Tag : marriage

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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

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Loving and Lasting: How to Stay Tuned In and Turned On in Your Marriage

This guest post is from Ande Lyons, editor of the brand new book Loving and Lasting: How to Stay Tuned In and Turned On in Your Marriage, which we contributed to.

Do you want a more meaningful and fulfilling marriage—one where you feel deeply connected emotionally, spiritually, and physically? Seriously, do you?

Do you want to reignite the passion, eroticism, and romance you and your partner shared when you met?

In Loving and Lasting you’ll find the best advice from 20 of my favorite love experts. So get that fire extinguisher ready—these experts are ready to share it all—what really works to quickly get you tuned in and turned on in your marriage!

You’ll learn how to:

* Rediscover intimacy, sexual excitement, and physical pleasure
* Fall in love again with your spouse
* Communicate better and release negativity
* Find out what really turns you on—and excites your spouse
* Recover from past infidelities
* Create an erotic, romantic relationship

My passion for helping others bring intimacy and sexual excitement into their lives comes from what I’ve experienced in my own relationship with my sweetheart husband. Through all of life’s interesting turns, I’ve stayed committed to learning how to keep intimacy, sexual excitement, and pleasure vibrant and alive in our 25-plus year relationship. Believe me, this book has everything you need to get your marriage tuned in and turned on!

You’ll get one idea after another that will help you rapidly transform your relationship from average ho-hum to sweet love and crazy lust YUM!

The first 10 chapters help you “Tune In.” You’ll find “need-to-know” secrets for newlyweds, how to understand your man, tips to fall in love all over again, and exercises to help you release resentments and frustrations that can easily build up in any long-term relationship.

The second 10 chapters help you “Turn On!” You’ll love ideas like “how to be the chief sex officer in your marriage,” “how to have sex with your clothes on,” and “how to have more sex with your husband.” There’s even a chapter on introducing erotic play, toys, and BDSM into the bedroom!

Ready for a more vibrant, connected, and sexually satisfying marriage? Then click here to purchase a copy of Loving and Lasting!

Do you have some tips and ideas for staying tuned in and turned on in your long term relationship? YAY! Please share them in the comment section below - we'd love to read them - MUAH!

© 2013 Ande Lyons – Bring Back Desire LLC

Ande Lyons
Ande Lyons is certainly familiar with the cry of ‘someone stole my sex drive!’ She and her husband have been loving each other for 27 years and, after navigating ALL the turbulent waves of life events, they’re still turned on and tuned in – with each other.

As the founder and Chief Passion Curator for BringBackDesire.com, she tastefully and playfully shares tips, tools and resources with women who want more sexual excitement in their lives. Ande is the host of After Dark Radio Show, where she helps couples stay tuned in through her engaging and informative conversations with sexperts and relationship experts.

An enthusiastic and experienced entrepreneur with an MBA and several successful businesses to her credit, Ande is enjoying a well-balanced life (really!) managing her growing business while raising two wonderful boys with her darling husband.

Thank you, Ande—we're thrilled to be a part of your very insightful—not to mention spicy!—new book. ~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