It's a radical act to love and be loved well.
Working and Playing Together
We believe it’s a radical act to love and be loved well. We’re passionate about supporting couples to love well and live well, to come into their unique gifts, and live lives of meaning and beauty together.
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Being in a relationship is one of the best ways to increase your emotional resilience and hone your sense of self.
To give a sense of what this might look like, compare these two voices. This is from David Schnarch’s book Passionate Marriage. He is writing about other-validated and self-validated intimacy (related to external locus of control and internal locus of control). Here is how he articulates the voice of each:
“I’ll tell you about myself, but only if you then tell me about yourself. If you don’t, then I won’t either. But I want to, so you have to. I’ll go first and then you’ll be obligated to disclose — it’s only fair. And if I go first, you have to make me feel secure. I need to be able to trust you.”
“I don’t expect you to agree with me; you weren’t put on the face of this earth to validate and reinforce me. But I want you to love me – and you can’t really do that if you don’t know me. I don’t want your rejection – but I must face that possibility if I’m ever to feel accepted and secure with you. It’s time for me to show myself to you and confront my separateness and mortality. One day when we are no longer together on this earth, I want to know that you knew me.”
The second voice, the voice of self-validated intimacy, speaks to an increased capacity to meet the moment. That's what we're going for!
We believe that Couples Counseling should be juicy, useful, and efficient. You should begin to feel closer and more intimate quickly. While working on the “issues”, it’s equally important to tap into the healing power of pleasure.
We teach couples to manage triggers with more efficiency so as to spend more time in presence, play and flow. We want to support you to use your life force energy for pleasure, for purpose, for bringing your unique gifts to the world.
We have options. We can dive into our wounds and hurts — that can be important and valuable work. AND/OR we can also simply orient towards more pleasure and often get to the same place.
One wonderful discovery is we can take the tough stuff and turn it into play. You put it in the playpen. It’s all about drawing a circle around it, creating a container. That’s the way to turn it into alchemy. It’s possible to use the relationship as an incubator for transformation of story, and for birthing our unique self in the world.
Another way to frame the work that we are doing with couples is that we are creating a link from being a good and skilled lover in the intimate sense to being a good and skilled lover to the world.
Inspired by our study of Tantra, our friendships with people like Martin Ucik, Richard Barrett, and others, we have a vision of the possibility of couples as transformative agents in the world. Couples who help one another meet their ego needs and act with a shared sense of purpose out of their soul desires are oomphy and together have an exponential capacity to bring goodness to their communities and world.
Through the microcosm of a love relationship, we can practice and expand to become lovers in the largest sense of the word. What the world needs right now are lovers — people who say yes to life in all its forms. And, we believe, the world needs lover-mystics — those who orient to soul desires, to the unseen world and make it manifest through works of love. If we fall in love with the water, the earth, other human beings, all that has life… we might also become fierce and passionate defenders of life because we naturally defend what we cherish.
This relates to the tantric principle of the healing power of pleasure. Being in an intimate relationship is one place where we learn about beauty and pleasure, where we practice moving from the contracted world of disappointment or fear to risking saying yes again… yes to being known, to intimacy, to love. This intimate-lover-space can translate and train us — and it’s boot-camp-ish sometimes! — to refuse what is not life-giving in our smaller spheres and the world at large.
We seek to be of service to all those who are yearning to be better lovers at home and in the world.
"From the moment you pledge yourselves to each other unconditionally, much will begin to change. As you make a hearth, the ancient gods and demons of childhood will return to live with you. Within the sanctuary of your intimacy, as the trust between you grows, you will finally become safe enough to allow your deepest fears of abandonment, your long-hidden shame, your impolite anger, your infantile omnipotence, your vulnerable dreams, your secret virtues, and the deepest longings of your spirit to emerge into the cleansing light of day. At long last you may drop your masks, get offstage, and explore who you are when you no longer have to pretend in order to win the love that can never be won. More than anything, marriage is the way we heal ourselves and heal each other. For it is only when we are within the arms that hold us in our brokenness and splendor that we are set free to become ourselves."
- Sam Keen's chapter on "Commitment" in To Love and Be Loved
We recommend Kali Rising by one of our teachers, Rudolph Ballentine, as an intro to the principles of Tantra... and how to apply them to all areas of life.
If you love maps of consciousness, human development, and relationships, check out Sex, Purpose, Love by Martin Ucik.
One of our favorite practices for lovers to create a "container" or sacred space to birth something new is called Temple Time. You can read about it here.
"First of all, let me say that without Amelia and Erik, I don’t know if my partner and I would still be together. And that would be horrible. For, while we are both extremely complicated southern Italians blessed with too much spice and brain for our own good, we are crazy in love. (Emphasis on the “crazy.”) I was fascinated by their rather unusual and eccentric approach. Erik and Amelia are in some ways seemingly diametrically opposite in temperament and therapeutic style (my partner and I enjoy imagining what on earth their relationship is like); however, in session together, they are a dynamic twosome. It is perhaps the very contradictions of their two distinct outlooks and affects that have allowed us, as their clients to have our experiences, both as individuals and as a couple, validated from a oft stunning mixture of perspectives, beliefs, mystic principles, etc.—all of which, as practitioners, are grounded in their own personal experiences." -PC