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


  1. Passion and creativity can be like a canvas that hasn't been painted on yet. You decide what you want to create and see if your partner is willing to go along for the ride. At different times you give up the brush to see what they may add to your painting, but for the most part the goal is to stay spontanious and alive!
    Who would ever have thought being separated for 2 years in 2 different cities would be this much fun. We're both doing things that we didn't need to do when we were together because we were relying on each other's strengths instead of developing our own. I would never have completed the honey-do list in the past because I would have assumed that he would get er done! I would never have expected him to accomplish all the business aspects of our occupation because that was where I was strong, but now we are both thriving where in the past we were weak. Being apart has made us better people as individuals and the respect and trust are even greater than before.
    Now making work fun,,,that is a challenge. When to get off the whirlwind schedule is another decision to make. Milking the cash cow until it's time to stop is a great dilemna. Knowing who and what is the most important thing to both of our lives and how to honor that is also a tricky line to walk.
    After having guests to our home that prefered to cook in instead of eating out my husband commented on how "This is how the other half of the world lives!" He recognized the benefits of having a "domesticated" partner of which I am NOT! Of course I keep telling myself that when the Grandchildren come THEN I will slow down and DO THE GRANDMA THING! The question is am I setting my life up to be able to accomplish that goal when the time is right.
    Can I stop before passion and creativity get out of control? When is having enough too much? Who really knows how to say, "Stop and let me off this ride?" Why is too fast and too much for others normal speed for me?
    When is the last time you decided to show your partner why you are their only true and lasting choice for a passionate and creative future. I did and it really rekindled the reason why we truly do love to be with each other even when the times are stolen between responsiblities.
    How long will we stay separated by 200 miles? How long until the grace of this lifestyle wears off and togetherness is more important than milking a profitable cow? Are we still having fun together? HAve I learned to bite my tongue and wait to turn accusational comments into positive suggestions? Is it hard to work together at creating passion when you live apart? Definately, but it's worth every moment when the canvas continues to be painted with love in an entirely new dimension. - Linda

  2. Linda, Thank you so much for your response. A great question! 'When is having enough too much?'

    The 200 miles really helps with one important elements that maintains passion, intermittent reinforcement. One challenge to maintaining passion is constantly sharing the same space and habituation or normalizing - and what was passion becomes routine and looses the intentionality and shared initiative for one another. Russ


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