Love Therapy

Couples who have been together for a while, and new partners wondering how to make it last, love has revolutions that must be completed. There will come a time when you must go deep as one determined unit, past transgressions and inadvertent wounds to rediscover the magic and essence of your individual couplehood.

Destroy & Rebuild Foundations

In relationships, we must be aware not everything old is compatible with the new. Things that have worked for us in our past, may not work in our future or present relationships. Your partnership is much like a house built from the ground up. If you want that house to last, it requires a strong foundation. Lots of people build their homes using the blueprints of old, outdated foundations, then they move in and everything slowly falls apart. The house is eventually destroyed, but the foundation laid remains until they decide to build a new one.

The entire process of destroying and rebuilding foundations starts with constructing your personal foundation. Prepare yourself with patience and understanding, identify what it is that you are searching for and practice articulating your needs to whomever it is you decide to be involved with. You must also have the ability to recognize when a person isn’t on the same page as you and then make the proper adjustments as necessary, which may mean limiting interactions, or calls. You should also strive for learning to convey the reason for your adjustment. It is crucial that after you make any form of adjustment that you remain firm in your decision.

Make sure you build your foundation with constructive qualities and beliefs. A constructive foundation embodies what you need, which allows you to express your needs to potential partners without forcing them to compromise their own values. Because they keep their sense of self, it permits them to give to you confidently and comfortably. Nobody enjoys feeling as if they are being taken from, drained, or compromised, so be sure to make it easy for people to want to give to you.

It isn’t difficult for a person to recognize another person who has a solid foundation, that’s because you will project an outward expression of an embodied stronghold. Your confidence, mannerisms, and ability to communicate will manifest themselves more effectively  because of your strengthened foundation. Only those who have built strong foundations have the ability to withstand the weathering of a real relationship so, build on to yourself before attempting to construct with another person.

Diminishing Misconceptions

Many of us enter into our relationships believing in certain concepts of love that could potentially damage the welfare of our relationships. These misconceptions place expectations on our partners that they may or may not have the capacity to deliver, and when they fail to meet those expectations we resent our partners and blame love. As we grow in our relationships, misconceptions such as “love is a two-way street” or “love doesn’t hurt” should be ruled null and void because they don’t apply in a real relationship.

Love in it’s most simplistic definition is “charity.” Charity is a gift from one party to another without any payment or gift anticipated in return. When we define love as “charity” it never becomes a two-way street, in fact, love is often a one way street with a stop light. It’s necessary to regulate just how much love you are giving out because giving too much of yourself can cause you to either forget about your own needs or may cause you to be taken advantage of. When love is working the way it was designed to work, that’s where the two-way street manifests, two people giving freely of themselves. It is not you give me some then I’ll give some back. Similar to a highway, sometimes one side has traffic and the other side is flowing. Love fluctuates.

Another misconception is that “love doesn’t hurt.” Love hurts for the better. The very idea of love forces us to break bad habits, do things we normally don’t do, and above all, it forces us to be vulnerable. There will always be moments when love hurts because nothing good comes without hard work and the willingness to take a potentially painful risk. Love is an action meant to be performed over and over again; some of us get it right the first or second time around, but others have to learn the painful lessons it takes to become intimate with love and learn how to apply what we’ve learned to the necessary areas.

Maintaining Consistency

Lack of consistency is one of the top reasons why relationships fail. This is the reason why our partners may say, “He doesn’t do the things he used to do”, or  “She’s not the same person I remember.” Consistency is vital to our relationships’ success. Consistency, by one definition, means “an agreement or harmony of parts or features to one another or a whole.” So ask yourself, what are we agreeing on? and where is our harmony that is necessary for a successful relationship?

Four Key Practices

Love in Communication: Hone communicating your feelings regardless of fear or doubt. Do this knowing it means progress and understanding when you are being communicated to as well.

Love in relations: Show love in this area not just sexually, but find what makes each of you feel appreciated. When you do this neither you or your partner will feel burdened when giving.

Love in confrontation: Even when you’re disagreeing, show love. Never use hurtful information against each other because you erode your partner’s sense of trust that they can’t be intimate with you. Find a way to argue productively towards a solution or just listen to what’s being said.

Believing in the Existence of Love: The biggest and most powerful lie we can tell ourselves is that love doesn’t exist or it doesn’t work. Find a way to destroy the barriers keeping you from loving and love selflessly and abundantly,  and you’ll rarely be unsatisfied.

Human beings instinctively seek the most comfortable and pleasurable circumstances, elements that are naturally consistent within our personalities. With a combination of life experience and external influence, we develop an internal persona which influences our perspectives, decisions and attractions. We then let this persona develop our idea of love, which serves to become an item of our basic instinct: the yearning to be satiated.

People continuously change within relationships, however, love does not change. In order to have a sense of consistency, we must embody a synonymous definition of love. As we hold on to our definition, our personalities will mature, but the actions we took at the beginning of our relationship will never go away because they will grow as we do.

Our agreement to love another produces a harmony between two hearts and minds; it allows us to apply every variable of love to each other consistently. This doesn’t mean there won’t be issues within the relationship, (every relationship has them), but it does mean issues will be solved with love, that troubles should be resolved productively. Maintain your consistency by upholding your agreement to love and fight against your selfish instincts. Love is a living thing, which thrives as you provide for its care. The more you place your relationship into love, the more love places itself into you.

Appreciation & Reassurance
Men and women have many incentives to love, however, there are two in particular that are constant necessities in any relationship. Appreciation and reassurance. Each of these qualities are love’s fuel and glue and need to be exercised often in any relationship. Although men and women have a different demand for each of the two, women, I believe, are more in need of reassurance, as men are more in need of appreciation.
Because women instinctively love through their ability to communicate feelings of love and spending quality time with their partners, they have little issue reassuring. Men, on the other hand, naturally love through their ability to provide, protect and physically please, so appreciation is one of men’s natural gifts. Again, this is my opinion. Both men and women should be proactive in learning how to give to each others love in this respect.
Without these elements, resentment can be created, which may cause other aspects of the relationship to deteriorate, communication, for example. If one isn’t receiving these necessities, the resentment may cause a person’s ability to communicate from a place of love to be diminished and therefore, to become ineffective.
Conversely, appreciation and reassurance encourage a a cycle of building trust within a relationship, which ultimately guides the two of you into true intimacy. Intimacy, being the final and most important part of any relationship as well as the most difficult to attain if the prerequisites haven’t been met. Lovers must keep appreciation and reassurance in mind at all times if they truly wish to take their relationship to the next level.
Setting Boundaries & Gaining Understanding
In our generation’s relationship practices, we see a lot boundaries being crossed as well as the presence of stubbornness ruining the stability of relationships. It is more than necessary to establish how far you are willing to go for the sake of your relationship, and even more necessary to learn to understand the other. There are too many people who have no discernible perimeter for what they will do to keep their relationship, due to the fear of starting over or being alone. At the same time, people define too many limitations for what their partner cannot do in their relationship. Relationships can’t function under those kinds of circumstances.
It is of the greatest importance to maintain your own identity within your relationship. Any and all relationships are a sum of two parts working together and should remain two parts to continue being considered a relationship. The feeling of love can be a consuming one. If you are taken by that feeling to a point where you are no longer an independent operator in your relationship it may result in your being drained of an ability to be conscious of boundaries you shouldn’t cross. You will do things because you “love” them, ignore signs that are obvious to everyone observing them and blame yourself for problems that arise in your situation (I reference “situation” because at this level your relationship has ceased).
Gaining understanding in a relationship is vital. To know your partner’s habits, likes, and dislikes is one thing, but to understand why they are important to them is far more important. Understanding must be reached in relationships, or resentments could potentially damage the relationship. Arguments and misunderstandings are inevitable in all relationships, however, they are just learning experiences. Remembering this may help you during your next disagreement.
Certain boundaries need to be discussed in relationships, especially as sexual romance is concerned. Many people are not willing and/or comfortable fulfilling certain of their partner’s sexual desires. Discuss these challenges and settle upon a mutual agreement.
Once these boundaries are set and understanding is achieved, the lines of communication become clearer and resolution easier. All of these items work together in love and should be exercised consciously.
Reaching for Intimacy
The most important step in our love relationships is reaching intimacy. Defined as “the acquiring of a deep unusual understanding of a person”, reaching intimacy requires the constant study of your partner’s mental, emotional and physical conditions to understand their being.
It requires trust in your most vulnerable areas, too: forgiveness and sacrificing your will for the sake of love.
Intimacy doesn’t happen magically or suddenly; it requires absolute commitment to not just the “titles” to which many of us apply so much substance. It requires the decision to put your hands to the plow and cultivate your love regardless the season. If you have no trust or fear of being vulnerable you will find it impossible to acquire the experience of an intimate love. But you must first make yourself available to it and then stick with it.
You must be proud of your relationship as you give up being prideful. Accept the possibility of being wrong. Know what roles you play, and give your partner your best effort.
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Treasure

As I journeyed into the wilderness looking for you

I encountered amazing internal treasures roaming in the solitude
They were like flower beds of silver and gold
They were like trees of life that never grew old
They were still like the earth but powerful too
They were soft like silk
Sweet like honey and milk
Dazzling colors of fairy tales flowed from the lakes of my spirit well
I had been made well
If this life wore a watch time could tell
On the other side of my journey
There were days that felt like nights
Times I had to fight the beasts of fear with all my might
Moments I laid spent wondering if I chose the left path instead of the right
Staring at the sky under the blazing sun
Imagining how many sons conquered this plight
Sequestered in the depths of carnality
I had to die to live and save my sanity
In my death I found the revelries in humility
I found the serenity in surrender
Once I find you I’ll remember
That it took more than just desire
the day I realized I was more than a conqueror
The day I found works by faith
Life through death from grace
I found that love flowed in spiritual space

“Wrapped up, tangled up, all tied up in… A male role belief system”

We have all heard the cliches about men when it comes to emotional communication. We have heard them so much that now it’s widely accepted that men just aren’t emotional. That notion is false, we are very emotional, expressing emotions that render us vulnerable or what some consider “feminine” is something that we just haven’t learned to be comfortable with. We are conditioned to be communicative with “manly” emotions or the “bromotions” like anger, feelings of Indifference, apathy and the like. How does a boy who’s been taught all his life to hide and suppress the softer emotions learn to open up about them and not feel uncomfortable?

At a very young age most boys are told to reject vulnerable feelings. Don’t cry, stop acting like a girl, be this way, this is what men do. We are rarely educated in emotional expression and instead educated in how to pretend to not feel, to be silent, otherwise if we do we are not men. So to become an adult and struggle with life, love, and ourselves when emotions are necessary shouldn’t surprise too many of us. Everyone of our emotions end up being communicated the same, hurt looks like anger, disappointment looks like indifference, and it all results in silent resentment. Saying “I’m hurt by what you said/did to me” is a big step for a man. Beginning a sentence with “I feel” instead of “you did/made me” is a task for men but those courageous enough to step outside of that mental conditioning are the ones who experience the true essence of manhood. 

In one of my earlier relationships I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to say I needed more of my partners affection. Every time I thought I’d built up enough courage to say “I need you to kiss me, hug me, hold my hand, tell me you love me” I failed and ended up saying something that hurt her instead out of frustration. I became more quiet, more distant and full of fear when she asked “what’s wrong” my only response was “nothing, I’m fine”. I found myself comparing what I felt to what I believed a man was supposed to feel like and what a man was supposed to act like which conflicted with my beliefs on what manhood was supposed to be. I couldn’t communicate how I wanted to be loved because it made me feel inadequate as a man. I knew I needed to get that message across but my only option wasn’t manly enough so I continued to struggle in emotional turmoil. 

It wasn’t until years later I discovered that communicating what you feel, why you feel it and not feeling as if that makes you weak is one of the most manly things a man can do. It helps with understanding yourself, growing yourself and maintaining healthy relationships. “I’m fine” is the go to for men in our society and it’s a statement of fear. We are afraid because we have this flawed definition of manhood and we hurt ourselves believing that we can’t talk about our emotions. Learning to talk about how I felt, especially now, has taught me how to trust another person. It has made me more confident in knowing that I don’t have to always be ok and that most issues can be resolved quicker and easier if I actually expressed how I was truly feeling. Now if I need a little more affection I express it and at times I could get it. Saying just how something made me feel would allow my partner an opportunity to connect with me. If I was hurting and I communicated that, I allowed the space for compassion and empathy. I provided myself with an opportunity to grow by challenging my own belief system of manhood and practicing a different method of communication. Whether I was successful in the delivery of my emotional expression or not, my results could change because I changed. 

Too often we suppress what we really feel and think because we have been taught that manhood doesn’t feel the same as the feelings we experience or “real men” don’t think the thoughts we seem to keep thinking. We are stuck playing the role of what we are taught men are instead of being the authentic men we want to be. To communicate that we need help with things or we don’t know how to do something makes many men feel inadequate because we are taught men are supposed to be the stereotypical providers and protectors. That pressure causes us to feel like we must to do things perfectly and we are fully expected to perform independent of anyone lest we fall short of manhood. 

The belief that “I’m not a man if I can’t provide things” is what forces men to fail to provide their emotions and emotional support to their partners. We have all seen movie depictions of the man who has it all, he gives his wife the material world while she starves for emotional connection and intimacy. We have seen these men lose their women because of that mental stronghold of provision to qualify themselves as men. There’s more to providing than buying things. We have to be able to provide the quality time, the emotional vulnerability, and the communication as well. There was a time when a job I had been working full time at cut my hours from 40 to 14 hours a week and I nearly lost it. I worried constantly because I couldn’t find another job or even a supplemental one, I began to feel insecure and I pushed my partner away out of feelings of inadequacy. I told myself the story “she was gonna leave me anyway because I don’t compare to my belief of what a man is supposed to be” and that lie caused me unnecessary emotional stress.
Men subscribe to interpersonal inequities under the guise of manhood all the time, for example: the notion that men are obligated to pay for the dates (first dates excluded) and if they don’t they are disqualified from candidacy. We aren’t allowed to expect women to even offer to pay for their half without being scoffed at or called broke. That happens and men often feel unequal, used and they feel their time is less valuable than their counterpart yet they say nothing in order to protect their manhood. 

Many men believe that to be a protector they must only be able to physically defend their loved ones and valuables. I agree that we all should be willing to stop those things from coming to harm however, I question, “is that it?”. “I am a protector”, what does that look like for a man outside of a sword and shield defender? Many men leave the “nurturing” to women because it’s “the woman’s job” when statistically fathers with active involvement in their children’s lives have shown that children have increased mental dexterity, they are more empathetic, they possess less stereotyped sex role beliefs and have greater self-control. I never understood how my parents used “I do it because I love you” as a justification for their disciplinary actions until I loved someone enough to tell them a truth that would hurt their feelings or take an action that I knew they’d dislike because it was truly good for them. I don’t have children of my own yet but I do have friends, family, people I love unconditionally who I take responsibility for protecting. When it comes to women, men who are providing vulnerability to their partners are protecting the connection that establishes intimacy in their relationship. It’s a necessary reassurance, a force that draws them both closer and a bonding agent that’s unbelievably strong. 

To eliminate the discomfort of male vulnerability we need to challenge that conditioned thinking and begin to ask ourselves if we are indeed being ourselves? Are we comfortable with how we behave, think, and communicate? If not, then challenge yourself to do something about it. Challenge your male role belief system and create something productive for your life and your relationships with others. As men, it’s a courageous act not a cowardly one to be able to say what’s going on inside of your head, to be open hearted, and to exercise the things necessary to actually live in the manhood you were created for. It may be difficult but it’s necessary for our lives to be easier and more fulfilling.