Monday, December 29, 2008

Keeping the fire of Passion and Love alive!

“The movie that changed the face of entertainment. Toy Story, the first full-length computer animated feature film, is "a wonder to behold."” – People Magazine

‘Toy Story’
Most everyone has enjoyed this great animation at least once in the past 13 years. Toy Story is the result of the innovations of a small team of people bringing together existing elements into a new dynamic for the entertainment industry. Much can be learned from their endeavor that can be applied to maintaining and growing passion in your love relationship.

Play to Win
Growing passion and intimacy thrives in an environment of creativity and playfulness. It doesn’t occur from a lone idea or concept from a ‘love manual’, but from creating the environment for sustainable innovation. The creators of toy story surrounded themselves with toys and mastered the art of play as their imaginations worked towards the final result. This magical and “juicy” environment they worked in fostered shared attitudes, values and beliefs that became meaningful to them as group relating to one another. Each relationship has abundant resources within it to support and sustain growing and expanding passion.

There are five core values that support and sustain dynamic passion; questioning, risk taking, openness, patience and trust. Sustainability is the result of a harmonious balance of these values, as in the creation of Toy Story.

Values and Intimacy
At first look, the values of questioning and risk taking seem counter-intuitive for most popular definitions of love relationships. However, these values bring to the relationship the energy for growing passion. Openness, patience and trust are elements of intimacy which sustain passion. Growing passion is stifled when either of these values is over emphasized. Yet if the partners base their relationship on trust with out questioning, blindness or unawareness to energy draining habits and attitudes insidiously appear. Where one or both partners place great emphasis on patience, little change occurs and boredom and habituation dominates the relationship. Risk-taking isn’t reckless, but is undertaken consensually which requires openness and questioning.

In the example of the creation of Toy Story, the willingness to ask questions and take risks put the team over the top with their new film medium. Because this kind of film had never been done before, they were taking risks with their very idea. Trust is critical when a group fosters a new idea. Trust is also critical when partners begin to question their choices, options and possibilities. Lack of trust can turn questions into to judgments and promote an atmosphere of expectation . When partners are willing trust enough to take risks and ask questions they can create a new and more dynamic relationship.

Question – Energy of Passion
Curiosity underlies the kind of questioning that sustains passion. Natural curiosity seeks to explore and discover that which is unknown. It can take us into the hidden area of the personality – that part is hidden from self and/or the other. ‘Natural’ curiosity accesses that deeper part of our self which is closely related to our ‘inner child’. This is the kind of curiosity that fuels the passion of a child discovering how something works. Our intuition is allowed to imagine and create when our child-like natural questioning emerges. This great capacity for questioning also allows two individuals to explore and find resolution in difficult times. David Culler, a computer science professor at UC Berkeley, described this kind of questioning as: “stubbing my toe on the same spot often enough that I say, ‘What is this?’ Then I look down and find that what I’m tripping on is just the tip of a very big rock below the surface.”

Play, not work
The rich juicy environment for sustained passion is play, not work. Truly innovative people play at what others call work. Though the Toy Story team faced many times of difficulty and seeming failure the energy sustained by their passionate playing at creating this film allowed them to continue through to their amazing success!

If a couple works at keeping passion alive, it will likely wither and die. Working at, or ‘having to’ keep passion alive turns questions into judgments. Asking the “Why” question communicates judgment, lack of trust, promotes defensiveness and triggers guilt and shame. Passion cannot co-exist with such elements of the past. “Why” questions in relationship are neither scientific nor questioning but veiled statements of dissatisfaction, judgment, or anger.

The questions of play are what keep passion alive. Questions of How? When? What? Each of these speaks to discovery and outcomes in the future. Open ended questions that suggest possibilities will stimulate imagination, which is a critical aspect of sustained passion.

The Challenge
A great challenge to sustained passion is habituation or status quo. A maturing relationship can easily fail to question patterns, rituals, and habits that once were new innovations. Couples that discover a sense of having “made it” can add new energy to their relationship by seeking to discover new and unknown possibilities.

Action Steps –
1. Reflect on the most passionate time in your relationship. Write or share your reflections with your partner.
2. What would you like to discover about yourself and your partner? Share these with your partner.
3. Encourage your partner to participate in 1 & 2

Risk and Trust next time!

Russ Hardesty Dec 29, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

User-friendly Relationships

How are you at navigating the programs on your computer or for that matter the internet? Navigating relationships, just as the navigation of the programs on a laptop can seem difficult for some while others seem to ‘point and click’ effortlessly. What is the difference? Understanding the language required for desired responses is critical if one is to have an effortless relationship with the laptop or their chosen partner.

It can’t read your mind
Learning to use your computer with the appropriate inputs from the keyboard and mouse can be extremely frustrating. Often we assign names, personalities and poor character traits to our desktops. We speak to this electronic device as if it were some invention from the depths of hell sent to torment our souls. Our ‘inner child’ may believe we are being punished for our stupidity and ineptness. This inner child wishes the computer could read our wants and desires as did our early caretakers. All of this could be said about our significant relationships. Some navigate relationships as easily as some who “become one” with the laptop; and others have an emotionally charged relationship marked with conflict, frustration and reluctant tolerance.

Most everyone recognizes the power of our early programming. This programming affects our person and our behavior. Family of origin, birth order, historical events, tragic events, gender, and culture all play a powerful part in making us who we are today. Each one of us has had a unique personal programming. One way of describing this programming is related to personality types. Exploring these personality types can bring clarity and understanding and set the stage for learning new and effective ways to relate to our loved one that creates a ‘user friendly’ relationship.

I just disappear…
My wife, Pat and I, are living illustrations of these differences in programming. I find myself fascinated with ‘what makes things work’ and can spend hours in learning how to work with a piece of software, while Pat wants the software to do what she needs done when she wants it done – now! During a conversation between the two of us, an idea or question may arise that I want more information about. I disappear to the library or Google to find the answer rather than continue on in the conversation. This frustrates Pat.

In the process of building our house, I delighted in the structural design and construction with little interest in color, texture, ambience while Pat would wait until a room was completed before deciding on colors and textures to create the warm and comfortable home we experience everyday. These differences are both challenging and complementing.

She’s not my type!
A mother and daughter team developed an effective system to describe and understand the type difference in people. These two women, Myers and Briggs, developed a type indicator instrument, (MBTI) based on Carl Jung’s analytic psychology. True to type, I am fascinated with this kind to ‘systematizing’. While Pat doesn’t spend time reading the Jungian theories, she is a master in applying the knowledge described by the theories. Pat is the “woman that runs with the wolves” described by Jung’s student, Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Jung was the architect while Clarissa, was the interior decorator and articulated the characteristics of powerful women. I am fascinated by music theory and Pat brings the theory into existence with her beautiful voice. I love her voice and I love to hear her singing. She brings beauty to a structure that I can describe but struggle to implement.

The SJ and NT
David Keirsey has further refined the personality types of MyersBriggs into four temperament types. Pat seems to be predominately a type described by Keirsey as SJ (Sensory and Judgement), or Gold in other type descriptions. Martha Stewart shares this type with Pat. I fall solidly into the NT (Intuitive Thinker) type or Blue, sharing this architect typology with James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. This combination presents challenges and clear strengths in our relationship. As the NT, I am an endless source of frustration for my lovely SJ bride. My thoughts and actions leap to and fro while Pat’s SJ seeks to maintain routine and order. Pat values traditional ways of doing things. She will seek to quietly read the assembly instructions as I thrash about seeking to understand the “structure” of the system.

Knowing the language helps!
User friendly relationships are empowered with knowledge of the operating system of the other. A quote from Mother Teresa, Pat’s sister SJ, “"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier”, helps me better understand Pat’s operating system. The language recognized by her system is words and phrases that answer her “how” questions. For example, “How do the details fit together?” Or “How can I plan ahead?” and my most dreaded – “How can you guarantee that?” To keep our relationship ‘user friendly’, I must be conscious that Pat’s how questions may not be compatible with my operating system, but are essential for her sense of balance and harmony. I am in control of my communication; it’s not Pat’s task or the laptop’s job to make sense out of my intentions. My inputs must be recognizable and meaningful to have a ‘user friendly’ relationship.

Action Steps!

1. Get to know your type – if you need help, email me and I’ll be glad to help – no cost!
2. Seek to know your partner’s type – please don’t get into being a shrink and psychologizing – again I can give some assistance
3. Mindfully listen to your partner’s comments and language – this is a great way to learn their language.
4. Seek an opportunity to read and discuss this blog with your partner, calmly!
• Explore ways with your partner to improve your communication

Please comment on ways that you have applied this awareness to your relationship. It will be a gift for others. Russ

Check out Russ's materials at Your Ultimate Relationship

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Shadow Land

Journey into the Shadow Land

Recently I had the opportunity to visit with both sisters at the same time and was amazed at the familiar dynamics. My younger sister began to tease and banter as if we were in the 1950’s. The youngest, took the place of the observer and I struggled not to do my ‘one up’ response. Our combined 90 plus years in the ‘helping professions’ didn’t change this old programming from our family of origin.

“Don’t go often and don’t stay long”

The holiday season is a traditional time for connecting with family. I clearly remember for years as I drove from Missouri to the ‘farm’ in Oklahoma and my feelings and emotions began to change – preparing for the role in my family of origin. A part of me seemed to ‘dummy down’ so that I would fit into the traditional role of my childhood. My behaviors began to mirror those of the past. The conversations topics were the same. I was ready to return as soon as the greetings were exchanged. The return trip began in silence and gradually turned into a ‘therapy session’ with Pat, which allowed some important insight and understanding. Most of my early adult life I had adopted the philosophy – “Don’t go often and don’t stay long”.

A Wonderful Opportunity!

The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to gain understanding of those unconscious behaviors and attitudes that are challenges in your present relationship. An important phase of creating the relationship of your dream is to differentiate and define your own style of relationship. It can take several years to do this while defining and developing a relationship ‘identity’. Time spent with families of origin will often reveal the degree to which your relationship has achieved it identity. These times are opportunities to evaluate and create greater clarity of the boundaries defining the relationship with your partner.

Observation Opportunity

During this holiday season observe the traditions and roles of where you came from! What are the traditions of gifts, celebration, decorations, roles of parents, and sibling’s relationship? These can be marvelous windows into the unconscious aspects of your relationship! How many mirror patterns in your present relationship? This allows greater awareness of that which has been hidden enter the workshop of consciousness.

Creating Your Tradition!

Intimacy is deepened with tradition. Anticipation enhances passion! Your tradition can surely include the family of origin while creating a new one – an expression of your true self, your partner and the young people in your life. Creating your unique tradition gives the young people in your life permission to be free creating theirs! Consult one another as you design the patterns of your celebration. Let your celebration be just that! Celebration is another form of gratitude for that which you have, not participating in a social obligation.

Action Steps

1. Design your holiday tradition

As a couple, family or individual

Each one write 30 things that bring joy during the holiday season, then each picks their top 10. This is beginning of a great discussion – especially if the focus is on wants rather than blame or fault. Select activities and experiences that allow for a win-win outcome for everyone. It may take more than one conversation to achieve the plan that works, but magic begins to happen when the focus is on what and comes from the heart.

2. Share your Holiday Tradition – Post in the comment section – Great Idea Source for those wanting to Change or Start their own!

Happy Holidays!

Check out Russ's materials at Your Ultimate Relationship

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Knowledge is power! How do you use it?

“Need to know basis”

In response to a recent blog “for men”, a woman reader shared that her role with her husband was different than described in the blog. It seems the husband was slow when making a plan, didn’t share the plan clearly, and was slow to take action. She indicated that ‘being left in the dark’ and operating on a ‘need-to-know’ basis were road blocks to peace and closeness in the relationship.

Information and knowledge is power and subject to being misused to increase personal power or unwelcome feedback or criticism. Certainly, there are times when the need-to-know is appropriate as in: certain military situations; discretionary access control such as a computer or financial system; social security numbers; or credit card numbers. However, in committed relationships, secrecy and the use of need-to-know as power impacts the well being of the partners in a relationship and is counter to an open and loving connection. Trust is the casualty of such control.

“Clear and open”

A fulfilling relationship requires clear and open communication. Operating on the ‘need-to-know basis’ amplifies power struggles and inequality in the relationship. The one who decides what the partner needs to know sends the message unconsciously that they aren’t capable decision makers. This abuse of power squelches initiative and imagination; both vital elements of passion.

The readers husband may not have intended such messages to be sent, and would likely be surprised to know their partner felt frustrated. Both partners likely came from homes in which one or both parents operated on the ‘need to know’ premise. Patterns from our past operate unconsciously in everyday interactions. When such a pattern exists in the family of origin, openness and trust are often compromised and prevents emotional closeness and safety. The reader experienced a “wait and see feeling” which made it difficult to have the security that comes from knowing “the plan”.

What we Live With….

“What we live with we learn; and what we learn we practice and what we practice we become” is a phrase which has been helpful for many wanting to change a pattern or behavior. Unconscious behaviors are a large part of our lives and operate without thought. In the blog, “Its Just Cobwebs”, I described a personal experience when an unconscious pattern came into my awareness. To change the pattern that was a part of my earlier life experience by “learning” or realizing the impact of the pattern in my present relationship. The work of “practicing” the new behavior of “staying” connected even if I am uncomfortable is hard but necessary to change old and destructive behaviors. Practice is – repetition of the new behavior. One practices the new behavior until it becomes their first response. Interestingly, the practiced behavior becomes a part of your being and operates at the “unconscious” level. Changing such patterns as described by the reader’s comment requires personal honesty and desire to grow! Both are critical to fulfilling relationships.

Action Steps:

  1. Practice sharing your plan with your partner – discuss and ask for input and use the first two steps described in “for men”
  2. If your partner shares a plan; listen responsively – reaction usually is taken as a judgment and creates defensiveness and distance

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A challenge for men!

“What is your plan? Exactly!”

“What is your plan?” she asks. “It will work out somehow” he says. And the internal unrest in the relationship grows until lava like either flows out in the most unexpected places or erupts explosively in the most inconvenient time.

The unconscious natures of women and men play their vital roles for the survival of relationships, family, and community. Men by nature are more aggressive, impatient, short-sighted, given to winning, reproducing, overcoming, and hungry. Women think longer term, appreciate knowing the ‘plan’, seek to know ‘cause and effect’ as a source of empowerment that comes from being prepared. However these differences often weaken and lead to an unfulfilled relationship.

Men will come on like ‘gang busters’ with their ideas, thoughts and wants. The powerful woman has a plan, and most of these ideas don’t fit in. Her response isn’t, “Wonderful Plan, I’ll just forget mine”, but rather caution and discomfort. The accumulation of these emotional responses compound emotional disconnection and erode intimacy and passion.

Be your Best, “Slow Down”!

Lyrics from “Slow Hand” by the Pointer Sister gives a great “point” for understanding a powerful tool for communicating with your partner.

”I want a man with a slow hand
I want a lover with an easy touch
I want somebody who will spend some time
Not come and go in a heated rush
I want somebody who will understand
When it comes to love, I want a slow hand”

A quality and fulfilling relationship happens over a period of time. The time factor is one of the greatest challenges for people in our culture, especially men. There is a great deal of pressure from the economy to be as productive in as short a time as possible. This “hurry up” model doesn’t apply to love relationships.

Sequential Steps

Developing intimacy and closeness with your partner has to occur in sequential steps or stages. The initial step it requires is an honest acknowledgment of your partner. It is human nature to assume acknowledgment from our life mate. However this assumption begins to gnaw at the trust connection. Here are three fundamental and sequential step to creating a passionate and intimate connection with your partner:

  1. Acknowledgment of our partner’s presence, desires and wants are as essential five years into the relationship as was the original courtship and bonding.
  2. Acknowledgment initially is a visual awareness, but eye contact is equally critical. Often partners rarely hold and maintain eye contact with each other after their courtship. Sharing eye contact for an extended period allows connection in each others emotional center.
  3. This type of connection significantly increases the effectiveness of the third kind of connection that occurs, communication!

When a man is connected with his partner at this level, his words enter the emotional power center and connect with the plans of a strong woman.

Friday, December 5, 2008

“Its Just Cobwebs” –

Have you ever been blind sided your partner’s comment or action? Did a ‘mole hill’ suddenly become a huge ‘mountain’ of relationship turmoil? Did a well intentioned comment or action turn into a hurtful or damaging event? Anyone in a relationship experiences these times. Let me share one ……

Just another day!

It seemed just like most days. I awakened around 5:00 a.m. and got out of bed as quietly as possible so as not awaken Pat’s sleep and went to the office upstairs. I logged some of the thoughts I had awakened with and checked and responded to emails. I spent the next hour or so reading and jotting down some connected thoughts.

A Blast from the Past..

Around 7:00, hearing Pat stirring in the kitchen, I greeted her as I started the coffee. While she was preparing breakfast, I took the scraps from the evening before to the chickens. I gave the hens their daily quota of feed, checked their water supply, and gathered the dozen or so eggs from the previous afternoon and returned to the kitchen. As I sat the bowl with eggs on the end of the counter, I heard, “Where have you been!” Immediately my ‘male’ brain thought – “how could Pat not know since I just sat down the bowl with the eggs?” Being somewhat literal in my actions, “I have been taking care of the chickens.” “You have cobwebs on you!” she said. Sure enough my left arm and shoulder was covered in the dusty cobwebs that only grow in a chicken house. I stepped outside, brushed them off and returned to the office without any other comment.

Pat called to me when she had breakfast ready. There was little conversation during the meal. As Pat left the table, she remarked, “You must like the computer more than me!” I did my usual “Huh” look and assured her that I liked her a lot more than the computer!


Pat’s remark stuck in my brain. Soon after she left to work at the Garden Center, I realized that what had happened between us was a ‘blast from the past’. My internal response to Pat’s comment about the cobwebs triggered a response that had been with me since early childhood. Although Pat had no intention of becoming a parent that morning, her comment was an echo from the past.

I had grown up with a lot of questions, remarks or judgments from both parents couched in “why are you doing that?” My childhood response was to give a minimal response and exit. I would go outside if it was daylight or to a remote place in the house if it was nighttime. My mind would attempt to reconcile the intense emotional response my parents had to my seemingly harmless ‘behavior’. I would have thought, “Its just cobwebs – what’s the big deal?”

Opportunity for Change

On that morning in August, my unconscious self had been in charge of my part of the relationship. The patterned behavior has been with me for at least 60 years! This awareness now presents me with a choice. It becomes a choice of accountability. I must own my part of our unconscious relationship. Next time, I can stay instead of leaving. I can think, “Thanks! this an opportunity to become more conscious!”


Here’s a comment from my studies in family and marriage counseling; “90% of the repetitive issues in a relationship are connected to the family of origin, while only 10% is relevant to the present”. Russ

Action Step:

Reflect on the next conflict, disagreement, disappointment that occurs in your relationship. Are there fragments or shards of the past finding a presence in the situation? What are the lessons? What are the changes that will improve your relationship?

Please share some of your insights and awareness’s

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Your Shadow Knows!

Once in a lifetime, everyone should fall in love. In that moment we know we have the perfect partner for life. Little do we know that the dream of our life may become our nightmare?

Dream or Damion?
What began as the perfect partner can become the nightmare or damion of the magical moment when you entered the mystical place filled with delicious intensity, called ‘falling in love’. Life seemed filled with bright days, the lyrics of songs took on special meaning, and you needed less sleep. The food you and your loved one shared together tasted better than any ever.

Crimes and Misdemeanors
As you were transported to this magical place, little did you know the magic of the moment was the paradox described in Woody Allen’s film, Crimes and Misdemeanors. Professor Louis Levy concludes: “What we are aiming for when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that when we fall in love we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted upon us. So that love contains in it the contradiction, the attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past.”

The Shadow Land
Unconsciously, you discovered that for which you have desired; long before you had the language to describe this Nirvana. You encountered the one that can right all wrongs and disappointments. Voids are filled by the one whose presence is ointment for healing old wounds and hurts. This person anticipates your needs, completes your sentences and knows how special you are. Your boundaries have collapsed into a relationship that creates the mystical union described as “and the two shall become one.” In the words of Professor Levy, you have entered the place of shadows – the unconscious relationship.

Share you comments or ask your question about the unconscious relationship.

p.s. This blog is a beginning of several entries about the unconscious relationship. Stay tuned, the next one is really personal!!!

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

two years, six months and 25 days

Has the fire gone out?
According to a poll ( of 5000 couples reported in the Daily Mail Reporter the “the fire” goes out of a relationship in two years, six months and 25 days.

Reported symptoms:
• Husbands give up trying to be tidy and wives no longer make an effort to look nice for their spouse
• Couples are far less likely to share the TV remote – 75% of men and women said they wouldn’t relinquish the remote (even if asked nicely)
• 83% of couples surveyed indicated it was a problem to continue celebrating their wedding anniversary by the third year
• More than half of the couples interviewed felt undervalued by their partner
• 70% of men left socks, pants and dirty washing lying around the house (79% no longer bothered putting the lavatory seat down)
• 67% of women said they no longer made the effort to dress up and look nice for their spouse – 54% no longer bothered with make-up – 61% preferred tracksuit bottoms or pj’s while at home
• 83% married couples held hands while out during the first few months of marriage but only 38% after 10 years
• During the first year of marriage partners would cuddle more than 8 times a day – down to 5 or less times after 10 years of marriage
• 60% said they hadn’t been surprised with a romantic night out since marriage
Do any of these statistics hit close to home for you?

In the Threshold Model of Relationship I describe the phase called “Habituation”. Habituation explains the apparent decline of romance and passion that many couples experience. When a relationship is heavily weighted with “habituation”, there is little passion and intimacy stalls out. The law of nature doesn’t allow static to remain static – either decline or growth is the order. The same kind of energy that allowed the relationship in the beginning is essential for sustained growth and health.

Keeping Fire in the Relationship

People are attracted to one another by a form of magic which many call romance. Romance can be defined in many ways. To be romantic, one must be attentive to their partner. “Noticing” or paying attention is really important. Understanding the nature of early bonding between parent and child is really helpful when wanting to become more romantic. In the relationship of parent and child, the parents are attentive to the needs and wants of the child without asking the child what they want or need. In the same way, noticing or paying attention allows each partner to ‘know’ without being told what the other wants or needs.

Surprise and being Surprised
Surprise is a key ingredient in romance, but not the kind of surprise that disregards the partner’s wants and needs. Buying your wife a weed trimmer when she doesn’t enjoy mowing the yard IS NOT the kind of surprise I’m talking about. The surprises that allow your partner to know that you understand their dreams and wishes are the romantic ones.

A key part of romance is being surprised! Many couples have fallen into a pattern where one partner no longer feels creative enough to do the surprising and the other needs to know everything before it happens! Essentially the space between them has become very controlled (habituated) and unfriendly for surprises. The unimaginative partner’s creativity is stifled while the fearful partner needing to know everything in advance leaves no possibility for being surprised. These patterns will need to be thoughtfully changed for the process of romantic surprise to take place.

Practical Tips
• Send a unique gift at work – very simple, homemade, doesn’t need to be perfect
• Find out from partner’s family something they have always wanted? Surprise your partner!
• Go on Dates – Dating is not just for new relationships.

Share your story of how you keep the fire burning!
Suggestions are welcome and might just help someone keep their fire burning!

p.s. - Your suggestions will be compiled into a blog post for others to view.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fullfilled or Just Happy?

“I just want to be happy!”

In the thirty plus years as a professional counselor working with couples, the most common response to the question, “What do you want?” is “I just want to be happy!” Digging deeper into the desire for happiness, it seems that happiness is a way of thinking about desired life outcomes as it “should be”. Unhappiness in the relationship was connected to unfilled ‘isms’ or beliefs like “should”, “must”, or “supposed to be”.

Beyond Survival

Often human beings are more concerned about survival than prospering. We find ourselves identifying what we need minimally to “be happy”. This kind of happiness could be simply described as experiencing life the way it “should be”. We look at the world around us and the people in it, the people who seem to be happy. And we identify what it will take for us to experience that happiness. Happiness looks a certain way and has its price tags. The “happiness” in survival mode is a comparative happiness. The dialogue that is connected may sound like this, “Well at least I don’t have to make their car payment!” Happiness in this way of thinking is connected with certain desired outcomes and can seem unattainable.

The cycle of beginnings and endings rob us…

The survival way of thinking certainly applies to our relationships. We notice the relationships of others and may idolize what seems to make people happy. Our sights are usually set unrealistically in this mindset. Women want to find the perfect man, the knight in shining armor who is funny and tender and understanding. Men want to find the woman who is youthful and beautiful, the mysterious damsel waiting to be discovered. When this does not seem to come easily, we quickly revert to the survivor mode, which leaves us with taking whatever comes our way or settling for what seems attainable. In short order we find this does not make us “happy” but rather frustrated and dejected, and in a cycle of beginnings and endings that rob us emotionally.

A Rich and Vibrant Relationship = Fulfillment!

The idea of fulfillment is in stark contrast to the idea of happiness in the survival mode. Fulfillment is an acceptance of what is. Fulfillment is not possible if one is always concerned about what is missing or “wrong”. Fulfillment looks to the potential and possibility of a relationship. This kind of happiness fosters growth and celebrates the unique characteristics that can make for a rich and vibrant relationship. Fulfillment is the mindset of those who wish to prosper in relationships. The beginning of prosperity in a relationship comes from acceptance of what is.

What Would You Choose?

If you focus on what “is not” or missing, then quickly you become unhappy and then only make the happiness of survival your goal. To be aware of what is working, what is valuable in yourself and your partner points you to the fulfilling engagement of two individuals committed to prospering in all life areas. The potential of this latter kind of happiness is unbounded. What kind of relationship would you choose to create?

Action Step!

What do think are the top 5 features of a Fulfilled Relationship!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving 2008

This Thanksgiving Holiday is a time for thankfulness which I like to describe as “being full of thanks”. Gratitude or appreciation is the key element in a relationship filled with passion and intimacy. David Meyers, author of “The Pursuit of Happiness”, stated, “Satisfaction isn’t so much getting what you want as wanting what you have.” Take just a few minutes during this holiday to share with the love(s) of your life those specific things that they bring to you that makes your life full. Happy Thanksgiving!!! Russ

Friday, November 21, 2008

A “Here and Now” Relationship!

One reader asked, “Is the ‘here and now’ creation between two individuals …. the same as a couple being equally yoked?” (“Living Lessons” November 2008”)

The foundation or structure
I believe that both of the concepts are vital to the creation of the ultimate relationship. However they are different. The concept of “equally yoked” speaks to the structure of a relationship while “here and now” describes the process that occurs within a relationship. The structure of the relationship promotes certain processes to occur, which in turn allows outcomes to be gained for both partners. Being equally yoked within the Judeo-Christian teaching about marriage refers to having shared spiritual beliefs. I would like to expand “equally yoked” to mean “shared core values” which I believe are essential to the structure of a fulfilling partnership.

Be Authentic
Core values remain the constant while preferences, tastes, interests and even personalities may change over a period of time. Author, Melissa Darnay said, “you can change a person’s socks, you can change their hair cut, but you can’t change their core values… or yours”. Shared core values allow a couple to make the various adjustments required by life in such a way that their relationship remains vital and exciting. These core values also allow each partner to be their authentic selves. Often having shared spiritual belief is interpreted by most as ‘shared or similar beliefs about something, ideas, or ‘God’, whereas shared core values are personal commitments which each partner actively incorporates into their actions, words and thoughts. One of my core values is personal growth. This core value fosters ongoing improvement and learning. This is applicable in all areas of my life, which includes my relationships. Without the value of personal growth, my relationship will become flat, stale and mediocre. Having this core value allows for the ‘here and now’ aspect of relationship. This is the place for intimacy and passion.

Remember the passion of new love? In this special experience each partner is in a place of growth and discovery (a core value) which fires and fuels great passion (here and now) and growing intimacy (outcome or results).

It takes more than common beliefs
It is extremely important that each partner be true to their core values. When one fails to do so, they become ‘unequally yoked’. Passion and intimacy fade and affection erodes into complacency and mediocrity. The resulting process of being in ‘here and now’ fades and is replaced by another, ‘then and there’. This place focuses on what was and what might be. ‘Here and now’ is being conscious and intentional while ‘then and there’ becomes the default where we live our unconscious relationship. ‘Then and there’ is controlled by guilt, shame, dread, anxiety and fear. Passion and intimacy fail to prosper in this environment. Couples may have shared beliefs about ‘things’ but not have an active commitment to those ‘things’. They would be considered to be ‘equally yoked’, but yet unfulfilled. They have a commitment based on beliefs about something, not beliefs in something – an expression of empty love.

Consummate love is comprised of commitment, passion and growing intimacy!

Action Steps –
• What are your core values – those values which guide your actions, thoughts and words?
• How do you express each of these values in your life? Work? Relationship?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Relationships are Living Legacies! Is Yours?

Living Lessons

Recently, I asked two gentlemen if they could identify a couple whose relationship represented what they believed to be a quality relationship. Both seemed to be at a loss. Later that same day I asked another acquaintance the same question, and she immediately responded with a couple’s name. These responses, a very limited sample, support the view that fewer than 5% of our population are in what would be called a quality relationship.

Additional questions revealed that the identified couple was an inspiration to others, providing a living model of a quality relationship. The power of a living lesson is so valuable! It was very interesting to experience the smile and increased animation as this woman described the couple.

A Here and Now Creation

Creating a quality relationship brings not only fulfillment to one’s life; it brings hope and encouragement to those who come in contact with such a beautiful creation. A quality relationship isn’t static, but a ‘here and now’ creation between two individuals that are intentionally experiencing the essence of one another moment by moment.

The quality relationship you create brings great hope not only to you and your partner, but teaches others how they can have such a generative relationship. Living the lesson is so powerful. Our words are so often presented as advice, but rarely help individuals move towards a more fulfilled life. Thousands of advice givers share their thoughts and ideas about relationships which pales in the light of a living lesson of a ‘here and now’ relationship.

The Legacy of a Quality Relationship

Living a quality relationship is one of the greatest legacies that you leave for those you love. This is a true gift that gives a model of how to live such a relationship to those that are in your sphere of influence. This gift will empower others to teach and share your life lessons. The gifts of action and deeds outlive our words and material gifts

Call to Action:

Share a story or description of a quality relationship that has made a positive impact in your life.

Is Your Relationship Mediocre?

Mediocre Relationships just Happen?
Often people give more attention and care to the purchase of their homes and autos than their life relationship. Many enter a lifelong relationship believing that the intensity and passion that sparked the beginning of relationship is everlasting and will overcome all challenges. Little thought is given to the cost and ongoing input required to maintain the relationship.
Life happens even to those that know the thrill and rush of new love! Events such as the birth of a child, change in finances, career moves, and relocation can factor in to affect the quality of a relationship. As life happens, the relationship can take on a flatness or mediocrity that is often accepted as normal. Typically, it is believed that love that has lost its passion and can’t be recovered.

Fixing a Flat… Relationship!
When a relationship seems to have become flat, a lot of energy may be given to recover the passion or‘re-ignite’ the fire. The recovery attempts are usually focused on the relationship and ways to fix the relationship. The problem is seen as an external problem to be repaired or resolved. Partners may place blame for the failing relationship on situations, others, themselves or their partner. Blaming contributes nothing to the intended goal. It is a sign of withdrawal of partners from one another. When their efforts fail, the energy that was once expressed as passion and excitement in the relationship is re-directed into work, child-rearing, hobbies, etc. Success of the relationship becomes evaluated in the performance of children, acquisition of material things such as home and possession or achieving prestige. Rather than continuing the efforts to repair or restore the relationship, the couple begins to accept mediocrity as the inevitable.

Passion Fruit!
Quality relationships are created! The passionate and juicy relationship that brought two people together seemed to just happen – it was effortless! The effortlessness of the early stage of the relationship didn’t seem like work, where as recovering the mediocre one seems impossible. They perceive the required effort as overwhelming! Einstein suggested once, that the way one sees a problem is the problem. The problems don’t lie with another person, circumstances or situations. The way the relationship is perceived – as a separate entity - becomes the challenge to improvement. A relationship is the space between two individuals. Space by definition isn’t an entity or thing. The relationship or space that exists between two separate individuals is filled with the energy both partners bring to it.

Your Most Important Investment
Your primary love relationship is the most important investment you will ever make. True wealth is found in valuing and nurturing your human potential and is expressed by your capacity to relate to and nurture those that are closest to you! Valuing and nurturing a quality relationship begins with you. It begins with a commitment to personal growth and understanding that a relationship or the space existing between two people is a reflection of the quality of energy that each brings to that space. What kind of energy do you bring to the space between you and your partner? Friends? Children? The effort you put into creating a quality relationship is an investment that will pay dividends throughout your lifetime and the lives of those you encounter.

Call to action
1. Describe what you believe are the typical beliefs that people have when the “fire” seems to have gone out of a relationship?
2. Share a story of a couple that has recovered passion in their relationship.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Creating the Relationship of Your Dreams

Creating the Relationship of Your Dreams
The intent of this blog is to create a teaching/learning community for those of you who want to expand your awareness and make a positive difference in your primary love relationship. Your primary love relationship is a mirror or hologram of how you interface with the rest of the world. Quality relationships allow the fullest expression of your positive energy and creativity. When we are successful in relationships we can expect to experience success in all areas of our lives. This success is experienced as appreciation, joy and abundance, the relationship of your Dreams!

Mediocre Relationships just happen. Quality Relationships are created.
Your primary love relationship is the most important investment you will ever make. Many lives are spent attempting to fix that which is broken on the inside through the pursuit of wealth, power and prestige. True wealth is found in valuing and nurturing your human potential and is expressed by your capacity to relate to and nurture those that are closest to you! Few people on their death bed ever said, “I wish I had worked more”, or “I wish I had earned more”. Most talk of those that they have loved and desire their presence in their parting moments. The effort you put into creating a quality relationship is an investment that will pay dividends throughout your lifetime.

What is a Quality Relationship?
It has been estimated that fewer than 5% of couples in western civilization enjoy a quality relationship. Even though they can appear very different from couple to couple, quality relationships have common elements. A quality relationship allows two individuals to grow and express their full potential as human beings. A quality relationship is a statement of the character of each of the partners. A quality relationship has partners that share core values. A quality relationship has a clear purpose or mission.

Your Help is Needed!
If fewer than 5% of our population report living in a quality relationship, then we are in a relationship crisis as well as an economic crisis! This Blog isn’t just for those that believe their relationship is a mess, but for those that have that exceptional relationship to share their wisdom and experience. There are thousands giving and writing advice about relationship – getting past pain, having better sex, how to get a first date and the list goes on. Your questions, thoughts and opinions are vital to the purpose of this Blog – Creating a Quality Relationship.

Post your idea or thoughts that define a Quality Relationship!

Quality Relationships are Fundamental to Economic Prosperity!
We are currently in the midst of the most expensive political campaign our country has ever witnessed. Political candidates promising change have spent millions upon millions of dollars to convince you to pull the lever for them. True change does not come from the spending of dollars, but from sincere efforts of individuals who invest themselves for the greater good. In the same way, quality relationships are created through the intentional efforts of men and women who invest the best of themselves in their primary relationship. How important is it that more than 5% of couples have the access and information to create quality relationships? It is extremely important. The cost of mediocre or failed relationships is counted in many ways. One cost is the number of children and youth that are doing life without the opportunity to know personal responsibility. These costs are multiplied many times over in the exorbitant costs of habilitation and rehabilitation of our youth. The cost of our social welfare and correctional institutions can be directly related to lack of quality primary relationships in our culture.

Quality relationships allow the nurturance and development to full potential of all family members. Quality relationships contribute to the greater good of the larger community. Quality relationships are fundamental to our prosperity!

Call to Action!
1. Set a goal of creating quality relationships in each of your life areas, beginning with those closest to you! Start where you are instead of waiting to find the ‘perfect partner’ or ‘situation’.
2. Become a promoter of quality relationship every where you go! Teach and promote quality relationships. Speak up! Let others know how important quality relationships are!
3. Do what you do best – share your wisdom; share your resources; share your gifts.
4. Post your definition of a Quality Relationship!

Russ Hardesty Nov 4, 2008

Reader Comments

"...My spouse and I have been married for 32 years and I've experienced our relationship from giggly in bed, to passionate in bed, to mad in bed to "sleeping" in bed...As we grow older the intimacy definition changes for me. Intimacy also for me is just sitting quietly, or driving for miles quietly or walking just hearing our footsteps crunch the leaves, holding hands. My usual struggle in intimacy is in my head - I have to intentionally stop my daily to do list, my past and future stuff and live in the present moment..." Pam

it's ... smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion

“We have found that passion ebbs and flows but we set a goal for our relationship a number of years ago that is working for us. At least every six months we do something that will create a lifetime memory. For us, we love to travel, so it's been pretty easy to find something big to do that will create that lifetime memory, but sometimes it's the finding of smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion.” Steve Rae

What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?

“The "typical beliefs that people have when the “fire” seems to have gone out of a relationship" I believe are a) that you feel your partner should have changed or should not have changed and b) that you feel you should change or that you should not have changed.

Acceptance of yourself and your partner leads to forgiveness. What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?” Brian Massey

A word from Russ Hardesty

The realm of relationship is mysterious; filled with magic, surprise, excitement, passion, intimacy, loss, disappointment and creativity. I am fortunate to have a life partner who is at once a mirror, teacher, lover, nurturer, student and companion. In this place of mystery, I continue to grow into a mature, loving and free man. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and comments – which is a gift to me! Thanks for joining the expedition! Russ