Saturday, January 31, 2009

“Let’s Rough House!” – An Enduring Passion and Growing Intimacy

by Russ Hardesty, PhD

“Let’s Rough House!”
was the cry soon after I arrived for a brief visit. My 2½ year old grandson runs through his house, our house, any house and invites “let’s rough house!” An hour later his dad, an uncle and grandpa are exhausted and it seems as if the 2½ year old is just warmed up! The energy expended by this young dynamo continues to build. There is a difference between work and play. Great energy is expended in play yet it seems to create more energy! On the other hand the thought of work makes many tired before putting forth the required energy. Relationships take energy. It is a choice each of us makes, to expend this energy in the form of play or work. The energy can be invigorating or draining – it’s up to each one of us to choose!

Risks are a part of play
While engaging in ‘rough housing’ it became apparent that the 2½ year old took many risks – as evidenced by the numerous admonishments and grimaces from mom and grandma. These risks were essential for his understanding of limits and possibilities imposed by gravity; the consequences of inertia (running into unforgiving solid walls) and things broken forever (flower vase). All in the name of play, life lessons are learned and integrated into experience for empowerment for even greater feats of daring and intrigue.

It would have been safer, quieter, calmer and more peaceful had the play not occurred. But in the safer and quieter space passion and excitement would only exist as thoughts of ‘what could have been’. With the magic of play my grandson gained knowledge by trying on new behaviors that succeeded and laughed at those that didn’t work. How often do couples approach their relationship as ‘work’ rather than play? How many people do you know that are laboring at their relationship? It is work when each attempt considered to change the status quo is weighted on the balance beam of ‘fear of failure’. Failed attempts are personalized. Faults are found and blame is dealt. Joy is lost.


Is your relationship work or play?

Imagine playing rather than working at relationship. What would it be like to practice a new behavior without the fear of being criticized, judged or ‘cut off’? When my grandson plays, he plays all out. His success isn’t measured by the amount or speed of his effort, but in the creation of something that didn’t exist until he imagined the possibility.

For many couples, relationship is like a ‘snake hunt’ every day. They live believing there is something dreadful likely to happen if they aren’t vigilant, watchful, cautious, wary or careful. The 2 ½ year old doesn’t consider himself to be a finished project. He is excited about what is to be in his future. He explores risks and tries new behavior as play. Each day is filled with anticipation, wonder and expectation born in his imagination.

Action Steps:
1) Identify those times that you and your partner have ‘played’ together– with freedom from judgment or criticism.
2) Write a brief description and note how you felt towards your partner.
3) Imagine, then share with your partner a ‘play’ fantasy.

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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