others
Virtually all of us have learned many ways of trying to have control over getting love and avoiding pain. We learned these protective behaviors when we were children, and as adults we unconsciously continue these learned controlling behaviors, such as anger, criticism, withdrawal, resistance or compliance. For most people, these protective, controlling behaviors have become automatic and habitual. As soon as any fear is triggered, we automatically protect against the fear by arguing, blaming, attacking, judging, shutting down, resisting or giving in. In relationships, the fears of rejection and engulfment - of losing the other or losing ourselves - generally underlie our protective behavior.
In a relationship, if one or both partners are closed, protected, controlling, then they cannot emotionally connect with each other. No matter how much time they spend together with candles, wine or expensive lingerie, the connection will not be there when one or both are closed and protected. Ironically, when the intent is to get love or avoid pain, what we create is a lack of love and much pain. Our intent to control brings about the very things we are trying to avoid with our controlling behavior.
Our own intent is the one thing we DO have control over. We do not have control over another's intent to be open and loving, but we do have control over our own intent to be open to learning about what it means to be loving to ourselves and others. However, it takes both people being in the intent to learn for partners to emotionally bond.
More from YourTango: Soul Connections
If both are open to learning, then they will be emotionally available to each other and can bond with a touch, a smile, or a kind word. Bonding has to do with the energy between them, not with anything external like candles, and the energy comes from their intent. A controlling intent creates a heavy, dark, hard, closed-hearted energy, while the open-to-learning intent creates a light, soft, open-hearted energy.
The big challenge in relationships is to stay open to learning about loving. Because we automatically and unconsciously revert to our protective, controlling behavior in the face of fear, being open to learning needs to be a conscious choice. Developing the ability to make a conscious choice regarding your intent is a learning process. You can learn to do this by practicing the Inner Bonding process. The hallmark of higher consciousness is being able to choose your intent each and every moment, even in the face of fear.