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 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 into my mind one day. It isn’t based on any other word that I am aware of. I wanted a new word to help create a new conversation about what is possible in a relationship.
After months of contemplation, brainstorming, conversations and experiments, I developed the relationship framework, Anundabra:
Why are we in a 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 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 what we consider their flaws, then we rationalize the relationship if it continues, and eventually the “boredom phase” sets in.
If you’re willing to consider that every moment is new and unique and life is not linear, then 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, not have, 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 let go of any and all judgements you have about the other, forever and ever? If not, then you run the risk of entering the “relationship judgement loop” and once you enter, there is likely no escape.
Keep your judgements to yourself, choose the other exactly as they are, at all times, and enjoy the freedom and joy that comes from it.
Relationships do not have to be hard or require work (i.e. suffering). They should be fully enjoyed and support your individual self expression.
Continually choose to be in the relationship, separate from each other, and provide the freedom to come and go.
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 typically 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.
When you are present you are “in” the moment and that allows for an awareness of your feelings. It’s not the “who” you are with that matters, it’s whether or not you’re available and present.
Withholding and lying will weigh on your conscience and prevent you from fully experiencing all that is available, for yourself and with others. Often the lies and withholding are a cover up for fears and insecurities. The greatest opportunity for a breakthrough in understanding ourselves is when we share ourselves openly and honestly with someone we care about and who cares about you.
We need time and space to ourselves. It provides the opportunity to reflect and take pause, be unapologetically selfish and place our mind in an environment to think freely.
Life, and relationships unfold with questions. They become smaller and constrained when we think we already know the answers, about ourselves and others.
This can easily be 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. You will bump up against the limits of any framework so be willing to be open to reinventing this or any other relationship framework.