The New Intimacy

Menstuff® has compiled information and books on the issue of Relationships. This section is an archive of a weekly column featured daily on our homepage by husband and wife psychology team, Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski. They are the bestselling authors of "The New Intimacy" and "Opening to Love 365 Days a Year." Their latest book is Be Loved for Who You Really Are: How the differences between men and women can be turned into the source of the very best romance you'll ever know. They provide corporate trainings on breaking through resistance to success and relationship workshops about The Magic of Differences--romance based on respect and value for each other's unique ways. As guest experts they've been on over 600 television and radio shows including Oprah, The O'Reilly Factor, 48 Hours, Canada AM, and The View. Visit their website at

Are You Really Available for the Love that You Want?
Being Different, Unique and Separate in Identity
Be Loved for Who You Really Are
The Blessing of Continually Created Love
The Challenge of Bad Moods
Commitment to the Totality of Love
Deliberately Creating Unconditional Love: The astonishing power of our thoughts and feelings
11 Keys to Lifelong Romance
Find a "Place" Where We can be at Ease
A Garden Can be like a Relationship
The Gift of the Future
Integrity! What does it mean?
Intimacy is about saying "Yes!"
Labor Day
Love Doesn't Cure Anything
** "Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself" and "Love Thine Enemy"
The Magic of Your Differences
New Year's Eve
Opening to the Unexpected
Physics of Thought--Its Contribution to Deliberately Creating ** Unconditional Love
Saying "I care about you"
Saying "Yes!"
A Soul-Meeting
The Spiritual Purpose for Your Being Together
Wandering Soul
What can a Woman can Buy for Her Man?
What are you going to do to express your heart this Valentine's Day?
Why Your Relationship will never Stay Firmly, Predictably in Place
Workin' It Out - Together
The World Longs for Peace

The Gift of the Future

Many of us believe the most sought after experience in life is to be recognized for who we know ourselves to be. And it's certainly exhilarating when someone sees us and knows us and says "Yes!"

But what about who we want to become -- our dreams and aspirations, our ambitions and the images we hold of what we know is possible. After all, who we are is mostly composed of who we've been. But who we will be, that's a matter of imagination and commitment.

Parents can offer no deeper promise to their children than sincerely wanting to know what passions churn inside them, what gifts they've brought to share with the world.

When lovers cherish one another's hopes and desires they open the future as a psychic space into which they can grow their love

When you respectfully ask yourself, "Where am I going?" and listen humbly for an answer, you are calling on your soul to speak, to show you more of what is possible.

Philosophers refer to it as the distinction between being (what already is) and becoming (what yearns to be born).

Sure, it's true that sometimes we don't know what we want and sometimes our dreams do not become real. That's not the point. To allow for a vision of what we believe is possible opens hope and energizes our efforts.

This New Year's Eve or perhaps New Year's Day take the time to begin a new ritual. Open an ongoing discussion with your beloved about the future. Hopes. Fears. Dreams. Goals. Whatever feels right to keep the topic flowing and making way for new awareness about yourselves and about each other.

Then throughout the year make the conscious and loving choice to recognize what is yet to be in those near you. Acknowledge what they want to become. Affirm their dreams.You will be fostering a future that will make the world a better place to live.

Saying "Yes!"

Recently we went to a Chamber Music Concert in a nearby town. World class musicians played and were paid far less than they are accustomed to.

Rather than holding back, assuming that the small-town audience wouldn't know the difference, or protecting themselves from whatever inadequacies they might encounter (like having to wait in a tiny, adjacent room before going on), they said "Yes!" to the evening and gave one of the most masterful performances we've ever witnessed in our lives! They played from their hearts and souls and demanded, with their very beings, that we all go with them into the ecstatic passions that drove their spirited playing.

You might imagine that a rural audience would be polite, reserved in their appreciation for these musicians, these players who pushed themselves and their instruments to produce an atmosphere of awe and wonder. But no, the audience said "Yes! And leapt to its feet, screaming out their joy and showering the players with an intimacy the lifted them to even greater playing.

Judith was in tears much of the time, as she responded to that beauty. Jim was swept up in a sense of gratitude as he opened to the power and majesty of the playing. We held hands, made knowing eye contact and shared the joy together. Intimacy upon intimacy sweeping back and forth from stage to audience and back again transforming everyone.

Intimacy is about saying "Yes!"-- opening yourself, entering the moment, eager to see what is calling you. How often do you open yourself fully, letting your soul speak, making way for what wants to be revealed within you?

Like those musicians, intimates must say "Yes!" surrendering to the emotional force and spiritual expansiveness between them. That's what leads to the heights and the depths of being together. That's what makes the music of passion. And it's all about saying "Yes!" One little word that can release us to the oneness that is at the heart of true intimacy.

Workin' It Out - Together

In the early days of love it all seems so bliss filled and romantic -- and it feels like it will last forever.

Then you settle down, get married, create a home, have kids and......where did the magic go!? There's so much to do, the errands never end, the house always needs work, the kids are demanding, and your love seems to have slipped away. Or has it?.

You wish you felt more connected. You wish it was more like it was in the beginning when you couldn't get enough of being together. And perhaps you feel overburdened and lonely doing the chores and making a living and taking care of the kids and.....

Well, kind to yourself, your partner and your relationship and check to see if you both feel the same way. Chances are you do. And chances are really good that because you've cared enough to ask, this kindness will open new possilbities for deciding to do more of the daily family maintenance and caretaking--together!

Sure you may have different schedules. But surely you can find some time when you BOTH fold the laundry (while watching TV, perhaps!), pick out a new paint color for the bathroom (even if one of you has to bring home a bunch of swatches from the home deco store and look them over late at night) or take the kids to the birthday party together (even if you have to forego a golf game or shopping trip just this once).

You may be thinking, big deal, it's still a chore to do that stuff. Yes, that's true is you only hold on to a worker-bee attitude. But if you approach these tasks as ways to be kind and make life more enjoyable, then you will be well on your way to finding the daily romance in workin' it out together.

Judith: Even if we seldom have company that will be shown around our house (meaning they get to see our bedroom on the second floor), we both make the bed together nearly every morning. We've remarked on how much this mundane kindness reminds us of our care for each other and for our home.

Jim: Frequently one of us washes the dishes after dinner and the other dries. The tasks may be menial but the bondedness of consciously doing them together is revitalizing and endearing -- while making the work more fun!

Find just one thing you typically do alone and figure out how to make it a form of daily kindness to yourselves and to your relationship. The practice of teamwork, a joint contribution to being together, will allow you to trust one another more and create new avenues of shared experience and discussion.

And be as kind to yourselves as you might be to outside help. For example, include your favorite snacks and good music if you're doing something like building a new fence, re-doing your flower beds, painting the house or cleaning out the garage.

Be kind to one another and make it as fun as possible to to get the work done--together!

The Magic of Your Differences

The first blush of love is intoxicating. Every touch, every kiss, every thought of one another is enough to quicken your heart and thrill your spirit. You are perfect for one another. Or so it seems at the beginning.

Then things change. Differences show up. Instead of two-who-have-become-as-one, you feel separate and you're not sure the other one is somebody you even like anymore. Your relationship has entered into the clash of differences.

Why does that happen? Because love changes. It cannot stay static. The future of what you will have together will grow out of the deeper love that awaits you in the magic of your differences.

True love insists that you move beyond the easy connection of the early days of your relationship and allow your differences to make themselves known. You cannot help but reveal more of your complexity, your limitations, quirks, excellence, and most important, your troublesome self-centeredness. Love is no longer just ecstatic. It demands that you reveal yourself, your whole self. Otherwise, how can you ever know that you are truly loved, . .loved for who you are?

Unfortunately, most couples do not understand that the clash of differences is not only inevitable, but it is also necessary. It is that time when love asks, "Are you serious about your relationship? Are you willing to go where I will take you? Do you want a full and awesome love, a love that takes root deep inside both of you? Or do you just want to be entertained?"

Since almost no one receives any training in how to date effectively and how to co-create a successful, romantic long-term relationship, far too many couples give up at this point and let go of what could have been a very good relationship. They think that conflicts mean failure; that a spiritually meaningful love will just happen without any effort on their part. They rage or withdraw, believing that something has gone terribly wrong and that love is no longer possible.

This assumption is wrong. Flat wrong. It not only short-changes the spiritual journey love wants for you, but it also denies the natural and necessary challenges you will face when you join your unique self together with your partner who is also one-of-a-kind.

Excluding emotional and/or physical abuse, which absolutely have nothing to do with love, your conflicts are signals that both of you are showing up in your distinctiveness, and that is a fundamental requirement if you are to ever have a relationship you can trust with your heart and soul.

However, we must all have compassion for ourselves. Most people, men and women alike, believe that conflict means that somebody wins and somebody loses. No one likes to lose and the winner never really wins because the loser gets revenge somewhere down the line. So that kind of conflict is not only painful but pointless. Why wouldn't we want to stay in the simple and easy pleasures of the first part of love?

Because that isn't real. As we said, love changes. It takes all of us into the dark side of who we are so that we can be assured that we are loved wholly -- no masks, no games -- loved for who we are, through and through. That's the only way we can know if we are truly lovable and have the capacity to love someone else in just the same way.

The key to attracting and co-creating trustworthy love is to redefine the notion of conflict. No longer a win/lose battle; open to the understanding that a conflict is like a flare, shot up from the depths of your relationship, alerting you that something needs attention. Something in your relationship is calling out for care and healing. In other words, do not avoid the conflicts.

That may sound daunting. After all, do you want to risk antagonizing the very person you feel such love for? But if you don't bring forth the truth of what you are feeling -- the hurt, fear, disappointment, anger, and sadness that are natural and necessary experiences that arise from your clash of differences --then you are not being loving, no matter what you say. You are not letting your partner know the truth. And that is not love. Furthermore, you will end up secretly stuffing your vulnerable and raw feelings, keeping secrets from your partner, and you will drain the life out of your relationship.

Love cannot thrive in pretense. Love can grow only out of what is real.

You may be asking, So where is the magic in all of this? The magic is in the intimacy you will create together, the real, dependable, all-embracing intimacy in which you feel secure and open to the precious, full love that you sensed in the beginning was possible.

There, in your differences, you will discover lasting passion; romance in even the smallest moments; wisdom that guides you through the tough times; joy in simply being together; and a deepening spiritual awareness that love is real and it is what you thought it could be.

Don't hide from your conflicts. They are fertile soil for co-creating mutual respect, esteem, trust, intimacy, and the very real joy that is at the heart of the magic of your differences.

11 Keys to Lifelong Romance

Keeping love and romance alive is simple. It just takes paying attention to the well-being of your relationship and having the willingness to be creative and active in the ways you express and receive love.

Here are 11 easy ways to do that...

1. HUMOR: special nicknames, private jokes, laughing with appreciation at one another's clever wit and funny comments.

Jim's the "Towel Thief" and Judith is the "Oat Muffin." We joke about Jim being a "ditz" because his memory is lousy and Judith being "the princess" because she's very sensitive to noise and discomfort of any kind.

2. PLAY: water fights in the pool, wrestling together with the dog, feeding the birds in the park, licking cake batter off the beaters and one another's noses, silly cards and gifts.

We feed the horses and donkey down the road, take moonlit walks in the snow, make bets over almost anything with the payoff usually being ice cream, give little funny gifts with special meaning (dog pencils for Jim who was a dog in another life) teddy bears for Judith (who never got to be a kid when she was little) and walking wind-up hearts for Valentine's Day.

3. AFFECTION: touching one another, kissing just for fun, cuddling while watching TV, saying "I love you because.........(and describing why), getting the other's favorite foods at the market, special time in bed before getting up in the morning.

We often tell each other how much we enjoy living with one another, almost all the time when we're walking we hold hands, kiss in the kitchen while making dinner, hug a lot, and leave special love notes around the house from time-to-time.

4. CURIOSITY: each of us wants to be known and valued for who we really are so having someone we love be curious about us can be a real aphrodisiac.

After almost sixteen years together (fifteen married) we are still curious about one another's childhoods and past life experiences. We ask about differences of opinion re: movies, politics and social issues, other people, etc. We want to understand one another's feelings when hurt, disappointed, upset, and sometimes even joyous.

5. CELEBRATION: making a meaningful and fun event for birthdays and wedding anniversaries, promotions, a new house, new dog, a debt paid off, anything you care about.

We celebrate the day we met as being as important as our wedding day. Rather than exchange gifts for our birthdays and Christmas we take ourselves on a romantic trip around that time (our birthdays are in December too). We still keep a Memory Book with photos and memorabilia that celebrates our life together.

6. RITUALS: anything meaningful that a couple enjoys doing on a regular basis, like special tailgate parties before football games, helping the homeless every holiday season, toasting to one another at dinner each night, adding one more special plant to the garden each spring, etc.

We hold hands on take-off whenever we fly, add Christmas tree ornaments with photos of us to our tree each year, play aunt and uncle to three sets of children in our town and shop together for the gifts we give them for the holidays, and we collect heart shaped things.

7. ADVENTURE: continually and frequently stretching the boundaries of what is known and familiar like travel, cultural events, exploring what they can learn from one another, anything that breaks up their routine.

We travel outside the country at least once a year and inside the country as often as possible. We learn from each other's interests and skills (Judith appreciates nature because of Jim's passion for the mountains and clouds and stars. Jim is an experimental cook because of Judith's comfort in the kitchen, etc.).

8. CONFLICT: responding to the inevitable clash of differences by understanding that change is at hand and that they need to understand one another more deeply. That way their love deepens both between them and in their individual capacity to expand beyond self-centered needs amd desires.

Even after almost sixteen years together we still clash from time to time. We know there's always something for both of us to learn when it happens. And we know that each time we end up feeling closer and more in love -- because we've gone through the dark underbelly into the light once again and we are trustworthy allies through it all.

9. ADMIRATION: frequently voicing praise and respect for specific talents, accomplishments, skills, and personality traits. Paying compliments often. .

We compliment one another's writing, cooking, humor, interpersonal skills, appearance, kissing, you name it. And we do it a lot. Why be stingy with the one you love!?

10. APPRECIATION: saying thank you for almost anything. Making sure to never take one another for granted.

We thank each other for washing the dishes, taking out the trash, going to the recycling center, picking up a gift for a party, and for all the times we really treasure the kindness and/or compassion of the other.

11. RECEIVE: We've all heard it said that it is better to give than receive. Well imagine a world in which everyone is giving and no one is receiving. Does that sound like fun?

So for the first 10 to be as romantic as possible, they must, must be received! Otherwise we teach one another that there's no point in being romantic!

Saying "I care about you"

How many times this week did you find yourself calling someone just to say "You're important to me. I care about you" when ordinarily you wouldn't have? And how many times did you speak more kindly to the anxious cashier at the bank, the gruff clerk at the post office?  

It's seems so much easier to do when we share the agony of this brutal death and destruction of 9/11. Why?

And when people have gone out of their way to see how you are doing, hasn't it felt good to know that you are recognized and cared for? And if they didn't ask, did you feel a bit taken-for-granted or left out, when everyone else seemed to be getting attention?

If we're honest with ourselves, we like to know that people care about us. Not one of us is so hardened that we are impervious to the comfort of the positive human connection.

Yet a year from now, will we have forgotten the compassion we feel for everyone? Will we return to being shy and cautious about revealing our tenderness and shared humanity? If so, why? 

The goal of the new intimacy is to help us all reach beyond our fear of being too open, our shyness about being heart-felt in our dealings with others. After all, as we've just seen, life really does hang by a thread and there is never a guarantee of tomorrow.

So let us emerge from this horror emboldened to share ourselves more fully with those we love and even with those we can care about even if it's only while we're buying a pair of shoes. The grace of your smile, a sincere thank you can brighten the moment for anyone you are interacting with. And you will be helping to make the world a better place.

A place where, more and more, we can feel caring and cared about as a regular part of our life with one another. 

How do we do this? Only by changing how we think about ourselves and others and practicing, practicing, practicing!

Practicing kindness and care is practical spirituality and the opposite of terrorism!

What can a Woman can Buy for Her Man?

Here are some wonderful ideas.

Contrary to the current notion that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, we're delighted to report that there was much similarity between the genders proving that we all come from right here on good old Earth.

It was also very moving to witness the emotional generosity that you exhibited in your suggestions and the care you expressed in offering your thoughts to help We thank you.

We'll first list the suggestions from both men and women and then re-print some of their wonderful passages. Here are the results.


Flowers was a repeated idea; books from his favorite genre; a sexy picture of you or a picture at your best; a foot massage and/or back rub; anything that appeals to the child in him, something he can play with; sexy night wear for you; tools... anything that says Craftsman, Makita, Dewalt, or Black & Decker is a pretty safe bet; Big Dog Boxers, a day trip just the two of you - get him some sexy underwear and you be the aggressor for the night; a night on the town...dinner at a fun restaurant... just make me feel special; coupons for massage, quiet time, lovemaking...something he can get only from you. how about songs that remind him of you?


A day off note he can claim anytime, a sexual fantasy certificate; a picture of you in a frame; smiles; a gift certificate; tools was suggested by a number of women; compliments; a personalized poem; sports/concert/lecture tickets; a book of coupons he can redeem only from you; a quality cigar; love notes hidden all around the house, dated so he knows you were thinking of him at that time; take over his least favorite chore for a day or a week; a gift certificate to Home Depot, Lowe's or Quality Farm & Fleet... he can use it when he wants and for what he wants; a car detail or a series of car washes; kidnap him from the office; recreate a moment that meant the most to you.

NOW here is more of what you had to say:


Scott: In most cases I think that we want the same type of attention in gift buying that women want from us. Surprise, thoughtfulness, forethought.

Sid: When my wife of 25 years goes off on company business she brings me ball caps and printed t-shirts.

Rich: All she has to do is say that she loves me and that she wants to spend the weekend showing me how much she does, and that pretty much does it for me.

Robert: All I can say for sure is that men want to know they're loved and thought of just as women do and love to be pampered and have their eagle lifted.

Charles: This man likes the little surprises, even romantic cards, that are unexpected but say so very much.

Michael: I love presents! Little is fine. I like paperback books. I love cashews, and CCMEBs (chocolate covered marshmallow easter bunnies!)

Richard: A man wants a woman to make him look good, not just physical appearance but also the mental appearance, you know so others will see that he cares and that he can take care of her also that she makes him look like a man.

Rob: Just chill his day for him. Be soft, accepting, nurturing. A little sweet food; stroke his hair, and just let him release all of his pent up frustrations slowly into oblivion, by basking in your love.

Michael: I'm hard to buy for (usually if I want something I've already bought it for myself). So I help her out now...I keep an envelope of stuff I want. If I see something in a catalog, I cut it out with the phone/email attached and I put it in the envelope. If I don't have a picture of the item, I have a piece of paper in the envelope that I write down the item, price, and how to find it easily. After I put things in the envelope I try not to buy them myself.

Steve: The things I really want are things I never had until recently. I want to come home to a cheery welcome and a warm kiss. I want to be able to return that welcome and kiss with one of my own. I want to listen to how her day was and want to share about mine. I want someone to hold me while I hold them. Hugs and snuggles are wonderful! I want them, too. I want to hear those three wonderful words often and I want to be able to say them often. (We do and it is great!) I want to be enabled to love openly and I want to return that enabling. I want us both to work on "us" on a daily basis.

Another Steve: I am amazed how often my wife has picked out something that I wouldn't have ever bought for myself but absolutely adore (a book, clothing, wine, CD, anything). Her insight and the differences between us make the gift so special. It doesn't matter what the gift is, I know she was thinking of me when she bought it!


Jodi: Giving of yourself is better than 'anything' you can buy. Give hugs, kisses, caresses, praise, encouragement, attention and anything else you can think of when he least expects it. You'll have a man who's going to fall in love with you every day of the rest of your life.

Tilly: You don't have to spend any money, you could stay at home and keep him in your bedroom, where you can pamper him and spoil him and show him how much you really appreciate and love him

Melanie: Anything sports related and they seem to love silly kids toys as stocking-stuffers. If you are going for the element of surprise ...You and wearing a BIG red bow or three little ones. lol

JoeLin: They way I shop...generally I buy only things on sale. To him that sends a message that I'm aware that he is the "breadwinner" and of the stress that puts on him.

Beckie: Sometimes the best thing we can do is just listen to them...really listen ...and ask questions so they know we are listening and interested. Men, like most women, just want to be recognized and appreciated for who they are and the things they do.

Susan: Buy something for yourself for him. Something that you might not do but that because of things he's mentioned in the past, you know he would enjoy. honey LOVES me with nails so I go, he LOVES naughty lingerie, stockings like fishnet, funky clothes...maybe not something I'd have the nerve to wear out. So, this is something 'for you' that is really 'for him' you probably can't box it up to go under the tree but it would be a gift!

Geraldine: When my husband was alive (he died Nov. 14,"96 of a fast growing cancer we didn't even know he had...) it was what I did for him. Making his favorite foods, treats for him and surprising him with them (he loved to take his lunch to work so he could show off all the things he loved to eat that i had made for him to enjoy). You can do little things for him when he is overworked and tired. 

And finally one woman wrote: The true "gift" is the gift of companionship. Learning what's important to those who are important to us and showing them that they ARE important by our participation in their lives. 

Thanks everyone for making this more than just a survey, but a lesson in the new intimacy of real life love ..... to be loved for who we really are..

Opening to the Unexpected

Sad to say, many of us were raised to create marriages and family life in a well regulated and predictable fashion. And then, lo and behold, life seems boring and tedious.

But what about opening our lives and love to the unexpected, the mysterious? What some people refer to as Quantum reality. In other words, in the quantum world of subatomic physics, it is now known that electrons don't move in a straight line fashion but leap from one energy level to another.

Here, in the world at human size, events are no longer thought to be compressed into linear routes - that is B always follows A, C necessarily follows B. Now the universe has revealed new secrets that tell us that A can be followed by M, which can be followed by C and so forth -- as long as we hold our minds open to the adventure of discovery.

For example, we came to live here in the cozy, small town of Windham, New York, more through whim and a seeming sense of destiny, than through any well ordered plan. In fact, our moving here from Santa Monica made no sense on paper and when our friends asked why we were doing it, our initial response was, "God's whim!"

Now that we've been here two and a half years we can see that it has been one of the wisest "impulses" we've ever had. More than anything, the move to this entirely new kind of environment broke us loose from many ingrained habits, making room for just the kind of things to happen that can only happen when you trust the voyage you are on and look forward to the discovery it has in store for you.

And it all happened because of a seeming disaster -- we were in Manhattan Valentine's Day week of 1999 to promote our book, "The New Intimacy" on TV and Radio, and after doing "The View" we got bumped from everything else -- pre-empted because the Clinton impeachment findings were going to be announced! A disaster!!!! Right?

Wrong!!! We took the time to travel by Amtrak to visit our friends Art and Pat who lived very near Windham and fell in love with the area. Rather than resist, rather than say "This is not logical," which on paper it wasn't, we opened to it and that was the leap that opened the new direction of our life together.

Open yourself to the possibility of dancing at the fringes of what you already know and do, the reality you've constructed and live within, inviting the unimagined to grace your relationship, to bless your capacity to love. Give it a try, everyday. It works!

A Soul-Meeting

We met on a blind date over 15 years ago. We weren't each other's type and there wasn't instant chemistry.

Yet, on the fourth date, when we first held hands, we knew something was happening that was beyond anything we'd ever experienced or even imagined. It scared us -- but ever so deliciously. We didn't yet call it love. It simply announced itself through our holding hands -- the heat, the intensity, the energy of a deeply connected soul-meeting.

It would be a couple more dates before we had the courage to kiss. And when we did, a tidal wave of emotion took over as Judith began to weep with joy -- for reasons too profound to understand at the time. We couldn't deny what was happening.

Rather soon, we began to discover how very different we were from each other -- sort of like a neatly tended Bonsai (Judith) and a wildly ranging Grapevine (Jim). We also came to our relationship with deeply entangle roots from early years in separate "nurseries" where we grew from seedlings to maturity. Neither of us received expert pruning. Judith had been overly trimmed back while Jim lacked appropriate direction. Hardly stuff for the best cross-fertilization.

Yet, we were old enough to know that it was in our differences that the soil of love could best be fertilized.

The test would come with our first real fight. If only we could fight for the relationship and not to win.

We'd known each other four months when we went to Hanford, near the Sierras in Northern California. We had a wonderful time hiking through the redwoods, dancing in local clubs and watching fireworks on the 4th of July. As we paid the hotel bill, Jim saw a notice for a jazz concert a few months later and asked Judith if she'd like to come back for the event.

Judith was silent. Rather abruptly and a bit too sharply, Jim said, "Okay, we won't." Judith was shocked and hurt. She shot back, "What's wrong with you? I didn't say no." There was contempt just around the edges of her intent.

That did it. We were in our first fight.

We stalked out to the car, angry and scared, with hundreds of miles to go before the safety of our own homes.

After we'd pouted and snarled a bit, we started working toward the resolution.

Judith: Why did you snap at me? I didn't do anything.

Jim: You were silent for so long I thought...

Judith: (defensively) I was just thinking!

Jim: Well, why didn't you say so? I thought you hated my idea.

Judith: You didn't have to take my silence personally.

Jim: You looked sullen, it made me feel insecure.

Judith: Insecure! Are you kidding!!?? Really? I thought you were punishing me because I didn't just immediately respond. I felt attacked.

Deepest truths had opened up -- Jim's insecurity and Judith's fear of attack. Would we use them to hurt each other? Or would we respect the private pain these truths revealed?

It took a bit more conversation, curiosity and clarification before our hearts could open onto sincere compassion for one another's injuries and provide the lush heart pain of mercy for the old wounds that accompanied each of us on this adventure into deepest intimacy.

What started out as a "stupid misunderstanding" in a hotel lobby had turned out to be an invitation to real romance, richer love and a sweet sympathy for one another that guided the rest of our trip home and continues to inform our marriage all these years later.

Why Your Relationship will never Stay Firmly, Predictably in Place

Because there are always two distinctly different people in any relationship and because change is a fundamental part of life, your relationship will never stay firmly, predictably in place. Never. UNLESS you both die emotionally and settle for dullsville.

When you really get this, or "grok" it as Robert Heinlein said, then you can begin to enjoy and look forward to the many seasons your long-term relationships will go through.

This is very similar to the flowing changes in the local wild flowers here. Every week or two some of them are fading and altogether new shapes and colors and sizes are erupting with gleeful abandon. This riotous infusion of new life into the already living, the dying off of that which is now beyond its time -- brings us such delight as we take our morning walks down our road.

We've speculated on what it would be like if they all came into their season at the same time. It would be difficult to appreciate them as independently wonderful expressions of God's creativity -- they would all be just alike. And it would be just one thing -- there would be no progression and development to the spectacle.

Sadly, so many people want their relationships set in stone right from the beginning -- no surprises, no growth, no unfolding. But life and love are not like that. The blessing of real life love is that each of us keeps growing if we stay open to the lessons of love and then our relationships can never be boring, never beyond improvement, never without further depths of love to discover.

Enjoy all the seasons -- even when you are too hot, too cold, and certainly even when your love life isn't going according to your private plan. At all times, know that love is taking you where it needs you to go!

Commitment to the Totality of Love

There is great wisdom in your choice of serious love partners. Wisdom that doesn't always meet the eye. In fact on the surface, it may seem like the two of you are so different that you'll not even be able to make it. But, with a full commitment to the totality of love -- it's those very same differences that will not only fertilize your love, keeping your lives vital and always changing, but will also spur you to greater personal growth.

Yesterday, Jim went into town for his morning newspaper and donut pick-up. On his way out, Judith handed him a form to take to the Library, so we could formally apply to use the Civic Center for a presentation we'll be making in September.

When he got back, Judith asked how it went at the Library. Jim looked surprised. He'd forgotten all about it and didn't even know where the form was! Well! In the early part of our marriage (we've been together 13 years, married 12) when this ditzy side of Jim would show itself, Judith would usually flip out. She'd get angry and scared and start crying in total frustration! Sometimes it would deteriorate into long, drawn out fights as we struggled to find our equilibrium -- because Jim never saw anything tragic going on and Judith always did.

You see, Judith was raised in a family that took getting things done "right" very seriously. So she developed a perfectionistic bent, coupled with a need to avoid "trouble" or getting into "trouble." (Can you identify with that?) That followed her into marriage and obviously caused a great deal of pain for both of us.

The wisdom in marrying Jim is that today Jim is still prone to being ditzy, but Judith has learned from him that his "relaxed attitude" has never caused a catastrophe and so she has relaxed enormously and seldom gets upset anymore.

That's not to say that Jim is so relaxed he's dangerous. We're only talking about non-consequential issues. But it's often the little things that drive people into divorce court when they cannot tolerate each other's personal styles.

Please remember - the other person is not you. Your partner is not you. That may sound obvious, even simplistic, but the next time you go off on your partner because s\he or she hasn't done something "right" - in other words, the way you would do it or the way it should be done - you are insisting there's only one person in the world and that is YOU! Intimacy takes two and it's most delicious when the two aren't the same. Then the adventure of love can be wondrous and your relationship can stay fresh and vital.

Jim found the Library form in his office. He'd been distracted and left it behind. He turned it in the next day. Judith didn't even lose a beat on this one and got to celebrate her cool attitude and tease Jim, in a loving way, about his "absent minded Professor," which he didn't defend. We both had a good time on our walk today talking about how much we've learned from one another and how grateful we are for it. That's what can happen through the wisdom in your choice of one another!

Take a look at all the ways your relationship, even if it didn't work out, was a very wise choice in terms of all you've learned from it! And be grateful.

Find a "Place" Where We can be at Ease

One morning, during our walk along the road, we noticed Baron, the horse next door, anxiously ranging around his corral. He is a grey and white dappled stallion with large brown beautiful eyes. As beautiful as they are, they are a source of maddening frustration for him because tiny flies - "no-see-ums" because they are hardly visible - hover around his eyes attracted to the moisture. He keeps moving to get away, looking for a spot in his corral where he can finally be at ease, an ease that seems to be just out of reach.

Aren't we all just like Baron? Aren't we driven to find a "place" where we can be at ease?

Our need for intimacy is like that. No matter where we go, we yearn for closeness. We yearn for the sustenance of relationship, because we are all creatures who dearly and deeply depend upon one another, not just for our daily bread but for what our souls need - being seen, recognized, appreciated for who we are. And so we keep ranging around the corral of our lives pushed along by a wordless need to find connection.

And yet, even in our most intimate moments, there is still an echo of longing. We are called beyond what is by a whisper that says, "There is more. Reach out to me. There is more." We have what we want and still there is more and so the longing never recedes. Even though it can be less intense, it never recedes.

What do we so deeply long for? What can yield the ease that seems always just out of reach?

Within every intimate moment there is the heartbeat of God. It doesn't matter what you understand God to be, we live with the sense that somewhere, someplace we will find home, that place we will finally be at ease.

Intimacy is the doorway. Through intimacy your heart can touch and be touched, and as you listen very closely, there will be God - in your lover's eyes, in your own pulse, in the life that emerges when you let yourself be seen and known. And then God smiles and says, "Thank you. I've so dearly wanted to know you better."

There is a real and immediate sense of connection waiting for you and it's available everywhere - even in the eyes of a Baron living next door who's trying to find his own place of ease. Open and receive it. As you do, that face you will glimpse out in the beyond may be God's and it may be your own. After all, aren't they the same, really?

The Blessing of Continually Created Love

Spiritual relationship is about thoughtful practice. It's about being aware of yourself and your partner. When you base your relationship on continually and consciously re-committing yourselves to love, respect, and creativity your maturity and trust will support you and carry you forward. You will enjoy a mutually expanding, inspiring, and stimulating relationship.

You will know you are both part of the intimacy you are creating while remaining whole within your own separate sense of self. You will be alive in one another's consciousness, not as a limit, but as a permanent loving presence.

You will become larger, more competent, and wiser simply from the sheer practice of encountering and integrating the life you are living. You can then more easily accept and participate in the world without needing to dramatize or disown it. With that, you will feel a deep sense of connection. You will come to see the universe as a community in which we are all immersed -- creating a sense of connection that is not sentimental or naive, but a profound experience that we are each part of The All.

Though your relationship will sometimes be difficult, and sometimes even very difficult, it becomes a gateway to more meaningful and richer awareness. You will discover even deeper pools of strength and light as the spiritual purpose of your relationship becomes clearer. Then the mundane becomes sacred. The ordinary becomes alive and blessed. You value day-to-day existence for the miracle that it is. Then, change is divine grace, the occasion through which providence enters your life.

Let the love that lives between you intoxicate you with the miracle of who you are. Open to the goodness that exists in each of you, no matter what form or shape it may take. Leave room in your heart to embrace the darker side as well. Surrender to the force that moves you to care, to feel compassion, to speak over and over that the one you love is so very, very special. And then grace whispers . . .

Let me come to you and I will. Sometimes I will visit you when you least expect it. Other times, you may feel me right around the corner. And at still other times, we will be one. Let me come to you and I will come more and more and more. I may come to you when you tuck your little one into bed or even when you're taking out the trash. I may find you when you're saying good-bye to your dying mother, and bring you the peace you've both so sorely missed.

I may even find you when you're feeling lost and so alone, only to remind you that there is so much more going on in this life than you will ever be aware. And I certainly will be there when you are dancing, your heart radiating life and love. Let me come to you.

Wandering Soul

In Wandering Soul, John Denver sings, "Love is the answer, love is the way;
Love is knowing just what to do and what to say."

Lyrics like, John Denver's, paint an idyllic picture of love: charming, romantic, and unspoiled. But if it is taken to represent all that love is, then his lyrics are incomplete, unbalanced, and misleading.

In some situations we know just what to do and just what to say. But how often does that happen?

What about those times when we don't know what to do or say? But we still care! And care very deeply! Is our care reduced from being love to some lesser status? Are we unloving when, in a moment with the one we love, we stumble emotionally, feel unsure as to what to do or say, perhaps even say something that causes pain for the other person? Do we have to be right on point, precise with our observations, interpretations, and expressions, in order for love to be present? If so, then for many people, perhaps most, loving and being loved is a rare experience.

Yet, we've all had the experience of receiving a child's awkward, unformed attempts at expressing love and we relish them. In fact, we cherish them precisely because they are clumsy. They are not perfect, far from it, and that is what makes them so powerful and we are so moved. We feel loved because we recognize the child's intention, sincerity, and innocence. We see the love without demanding that the child know just what to do and just what to say. And that love is precious. Very, very precious.

But we do not give each other, as adults, the same openness, the same leeway, the same willingness to accept ourselves, in this human condition, as not always being on top of it.

Yes, the experience of love can by idyllic, even ecstatic and transcendent, and that's wonderful when it happens. But think about those times when someone loved you and their loving wasn't smooth. Rather, they may have been unskilled, even inept, but they came toward you anyway, laying open their love, whatever its shape and expression? Do you remember how touched you were?

"Love" gets such a bad deal when we expect it only to be delightful and perfectly expressed. Love is bigger and richer than that limited, stunted notion.

Remember, when the one you love doesn't know just what to do or just what to say but they do something and say something anyway, that's even more loving because their heart is open and they are wearing their willingness on their sleeve.

The World Longs for Peace

The world longs for peace. Talk of peace is part of every language, every epoch. The idea of peace is used to inspire, manipulate, coerce. The hope of peace is wished for at the height of battle and in the quietude of prayer. And yet peace remains illusive, a specter that haunts our yearnings, teases us, and then slips away.

War, on the other hand, is so commonplace as to be prosaic. Although begrudgingly, we take it for granted, as though it is so deep a part of the human condition as to be natural, part of the sinew and artery of life on this earth. And yet, who wouldn't, if given the power and authority, banish war from the mind, making it unimaginable

Consider this:

At it's essence, war is the conflagration that erupts when two (or more) sides, for whatever reasons, become so entrenched as to be unwilling to allow any point of view but their own, any outcome but that which they imagine and insist upon. No matter how they may explain, justify, vindicate, or expound their point of view, each side demands to be the sole arbiter of reality and is willing to kill and be killed to achieve that end.

War is the ultimate expression of being closed--invulnerable, impervious, untouchable, dark, opaque, airtight to any other point of view but one's own.

Just think of the battles that rage in divorce courts and the fury threaded through custody hearings to appreciate what war looks like on a personal scale.

So what about peace? Can we assume that peace resides where openness, understanding and remembering that "we belong to each other" is experienced as natural?

You don't have to look beyond your own personal relationships to find out.Bring to mind a time (not current) when you insisted on being the sole arbiter of reality--your way or the highway (which, by the way, is a bloodless form of war).

Now, looking back, what would you have had to do to bring peace to that situation?

You would have had to relinquish your position as the "only" bearer of truth and open to the differences between you and the other person. Without acknowledging the truth of both sides, as well as the distortion on both sides, including your own, the stalemate cannot be broken. The doorway to resolution--to peace--resides in recognizing and valuing the right of each side (each person) to be who they are, and that their thoughts, feeling, hopes and dreams are as important to them as your's are to you. Only through recognition and respect of differences do you grant the possibility that two sides can live together while not having to become one another. To use a biblical phrase, the lion shall lay down with the lamb, and visa versa.

The possibility of peace awaits us in our differences, so that we can understand and remember that we are different as well as one, unique and common, individual and in community.

We must imagine what real peace looks like or we won't be able to bring it to life.

A Garden Can be like a Relationship

It is a glorious summer day. Earlier we were out weeding our one year-old garden and delighting in the perennials that made it from seed to flowering plant last year--and this year have come back even larger and more lush with blooms. A true miracle.

But no more so than in our close relationships when we go through the seasons with one another, if we but will. In the spring we meet and delight in the newness of it all. And as summer comes along we realize that intimacy is heating up and this new life is demanding more from us. So we set about discovering what the relationship needs to grow more robustly. It may take some effort on our part, we may meet with conflicts and challenges. We may still not feel quite satisfied. Then in the fall, we may feel that we are losing some of our joy and passion, only to realize in the winter that new life and refreshed love requires that we settle in even more deeply.

And then spring arrives once more and all that was developing within emerges with a new force, a new resilience, a new determination to seek larger expression, and summer propels us to take greater risks and so on and so forth as every season changes us and every season moves us into the larger realms that love has always intended for us, if we will just let ourselves go through the seasons together.

Oh dear, we forgot to move the sprinkler. Until next week.................!!

Love Doesn't Cure Anything

Although many of us would like to think so, and we're inundated with ideas like "love conquers all," love is not a cure-all. In fact, love doesn't cure anything. Yes, it sets the stage for us to feel worthy enough and secure enough to face our demons and come to terms with them. But love doesn't do that, we do.

Love is the phenomenon, the force in life that prompts and encourages connection. It's like the glue that brings and holds things together. But love is not a cure-all.

Love does heighten our sensation and perception. It does open windows on a reality that seems, for the most part, to remain obscured behind a veil. In that sense love is a stimulant, a goad or prod from behind, or a light ahead of us shining on what is possible.

And love helps those who help themselves. Love excites those who are excitable. Love supports those who are willing to risk being available. If you don't open, if you can't be inspired, if you hide and wait to be revealed, then you ask love to do what it cannot.

Love is magical in that it presents us with the chance to venture beyond what we've known and who we've been, but that requires change. Love is a change-agent of the first order. If you want to be loved and not be changed then you are in for deep disappointment.

Love will lead you beyond what you've imagined, and it will take you where you hadn't expected and sometimes may not even want to go. But when you are willing it's always worth the risk.

Are you willing?

If so...enjoy!

Being Different, Unique and Separate in Identity

The United States was founded on the belief that each individual is important. Each one entitled to be free, to be independent -- not just from British rule but from oppressive regulation from the United States government as well. In other words, being different, unique and separate in identity was seen as an inalienable right.

Do you treat your own behaviors, attitudes, and feelings with such reverence? Do you honor your spouse's differing ways as sacred?

Chances are pretty good that your answer is no. Why? Because, while the founding fathers attempted to protect Americans' sovereign uniqueness with the First Amendment, which spelled out your right to freedom of speech (if you live in the U.S.), you've probably grown up feeling that it's not wise to be too different, too independent.

Because the fear of differences between people is epidemic it undermines our marriages and our ability to create long-lasting romance. That's why in our book, "Be Loved For Who You Really Are," we focus on what is required to truly gain independence in dating and marriage and better yet -- be loved for it!

How about that! You get to be who you are in your own right -- and be loved for being nothing more nor less than who you really are! That doesn't mean you never have to change in order to nurture the love and life you share with someone. To the contrary, when you feel accepted as is, you find yourself wanting to change in order to grow and expand and feed the love that so fully embraces you.

You may be saying, "How do I get this kind of love?" After all, isn't this what everyone wants -- to be loved and accepted with no demand to fulfill someone else's expectations? Well, first you have to be committed to a belief in independence in which you recognize that everyone is different and special in their unique ways. Then you have to give up your fantasies that a lifelong love comes to you for free and/or on your own terms. Love has much bigger designs on you than that.

Love that lasts will take you on a journey that is both challenging and filled with blessings. We call this the arc of love and it is made up of four passages--each with its own gifts and need for personal development. And what is love's goal throughout it all? To lead you into wholeness. To open your heart beyond anything you've ever imagined. To reveal to you how to celebrate life every day -- no matter what is happening. That is what occurs when you are fully loved and who you are keeps changing and growing through your willingness to express and live inside your independence.

When you are loved for who you really are, and you love someone else in the very same way, you are a living, breathing celebration of all that July 4th stands for!

The Challenge of Bad Moods

One of the difficulties couples inevitably encounter is the challenge of bad moods. Everybody has them from time-to-time, and very often both people don't have them at the same time.

If we aren't mature and able to understand that the other person is entitled to their own experience and expression of grumpy, or even depressed, we start to feel resentful, maybe even abandoned and set about to get them out of their doldrums.

But, what we've learned in our fifteen years of being together, is that these times are wonderful opportunities to grow in our own self-respect and compassion. How?

For example, when Jim is going through a rough time, Judith gets to recognize that she doesn't have to adopt his mood, nor does she have to fix Jim. That is self-respect. And respect for Jim. And, at the same time, Jim gets to express himself without having to worry that Judith is going to go down too--he knows she has a self of her own, and she's capable of taking care of her own feelings.

That doesn't mean that Judith avoids Jim. Quite the contrary. She reaches out with curiosity about what's going on, gives Jim a big squeeze, or rubs his back when he's sitting at the computer. In these ways she respects and acknowledges the reality that Jim is in, knowing that in due time, he'll work his way out of it, the better for having wrestled with the demons that are part of being human.

So, remember when the one you love falls into that hole of emotional hell, or just gets grumpy ... it's not a time to despair, just a time to practice the magic of differences. Keep in mind that you are separate and distinct from your spouse/partner, and that you are more helpful and comforting when you retain your own identity than if you lose yourself to the other's mood.

Physics of Thought--Its Contribution to Deliberately Creating Unconditional Love

Hello readers, did you do the exercise from last week? If you did, you will have discovered your list did not have EXACTLY the same words as anyone else. So who holds the truth on the words you selected? YOU ALL DO! This exercise illustrates that we all hold a grain of The Truth. Very often in our thinking we dismiss others and their truth and as we are working towards working with the magic of our differences through this email ezine, this exercise allows us to see and appreciate those differences.

What are your thoughts costing you when it comes to your relationships?

Through our ability to think thoughts, we are able to figure out things, make decisions, take action and create beliefs. Many of us want our relationships to become better BUT we won't spend time looking at our core beliefs which are a result our thoughts. A belief is when you accept your thoughts as being true.

The majority of us believe our thoughts are ideas that reside inside our heads, are private and for our own use. Who thinks your thoughts? Nobody can get inside your head to think any of your thoughts for you, so you are 100% responsible for your thoughts.

The energy that human thought produces, though minute is measurable, and studies confirm there is a large energetic difference between a loving and a fearful thought. A thought is a REAL entity and the reason you are unaware of it is because it is outside the physical senses and operates faster than the speed of light.

An analogy of how thoughts work--think of a radio channel. The broadcasting station beams a frequency out into the atmosphere and you then use a radio to tune into the frequency in order to listen to the program. The frequency beamed out into the atmosphere exists all around you UNTIL you decide to tune in through an appropriate device. Your thoughts are the same as a radio frequency and you are like a mini-broadcasting station--constantly beaming out your positive and negative thoughts into the atmosphere in and around you which are picked up by others consciously and unconsciously. We tune in through listening, observing, and then speaking. Or you could look at your thoughts like tuning forks. When one tuning fork of a particular frequency is dinged the other tuning forks of the same note also begin to vibrate. This is the Law of Attraction.

So what are your thoughts costing you when it comes to creating the relationship of your dreams? What are your core beliefs about relationships? What are you beaming out? By exploring the magic of your differences through your thinking you are both offering one another the opportunity to heal and to create a strong, supportive loving bond. We'll see you next week for The Chemistry of Emotion.

Source: By Kate Ginn

Deliberately Creating Unconditional Love: The astonishing power of our thoughts and feelings by Kate Ginn

Doesn't it strike you as odd that our lives - no matter whether we are rich or poor - appear on the one hand to be tough and fraught with worries, fears and survival and on the other bringing us moments of happiness, joy and ecstasy that sends us searching for more. The dream of each individual regardless of race, creed or continent is to be loved, respected and appreciated for who they really are! However, if science and religion have the answers to WHY we are here and HOW to live life - then why are our relationships individually and collectively lacking in wholesome unconditional love? Judith & Jim are constantly sharing with you HOW to create the new intimacy and understand the cycles of love and its natural path to greater loving. It is my aim to share with you an understanding that has helped me to become more open-hearted and learn the value of creating a heart of peace.

In my opinion the reason why we don't experience fulfilling loving relationships in our lives is two fold ... we as a species:

  • Create specialism, with the end result of separation. In the olden days science and religion were one and the same but today they are two different entities each with many specialisms which promote separation and segregation. If one is to consider life as an eco-system ... then both science and religion are vital ingredients of the foundation to an eco-system. They are individually interesting subjects but create greater strength when integrated together and form part of the collective foundation of life.
  • Remain ignorant of our essential nature through the lack of integration of scientific and universal principles that are common to all people.

In the next three weeks, I will be discussing these two areas with the aim to show you HOW your thoughts and feelings play a large part in HOW you create intimacy in your relationships with people and the world. The first week I will deal with the physics of thought. The second week I will deal with the chemistry of feelings. In the third and final week I will show you how to integrate the two together in order that you begin to consciously CHOOSE to co-create intimacy through understanding the integrated vibratory nature of manifestation in the physical world and ultimately be loved for who you really are.

Here's an exercise you can do with your loved ones. For a couple of minutes write down all the words you can about a single subject such as love or sex or friendship or the home, etc. This would be particularly important if there is an area you are finding difficult to agree upon. Then read out the list to one another and make a check next to each word that you have that is the same as the other person or people within the group. What is it that you will find out about one another? I think you will be highly surprised at the results and I will discuss them next week before the physics of thought.

Have a great week and I look forward to introducing you to the physics of thought.

Are You Really Available for the Love that You Want?

Most of us marry. But all too often divorce is the outcome. Why? Because we haven't been available for the love we say we want.

Ask yourself: Have you earned the privilege of being in a truly loving and romantic relationship? Have you given yourself to the process of co-creating success?

For when we don't succeed we are in some way responsible.

Oh no, you say, it was his fault or her problems that wrecked everything. But, each of us chooses to be where we are. Our relationships start at the very first moment of meeting and are shaped by both people each step along the way.

When you focus outside yourself for the source of the problem what the other person is doing or not doing you abdicate responsibility for how you have chosen to live.

How often do you find yourself being judgmental about the different ways of your partner? Perhaps even feeling righteous about it. After all, it's annoying when he leaves his clothes all around, when she's on the phone forever. If we're honest, we see that we are quite judgmental toward those we say we love. Why is it so easy? Because we're about as harsh on them as we are on ourselves.

Yet, it's comfortable to ignore our own self-condemnation and believe that we're innocent. It's all the other person's fault. But the way we see the other is simply the outer manifestation of how we see our selves that is denied. Oh, not in this specific behavior or that. But in the attitude toward our limitations, mistakes, and vulnerable humanity.

Then we are devastated when our relationships don't work out. Yet, our approach has been to try to get the other to change and avoid our own self-development. We fail to move beyond self-centered demands into the true meaning of love and acceptance. So love never really has a chance.

How do we become true lovers? It's simple, really.

We need to face into the fact that each of us, yes, each and every one of us has security issues. We deal with our insecurity in different ways. But we are always looking to find assurance that we are lovable, that we are loved for who we really are.

Start by changing how you relate to yourself. Notice the angry and harsh voice in your head that wants to condemn you for any little slip-up, any problem you should have been too perfect to have encountered. And then release the need to judge yourself. You are human, after all.

Now replace the contempt and condemnation with compassion and self-acceptance. Yes, you're not perfect. No one is. And nothing tragic occurred. In fact, each mistake is a gift, a chance to develop yourself as a true lover-- first for yourself. And then for others.

You become a successful lover from the inside out. For it is true, how we see the world outside, that's who we are inside.

Be Loved for Who You Really Are

When we were writing our most recent book, "Be Loved for Who You Really Are," we were aware of just how apt that title and its meaning was/is for our time. Men and women are expecting more from a romantic relationship than ever before in human history. Also, never before have men and women been as free to seek love, a love that they determine to be real on the basis of their own perceptions and feelings.

Almost all cultures of the world have believed that romantic feelings were dangerous to developing a family and a stable community because those feelings were out of our control. A man or woman would be "swept away," carried on a torrent of emotion, desire, lust and abandon.

So in all cultures, and in many today, marriages were arranged by third parties -- matchmakers, parents, clergy. It was believed that only a third party could make a sound enough decision about who should be mated with whom. As far as the couple was concerned, there was no freedom and their only responsibility was to obey the dictates of their elders.

Today we take it for granted that a relationship should:

  • be made by two people each choosing the other of their own free will, not influenced by family, church or community;
  • they will share their lives in its intimate detail, and their sharing will be the basis of the how and why their relationship thrives;
  • their choice will be based on the love they feel for one another and on no other considerations;
  • that being togther is the context for the sweetest happiness possible;
  • that sex will provide the transformative power of ecstasy and will continue throughout their life together;
  • that their love will open a vision of spiritual transcendence and encourage and support their lifelong efforts.

And we, Judith & Jim, concur. A relationship can be the context for all of the above. And love is nothing if it is not free. But freedom is more than simply a matter of unrestricted choice. Freedom is always coupled with responsibility, in other words, with the impact our choices have on us and those around us.

Today, we have almost limitless personal freedom to choose our mate and our lifestyle. What we lack is the training to live with the personal responsibility it takes to mine the riches available within such freedom.

However, a real life relationship, based on real love freely chosen, requires lovework -- so that two people:

  • trust each other with their real feelings, the only basis of being loved for who they really are;
  • feel determined to face into the inevitable conflicts all couples experience;
  • relax their resistance to the lessons of love;
  • enjoy and treasure the esteem and mutual regard that comes from true respect and interest rather than fantasy;
  • acknowledge and accept each other's differences, while still reserving the right to want some things to change;
  • and finally, feel less need for romantic illusion and more desire for real romance and intimacy.

Being loved for who we really are is what we seek most deeply. But please keep in mind that, even though we are human and assume on that basis, and often on that basis alone, that love is something that comes naturally to us, all of us need to learn about the art of love. Loving, like anything else we do, is an art. If we are to love fully and feel love's full satisfaction, we must learn about what love requires of us and practice, practice, practice!

What are you going to do to express your heart this Valentine's Day?

If you are in a romantic relationship, be sure to get especially creative. Pull out the stops and have as much fun inventing ways to say "I Love You" as your beloved will have receiving them!

But don't stop there. Reach out and spread your love to all the people you would miss if they were gone.

There's no need to spend a lot of money, all you have to do is tell the special people in you life how much you care about them. Write email, make phone calls, send a little card, surprise them with a cookie at work, put a note on their windshield at the gym, put a flower on their doorstep.

You've got the idea. Now, go have fun being the lover that you really are! AND be sure to acknowledge and take in all the expressions of care that you are given on Thursday. After all, what fun is it to give your love if there's no one available to receive it?

Intimacy is about saying "Yes!"

Recently we went to a Chamber Music Concert in a nearby town. World class musicians played and were paid far less than they are accustomed to.

Rather than holding back, assuming that the small-town audience wouldn't know the difference, or protecting themselves from whatever inadequacies they might encounter (like having to wait in a tiny, adjacent room before going on), they said "Yes!" to the evening and gave one of the most masterful performances we've ever witnessed in our lives! They played from their hearts and souls and demanded, with their very beings, that we all go with them into the ecstatic passions that drove their spirited playing.

You might imagine that a rural audience would be polite, reserved in their appreciation for these musicians, these players who pushed themselves and their instruments to produce an atmosphere of awe and wonder. But no, the audience said "Yes! And leapt to its feet, screaming out their joy and showering the players with an intimacy the lifted them to even greater playing.

Judith was in tears much of the time, as she responded to that beauty. Jim was swept up in a sense of gratitude as he opened to the power and majesty of the playing. We held hands, made knowing eye contact and shared the joy together. Intimacy upon intimacy sweeping back and forth from stage to audience and back again transforming everyone.

Intimacy is about saying "Yes!"-- opening yourself, entering the moment, eager to see what is calling you. How often do you open yourself fully, letting your soul speak, making way for what wants to be revealed within you?

Like those musicians, intimates must say "Yes!" surrendering to the emotional force and spiritual expansiveness between them. That's what leads to the heights and the depths of being together. That's what makes the music of passion. And it's all about saying "Yes!"

Integrity! What does it mean?

In simple terms, when someone has high integrity, we can trust that he or she will walk their talk. There is a consistency between what is in one's heart and what one says and does.

There's an old expression that says a person is either single-hearted or double-hearted. When they are double-hearted they cannot be trusted because they are hiding from you, and it's even worse when they are hiding from themselves, and still worse when they are not aware of what they are doing.

For intimacy to occur at all, integrity is essential. You must be willing and able to be present to another person, single-heartedly, willing to let them know who you really are.

That doesn't mean you always have to know who you are. You just have to let yourself be available as you are and see what happens.

Also, and this is very important, being in integrity doesn't just mean being nice and sweet. It also means stating your grievances and making your claims. There is also the dark side to every relationship and that is as much a part of it's integrity as anything else.

When you are committed to your own integrity, your own wholeness, and the integrity/well-being of your relationship, you must go wherever the relationship needs to take you. But you do so with conscious awareness which implies doing so with a sense of your impact on the one you love and a willingness to accept responsibility for the consequences of your participation and what you evoke in the other person. Then integrity is a growing quality in your individual life and the life of your relationship.

Like everything else, the more you practice the better things get.

The Spiritual Purpose for Your Being Together

As we've said, it's no accident that you've found one another. And you're not together just to have babies and pay the mortgage. What is your long-range vision of being together? What are your joint goals? If you are unsure of the spiritual purpose of your relationship, simply look to where you feel the most unfinished, where self-expression has been most strangled. How is your partner well suited to helping you grow in just those areas?

We've written about how Bill, Jim's brother, and his wife, Kelly, met at our weekend training. Although they both were accomplished in their respective fields, they were quite dissatisfied with how they handled their finances. They also wanted to have a larger public impact.

Kelly had an eye for detail and a burning passion to change their life. Bill had a greater earning power and more outlets for developing income. They were allies in their commitment to root out and overcome anything that stood in the way of their expanded desire. They blended together like good magic.

They attended the classes and trainings they needed to realize their ambitions. They co-created a powerful weight-loss seminar and are co-writing a book to complement their presentations. They've launched a Web page ( and continue to explore other possibilities. They look to each other for help whenever they are tempted by some distraction that takes them away from what they are trying to achieve.

They have become soul mates, well suited to maximize their individual wholeness and their growing presence in the world.

There is so much more going on between you than just the feelings of love and sexual desire. Your souls are engaged in a powerful dance of differences, hoping to lure you both into a much larger, far more meaningful life. When you know that, your trust and faith will be enhanced. You will take each other more seriously. You will laugh, play, and be sexual with more gusto, because you will sense larger energies in support of all that you are together.

You will discover, again and again, the spiritual purpose of an intimate relationship to bring you into wholeness through The Magic of Differences.


Truth. A large concept. An even larger experience, especially when the truth is likely to hurt.

We all claim we want the truth "Just tell me the truth. I can deal with the truth." But then can we? Do we?

Or "The truth will set you free."

That's all true. 

But what exactly is the truth? Is what was true yesterday, true today?

As we all know, 1+1 is true and true for all time.

But emotional truth is fluid. If it is not, than the idea of human growth and development is meaningless.

But many people, singles and couples alike, want the 1+1 kind of truth. They want something that is fixed. Out of their own insecurity they demand that the "truth" never change. And, by doing so, they drain the life and growth from their relationships.

We're not saying that if your partner or date lies to you that you accept that. Lies are not truth to begin with, so that's a different issue.

Knowing the difference between truth that is final and truth that is fluid can make or break your relationship.

Think about your own experience. Haven't you changed over the years? Weren't you passionate about something in the past that you may not even care about now? Didn't you believe firmly is something that perhaps now you cannot even remember?

What if you had been forced to stay fixed in the past, emotionally immobilized, and compelled to do so on the grounds that what once was true for you must always be true? What would have happened to the life you now know?

Love and intimacy are no different. They deepen, sweeten, become more and more inclusive, as you become more and more aware of one another, more and more accepting of each other. And that is based upon change, at least a change in the breadth of what you know about one another.

The truth will set you free if you are free enough with the truth to be led where truth and love want to take you.  

Stay open.

New Year's Eve

On New Year"s Eve we have a tradition of writing out our goals and desires for the coming year and going over what happened during the year that is passing.

One list we call the "Blessings Desired" list. On it we jot down everything and anything we sincerely want to have happen in the coming year. Sincerely is the key. That keeps our list realistic. Now that doesn't mean we don't dream, but we dream within the bounds of who we know ourselves to be and what we can genuinely expect to happen. And, of course, we allow for a few entries that are far fetched and sometimes outrageous and sometimes those come true as well. And we also have one entry that reads . . . "Whatever the Great Mystery has in store for us." Because we cannot side-step the unknown.

When we look over what we wanted for the passing year we usually find that we've manifested about 70-80% when we write out our "Blessings Received" list.

We particularly pay attention to what happened that we could not in any way have predicted. Looking back, the unpredictable events have a course and pattern that is usually clear after the fact, but never beforehand.

Try this and you will be surprised at the power you have to manifest your desires, especially because you have articulated them and put them in clear focus. You will be delightfully surprised at what happens from out of the blue.

We wish you a wonderfully loving and healthy New Year!

Labor Day

This is Labor Day weekend in the United States, dedicated to the effort and commitment it takes to keep life going. The same holds true for love.

We call it "lovework." No, it's not work like manual labor, although that is sometimes necessary, like moving something heavy for your partner, or the labor women endure in giving birth.

It's not work at the end of which you are paid, although that too is the case sometimes, like a squeeze or a kiss or a hug in appreciation for something you did for your spouse.

Lovework has more to do with being conscious, of being aware that you are in an important relationship and that this requires your heartfelt attention.

Yes, that's right, "requires" is the appropriate term. If you are serious about your relationship you are obligated to attune your sensitivities to all of its dimensions. That meanslistening and not just hearing. Opening to what your partner is saying in words, feelings, implications. How does what you know of your partner's past bear upon what he or she is saying/doing/communicating in the moment? That is an element of real listening. Relationships are far more than the concrete, obvious occurrences of the moment.

Lovework means dialogue. Dialogue takes listening into the dimension of interacting. You open to the reality of what your partner is communicating. The important element here is that you give your partner the right to be whoever he or she is. In other words, if you disagree, if you object, if you don't understand, you don't immediately dismiss what he or she wants you to understand. In dialogue you listen, keeping in mind that your partner is an other, someone who is not you and whose experience is real and genuine for them. That's the only way to truly understand your lover's experience, an understanding that leads to real intimacy.

The one caveat is that abuse, psychological or physical, is not to be tolerated. There are no justifications for abuse. It must stop before any progress can be made. And when we say stop, we mean it must be stopped from the delivery end and the receiver must be committed to not standing for it.

And finally, intimacy. Although it is easy to say the word, intimacy must be worked at. Does that sound like a contradiction? Do you believe that intimacy, emotional, intellectual, sexual and spiritual intimacy, somehow just happen? Like chemistry at the outset of a relationship. Well, to some degree that's true. But the intimacy that just happens is surface intimacy. It is wonderful, but not very deep. For intimacy to deepen and sustain, you must commit to making yourself, your person, available to your partner, as well as receiving your partner when he or she is emotionally available to you. That takes conscious commitment, a sense of yourself and anything that stands in your way of being intimate, and the effort of concentration in the moment to make it happen.

That's what we mean by lovework, a labor in love that pays the richest dividends.

"Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself" and "Love Thine Enemy"

These are reminders of the spiritual requirement to love those who are different from us. Globally, we all face this necessity in order to achieve sanity in the world. Personally, we face loving the differences as the only way to achieve harmony with one another. Sadly, we often have the most difficulty with the differences of those who are closest to us, our lovers and marriage partners.

Look inside and you'll see that you often experience your partner's differences through a confusing and painful set of needs. On the one hand, you can feel your desire to fully embrace the one you love. Your heart opens, filled with good will, ready to welcome your lover without judgment.

At the same time, you need to feel secure, to be assured of your value. So you try to get your mate to love you in the ways that you believe will fulfill your conscious or unconscious expectations. We all do it.

This confusion is made more difficult because our culture tells us that romantic love has to be a hot, sizzling, affair -- a passionate whirlwind that takes you over and sweeps you away, a surge that you can't and shouldn't want to control. And, at the exact same time, we're told that to be independent and self-sufficient, in control of what we think and do, is the mark of a true adult. Is it any wonder that relationships are in such turmoil?

In your daily life, aren't you distracted by conflicting desires and demands -- pulled one way by your yearning for a perfect romantic fantasy and then pulled another way by the yearning to have a relationship that's real, long-lasting and down-to-earth? What can you do?

You will find what you want, in fact, far more than you now even imagine, if you are willing to let go of your expectations, if you relax your need to have it your way and open yourself to the real possibilities that your life will bring you.

You cannot help but be disappointed by your relationship, the one you're in now or one in the future, if you are dead set on having your lover match your predetermined picture of what he or she must be like.

If you can't budge beyond your expectations, you are stuck in a self-sabotaging fantasy. You give yourself no other choice but the limited range of options you impose, those same options that aren't working for you now. Then life can't bring you the gifts it may have because you're trapped within your own restrictions. But that's not the heart's way.

Life is a soul school, and a long-term committed relationship is one of its most challenging yet rewarding classes. When you sincerely and seriously commit to someone, you will unavoidably stretch and grow larger. You will have to bring the best of who you are to make it work. And, by doing that, you will have the best of yourself for yourself and for your partner.

© 2010 The New Intimacy

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Intimacy is spelled "in to me you see". - Stan Dale

I have always made a distinction between my friends and my confidants. I enjoy the conversation of the former; from the latter I hide nothing. - Edith Piaf

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