Someone asked me recently how I manage to still have great sex with my partner; after all, we’ve been together for twenty-four years. She thought there was something wrong with her relationship when, after five years, she no longer had desire for her partner.
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 read a great blog on hoarding the other day (check it out here). It got me thinking about the different things people hoard and reminded me of an epiphany I had a few years ago. My kid used to hoard things—scrap paper, broken toys, the prizes from Happy Meals—which drove me nuts. Every few months I’d have to go into her room with a big trash bag to get rid of it all.
I’ve been writing a lot lately about fairy tale myths and other lies that lead people to have unrealistic expectations in their relationships. The last lie I want to address is the myth that a healthy relationship is free of conflict. In other words, that Happily Ever After means you never fight. In my experience, the only romantic relationships that are free of conflict are the ones that don’t communicate their true feelings.
Most romantic relationships are built on the myth of a fairy tale. We don’t stop listening to fairy tales as we get older. Instead, they morph from children’s stories into popular romantic and romantic comedy movies and books. One of the most prevalent myths in modern media is “You complete me.”
In fairy tales, sometimes the princess kisses a frog, or otherwise falls in love with a beast, and by doing so reveals his true nature as her prince. There are two facets to this particular myth. The first facet is that you can change someone, which is almost always untrue and sets the princess up for disappointment. You can’t change another person; you can only change yourself.
Ahh, soulmates. We’ve all been fed the romantic notion that there’s one perfect someone out there for us. Everyone has one perfect soulmate, and if we’re lucky, we’ll find each other and live happily ever after. The stars will align for us: we’ll be born at the same time (give or take a few or twenty years) and after living our lives a little, we’ll magically end up in the same part of the world at exactly the right time to fall head over heels in love. We’ll know instantly when we meet.
The other day I told my husband that I was really excited to see my best friend again. We live far apart and only get to see each other once a year. He responded with a hurt look, saying, “I thought I was your best friend!” To which I replied, “No, you’re my husband. I still need my girlfriend.” This is one of the key dynamics that can really mess up a long term relationship. Expecting your partner to fulfill all of your emotional needs sets you both up for disappointment. Every woman needs a girlfriend and every man needs a bromance.
Lots of people understand the value of hiring a professional coach to help them get a job or a promotion. They also understand that a trained coach can help them reach personal goals, such as losing weight or training for a marathon. But did you realize that a life coach can also help you find a romantic partner? Somehow, finding a partner seems a little more nebulous than other, more concrete goals. Besides, can you be coached into love? I believe you can, and I’ve helped countless people find love.