Slow Down, Or Else
When it comes to your relationship the “slow lane” is much better –here’s why…
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See the author’s TEDx Talk on Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Shut Down World
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If you live anywhere near a city, ongoing road construction is a way of life. For most people it’s an annoyance, a hurdle one must go through to get to our intended destination. When you travel down the road of life with your significant other however, these “construction zones” are in fact far more important than any journey’s end. And the impetus to slow down is ignored at one’s own peril.
Let’s face it, the frenetic pace of our lives only continues accelerating so that everything seems to pass by in a veritable blur. Which makes me wonder, what are we in such a hurry to get to? It’s as if this ever-more frenzied pace has somehow morphed into our raison d’être. It reminds me of the time I was hiking the John Muir Trail (220 miles long) at a leisurely pace of about 15 miles a day. One evening, as we were just settling in for a well-deserved sleep, this tall, rather gaunt-looking fellow came trotting up to our campsite asking if we had any leftover warm food. He explained he was running the JMT and had just covered 70 miles that day and was getting just a wee bit hungry. He obviously made distance a priority over provisions. As he cheerfully jogged down the trail, one of my hiking buddies made a most insightful observation. He said what this guy is doing is like running through the Louvre in Paris. In his quest for bragging rights he gave up the most stunning aspects of this kind of outdoor adventure –the breathtaking majesty and beauty that can only be witnessed in the silence of having slowed down enough to fully take it all in.
Likewise, I’ve seen far too many couples be so active with their “doing” together, that they completely miss the most beautiful and transforming aspect of their relationship: actually *being* together. This means slowing down enough to be fully present and appreciative for that most important and beautiful person in your life.
Growth and Repair
If you think about your relationship as a fundamental infrastructure that is vitally important for your sense of fulfillment, what I’m about to share with you next will make more sense. Just like our modern day roads, relationships need to continually grow and occasionally be repaired and strengthened to carry the tremendous loads incurred when sharing one’s life with another. This is especially true when you consider how fast things are changing in our world, which only serves to add more stress to any relationship.
This makes sense, right? Yet, how many couples do you know who really take the time to slow down and just BE with each other. Take time to continually grow their relationship by sharing deeply and authentically on a regular basis in the quiet and solitude of no outside distractions. Take notice of any cracks or small potholes that may have formed and then work together to repair them so they never turn into a relationship-destroying impassable.
What Slowing Down Looks Like
There are many ways and opportunities for “slowing down” to grow your relationship. When you meet or say goodbye to your Other during the day, take the time to look into their eyes and really *see* them. A practice my partner and I often do is to take a few moments to acknowledge each other fully and seal it with a very light, prolonged brush of our lips. It’s nearly impossible to not be fully present in doing this. Also, every time we eat together we hold hands and give gratitude for the abundance of food we are about to enjoy, and then, once again acknowledge each other as part of that abundance. We take long walks in nature hand-in-hand stopping to see and yes, even hug, the trees take close ups of the flowers we encounter and overall just be present to the beauty and peace that nature affords. On the other hand, the one thing we avoid doing is allowing ourselves to be distracted while together. This one practice alone will make a huge difference in most relationships.
Now, there are also times when repair is called for. And our approach to this mending is both powerful and simple. We both insist on total authenticity in terms of how we show up, what we are feeling and in our words. And, to provide a “safety net” for this process, we both ascribe to the context that the essence of who we really are is our Heart, not our ego. And, there are times when our ego’s become unwieldy in terms of being reactive to something said or not said, done or not done. When this happens we give each other the time and space to re-center back into our Heart and continue the authentic conversation without judgement, labeling or resentment.
A Steep Price to Pay
In most areas of the U.S., if you are given a traffic ticket in a construction zone the fines are doubled. And, for good reason. It’s simply far more dangerous to people and property when traffic laws are broken where work is being done. You are expected to pay extra care and attention when traversing this section of the road.
The same goes for your relationship. If you don’t slow down and pay full attention, especially for periodic growth or when repairs are needed, the penalty can be extremely steep and painful.
The only difference is, instead of an embarrassing hit to your bank account and driving record, you could end up in a relationship that no longer serves either of you.
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About the Author
Michael J. Russer is a prostate cancer survivor who was left completely impotent as a result of his treatments. Yet, it was because of his impotence that he and his partner discovered an entirely new approach to emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy that far exceeds anything either experienced prior to when things were working “correctly.” His mission is to help men, women and couples everywhere to achieve extraordinary intimacy on all levels.
He is an international speaker, author and thought leader on the issues of human connection and intimacy. He also speaks pro-bono to Cancer Support Centers and Gilda’s Clubs around the U.S. for cancer survivors and their partners about regaining intimacy in the face of cancer. Go to MichaelRusserLive.com to explore the possibility of having Michael speak at your next event.
Michael is also a champion of the nonprofit men’s work being done by the ManKind Project (MKPUSA.org). He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2012.
iTunes: Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Disconnected World
TEDx Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK8f8w7ICng