- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
In their breakthrough book, The New Intimacy, Judith Sherven and Jim Sniechowski, husband and wife and two of the country's most popular relationship trainers, guide readers on an illuminating adventure of the heart. Drawn from case studies, contemporary culture, and their own lives, the authors share with clarity, vision and candor how to turn conflict and disappointment into rich opportunities for learning, mutual growth and the bond of deepest intimacy.
Opening to Love
At the heart of the new intimacy is the capacity to consciously open yourself and take in more and more of who your partner truly is.
That's much easier when what you want to take in is familiar, something you already know and like. But when it comes to differences, ranging from those that are mildly dissimilar, to those that are foreign, or those you've been forbidden to even consider, then love may no longer be so easy or even so attractive.
Simply put, loving someone who is like you is love, but it's elementary and will remain relatively superficial. Loving someone who is different is a love that requires commitment and consciousness and care. It can take you into profound realms of personal growth and remain a life-long adventure.
The more you are willing to learn, to extend yourself beyond what you've known, beyond what you are accustomed to, you will be opening yourself to the vast panorama of life and love. That is the magic. To open fully, it is essential you become more and more aware of yourself, of those around you, of the psychological and cultural setting in which you were born and live. As you do, you will become more inclusive and your whole idea and experience of differences will change.
That kind of openness was very rare as recently as 100 years ago. People hardly moved away from home. They married someone from the same community, whose lifestyle and values were like their own. Their roles were clear and set by tradition. They didn't need to concern themselves with creating their own relationship and the married life that followed. They knew it would bevery much the same as their parents', their relatives' and virtually everyone else's in their community.
Today many of us move away from where we were born and raised. We meet people who are very different from those we knew growing up. We change, opening to meet the invitations and demands of our new communities. What we want and expect from intimacy and relationship is far less determined by rigid social guidelines and more the result of our personal desires. That means we now have to rely on our own knowledge, experience and consciousness to discover what we want and how we will conduct our lives.
We also face a dizzying array of possibilities in the selection of a mate as well as in the lifestyle and role definitions we choose. Even if we do not move away from home, it is vitally important today to bring a strong sense of identity to our relationships, because increasingly we are free to make personal choices and are responsible for managing the consequences. A strong, healthy identity will allow you to stop experiencing differences as tiresome, even threatening, so you can come to respect and cherish them as the exciting blessings they are. You can embrace more and more of the world around you, letting go of fear and mistrust and prejudice, viewing life and all things alive within it as the setting for an adventure, an opportunity for you to give and receive love.
In addition, we live during a time of heightened psychological and spiritual awareness. Personal development, individual expression, the need to heal childhood wounds and the hunger to discover new ways for women and men to relate to one another adds very new pressures to what we expect from our intimate relationships.
Creating and sustaining a fulfilling love relationship is one of the most important things we do in life. Yet almost no one receives any preparation. Would you send your child to a school with unprepared teachers? Would you take your car to an untrained mechanic? Would you trust your surgery to someone whose only credential is an intense longing to be a doctor? Yet, with $25 for the license and a willing minister or judge, anybody can leap into a trial by fireùget married and have kids, all on the dream of "happily ever after."
We live in very challenging times, so we need to have compassion for ourselves. But there is much we can learn to make loving and being loved more rewarding and deeply fulfilling.
1997 Judith Sherven & James Sniechowski
All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of Health Communications, Inc. from The New Intimacy.