All posts filed under: Relationships

What Does It Mean to Be in a Secure-Functioning Relationship? and Why Should It Matter to Me?

By Stan Tatkin and Tracey Boldemann-Tatkin // Secure functioning refers to an interpersonal system based on principles of true mutuality, collaboration, justice, fairness, and sensitivity. It means that you and your partner are in a foxhole together, protecting each other from the outside world… and from each other. Secure functioning assumes you and your partner have different minds, with different interests, drives, and histories. Secure-functioning partners are fully interdependent in the sense that each happily accepts the other as a burden, and both agree they are in each other’s care. In this kind of two-person system, you and your partner form a couple bubble, which you can think of as a protective boundary that protects your resources and sense of ongoing safety and security. Think of a couple bubble as an ecosystem or terrarium that provides you and your partner with the sustenance you need to carry out your daily tasks, deal with fears and anxiety, handle difficult situations and people, and undergo personal growth. In a secure-functioning relationship, you and your partner assure each …

Interdependence Is the Tie That Binds

By Stan Tatkin // I watched the popular TV show Madam Secretary, and there was a moment when the central figure got a mini lecture from a Nobel laureate mathematician about negotiations. The character stated that the key to getting disparate parties to agree on peace is to illuminate their interdependence. I won’t say I got the basic idea for this blog from the TV show, but I was inspired to write after watching it. Interdependence means, in the case of couples, that each partner has a stake in something. We could say childrearing is one such shared investment, although having a child is not sufficient to keep couples together. Just look at the stats. Because many partners do not function securely together to begin with, they tend to become increasingly insecure when they add children. They resort to childrearing as a separate endeavor and not as lovers collaborating in a family enterprise. The demise of their relationship should not be a surprising outcome. But there is another common tie that should bind partners together: …

Mindful Relationship

The Necessity of Being Mindful in Intimate Relationships

By Ben Cohen, Ph.D. // Being “Mindful” in our intimate relationships is no longer an option—it is a necessity. Couples today expect a lot from their marriage/committed relationship.  We want our partner to be our lover, best friend, our go-to person when things are tough, our loyal playmate, and to share in the activities that most interest us.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a challenging thing. In the “Romantic Love Stage,” we think it will be easy. We believe we have met “The One.”  You know… the one who will meet all of your needs, and of course they will do so forever after! The truth is, you and your partner are two different people, and you won’t always see things the same way, or want the same things. Whether it is how you clean the house, how often you have sex,  how you manage your time or your money, or how you share your feelings—differences will arise. So eventually, even in the best of relationships, “Romantic Love” turns …

Shared Principles of Governance: Ensure Your Relationship’s Longevity

By Stan Tatkin // If you’re in a long-term relationship or want to be in one, I can give you straight-up advice on what to do right now to safeguard your relationship from avoidable trouble. First, let me explain why you should listen. As social animals, we depend on each other for survival on many levels: physically, psychologically, emotionally. In the wild, primates procreate and pair bond, on average, for four years: sufficient time to raise one child and protect it from the hostile environment. Nature cares not about long-term relationships. Most of us modern humans, however, do care because we are part of a society that values, even requires, cooperation, collaboration, and social fidelity to agreed-upon principles of governance. We also live a lot longer than either non-human primates or our recent ancestors. All this suggests the value of taking active steps to ensure the longevity of our relationships. Now, that’s not always easy. Romantic love waxes and wanes over time. Mutual physical attraction can dim as our bodies undergo slow but inevitable changes …

Expansive Nature of Love: Beyond “My little corner of the world”

By Allison C Zangmo & Anyen Rinpoche // Cultivating the expansive nature of love is the essence of the dharma.  What does that actually mean? As human beings, we are limited in so many ways.  Our physical nature is limited; when we feel physical pain or illness or the suffering of aging, our ability to love ourselves and others is also limited.  Our emotional nature is limited; when we feel personal pain and suffering, when our minds are focused on our own experience and cannot relate to the experience of others, or when we think the intensity of our suffering is unique, our ability to love ourselves and others is limited.  The nature of our breath is limited; when our breathing takes on the characteristics of our emotions, when it becomes hot, heavy, or fast-paced, our ability to love ourselves and others is limited. The nature of the everyday mind is limited; when we are too focused on the things that we think we want and need to feel comfortable and safe, our ability to love …

Blake D. Bauer

Blake D. Bauer on the Search for Love

By Blake D. Bauer // “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Jalaluddin Rumi Our search for love and connection is the one true driving force behind everything we do and everything we desire in life. Once our striving for approval, recognition, security or success loses its momentum, we finally realize we’ve simply been looking for love in all its manifestations, because when it comes down to it, what else really matters? In many cases, even before our physical survival needs for food, water or shelter have been met, our need for love surfaces as the primary motivating factor in life, because love is what makes life truly worth living. Love, and the genuine meaningful connections that arise with it, is the true medicine that heals, inspires and fulfills, and this is why, whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we are either directly or indirectly in the pursuit of love right now. This universal …

Susan PIver

How I Discovered the Four Noble Truths of Love

By Susan Piver // Some time ago, my husband, Duncan, and I were locked in a state of ongoing disagreement. This disagreement had no center, theme, object, or subject. It was more like a demonic presence. Whatever we discussed gave rise to conflict, whether it was about what time to leave for the movies, if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean or dirty, which bank to use, or if we belonged together as a couple. Once we even argued about what time it was. Even a question as simple as “Where do you want to eat dinner?” could provoke talk of divorce. (True story: When I posed this question one night, we were driving on a country road and, for some reason, we exploded at each other. I made him pull over and let me out of the car… in France. I had no idea where we were. I didn’t care—I just wanted out. I walked into a field until I got scared and went back to the car, arms folded.) When we were …

Cultivate Love and Compassion With Your Partner

By Ben Cohen, Ph.D. // A question I often ask couples that I work with in counseling is: “How do you want to act toward your partner?”. I’ll have them write a list of adjectives to describe this, and of course, what people usually say are things like: Loving, patient, compassionate, caring, giving, supportive, etc. I’ve never had anyone say: angry, critical, blaming, and attacking! And yet, the latter is how we often act with the person we most need to act kindly toward. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks beautifully about the need to “cultivate” positive aspects of ourselves, and to engage in loving behavior. He often uses the metaphor of “seeds”: When you water the seeds of anger in yourself (or your partner), that is what will grow. If, on the other hand, you water the seeds of love and compassion, then that is what will grow and flourish. Which would you choose? We can use meditation as a time to water those seeds of compassion: “Breathing in, I feel love” “Breathing out, I feel …

Family Retreat

“Being” Over “Doing”: Advice for Meaningful Family Life

By Leslie Gossett // There is a billboard on the interstate here—an advertisement for a popular gym. It says “More ways to do it all.” There is a picture of a happy–looking person doing various gym activities. I feel nauseated every time I pass that billboard. Perhaps it’s different where you live, but here in the San Francisco Bay Area, this is the pervading culture. Life is becoming more and more about doing and less and less about being. I work closely with many families here in this area. What continues to surprise me is not how busy they are, but how much they complain about being busy while having no support for changing that. Schools are increasingly more demanding of not just the student’s time, but also of family time. Sports practice, music rehearsals, and after school activities happen every day of the week. Games and performances take up weekend time. And many children, tweens, and teens have more than 2 hours of homework each day, in addition to their rehearsals and practices. Parents …