Author : Mali & Joe

About the Author:

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Five Minutes of Bliss

Most people we know, including ourselves, encounter seemingly endless stressful situations in their lives—from work, to health, to family and friends, to global issues and crises. More accurately, the situations themselves aren't stressful, but our perception of them—the ways in which we think about and react to them—produces feelings of stress in us.

If you're a regular meditator, you know the power of meditation to soothe the mind and calm the body. If you don't meditate, you've probably thought from time to time that you "should" try it, because you've heard how it can help make life feel a lot less stressful.

The question usually comes down to this: How can we find the time to meditate in our already overloaded lives?

Here's a new idea—and one that makes positive use of your cell phone:

Set your phone's timer to 5 minutes. (This feature usually comes with the pre-installed alarm or stopwatch app, or download a free timer app.) For the alarm, choose the most pleasant sound available on your phone.

timer appNow, whenever you have a few minutes during the day—maybe in the morning before leaving the house, or while waiting for a meeting to begin—start your timer. This gives you 5 minutes to let go. You don't need to think about how much time has passed or when you should end your meditation; just let your phone take care of that for you.

Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, following the breath as it flows in and out of your body. Feel the chair or floor supporting you; know that it will be there this whole time to support you.

Now, listen. Listen for anything that sounds sweet, or calm, or soothing. Even if there are lots of other sounds around, listen very alertly for sounds that have a calming quality: the wind, a bird singing, leaves rustling, the sound of your own breath or heartbeat. If thoughts come in during your "5 minutes of bliss" (and they most likely will!), just notice them, without following them or holding onto them, and refocus your attention on any peaceful or soothing sounds you hear.

When the timer goes off, open your eyes, turn it off, and notice the difference in your state of mind. And know that your timer will be there for you anytime you have a few minutes to tune back into you.

If you liked this little exercise, our book 52 Prescriptions for Happiness offers several more rejuvenating "mini meditations" that will calm your body and mind in a matter of minutes.

Mali Apple & Joe Dunn

Thank you for being here! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and The Soulmate Lover.

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To Mom

Dear Mom,

You may have left your tired and withered body today, but I feel you all around me.Doris Adah

You live on in the stained-glass mirror that reflects the morning light streaming in through the bathroom window. Your ability to take on and quickly master new art forms was remarkable.

You live on in my love for nuances of the English language, clean lines in architecture and furniture, and well-written books.

You live on in my disdain for illogical rules, inefficient procedures, and pointless societal expectations.

You live on in brother #1's guitar playing, brother #2's keen intelligence, and brother #3's love of music. The influences you've had, both genetic and otherwise, on each of us—and on each of your four grandchildren—are numerous and profound.

Chris CarmichaelYou were a child prodigy, a musical genius, and a crossword puzzle virtuoso. I will never forget how we wouldn't let you declare a win in Trivial Pursuit until you'd answered all six questions on your card correctly.

You live on in my belief that I can do anything.

I'm happy you don't live on in my kitchen, or at least I'd like to believe that. God love you, Mom, but your cooking was truly awful.

Mom you were, and are, one of a kind.

Love always,

Your daughter

 

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Why We Haven’t Read a Book on Sex in Over a Decade

As relationship coaches and authors of books on relationships, people often give us recommendations for other books, blogs, and movies on relationships that they have enjoyed. But for the 11 years we've been together, and the 8 years we've been writing books together, we've never once read any of these books or seen a single one of these movies. Why?

Very early on in our relationship, we knew there was a purpose behind our meeting each other. There was something we were meant to do together. For a long time, we didn't know exactly what that was. So we just kept trusting, following along wherever our passion led us.

Our conversations—which were intense and meaningful and fascinating from the very first email—only grew deeper and more intriguing over time. As an editor by profession, and a lifelong book lover who always knew one day I would write my own, I took notes. Lots and lots of notes. Eventually I bought a voice recorder, because the ongoing conversations we were having kept growing more and more fascinating, and I had an insatiable desire to capture many of the ideas we were exploring and revelations we were uncovering.

Those endless pages of notes, and hundreds of hours of recordings, eventually became the initial manuscript for our first book, The Soulmate Experience. As we wrote chapter after chapter, and met with our wonderful review group to hear about their reactions and to further explore our ideas, we eventually realized we had too much information for one book. So we set aside some of the "spicier" ideas—ideas that became the starting point for our our first book's sequel, The Soulmate Lover.

All this while, we have felt "guided" to do this work. The more we open to each other, the more we explore relationships and sexuality and spirituality between the two of us, the more we work with others to implement our discoveries in their own lives, the more fervently the material "comes through" us.

Upon the publication of our new book, though, something has shifted. Suddenly I feel okay about reading what others in the field have written. In fact, I'm feeling quite passionate about it. Our ideas are already set on paper and circulating out in the world, so I no longer have the feeling that our in-process work will be influenced by reading that of other writers. So for the last few weeks, I've been thoroughly enjoying discovering what others in the field have to say, how they are grappling with the issues of keeping relationships alive and connected.

she comes firstIn that spirit, I bought Joe a book a couple of weeks ago that I knew he was just going to love, She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman. This happens to be a topic he already knows a lot about (lucky me!), and one he is quite passionate about. I ordered the book through one of our local bookstores, as I believe in supporting bookshops as inviting places to discover new ideas, meet our community, and engage our imaginations.

When we went to pick up the book, the bookseller smiled knowingly as he placed it in our hands.

We both smiled back. It was a sweet, delicious secret to be sharing with a stranger.

As we walked out of the shop, he called after us: "Have fun with that!"

We most certainly will…

Mali Apple & Joe DunnThank you for being here! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and The Soulmate Lover.

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How We Write Together: Two Voices Become One

We’re often asked what it’s like to write books together. One of the most amazing aspects of the writing process, for us, is how our two very different voices come together to create "our" voice.

Typically, we begin by having many conversations exploring a particular idea. Eventually I go off and write up a first draft. I’m very left brained, very logical and linear, and tend to write like a college professor. The ideas may be great, but they often come out sounding like a duck penned them.

Then it's Joe's turn to read the piece. Joe is more right brained; he doesn’t so much think about the meaning behind the words as feel it, feels for the heart or the essence of what we're trying to convey, then allows the right words to come up to express those feelings. His changes often "soften" the presentation, making things just flow more easily. Then we read the piece together, edit, and read it again, usually many times over a period of weeks or months (really!), making small adjustments to the wording each time, learning a bit more about the idea by trying it ourselves (again!) and sharing it with others who try it too, until we feel the piece expresses exactly what we'd like it to, and in a way that flows.

Here’s a little sample of wording changes that came from Joe. This is a piece that will be in our new chapter "Sex and the Practice of Being Present." This section explores how to practice presence with your lover while giving (or receiving!) a sensual massage. Notice how he suggested changing the phrase "create a romantic mood" to the much lovelier "add a little romance". Even more importantly, he noted that we were getting to the massage too quickly, and suggested the couple "Take a moment to connect" before beginning.


addalittleromanceUSEFINAL

This next one is another example of how my original draft morphed into the final piece that will appear in the book. Here is what we started with:

Heart Grow Fonder original

The lovely new title and the idea of moving from the "bitter" side of bittersweet and towards the "sweet" side both came through Joe:

heartgrowfonderfinal USE

To us, our styles feel like they were meant to go together. It's certainly clear that neither of us could write these books alone. Mine would come out sounding like sleep-inducing technical manuals, and Joe’s would end up being a few sweet words scribbled on some scraps of paper that would float away on the wind when he went off to go for a swim.

Mali Apple & Joe DunnThank you for being here! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love.

 

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Men Have Souls Too!

A man we've been coaching was finding himself often feeling anxious and frustrated with the challenges in his life. We asked him to make a list of things that help him to reconnect with himself, so that he would have them as reminders whenever he could use them.

When we shared his list, the first one that appears below, a woman from the Middle East was deeply touched. She said she knew of no man in her country who would be so revealing. In her honor, we are pleased to share more such lists from some very soulful men we know.

What is on your list? 

Ron Nurture Soul

The original list
here

Santanu Nurture Soul

Santanu Pani

hereJimSharonNurtureSoul

Jim Sharon, author of Secrets of a Soulful Marriage

herejoelnurturesoul

Joel Young of Non-Personal Awareness
here

joenurturesoul

Joe Dunn, coauthor of The Soulmate Experience
h

WarrenNurtureSoul

Warren Talbot of Married with Luggage

ereTobin Giblin

Tobin Giblin of Integrated Life Counseling

her

SanjayNurtureSoul

Sanjay Patel

kj

scottnurturesoul

Scott Dehn, of www.saintlouisreiki.com

here

mikepasnurturesoul

Mike Pas
here

sidnurturesoul

Sid Hutter

robertfryenurturesoul

Robert Frye
jj

Mali Apple & Joe DunnThank you, all you amazing men, for your beautiful examples of what it means to be "soulful." ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love.

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Overcoming Jealousy: One Woman’s Personal Journey

The creator of the blog I Am a Love Addict (and on twitter at @iamaloveaddictgenerously shares her experiences with our Overcoming Jealousy 23-day online course. After taking the course, she says, "I feel like a new woman!"

What was your experience with jealousy before you took the course—why were you interested in taking it?

Too often we get caught in our own preconceived notions of how we believe things ought to be. In the past, I spent a lot of time trying to modify my feelings and actions in an attempt to influence someone else’s behavior. I believed I needed to act a certain way in order to receive the love and acknowledgement I desired from my partner. Through this belief, I lost authenticity. I must have appeared to have a split personality, as I could never be consistent with this facade.

"365 Days of Happiness" by Qiqi LiThe need to be myself, but the inability to do so is when jealousy peaked.

The truth is, playing so many different characters throughout my life had depleted my knowledge of self. So, I was drawn to partners whom seemingly were true to themselves and could possibly show me the way.

Much later, I realized their appearance of self-confidence was a disguise, masking more pain than I had ever experienced in my entire life. You can imagine my surprise when these choice partners were emotionally unavailable. Astonishment quickly turned into unhappiness, which encouraged more jealousy due to my dysfunctional way of thinking about relationships.

I believed I was not good enough, or that I must have done something wrong. Perhaps, they finally noticed my lack of self-confidence. My thoughts continuously revolved around, “it must be me”.

I chose to take the Overcoming Jealousy course to free myself from this emotional prison. I felt stuck.

What was something surprising you discovered about yourself through the course?

Surprisingly, I learned that in most cases I was more envious than jealous. I envied the qualities I believed my partner possessed.

The more distant my partner became, the more unattractive, unintelligent, uncertain, uninspiring, unimaginative…envious, I felt.

What was the most significant thing you learned through the course?

Through the course, I am learning to observe the actions of people (leaving all preconceived notions at the door). I am no longer seeking a partner that will define who I am.

I am also learning to forgive. Forgiving myself for the mistakes I’ve made is giving me strength to stand and not become a doormat in exchange for my shortcomings.

Finally, with the tools I have from this course, I am learning not to measure self-worth based on how good or bad someone else treats me.

"Spring Romance" by Qiqi LiNow that you’ve taken the course, how are you inspired to approach your relationships differently in the future?

I am confident that I will approach, romantic and platonic, relationships with a renewed outlook. I am truly excited about the type partner I will attract due to my new acceptance of who I am.

How might what you learned through the course affect other areas of your life?

Learning to put a positive spin on insecure feelings that may arise will grant me the spirit I need to keep moving forward in all aspects of life!

As I journey toward recovery from what is considered "love addiction," I am moving toward total positive mind, body and spirit health. I am proud to say that I have always taken pride in developing good/healthy eating habits. I do believe that food is medicine. Currently, I am working on incorporating, eating and fitness tips on my blog. This will help keep me on track, and perhaps bring others along for the ride. I look forward to continued growth and seeking education on healthy relationships with others, but most importantly myself.

Artwork courtesy Qiqi Li, www.etsy.com/shop/QiQiGallery.

In gratitude for your willingness to share your experiences so that others may also free themselves from this often-debilitating emotion. ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover
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The Present of Presence

Jason Garner is a father, husband, former concert promoter, and spiritual student who spent the first 37 years of his life working his way up from flea market parking attendant to executive at a Fortune 500 company ― never taking a breath in the belief that in order to be loved he had to be the best. As the former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation, he has worked with rock stars and sports legends and was twice named to Fortune magazine’s list of the top 20 highest paid executives under 40. The sudden death of his mother caused him to re-evaluate what was important in life … and to finally breathe. In this new phase he has spent thousands of hours studying with some of the world’s best teachers, including traveling to China to learn from the monks at the Shaolin Temple.  

In a class I took once on deepening the connection of romantic relationships, the teacher said, "In over 30 years of working with couples I have found only one thing that women want from their men: presents."

"Great," I thought. "A Gucci purse should do the trick."

Except the teacher had said "presence," not presents.

Another one of my teachers told me there is always truth in jest. That humorous story, while charming and cute, is also a realistic portrayal of much of my relationship history. I used material presents to compensate for my lack of physical, emotional, and spiritual presence in the relationship.

Why? Because Hallmark told me to, that's why. More jest, and more truth.

As a man I have been bombarded since birth with images of what it means to be manly.

A knight in shining armor. So I rescued damsels in distress and then wondered why I felt disconnected.

An emotional rock. So I bottled up my feelings and felt misunderstood and unloved.

The provider. So I spent all day at work and all night thinking about work and then spent the money I made at work on gifts to show I cared about something other than work.

The result of all this? Two divorces and too many failed relationships to count, a lot of money spent on designer shoes, purses, and dresses, and hours and hours of counseling. While this story is mine, it is -- in one way or another -- true for most of us.

So when that teacher told me that "presence" was all it took, I thought to myself how easy that would be. He suggested I lie in bed next to my wife, put my hand on her heart (not boobs!), look into her eyes, and say, "I see you. I hear you. I love you. I am here."

Easy, right? Try it. It will make you cry and want to go out and buy 100 expensive purses so you never have to go that deep again.

Truth in jest ... again.

Dr Christy

Seriously, the practice of being present is a gift. As men we think of it as a gift we give our wives or families. As much as we've been conditioned to be the knight, the rock, the provider, deep inside we are so much more. And connecting with the deeper part of ourselves, our true self, is a gift we give ourselves as well as those around us.

I know that in my life the constant striving to be strong, to not show my fears, to make everything okay all the time, to fulfill the illusion of fixing the damsels in distress, and to make as much money as possible wore me down. The never-ending march up the hill of my life left me feeling sick, tired, and scared of the day it would all come crashing down.

So while I now give my wife presence often -- tender kisses in the morning, a look in her eyes with a gentle "I love you" and lots of big hugs of love -- I recognize that those moments are also gifts for me. They are the times in the day when I take off my cape and am true to the man inside the costume, they are reminders that I am loved just for being me. Those times calm my fears because when I am present, I know all is well.

We can start now, present only in ourselves, a few deep breaths and the silent message inside, "You are loved." And then, as the comfort level grows, we can share the same with our spouses, our children, our parents, our brothers and sisters, and even the clerk at Whole Foods (maybe just "Hi, how are you?" instead of "I love you" or you may find yourself present in the doghouse). Eventually, you can try the exercise my teacher shared with me -- lie down, put your hand on your partner's heart, look into each other's eyes, and say, "I see you. I hear you. I love you. I am here."

Together, present in life, we find love and connection. That is the present worth giving ... and receiving.

Big hugs of love,

Jason

Jason Garner

Read more of Jason's perspectives and sign up for his blog at www.jasongarner.com.

Thank you, Jason, for the present of you! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love

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Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: A Love Story

secretsEnjoy this excerpt from Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship by Jim Sharon, Ed.D. and Ruth Sharon, M.S. Available from SkyLight Paths Publishing. Find out more at www.energyforlife.us.

The Power of Story

As you travel on your journey of a soulful marriage, it is important to remember the beginning, where the relationship started. What is your story? How did you meet? Did your family or friends introduce you or perhaps you believe that your meeting was “arranged” by cosmic forces? Life is so mysterious. What do you each recall from your courtship? Those early experiences of being together provide the foundation of your relationship, upon which you have built your marriage.

Love is often colorful, dramatic, and playful. We have had the pleasure of hearing many thrilling and outrageous stories of how happy couples met. Ours is one such story, which we would like to share to encourage you to recount the magic of your own beginning.

Our Wild Beginning: Jim’s Version

In the fall of my senior year of college, my apartment roommate, Alan, requested that I speak on the phone to his sophomore blind date to answer some questions for her about a class that I had previously taken. Although our conversation was fairly brief and ordinary, I had the strange thought that I should be going out with her because I was less than two years older than her, whereas my roommate was four years older. A week or so later Alan reported briefly meeting her and that she was “nothing special until she took her coat off.”

The next weekend Alan had his first date with this girl. Neither was enjoying the other, but because the night was young, the girl agreed to come to our apartment to perhaps meet me and my date. The two of them intruded on us making out on the couch and we quickly sat up as the door opened. Before Alan had a chance to introduce his date, she brazenly began to critique my collage that was hanging on a wall by the door. Her boldness commanded my attention, as did her liveliness. Alan’s date and I began sparking off of one another in conversation, while the other two receded into the background. At one point, Alan went into the bedroom to make a phone call and my date went to the bathroom. I then followed the mystery girl into the kitchen after she nervously rose to get a glass of water. Impulsively, I spun her around and kissed her on the lips--a brazen act that I had never done previously nor repeated. The electricity between us was palpable. The remainder of the evening was a blur to both of us.

You probably realize that Alan’s date was Ruth, my bride-to-be. Neither of us ever recollected what happened to our dates after my bold hello, there! kiss. I don’t even recall taking my date, who was visiting me for the weekend, to the train station. (We had casually dated the previous summer in my hometown.) The only thing that I remember was asking Alan if I could ask Ruth out, to which he replied, “You can have her!”

Ruth and I proceeded to have four long, glorious dates that Fall of 1967, ranging from dinners to attending football games and a theatrical play, to merely studying together. At one point during our study date in my apartment, the third of the four dates, I took a break to talk with Ruth. As we stood about a foot apart looking into each other’s eyes, I was jolted by a sudden, highly mystical experience. I sensed that I was peering into eternity! I had never before (or after) had such an experience. When I called Ruth in mid-December, after this series of dates, she was hopeful that I would ask her out for New Year’s Eve. Instead, in the middle of a good conversation, I shocked her and surprised myself by impulsively breaking up with her. Looking back on that instant decision, I am quite sure that I was unconsciously frightened by the prospect of finding my soul mate. Having been rejected a year and a half earlier by a girl whom I dated for a year and loved, I was not ready for another committed relationship, let alone one of this magnitude.

I did not have any further contact with Ruth until three months later, when I spotted her across a large ballroom floor at a college dance to begin the spring term. Although we were both leery of reconnecting, we conversed and danced together. Two very curious things transpired. One is that I called Alan and simply mentioned that Ruth was standing nearby. Alan retorted with conviction, “You’re going to marry her,” which stunned me, although I dismissed the idea at the time. Secondly, when I offered to turn the water fountain on for Ruth, she thought to herself, “If he turns that water off (in midstream), that’s it on him!” I kept both the water and our relationship “on” and we’ve flowed onward ever since. Despite attending graduate school the next fall about 150 miles away, Ruth and I continued seeing one another. We were delighted to be married less than two years later at a large and festive wedding.

Our Wild Beginning: Ruth’s Version

After a very frustrating freshman year at Penn State, I was telling a cousin at a summer family event that I was feeling very lonely and disconnected. She suggested I call her fiance's best friend, Alan, who was studying for his doctorate in psychology at Penn State. I thought, “What? I am just going to be a sophomore, how can I call a doctoral student?” I simply replied, “thank you” and took the piece of paper with his name and number.

When I returned for the fall term, I tucked the piece of paper away, too nervous to make the call. Time went on, and finally in November, I got up enough courage to call. I met Alan for a movie. No chemistry and no emotional reaction to the fabulous movie “Cool Hand Luke.” Since the night was young, I decided to go to his apartment to meet his roommate and date.

As we entered the apartment, the roommate and a girl were kissing on the couch. She sat up quickly, but he lay there beaming at me. My heart flipped and I thought, “He is so cute!”

As the night went on, Jim and I were enthralled with each other. We talked, laughed, and flirted. I connected with him more deeply than anyone I had ever met. The roommate and the other girl disappeared!

Jim and I were alone in the living room. I got nervous, so I went into the kitchen for water. Jim followed me, twirled me around, and planted a big kiss on my lips. Although I responded, we were both startled.

To this day, we do not know where the other two people went or how I got back to my dorm! Jim and I shared four engaging dates until winter break. The night before we left for the holidays, Jim called. I thought he would ask me out for New Year's Eve. Instead, he said, “We shouldn't see each other anymore. We are just too different; I just don't think it will work out.” I was devastated. I got very sick, missing most of the winter term.

When I returned for spring term, I attended a campus dance. There, across a noisy, crowded room, was Jim Sharon, strolling toward me. Hesitantly I went in the hall to talk with him. We decided to try it again and happily dated all spring. After Jim graduated, we deepened a long distance relationship for two years and fell in love!! We claimed we had the best relationship in the world! We touched each other on every level and were convinced that being together forever was a gift that would never wear out!

After Jim's American University Master's degree in psychology and my Penn State degree in Elementary Education, we began a new chapter. Reciting our vows under the chuppah and joining as a sacred couple on June 7, 1970, we celebrated in the presence of family, friends, and God.

Jim and Ruth

Soulful Connection: What Is Your Story?

Take a few moments to re-tell your story afresh to each other. Share how you each remember the details, sentiments, feelings, and thoughts of your meeting.

Every so often recount your meeting, dating, deciding to marry, and special events in your relationship. How you tell the story can reveal so much about each of you and who you are as a couple. You can record in writing or video for later generations to enjoy.

Order Secrets of a Soulful Marriage from SkyLight Paths Publishing.

Thank you, Jim and Ruth, for sharing your love and wisdom with us! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love

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A Love Story: The Romance Behind the Romance Novelist

Nina Ceves is the indie published author of several romance novels. Find out more at www.ninaceves.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ninacevesromancenovels.

How did you meet, and how did you know this relationship was special?

I was a bridesmaid in a wedding. He was in the wedding band. The rest is history! Our love story. I remember sitting with my friends, and feeling as though someone were looking at me. You know that feeling? I turned, and saw him. At that point, I did not know he was in the band. I thought he must be someone's boyfriend. I looked away. I felt so flustered, I actually got up, went to the bar for a glass of water, and went outside. He followed me. I made a joke. He laughed. I was only twenty-two years old with no interest in falling in love, and it happened right then. When I went home that night, I couldn't make sense of it. But, I didn't want to. I just knew. And every moment of that summer, as we first got to know one another, I could see what an incredibly special person he is.

Do you feel that you're connected on a soul level?

one month standYes. It is something inexplicable. I feel that my love for my husband will last forever, that our souls are timeless and so our love is timeless. In one of my novels, One Month Stand, the character Theo describes how he felt, the moment he met Ever, who is the woman he has fallen in love with:

"From the moment I met you, I felt there was a magnet within me, undiscovered until you walked up to me, asking if I wanted cake. The magnet drew me to you; I felt you had an answering shard within you, and they were pulling us together, to meet at the heart. Every moment since then, that pull grows stronger. For me. I love, I love the light and dark of you…"

What passions do you share?

We have a passion for laughter. I don't know why, but we make each other laugh so much. I tell him things that happen to me, or thoughts I have, and he laughs so hard. I feel as though I can share whatever quirky thing passes through my thoughts and he just *gets* it. He gets me. I think he is extremely funny and he cracks me up, just with his take on the world, his experiences, and how he relates them so comically.

Creativity is another shared passion. We both value it tremendously. My husband has always encouraged me to make time to write, and is so happy for me, so sincerely happy for me, that I'm now publishing, sharing what I'm writing. He is an incredibly gifted musician and I see how hard he works at it, and how much joy it brings him.

Tell us about one of the most soulful experiences you've had together.

One time, in the Sierras, we stretched on the ground, staring up at the sky as night fell. Then, bats started flying overhead. They were so beautiful, silhouetted against the twilight. Somehow, it was such a still, lovely moment, full of wonder, and I was so glad it was just the two of us together sharing it.

Dreaming Silas

Truly, nothing can compare to meeting our child for the first time. That morning, before sunrise, felt holy. The two of us together and then the three of us. My husband made up a song for our child on the spot. I'll never forget it.

How do you benefit from being in your relationship?

My husband helps me be the best version of myself and he says the same of me. He challenges me, gently. He protects me. He cares for me. He puts my happiness before his. I know he would lay down his life for me, in a heartbeat. That kind of love and loyalty? I'll never take it for granted. It blows me away. And I give it right back.

Our child sees that she has two parents who love one another deeply and love her unconditionally.

Do you feel that you have a shared purpose for being together?

I love this question, and I wish I knew. I wonder if that will be revealed over time. My husband and I both value kindness, and we try to practice that, if that doesn't sound weird, in any interaction that it is possible to do so.

What challenge have you faced together, and how did you find your way through them?

Illness, deaths, losses: life has its challenges, its ups and downs. I have had to learn to share my feelings and ask for the kind of help that I needed from my husband. He had to learn to be there for me when he could not fix things. We've learned so, so much about how to be there for each other. He knows I am beside him, no matter what. And I know he is with me, too. That connection means so much, there are barely words to describe the depth of my gratitude and appreciation for that.

What are you learning in your relationship right now?

I am learning how lucky, how blessed I am and just to savor that. I am learning how in love I am — the depth of that connection — and always will be. I am learning that a relationship can grow even better and better.

How do you keep your connection strong?

Shared laughter, heart to heart talks, wordless touches and looks . . . and I flirt outrageously, but only with my husband.

ninaIf you’ve read The Soulmate Experience, what ideas or suggestions have been most helpful to you? 

The entire book is highlighted, practically! There are so many insightful and practical ways of looking at growing closer, I loved it. If I had to choose just one, I would say: invitation instead of expectation. I loved the way that has helped me look at a few things in my relationship with my husband. Well, I can't just pick one, so I'll also add: how would this be if I were coming from a place of love? That has helped me so much, too. Oh, and just one more: the concept of the honored guest. That's so beautiful and so true. These three examples are just amazingly helpful and practical but they go to a very deep, spiritual level. They have truly helped me become a better wife to my husband if that doesn't sound too dorky...

What advice can you offer other couples to help them keep their connection strong?

Don't be scared. Or, be scared. Go ahead, but don't stop connecting, trying, reaching out, being brave, expressing yourself. Being vulnerable can be scary, and true love has a way of making you face your innermost fears. Don't shut down, don't start to skim on the surface of routine and responsibilities.

What advice can you offer single people who desire a relationship like yours?

Believe that its out there. Believe that you deserve it, because you do.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I just have to merely think about kissing my husband and I get butterflies. We've been together over twenty years. I love him more every day.

With so much love in my soul, how could I not write romance novels, full of tenderness, heat, awkward vulnerability, tears, and laughter?

Thank you, Nina, for sharing your love story with us! ~Mali & Joe, authors of The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships52 Prescriptions for Happiness, and the upcoming book The Soulmate Lover, and creators of Mantras for Making Love