I never thought I’d say this, but the more I think about it and the more I actively, consciously work on being present with my partner in a loving relationship, the more I believe that long term monogamy is not only possible, but that it is possibly one of the secrets to attaining enlightenment.
I realize that that’s a pretty big claim, but that has been my experience. A year ago I spent the month of April in Hawai’i. When I booked the trip, I fully expected to be recovering from a divorce. But the months went by and we kept showing up, being present, fighting and sharing our experiences; basically working really hard on being married. He ended up coming with me on the trip and we spent an amazing two weeks together. Our time together made me question what was really happening between us.
For a long time, I thought polyamory, or at least swinging, was the answer to my vague malaise. My partner’s a great guy, good in bed, a good dad, but I still felt like something was missing. I assumed that it was because humans aren’t naturally monogamous. But then I realized that my malaise had to do with wanting to go deeper emotionally, not broader sexually.
While we were in Hawai’I, we realized that we didn’t really trust each other. It was a shocking realization to a couple who’d been together for twenty three years, but I know we’re not the only ones. We both decided to try to go deeper, to discover whether we could learn to trust each other fully. That meant we had to be willing to be vulnerable and transparent with each other at all times. We couldn’t hide behind our emotional bunkers, and we couldn’t pretend everything was fine if it wasn’t.
That decision, and our continued commitment to be open, honest, transparent and vulnerable with each other, has thoroughly changed our relationship. It has not always been easy, but it has been worth it. A few weeks ago we were toe to toe in the kitchen as he worked through some jealousy and insecurity. A year earlier, he would have tried to hide it from me (and from himself). As I stood there, standing up for my right to dance, he talked out everything that was going on inside of him. I acknowledged his experience and stated my position. After about twenty minutes, I gave him a big hug and told him how much I loved him. He was startled; he wasn’t feeling very lovable at that moment, but I wanted to acknowledge how far he’s come.
One of the dynamics that comes up for us a lot is that he (and, I suspect, a lot of other men) didn’t realize that it’s ok to be afraid, jealous, or uncomfortable. I’ve given him permission to feel all of his feelings; it’s the ones we try to push away that wreak havoc in our relationships. It’s ok to be afraid; it’s just not ok to ignore it. Keep Reading...
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