How Embracing The Japanese Aesthetic Of Wabi-Sabi Deepens Intimacy In Love & Relationships

Photo: Unsplash: Gül Kurtaran
What Is Wabi Sabi? How Embracing The Japanese Aesthetic Improves Intimacy In Long-Term Relationships

Nothing is perfect or permanent, but love can (and should!) be satisfying and beautiful.

Written by Dr. Ava Cadell

Accepting imperfection is at the heart of the Japanese aesthetic philosophy called wabi-sabi (侘寂), described by Leonard Koren in his book "Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers" as embracing beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. While this technique is perhaps most often harnessed by those in the Western world today in art and home design, it can just as readily and appropriately be considered and applied to love and long-term relationships.

The concept itself is derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō), suffering (苦 ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空 kū).

One guide to wabi sabi in House Beautiful explains, "Authenticity is a big part of wabi-sabi, so cracks and imperfections are cherished for symbolising the passage of time and loving use. Embracing wabi-sabi in the home teaches us to be content with our current lot without constantly yearning for more. It's the perfect antidote to a throwaway society built on disposable goods and mass-produced, homogeneous items."

For example, a beautiful clay pot with a crack in it may not be flawless, but it can be seen as even more deeply beautiful because of its unique imperfection.


RELATED: The Powerful Differences Between Romance, Desire, Lust, Passion, Intimacy & Love


And so it is with relationships. 

The unique differences, challenges and limitations within our union can make it deeper, and our acceptance of these ‘flaws’ allows us to enjoy each other more fully. With relationship wabi-sabi we can go beyond the idea of perfection to find a deeper satisfaction.

In long-term relationships, things never stay static.

As much as we might long to recapture the ravenous sexual appetite we had for our partner years ago, it will never be quite the same, but that doesn’t mean the sex can’t get even better!

We may also long for the days when we didn’t know that he walked around the house while brushing his teeth, or that she needed to talk to her mother every Sunday night, even while on vacation, but that doesn’t mean we’re not benefiting from this deeper understanding of each other over the years.


RELATED: The Simple Test That Shows If You're In A Good Relationship — Or If It's Time To Break Up


Here are two ways couples in long-term relationships can embrace the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi to bring greater intimacy and harmony to their love life.

1. Keep your balance.

Sometimes we focus on our partner’s ‘flaws’ and fixate on them, which is unhealthy and unproductive.

If you find yourself in this predicament, make a list of all the things you love about your partner. Maybe you would like her to be more outgoing at dinner parties, but don’t let that judgment cloud your entire perception. Pay attention to what is going on in her world, and take the time to balance out your current fixation with the value that she brings to your relationship. Things on this list may include her ability to talk to you about your work, her willingness to try new things or the fact that she cooks fantastic lasagna!

Get your perspective back, and take another look. How can you view this ‘flaw’ with love and understanding, and allow it to strengthen your union?


2. Communication.

Long-term relationships require open and honest communication. There’s no way around it!

Human beings are motivated by many different factors in their lives, and sometimes we find ourselves growing apart from our partners because they inhabit a different world from our own. Perhaps he doesn’t want to try yoga, while your practice is thriving and you want him desperately to join you, to feel what you feel. Consider letting this go, and observing his behavior as you accept him for who he is. You will set yourself free from the chains of constant coaxing (which isn’t working anyway), while also allowing him to simply be himself.

You may find that within this new free space, he gravitates to a different hobby that you both enjoy, or that the time apart doing different things is actually incredibly valuable to both of you, giving you more to talk about when you come back together.

There is a common wisdom that relationships take a lot of work.

That is quite true in terms of navigating schedules and priorities to maintain your quality time together, and working out emotional and physical needs and differences, but it is also true that accepting the imperfections of your relationship and recognizing the beauty of that imperfection can go a long way to bringing you both more fulfillment.


RELATED: 50 Questions To Ask Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend (Before Your Relationship Gets Too Serious)


Dr. Ava Cadell is America’s #1 Sexpert as a Clinical Sexologist, Sex Counselor, Founder of Loveology University and President of the American College of Sexologists International. Author of 9 books including the upcoming Sexycises by Sexperts: Intimacy Through Yoga, Dr. Ava is also a sought-after media therapist and global speaker whose mission is to empower people to overcome sexual guilt and shame so they can enjoy the benefits of healthy, sexual relationships.

This article was originally published at Sexpert.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.