Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Building Happy Relationships

We are tribal people, pack animals, gatherers, and joiners. Solitary confinement, removing one from others, is a punishment or a tactic used to break people. Certain religions shun members who act outside approved behaviors as punishment for their supposed infractions. People are exiled from their country of origin. We don’t do well, as a species, when we are on our own for extended periods.

A therapist once spoke about helping people who had recently undergone an arduous boat journey to escape genocide. She expected to hear about the trauma of not knowing if they would survive, or the long, hot days at sea, but what she heard, on several occasions, surprised her. People wanted to talk about their relationships, not their endurance hardships. “He hardly even noticed me. He was looking at her.” “When we got to shore, she bolted, without a second glance at me.”

Relationships are important. While we don’t need to depend on any one person to meet our needs, especially when they don’t want to, we can expect that our need to feel a part of a pack, group, or family can be accomplished, and we can always have better one-on-one relationships. Once we pass the initial honeymoon phase of any relationship, when the fizzle wears off, we must take genuine heart action and become a giver of right actions.

We can’t wait for others to love us; we must become love in action, and in that giving we receive all the love we give. The St. Francis Prayer (I know. It’s widely accepted that St. Francis did not write the prayer, but it’s still a dynamite prayer!) says it clearly, “O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

Here are ways to build healthier and happier relationships with those who are close to you. Some of these are appropriate for friends and family and some of them are not. All of them are helpful in special love relationships.
  • Smile at your mate/partner/spouse 5 times a day while looking them directly in the eye. This sends a signal to your loved ones that you are okay and that they don’t have to worry about you. Our loved ones often take responsibility for how we feel, and if they never see us happy, they feel guilty, mad, or afraid. Smiling is an amazing spiritual practice, so why not share that smile? This also conveys a unit of recognition; we all like to be noticed and to receive that confirmation of existence.
  • When your loved one leaves for work or to run an errand, say goodbye. Acknowledge their departure. Give them a hug or a kiss goodbye. Greet them when they return with a hug, a kiss, or a greeting. “Hi. How did it go?” Consequently, tell them when you are leaving, announce when you get home, and touch in with them.
  • Greet your mate when you wake up (if they are already awake). Give them a good morning hug, kiss, or a wave. If they wake up after you, greet them when you see them. “Good morning!” Be cheerful.
  • Tell them you love them, one or more times a day.
  • Give your significant other at least five hugs a day.
  • Tell your significant other something you appreciate about them, every day.
  • When your partner talks to you, pay attention. Don’t look at your cell phone and tell them you can hear what they are saying. Be present. Acknowledge what they’ve said so they know they have been heard. Nod your head occasionally, saying “I hear you” and say “yes” when appropriate. Ask questions to be sure you understand, or repeat back what they have said to show you heard them.
  • Hug 5 to 10 minutes a day while lying down. Don’t force your mate to do this. Do it only if it appeals to your mate. Forcing compliance erodes trust and pleasure in our relationships.
Without taking special care of our relationships, they waver. It’s like trying to wash a hand-knitted wool sweater in the washer. Doing so will ruin the sweater. We must take our sweater to the dry cleaners or wash it by hand in cold water and dry it on a flat surface. Relationships require more attention and care than do our sweaters. Do we take as much care with our relationships as we would when we wash our car or bake a cake? Relationships can be fragile, but when we take to time to nourish them, they gain strength and eventually become monuments of love and compassion. Better relationships make EZier lives, and, given the complication of contemporary living, EZier is more necessary than ever. Take it EZ, make it EZ, and have an EZ or at least EZier day.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sexual Healing

I once had a spiritual teacher who was a sexual predator. He was my minister, and, in many ways, my mentor. I should have seen his acting out, but I was naive and young. He raped a friend of mine, but I didn’t know that until 40 years later. If I had known, I would have left. I guess I did leave. My friend left the church and went to another church, and I followed her.

This man, a man of the cloth, opened many doors for me, although he had a shadow side that allowed him to take advantage of his position. I quoted him Sunday AM from the pulpit. I didn’t mention names, and as sad and horrifying as his actions were toward women, he helped me immensely. I don’t discount that. I would have been “out of there” sooner if I had been able to see the abuse, but my family history allowed me to deny it. I too was caught in an unhealthy sexual perspective, though I didn’t know it. I was a child of the sixties, and there was a sexual liberation movement that was well-needed, but with it came a time of experimenting. There was no AIDS, no herpes, but there were few heart-centered guidelines.

I had a friend who disclosed that he was a peeping tom. He was one of my best friends and he had always treated me with respect and admiration. He asked me to read Patrick Carnes’ book, Out of the Shadows. It’s about
sexual addiction. I cried when I read the book. It opened new doors of compassion in me. I never looked at my friend differently. I couldn’t excuse his behavior, but after hearing his confessions and reading the book, I saw a different point of view.

There are many women who are coming forth these days with stories of sexual abuse. People ask why they didn’t come forward sooner. Maybe it was fear, but, for me, it was because I was raised in a culture where men took advantage of women, and I didn’t even see it as wrong. I thought it was just, “This is what men do.” It was like a Stockholm Syndrome for our culture.

My husband has been great when it comes to sexual openness. He admits that he, too, has his sexual baggage. He was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, and, in their book, just being alive is practically unacceptable.
I once took my mom to a weekend retreat. She asked me some specific questions about sex. I was shocked at her naivete. She had three children, was married to a womanizer (I’m being kind with that assessment), and hardly knew anything about sex. I won’t go into details, but the generation I came from was one step away from Puritanism. Those values keep parents from allowing sex education in the schools and make sex a forbidden fruit, thus creating intrigue and mayhem around sexuality.

Take religious repression, violence, domination, and sexual liberation, mix them together, and you have a mess - a milkshake of sexual wounding. There are a few brave souls who address this. Of course, I had to put my toe into the turmoil, thinking I could contribute something of value. I gave a workshop on sexual pleasure and a seminar on sexual boundaries in the workplace, but I just scratched the surface. There’s not an easy solution, but there is a calling coming forth that demands that we, as a culture, take a closer personal look. Sexuality is a topic that, when explored, offers poignant possibilities for introspection. Sexuality is a part of the mind, body, spirit connection. It should be an intimate act, done in full awareness, that allows us to learn the deeper aspects of our being, because when we do, life becomes EZier and EZier.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Relationships are the playing field from which we learn love and goodness. Without these indispensable basic elements, relationships are cold and dark. They imprison us in pain or limitations. Loveless relationships are full of competition, a relentless drive to get something, or the need to be right and prove the other wrong. Unhealed wounds are the source of punishment when the other friend, child, or partner does not meet one’s unmet baby needs! Revenge on one’s parents is taken out in the relationship.

Gina Lake puts in succinctly when she says, “What interferes with expressing love is the tendency to be absorbed in your mind and thoughts about yourself and what you want and need rather than about how you might express love.”

It’s not a pretty scene, the loveless relationship. However, relationships founded in lack, pain, power, and struggle have the potential to come alive through love. It is in the awakening to our true nature that love flourishes. Love surfaces when we surrender the egoic mind. Once we stop demanding the form love must take, we are free to become what we really are – love incarnate. This loves shines away the darkness in our relationship and even the darkest corner becomes a welcome potential to strengthen love. Focusing on love awakens deep compassion, and it is this compassion that allows us to see our partner, friend, or family member clearly. We cease to identify them with their actions and define them through their Essence.

Truly, the quality our relationships is dependent on our relationship to Source. When we know who we are and make a conscious effort to be the space for love to live, everything changes.

Are you ready for the change? How can you live love?

  • Don’t try to be right. Just drop the conversation that keeps love at bay. This is a game called right - wrong and it is designed to thwart intimacy.
  • Really listen to what your friend or partner is saying.
  • Heal your thoughts about your parents. Unhealed parental wounds not only show up in your relationships, they show up as your relationships. Acknowledge what your parents did to you. It’s not about blame. If a parent runs over a child with an automobile, it’s unintentional, but the child is hurt none the less. Truly acknowledge what happened, then forgive your parents, and drop it.
  • Pray for your friend or partner. Wish for him or her the best. Don’t try to coerce the Universe into getting more love or attention from your partner. Radiate your love toward your partner.
  • See yourself as whole and lovable when you are with your friend. Be aware of your self-talk. Don't use that inner voice to put them down. Don't think about what you want from your friend. Experience your lovability; drink in the ever-present, omnipresent love available. Keep your mind clean.
Relationships can be thought of as a spiritual pilgrimage. You enter with high expectations, stumble and fall, then discover things about yourself that would be hidden if you were alone, then heal those wounds, and finally share love from the deepest places. If you can’t go to India and see a guru and you desire the rigorous teaching of a master, just turn to your relationships and see them as your guru. If you open your heart and let them, they will lead you to love, and with love as your guide, everything is EZier and EZier.

Anne #relationships