After my twenty-one year marriage ended, I asked myself, what insights are there, if any, that could transform the quality of my relationships in the future?
I felt intuitively that my experiences, feelings and frustrations were not unique to me. Perhaps it has less to do with finding the “right person/s” and more to do with the context and framework (or agreements) that our relationships operate inside of?
The word popped in my mind one day while driving to the airport. It isn’t based on any other word or language that I am aware of. I wanted a new word to avoid the attachment of being compared to or arising from some other form or concept and have the ability to create a new conversation about what is possible in relationship.
After several months of contemplation, brainstorming, conversations and experiments, I developed the relationship framework I call Anundabra:
Why are we in relationship? Fun and play? Creativity and self-expression? Passion and exploration? Support and encouragement? Growth and learning?
This is not meant to be fixed or absolute but to serve as a guide and opening for conversation.
There is a common narrative about relationships and how they develop that assumes a linear, past/present/future path, at the beginning is the “newness” phase where we focus on what we like about the other person and we overlook the other’s supposed flaws, then we rationalize the relationship with our column of pluses and minuses and if the relationship continues, eventually the “boredom phase” sets in.
If you’re willing to consider that our moments are non-linear you will have the possibility of freeing yourself and creating a new relationship narrative.
When a relationship is new, there is a focus on simply being together and doing what brings joy and satisfaction. Over time there is a tendency to shift focus to what the relationship possesses; anniversaries, momentos, families, assets like houses and retirement accounts that tend to shift the conversations from being / doing to having and that typically suffocates access to feelings of joy, lightness and happiness. i.e. Your money is your money. My money is my money. Your stuff is your stuff. My stuff is my stuff.
Create the freedom to share if you so desire in however way you choose or not.
It would be great if you could just (fill in the blank) for me…..I think my boyfriend/girlfriend is wonderful but sometimes I just wish (fill in the blank)….Just a couple of examples of the thoughts, once expressed, will lead you to the “relationship judgement loop”.
Are you willing to suspend, let go and keep any and all judgements you might have about the other to yourself at all times, forever and ever? If not, then you will undoubtedly enter “relationship judgement loop” and once you enter, there is no escape.
Keep your judgements to yourself, choose the other exactly as they are, at all times, what you know and what you don’t know and enjoy the freedom and joy that comes with it.
Relationships do not have to be “hard” or require work (i.e. suffering). They should be fully enjoyed and support an individual’s self expression.
Choosing to be in the relationship is made by each individual, separate from the other, having the freedom to come and go as one pleases.
Labeling a relationship can create a feeling of possession i.e. I have a boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, spouse. Instead consider referring to each other in ways that free each other from these labels.
There is a growing list of relationship descriptions that are meant to convey our sexual interests / point of view / activity; monogamy, polyamory, sapio, swinger, kink, open…the challenge is that these labels tend to assume a sort of permanence to our sexuality and sexual interests, when we are in fact temporal beings. It is well known that a significant percentage of relationships that believe they are monogamous, for example, are not. More satisfying and expressive intimate relationships are available if we create the opening for communication about this fundamental relationship issue.
The most overused and misunderstood phrase in a relationship is “I love you”. When used between a parent and child, it is unconditional and without attachment. When used between adults in an intimate relationship, it typically comes with expectations and descriptions such as being “in” or “out” of it, which can often create feelings of attachment and potential disappointment. Over time the phrase tends to lose the intended expression of a deep and authentic feeling.
The belief that we are somehow a reflection of the other stifles our freedom of full self expression, with feelings that we need to live up to the expectations of the other.
You can’t be present in the other’s conscious thinking. You can’t know what the other is thinking when they do what they do. Regardless, it’s about them, not you.
You do know what you think. You do know what and how you feel.
The degree to which you’re honest with your authentic self, what you feel, will impact the freedom you enjoy being with the other.
The degree to which you share with the other what you do and why you do it is your choice. Ultimately what matters is the impact it has on being present and fully with the other in the moment.
Life, and relationships unfold with questions. They become smaller and constrained when we think we “know” the answers, about ourselves and others.
This can easily perceived as being selfish but if you value and care for yourself, you will discover a natural flow of generosity, patience and kindness towards others. Intellectually people often agree with this idea but it typically requires a degree of trust to start and commit to this inward focus.
Experiments produce breakthroughs if new thoughts, ideas and approaches are tried, you keep what works for you, feels right and throw out what doesn’t. Experiments don’t have to fail, they can inform, if you’re looking and listening for outputs not results.