There are many factors to success in a relationship. Is there a critical moment, an event, a choice that makes things work? We have found that there is just such a transformative moment.
In our relationship, our move towards this followed a typical pattern. In the beginning, like most new couples, we spent our time getting to know each other. We didn’t do anything much out of the ordinary: beach walks, movie dates, dinners, drives in the country. We talked about everything, sharing our thoughts and ideals, and through this, learning each other’s natures. Am I comfortable with this person? Are they trustworthy? At first, with little to go on, trust was an act of faith, a hope in the goodness of the other, but as we came to know each other through our words and deeds, we saw that our actions matched our words, and could recognize our shared meanings and values.
This was the point when we stopped all the measuring, the judging, the assessing, and accepted each other totally. From then on, each of us could rest secure in the knowledge that our individuality, our unique personhood, would be honored by the other. We would not be questioned in our being; there would be no attacks, large or small, on our person; there would be no criticism, no demands, no attempts to change or control. We could each be ourselves completely without any fear of interference or pressure from the other.
This is what we refer to as the 100% factor: total acceptance of the other, of who and how they are. The 100% factor refers to the element of being together that enables total freedom from the need to withdraw and to defend, and consequently to separate. The importance of 100% cannot be underestimated; it is nothing like 99%, because anything less involves measurement, division, in and out, good and bad. The extraordinary freedom to be yourself that comes from this kind of acceptance can only be achieved by 100%. If there is some small corner within your partner that is still holding back acceptance, you never know when it might rear its head and bite you, so you must still always be guarded to some degree or another. But when each partner is assured of complete acceptance, it is transforming and wonderfully liberating; by being completely ourselves, we are that much more real, authentic and trustworthy to the other.
Consider the example of a dance floor. When you know that there is nothing on the floor, no thumbtacks or other dangerous items, you can be free to dance about, flying freely through the air, unmindful of where you come down. As soon as you introduce one thumbtack anywhere on the floor, you are no longer free to leap and prance freely. You must always be careful you don’t come down on the tack and injure yourself. This very knowledge inhibits you all the time, even if it’s just a little bit.
This is the same within relationships. The more thumbtacks that appear in the exchange, the more you must be careful, defended, withdrawn, on alert. Once you reach the threshold of 100%, your mind is not busy with whether the person is right or wrong, or needs changing or adjusting. Instead, when you accept yourself and the other and go forward in the freedom that this way of being brings, it creates an exquisite experience of peace and joy.
This is not to say that people should tolerate anything and everything, acting like a doormat and letting their partner walk all over them. Instead, it is only possible in a partnership that has core agreements in place. They vary from couple to couple, but examples would be trust, honesty, fidelity and fiscal approach. When your values are in agreement, nothing else is necessary. You can give your partner the space to do and be anything.
Lack of projections and demands is critical to being in this place together. Many people have their heads filled with everything they need to make things work, in any situation and in every relationship. They have so many things decided in advance – what they need in common and how things have to look and feel – that there is very little room for anything to actually just be, let alone the coming into being of something new.
When you have shared meanings and values as your basis for agreement and union, then you can let go of determining the specifics. You can enjoy the experience of another person, one who is totally unique, and celebrate the difference. You can be constantly enriched by the other. You will be able to reside in the present, experiencing what is, without preconceptions. If you don’t try to fit the other into an idea or a mold or a picture of what should or could be, you can experience what is.
This is not a process. It is a transformation. You either move into 100% or you don’t. The effect of this complete openness cannot be emphasized enough. It produces a quantitative change in the experience. We have found that with this underpinning our relationship, there is no limit to the peace, love and joy that we can experience together. This openness feeds on itself, creating an ever-increasing bond. It fills us with strength and security to go about our daily challenges.