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Paul Pearsall's research shows that individual success and the solitary pursuit of happiness may be hazardous to one's health. Although many self-help books champion the singular approach to success and personal power as the path to well-being, Partners in Pleasure challenges this "singularity" by presenting new research and ancient cultural lessons regarding collective and connective ways to fulfillment and wellness. Drawing in part on 2,000-year-old Polynesian wisdom, this book shows how to go beyond ...
Paul Pearsall's research shows that individual success and the solitary pursuit of happiness may be hazardous to one's health. Although many self-help books champion the singular approach to success and personal power as the path to well-being, Partners in Pleasure challenges this "singularity" by presenting new research and ancient cultural lessons regarding collective and connective ways to fulfillment and wellness. Drawing in part on 2,000-year-old Polynesian wisdom, this book shows how to go beyond self-fulfillment to shared pleasure.
Ho'i mai kaua e pili Come. Let us be together.
Beginning the Voyage
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you awaken in the morning? Are your first thoughts about you, or about your relationship? Do you think first about what you and your partner will be doing together to make this a wonderful today, or about what you have to do yourself to make it through another busy day? How you answer these questions indicates whether you embrace an "I" and "me" orientation in your thinking about life ('o wau in Hawaiian) or the "us" and "we" orientation of partners in pleasure (kakou).
The ways of thinking needed to understand the kakou orientation are related to the aloha concepts described in The Pleasure Prescription. In that book, I used the lessons of the Hawaiian aloha chant created by Pilahi Paki to illustrate the balanced way to personal pleasure. Here is a review of these concepts as they apply to forming a loving partnership in pleasure-what Hawaiians call aloha kakou:
A-Ahonui: Persistent patience. As you read about the partner way of thinking, try to be patient with yourself and your partner. Trying to follow specific steps or communication suggestions is easier than making a complete mental shift to partner-based thinking, so take your time, reflect, and let the ideas sink in. Persistent patience, tolerance, and forbearance are also essential to forming and protecting a pleasure partnership, so start practicing ahonui now as your read this book. Remember, you are trying to love someone who is a flawed person, and your partner is trying to love someone (you!) who is also not always a true joy to live with. Patiently try to fit the "new old" ideas about loving into your thinking and relationship. Wait until the end of the book before making your final decision as to whether you want to fully embrace the concept of a total partnership approach to loving.
L-Lokahi: Harmonious unity. This concept is the centerpiece of becoming partners in pleasure. You are being asked to change your mind and how you pay attention to the world from a self-oriented to an us-oriented perspective, and to see everything from the outlook that "we" always comes before "me." Even after reading only this far in this book, are you thinking, "I wonder what I think and how I feel about all this?" or "I wonder how my partner and I might consider, reflect on, and feel about these ideas together and as one?"
O-'Olu 'Olu: Pleasant agreeableness. Retain your good humor as you approach this material. For now, avoid looking for flaws or reasons why aloha kakou cannot work in your day-to-day modern world. Suspend cynicism and comparing the naupaka approach with other theories you may have read about loving. Simply try some of the ideas on for size. Avoid mentally debating them from a continental mindset; instead, give them a fair hearing in your heart. Go along for the fun of it, and see if your relationship might not be strengthened and invigorated by some of the lessons of aloha. You may feel criticized for how you are loving, but that is not my intent. You may think that the prescriptions are weird, silly, and even stupid. I ask you to go along for the cruise, roll with the waves, and give aloha kakou a chance.
H-Ha'aha'a: Humble modesty. You may feel you have "heard and read it all" when it comes to advice about love and relationships, but I hope you will open your mind. Many of the things you have read and heard about love and relationships stem from the self-fulfillment orientation, more a 1 + 1 = 2 approach than the 1 + 1 = 1 kakou idea. Modern motivationalists are seldom asked if they are outstanding husbands and wives, and even relationship gurus are not often held accountable for their own relationship history. Listen carefully to their advice, and you may hear the "rock" logic of two individuals trying to connect by maintaining each of their own unique points of view and styles of loving. Promotions at work and rewards for most endeavors in today's world have little to do with whether or not someone is a joy to live and love with at home. Society emphasizes "thinking for yourself" more than "thinking as us."
I offer the material you will be reading with ha'aha'a. I am not at all sure I am entirely right in what I am suggesting about the partner way to pleasure, but I am sure I have carefully researched everything I present here and have done my best to convey the lessons my Hawaiian kumu (teachers) have taught me about aloha kakou. I know that the prescriptions presented in Part Two have been tried by thousands of persons around the world with wonderful results. I know that my wife, Celest Kalalani, and I have been partners in pleasure for forty years and married for thirty-six years. I know we try to live our love by these prescriptions. I know that the members of the Ka Ha Naupaka group of Hawaiian couples have, as their ancestors before them did, led their lives by the kakou principle for decades, totaling well over two thousand married years for the group collectively. I ask only that you humbly consider the possibility that, no matter how loving your relationship is now or how firmly you believe in maintaining and protecting your individuality, your relationship may have at least some room to become a little more aloha kakou.
A-Akahai: Tender kindness. As you take the journey to a pleasure partnership, be gentle with yourself and your partner. No one is ever loved exactly the way he or she wants to be, and no one loves totally in keeping with the concepts you will be learning. They are invitations, not laws or rules. You may want to think of them as buoys in the ocean, reminders of where the most safe and enjoyable sailing may be.
Imagine a lover who showed the above characteristics of aloha every day. Imagine:
* A partner who was patient with you even when you acted like an insensitive fool. * Living with someone with whom you felt so connected that you never felt alone, even when that person was physically absent. * A partner who was so pleasant and agreeable every day that it was a true joy to wake up with that person every morning. * A partner who showed such humble modesty that you never felt unimportant, left out, or taken for granted. * A partner who was so kind and tender that you could always count on feeling heard, embraced, held, comforted, and sensually fulfilled every moment of your life.
Of course no such partner exists, but simply being willing to consider a mindset less "I" ('o wau) and more "we" (kakou) can lead to a more pleasurable life for everyone touched by your partnership.
The Naupaka Principle
At the beginning of this book, you read a brief version of the legend (mo'olelo) of the naupaka. The full legend is more sinister and is designed to warn of the dangers of selfishness, even when that selfishness seems to be initiated from outside the relationship. It is reflective of the outside pressures on today's relationships. It teaches what happens when lovers allow themselves to be separated by outside pressures and by one of the partner's short-sighted, selfish passion and love-blindness.
The legend tells of a beautiful but selfish woman who came to a village and fell in love with a young man who was already in love with another woman. The visitor decided that she wanted the young man for herself. She was so beautiful and irresistible that the youth impulsively turned from his commitment to his sweetheart to fulfill his own immediate selfish needs. As always happens when the immediacy of passion fades, he eventually tired of the new woman and tried to return to his sweetheart. Her selfish pride hurt, the scorned woman followed him and tore him away from his former sweetheart.
She blazed so with anger that all Hawaiians knew only the goddess Pele could be so beautiful, powerful, and self-demanding. It had been the ever-demanding goddess of the volcano who had taken the man from his love, and now she jealously pursued him into the mountains and threw lava after him. But the other gods took pity on him and transformed him into a half-flower before Pele could catch him. That flower is now called the naupaka kuahiwi, the male naupaka half-flower that grows in the mountains of Hawai'i.
Unable to exact her vengeance on the young man, Pele shrieked in jealous rage. She fled on a river of lava down to the ocean where she overtook the young man's sweetheart. She wanted to turn her to stone with lava, but the gods had already intervened for her as well. They had turned her into what is now the female naupaka half-flower, called the naupaka kahakai, which grows at the beach. Even though the lovers had experienced devastating stress and challenges, the half-flower of the young man on the mountain and the half-flower of the sweetheart at the beach have blossomed forever-an enduring symbol of the timeless, insistent yearning of two persons incomplete without one another's love.
Even if you have a "brown" or "black" thumb, you can grow naupaka. It is a very hardy plant-perhaps, kupuna (Hawaiian elders) say, because of what it had to endure in its encounter with Pele. Hawaiians say you must be aware of and honor the partnership and infinite connection of the two half-flowers if you are to benefit from naupaka's power. They say that one half-flower will not bloom without the other also blooming, symbolic of the fact that no matter how successful or happy we are as individuals, we all remain half-flowers until we reawaken to our dependence on our other half for true pleasure.
The Case for Kakou (Coupling)
Recognizing our "half-ness" and then deciding to pursue pleasure and life kakou-style-as a "we" instead of as a "me"-has been shown to be one of the most powerful healing acts. Our bodies respond differently and with more healthy balance when they feel connected to another body, and this represents a distinguishing feature of a partnership in pleasure. Research now shows that living and thinking kakou-style:
* Helps keep our immune system in balance and our cardiovascular system less stressed. * Helps us develop a kind of "bond buffer" against illness, a unique, couple-generated physiological hardiness related to having a constant partner in whom we can confide completely. * Helps us be more physically resilient and to heal and recuperate better and faster than those who are not in such a relationship. * Allows us to avoid the illness-causing stress of putting all of our emotional eggs in one basket by allowing us to live the multiple roles of spouse and parent not available to those who elect to go it alone. * Provides the "helper's high immune boost" experienced by those who lovingly give time to another person.
An ancient Hawaiian proverb says, "O ke aloha ka mea i ho'ola ai"-compassion is the healer. It seems that ancient Hawaiians knew millennia ago what modern researchers are just discovering. But there is another recognizable benefit of a pleasure partnership: the pure enjoyment it provides both partners.
The Aloha Kakou Test
One of the most consistent findings regarding what constitutes happiness is its link to being in a lasting and mutually pleasing relationship. I suggest that it might significantly enhance health if joggers would get off the road, gym-goers would turn off their treadmills, and self-help-seminar participants would leave their support groups to go home to their partners and start seeking their pleasure, power, health, and sense of well-being there.
More than ten years of research has shown that people in lasting relationships are significantly happier than single people, even when other variables such as age and income are statistically controlled. When we ask and strive to answer the question "Am I happy?" we are looking only at the naupaka flower located at mountain or seaside. When we ask and learn to answer the question "Are we happy?" our feelings of success and joy can take full bloom as our naupaka flower is made complete.
To get ready to form your own partnership in pleasure, review the following ten questions. They make up the Aloha Kakou (Loving as One) Test, similar to the Aloha Test in my book The Pleasure Prescription. How you answer the questions will help to determine how far along the journey to paired pleasure you have already come. I suggest you take this test now, with someone with whom you may want to form a pleasure partnership, and then take it again after you have completed the pleasure partnership program, as described in chapter 3.
The Aloha Kakou (Loving as One) Test
1. Are you a true joy to live with? 2. Would you want to be married to you? 3. Do you love as intensely as you work? 4. Is your relationship as successful as you are? 5. Are you sure you are not giving up too much of what you really need to get what you think you want? 6. Do you relish the simple pleasures of everyday life with your partner? 7. Do you think you and your partner share the same definition of a successful life? 8. Do you think you share the same view of what it takes to be happy? 9. Do you think you both have faith that you will be together forever? 10. No matter what happens or what opportunities arise, will you chose "us" over "me"?
The more yes answers you have to the above questions, the more your relationship is living and loving by the naupaka principle. It is to those who answered with a few no's and who wish to increase their number of yeses that I offer this book with aloha nui, much love.
Mid-Love Crisis and Mutual "PMS"
When the selfish brain encounters the demands of love, it often suffers from what I call PMS-post-marital shock-a kind of spousehood surprise that one or both partners might experience at different times and with different levels of intensity. You may experience a little PMS as you begin to change "your" mind to "our" mind and start following the pleasure prescriptions in Part Two. Remember ahonui, persistent patience. The symptoms will pass as the love grows.
Based on my clinical work with couples, here are the symptoms of Post-Marital Shock:
* An increasing number of "lovers' spats" over unimportant and often very silly things. One PMS sufferer said, "We made love on our wedding night, and afterward he turned on the hockey game. It shocked me. For some reason, I started to cry. He seemed confused and said, 'What's that all about?' I felt hurt about how he said the words, and I turned my back to him. He turned off the game and stared at the ceiling. We both sulked, he finally took my hand, and we made up. But I never forgot it. That whole night I thought about calling the whole thing off. We didn't and we've been married twenty-two years. He still turns on the game, I still don't like it, but we go with it. We don't get in spats over it. We save that for more important things." * Sudden bursts of tears. Another said, "Hey, I'm a man. I don't cry easily. But after it hit me that I would be with her forever and ever and no one else, I just started to cry. I sort of went into my private little shock. It wasn't her, it was me. I felt sad and overwhelmed that I had lost my independence, but I still wanted to be with her." * Secret calls to parents and friends for support. A PMS sufferer said, "It was like my first weeks at college. I kept sneaking away to call my dad and mom and my best friend. I kept asking them if they felt like I felt about realizing the finality of it all and how I was finding stuff wrong with him right away."
* Headaches, nausea, and digestive and bowel upset poorly matched to the romantic image of the honeymoon. Another woman said, "I wasn't sexually aroused at all. I know it was our honeymoon and all and we had always had great sex, but I just wasn't into it. I felt like I had morning sickness all day and night. I kept popping aspirin and stuff for diarrhea. I tried to hide it, but I felt seasick and we weren't even on a boat. I started to be afraid I was allergic to Sam and that he made me sick."
* Wanting to be alone just when you're expected to want to be always together. A newlywed said, "Here I am on the perfect honeymoon with the perfect woman, and I just wanted to be alone. She kept hanging onto me, but I wanted some space. It really scared me. I got past it and knew it was just a phase, but it did shock me when I wanted to get away from the woman I had wanted to marry all my life." * Noticing and fixating on a spouse's disgusting or annoying habit. A PMS sufferer said, "He picked his nose. I couldn't believe it. A college dean, no less, and he does that. He was always so clean and perfect and a total gentlemen, and suddenly he does that. He would try to sneak a pick, but I couldn't help it. I began watching for it as if to convince myself that I could never stay with a nose picker. I have, though, and he has either learned to sneak his picks or I've stopped looking for them."
* Periodic feelings of dread for having made a disastrous and life-ruining mistake. Another man said, "It became sheer terror. I had night sweats. I kept asking myself how I could have been so dumb. Other times I was fine and really loved and wanted to be with her. I felt sure she was the one for me. Then, suddenly, I'd think, 'Oh no, what have I done? There might be a better one.'"
Excerpted from PARTNERS in PLEASURE by Paul Pearsall Copyright © 2001 by Paul Pearsall . Excerpted by permission.
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