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Why You Benefit From Both Separation and Connection in Your Relationships

Redwood treesLast week we celebrated our wedding anniversary by going up to Scotts Valley and visiting the Redwoods. We stayed in a great AirBnB set apart on a lovely big property in the woods and had a wonderful four days.

On the first full day, we went to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park, an old growth, never been logged, large Redwood area with a lovely big loop, dense with huge old Redwoods and many other magnificent trees. Before long, each of us had wandered off lost in the experience, breathing the delicious air and transported into a world of sacred beauty. We each moved through this experience at our own pace, taking photos, hugging trees, sitting quietly on benches taking in the transcendence. We both find being in the redwoods to be an experience that speaks to us on a very deep level, as if it is replenishing something that we can’t describe but know we need.

We were both fully at peace; fully assured that the other was happy and doing their own version of the same thing. There was no sharp edge of worry or fear, no sense of threat or loss, no concern that either of us might feel abandoned, upset, or disconnected. We were each having our own very deep experience of these majestic trees, the air and the presence of peace, alone and as individuals, while feeling totally connected to each other and the sense of sharing these profound moments. It wasn’t until after the visit that we realized that both of us had taken part in this separation without any intention or awareness of having done so.

This is a perfect example of what we refer to as one of the cornerstones of harmonious peaceful relationships, the element of individuality within a relationship; the trick of remaining an individual while being in union. This same applies in various degrees to all relationships, often within families and even friendships. The more you know yourself, the easier it is to practice the respect and honoring of others’ individuality.

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky. Rainer Maria Rilke

There is a component to living with this kind of understanding of the unique personality and separate individuality of the other person and that is acceptance. We used to write about individuality and acceptance as two different aspects of our relationship, but we are now coming to see how closely linked they are.

To recognize the individuality of another, that they are different from you and act differently from you, is to immediately face the question of acceptance. Is it OK for them to be that way? Are you pulled to correct them, perhaps unconsciously? And the hard one to see: do you have any right to interfere? When you incorporate these in your relationships, then you gain a peace and assured comfort within the relationship that allows you to wander through the Redwoods, apart and connected, at home with yourself and each other.

When your partner accepts, acknowledges and appreciates your individuality, it affords you the possibility of attaining true freedom of expression. In order for this to manifest, you have to recognize the opportunities created, and then act on them…. As you learn to take advantage of the freedom your partner is offering, you will come to appreciate what a wonderful opportunity this provides for you to be yourself, not someone else’s expectations of you. Once you can see this, act on it. Offer your true self: what you want, what you believe, what you feel. How Two: Have a Successful Relationship

Photo credit: Phil Mayes

Photo note: Redwood in Henry Cowell Redwood State Park. Note the trail fence at the lower left to get a sense of scale.

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfWe wrote this week about the benefits of both separation and connection in your relationships. Here are some articles looking at this topic from different points of view.

Forget sex, the secret to a long-lasting relationship is space "Having enough space or privacy in a relationship is more important for a couple's happiness than having a good sex life, according to Dr Terri Orbuch a psychologist, research professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research ..."

Alone Time Is the Key to Staying Married. Find It. "The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just stretched us thin; it’s made us damn near translucent. The majority of parents are balancing a bigger burden than they ever have before. Scheduling. Schooling. Social distancing. Masking up. Working from Home. All with little or extremely reduced access to childcare or the older family members who once pitched in. Gone, too, are ways to find alone time. We are all cooped up, unable to do the activities that once brought us balance. Time apart is crucial to a marriage. Absence does, in fact, make the heart grow fonder. But how can partners ask for alone time without it ending in resentment or anger?"

Balancing Connection and Separation "One of the most common struggles for couples is the balancing of connection and separation. In most couple’s relationships, partners often have different comfort levels with connection and separation. Some partners prefer more connection and feel anxious during times of separation. Some partners prefer more separation and feel anxious during times of connection.The key is creating a balance."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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