Everything worth having starts with desire.
A few weeks ago, I wrote to you about how I planted the seeds for my relationship with my partner, Peter. And those of you who track with me on the regular know that intimate relationships do not come easily to me. From earliest memories, for very good reasons, I was a solo tour. I know many many women are like that. Some of us had unhappy childhoods that left us with righteously cold feet. Some of us got career tracked and missed the relationship boat. Some of us got burned along the way with heart-rending break-ups or difficult or even dangerous partnerships. Some of us just preferred to be on our own.
I think I was a little of everything.
So, the first thing on that desire list for a partnership was that ‘I feel more free inside the relationship than I do, on my own.’ (Here I should mention — I HAD NO IDEA how to do this. There is no reason you have to know HOW to do anything when you have a deeply held desire, either.)
Peter and I did really well, for the first year or so.
Then, shit started to get real.
I had massive family stuff.
He had massive health stuff.
We both had massive work stuff.
And true to my solo tour self, I started to drift way off into the sunset, in my mind.
Was he the one? (not so much…)
Is this how it is supposed to feel? (claustrophobic?)
Why do I feel trapped, stuck? (no oxygen!)
I think we might be incompatible. What to do? (break up?)
Fortunately, sisterhood saved the day. Again.
Three of my best girlfriends had all taken this workshop called Getting the Love You Want®, taught by Harville Hendrix and Helen Lakelly Hunt. Peter and I went for it.
Helen and Harville are partners in life and work. They have written 10 books, including the mega-bestseller that has just been updated and re-released called Getting the Love You Want. Together they created Imago therapy. Harville is a couples therapist with 40 years’ experience. He has been on Oprah 18 times. Helen was installed in the Women’s Hall of Fame for her contribution to the global women’s movement. They have been married for over 30 years and have 6 children.
I could not dream up two people on earth, more qualified to help us.
They are self-proclaimed cultural disruptors. They are in the business of re-thinking the nature of relationship and the values of the culture. Their process, their thinking, their methodology is waaaay bigger than couple’s counseling. And that’s what we needed.
This workshop rocked my world. So hard. It shoved me right out of my own limiting viewpoints and into a universe of possibility.
They taught me that, while most of us think we know how to talk, talking can sometimes hurt ourselves or one another. We tend to keep things to ourselves because of shame or fear of hurting another person. And then, when we get triggered by another person, or their response to us, our ‘go to’ is anger or blame. This was a breakthrough for me because I realized, as many of us do, that our childhood wounds stay alive our whole lives.
Helen explained that a wound is a hole, a holy memory, that when healed, in partnership, it makes us whole.
They showed us that having a better relationship is about shifting out of our trigger, from judgment to curiosity and wonder. A big leap. But they gave us so many tools to navigate.
And the incredible magic of these two leaders is that every single person in the workshop was able to accomplish this, through the techniques they taught us. Even Peter and myself.
We realized that if we heal the relationship, we heal ourselves. And with that as our intention, our relationship becomes a spiritual practice, a place where we are more free to experience ourselves than when we are alone.
And that healing ripples beyond us as individuals and our partnership.
Helen and Harville described how, when we look out for ourselves only, we harm ourselves and are actually going against nature. When we look out for others, that is in our best interests, because that sustains the connection. Which moves all of us towards a relational culture where everyone is equal, everyone is safe.
I realized that conflict is not a reason to quit, but rather, conflict is growth waiting to happen.
Peter is the opportunity for me to grow.
Which was exactly what I desired. And had no idea how to create, until I had the good fortune to encounter Helen and Harville. I wholeheartedly recommend their books and workshops. We are so lucky to have them, pioneering a shift in consciousness where partnership evolves from a need/gratification dynamic to mutual healing. To something holy.
Regena Thomashauer, aka “Mama Gena”
The School of Womanly Arts
Regena is a feminist icon, a teacher, a speaker, a mother, a best-selling author, and creatrix and CEO of The School of Womanly Arts.