While Valentines Day may feel like a contrived and commercialised opportunity for florists [albeit a very successful one], it is also a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect on what love is for you and your partnership.
As you were drawn together by the intrigue and thrill of your differences, so too may those differences become the source of relationship tension and conflict. I see this in the therapy room time and again.
As a therapist who works with couples I am always seeking to understand what being part of a love bond means to each individual and uncover the unique steps each bring to their Lovers' Dance.
So why do differences draw us into another's orbit and then come to feel like the root cause of a cavernous divide?
When we first collide we are fascinated and invigorated by our differences as they set us on a wondrous journey of exploration in getting to know the 'other'. As time travels along, differences raise anxieties, perceptions of distance and separation - "you're not like me and I'm not sure how to feel safe in the space between us".
Differences, rather than threaten to topple our love bond, offer a unique opportunity and potential for balance.
Instead of, or as well as, exchanging valentines gifts, why not carve out time for a conversation about the differences that attracted you; the delicious memories that lay in wait in your origin story; listen for the strengths your differences bring to your shared relationship; notice how the differences provide both of you with alternative perspectives, continuous learning and self-expansion - recognise all that you bring as individuals to the space between you is a constant wellspring for enrichment and balance for both of you.
Changing your perception of your differences changes your Lovers' Dance and your relationship becomes free to serve as a springboard to opportunity and vitality for both of you, throughout your life together.
I am privileged to witness the transformation and reconnection of couples who work bravely and honestly to understand their Lovers' Dance. If you feel stuck in a Lovers' Dance that is not serving your individual or relationship desires, get in touch for couples therapy - online or in-person.
"Love one another, but make not a bond of love;
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone, though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow".
- Kahlil Gibran, 1923
"We have been working together via zoom and it feels as if Sharlene is right there in the room with us. Sharlene got to the heart of our issues quickly and in a way that did not feel invasive or jarring. She is very insightful and calls things as she sees them in a way that feels supportive and nurturing. She is caring in her communication and really listens to what we say (as well as what is unsaid). She just seems to know the right questions to ask and how to ask them to help us find the clarity and understanding we needed. We are so glad we found her online".
- Mr & Mrs R, NSW.