HOW TO CREATE A “COUPLE BUBBLE”

HOW TO CREATE A “COUPLE BUBBLE”

We all want someone in our lives with whom we connect and “gets us” the way we want to be seen and heard. That’s a soulmate, and our Austin-based Resonance Repatternist, Mary Schneider, reveals what it means and how to find one as you begin or deepen your phase of coupledom.

WEDDED BLISS

Weddings and romance engender lots of tropes––and romantic ideas. And drama, of course. Everyone has their ‘crazy’ wedding stories. Issues abound–perfectionism reigns. Every detail is poured over and scrutinized. If one pays close attention, the energetic vibrations of a fairy tale are revealed. This is heady and transmissible. That’s why we love them.

I once shared an office with one of the premier wedding consultants of the 80s and 90s. The mothers of the brides would arrive. Pleasantries would be exchanged, and inevitably, she would inquire, “What had so and so’s wedding cost?” My friend would divulge the price, and the mother would reply, “Please make my budget $5K more.” The business end of a multi-billion-dollar industry, I thought at the time, was just a trifle cynical.

Later, after becoming an ordained minister and officiating several delightful, lovely wedding ceremonies, it became clear I was most interested in how this would work––over time. In the past, I have written a lot about parenting. Specifically, exploring the idea that our parents teach us how to be a mom or dad, and how to overcome the pitfalls they may have encountered.

Just as it is with parenting, coupledom depends to a large degree on how a couple’s parents manage their own marriages. As in parenting, if couples get help, marriage can be awesome and fulfilling. Unfortunately, people are not given much training in parenting or marriage skills. We are required to know more to get a driver’s license than we need to be a parent. If we do not receive any education about raising children, we will eventually fall back on and follow what our parents did––for good or bad. It is the very same with marriage.

What did the parents model in their coupledom? How did they solve problems; what roles were assumed; were the parents happy with those roles? Was divorce involved? Infidelity? Money issues? Substance abuse? How does one raise healthy, happy children? As a therapist working with potential marriage partners and veteran couples for the past 25 years, I have always known the questions hovering in the background of the Big Day would journey to the foreground soon enough. We ask ourselves, “How do we go about being in a successful marriage?” Sometimes, these weighty matters are discussed before the ceremony, but often they are not. As we all know, part of the fairy tale suggests it will work out after all–happily ever after.

Historically, tradition has suggested the fallacy that one must make their partner ‘happy.’ In truth, what works is when each partner brings their own happiness to the relationship, potentially creating a bond where happiness can be shared. This is the ideal but rarely accomplished easily. The writer I refer to below puts it this way, “The nitty gritty personal history always overtakes ideals.” What would make this kind of shared happiness attainable? Where can we start?

 

WIRED FOR LOVE

In his book, Wired for Love, author and psychologist Stan Tatkin proposes married couples create a “Couple Bubble.” Mutuality is the answer. He writes, “’Couple Bubble’ is a term I like to use to describe the mutually constructed membrane, cocoon, or womb that holds a couple together and protects each partner from outside elements.” He defines the “Couple Bubble” as “an intimate environment partners create and sustain together.” This environment is its own ecosystem, assuring a few inalienable rights.

He enumerates the rights: “I will never leave you. I will never frighten you purposely. When you are in distress, I will relieve you, even if I am the one who is causing the distress. Our relationship is more important than my need to be right, your performance, appearance, what other people think or want, or any other competing values. You will be the first to hear about anything and not the second, third, or fourth person I tell.”

When I think about it, this is the ideal treatment for a parent/child relationship, too. Tatkin goes on to explain how mutuality can be established in many different conditions. What do we do at a party to maintain the “Couple Bubble”? Safety and security are the hallmarks of this methodology. If this agreement between two people is kept intact, when the relationship is challenged, it can prove to be the only thing holding it together. We can move on from there in a positive direction.

The first time I encountered this concept, I was intrigued because I could immediately envision the ‘bubble’ in my mind. Decades ago, a therapist recommended I “bubble up” in stressful situations. I would imagine myself walking in a big, beautiful, impenetrable sphere, and it seemed to work. However, I never transferred that imagery to include people with whom I was in a romantic relationship. It would have been helpful.

Considering the incredible number of variables in the human psyche and condition, it is a wonder we effectively engage in intimate relationships at all. We are courageous and keep getting back ‘in the arena.’ This concept is one way to think about your marriage at any point in time, but it is highly recommended at the beginning––right along with the wedding plans.

 

SOULMATE SEEKING

SOULMATE SEEKING

We all want someone in our lives that we connect with and who “gets us” the way we want to be seen and heard. That’s a soulmate, and our Austin-based Resonance Repatternist, Mary Schneider, reveals what it means, and how to find one.

SOUL POWER

Soulmate? Is there really such a being? There are many ways to look at this concept, and probably everyone has their own definition. There is also a significant amount of scientific research suggesting the very real existence of soulmates. In fact, there are even different types of soulmates. Who knew?

 

Historically, I scoffed at the idea of a soulmate. A former spiritual teacher alluded to the idea of a ‘soulmate’ being antithetical to wholeness. The theory is that we are whole in and of ourselves and do not need another to complete or enhance who we are. I have adopted this explanation. However, after my research, my mind cracked open a bit. Leonard Cohen writes in his song, Anthem, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” It turns out soulmates are a lovely, healthy construct.

 

One common thread most writers agree upon is that a person can have more than one soulmate. Life-long romance is not a qualification. In fact, we have many soulmates. In her article, What Is a Soulmate–And How to Know if You’ve Found Yours, Christine Coppa writes about all the different types of Soulmates. There are Romantic Soulmates, Soul Partners, Karmic Soulmates, Companion Soulmates, Kindred Soulmates, and Soul Contracts.

 

At my high school reunion this past summer, I encountered a Soul Partner. This was unknown to me at the time. A Soul Partner is a rare individual one hasn’t set eyes on in (in my case) decades. When reunited, time, distance, and separation melt away. The connection is deep and somehow feels permanent. Friends can also be soulmates, as we certainly know. This is known as the Companion Soulmate. Coppa describes it this way: “Friends are an essential part of our lifetime journey, and those of the soulmate type help us laugh when we’re in pain, nurture us when we’re suffering, flow with us when we’re riding high, challenge us to be real, love us with our warts, and never abandon us in anger. And we do the same with them.”

 

SENSE OF SOULFULNESS

Amir Levine, MD, in his Washington Post article, Are Soulmates Real? concurs. He writes, “We’re all born with the brain neurocircuitry to see another person as more special than anyone else.” The fact that we can replicate this experience over and over is why we can have more than one soulmate.

 

He continues, “Biologically speaking, close friendships are a type of soulmate too. We know that close friends have similar brain patterns. A study this year found that close friends smell more alike than people who didn’t form close relationships. We look at someone, smell them, and they just make sense to us.” Yes, it all comes down to the sense of smell–as is customary in the animal kingdom.

 

In addition to smell, there are some psychological reasons for being drawn to a person. Many people are attracted to people like their parents. This could lead to a positive connection if the parental relationship was loving and supportive. However, if the parental bond was a painful and traumatic attraction, then a soulmate is not necessarily there. Much of this is not a conscious choice, as it originates on the subconscious level. Sometimes people will declare, “I feel like I have known them all my life.” They have. This realization can lead to deep healing and breaking of stubborn, painful patterns in relationships.

A family and marital psychotherapist, Dr. Michael Tobin is an expert on soulmates. He has over 40 years of experience in this field and is the creator of WholeFamily.com. In his article, How to Know You’ve Met Your Soulmate, he implies that the soulmate relationship is not co-dependent. Co-dependence infers a certain inherent neediness, which does not present in a soulmate connection. Unlike a co-dependent bond, feelings and needs are expressed between soulmates.

He explains, The best universal definition of a soulmate is feeling deeply connected to another person but not in a dependent or needy way. The guiding principle in a relationship between soulmates is that needs are equally met because a soulmate relationship should challenge you to move from selfishness to giving.”

In this context, a relationship with a soulmate is healthy, balanced, and loving. It isn’t about not being a whole person. The point is to assist one another in becoming whole. It’s beautiful, deep, and mysterious. Soulmates aspire to unity. It’s also very meaningful–the kind of relationship everyone wants in their life.

GRACE, MEET GRATITUDE

GRACE, MEET GRATITUDE

During the holidays, emotions can run high. Having a greater sense of grace might just be the answer for year ‘round peace of mind, according to our own Resonance Repatterning expert based in Austin, Mary Schneider, who shares her insightful perspective.

ETERNALLY GRATEFUL

In the east, it is said that gratitude opens the gates to divine grace. When we feel gratitude, no matter our life circumstances, our pain and stress can be diminished. Among other similar characteristics, grace, and gratitude have one very important trait in common…both are qualities of the heart.

 

What is grace? It is a virtue we bestow upon another. Grace is a gift available to us whenever we choose. Either way, the feelings involved are often difficult to articulate. Although it might not actually be the case, both gratitude and grace seem to be in abundance during this time of year…at least on the surface. Of course, we all recognize the holiday season can be difficult for some individuals. Grief and loss can be amplified when a holiday connection or lack thereof is central. If we haven’t experienced this phenomenon, we all know someone who has, right? And in concert with the retail trade, therapists are busy this time of year: I haven’t seen my sister in a year. You might think, I must get into his life again because of the holidays.

 

What is tricky here is to be able to find gratitude in what looks to be worry or pain. Grace allows this through acceptance, a highly spiritual concept that cannot be underestimated. Taught in numerous recovery programs, what it underscores in addiction is the inability to accept whatever circumstances we’ve been given. To be sure, the first requirement of healing addiction is to accept we are an addict. Grace is also the gift we receive in true acceptance. To contact gratitude inside of this acceptance accelerates the healing process.

 

GRACE’S LAND

Whenever we encounter grace, there is a deep connection to and within ourselves, whether we are aware of it or not. Like the consciousness underlying everything, grace is always available for us to access from within. Grace can appear in a challenging situation, and it can alter the outcome in powerful, sometimes dramatic ways. What appears to be unresolvable is no longer. Sometimes it may take us by surprise when we recognize a shift weeks after it occurred.

 

Over the centuries, much has been written about grace in all faiths and spiritual paths. In the Christian tradition, grace is benignly and generously given by God meritoriously: it is earned. In other writings, it is seen as a state, as in, “She has been observed to be living in a state of grace.” There has historically been a disagreement between the concepts of grace and free will. This was resolved for me when I heard a speaker report, “The aborigines believe we were given free will in order to choose not to use it.” Grace enables forgiveness. When we forgive completely, the love unearthed beneath our lack of forgiveness is revealed. I recently came across this elegant quote in the newsletter of Brian Seth Hurst’s The Opportunity Management Company, “Love reveals anything unlike itself.” Therefore, we can free up space for the forgiveness of ourselves, and grace is the wind beneath our wings. Awareness of this engenders gratitude, and gratitude begets appreciation.

 

When we have appreciation, a cascade of neurotransmitters is activated that creates feelings of warmth, love, pleasure, and joy in the appreciative person, and the one being appreciated. This cascade can benefit the immune system and every organ of the body. With this heightened neurotransmission, our pain and depression are diminished. It is impossible to be depressed and grateful at the same time. Gratitude enhances our well-being–mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

 

HOLIDAYS ON NICE

A great deal of what we experience around the holidays is rooted in the spirit of giving. True giving is without any concern for acknowledgment or reciprocity. Although our acquisitive culture might take issue here, when gratitude is offered in response, it is a gift. It is enough. And grace is what we receive when we give without expecting anything in return.

Grace is a quality of the divine. Much of what we do encompassing kindness and mercy engenders grace. Grace is in the natural flow of all things. It is omnipresent and infinite–the frequency of the heart. We are not talking merely of the physical heart–it’s also the spiritual heart, which is the frequency of love.

 

In her book, Transforming Primary Patterns, Chloe Wordsworth reveals, “When we remember the Divine with gratitude, we will be content no matter how difficult our life circumstances may be.” If we do an online search for gratitude journals, there are hundreds of diaries available to chronicle daily gratitude. There are even gratitude journals for kids. Whatever we choose to avail ourselves of during this happy holiday season, may we all experience an abundance of grace and gratitude.

WHAT’S THE BASIS OF TRUE FRIENDSHIPS?

WHAT’S THE BASIS OF TRUE FRIENDSHIPS?

How do you define your friendships right now? Robust? Genuine and loving? Transactional? Our own Mary Schneider, a Resonance Repatterning expert based in Austin, shares her perspective on how friendships sometimes evolve. 

Some people distinguish spring as the season of rebirth, renewal, and rejuvenation. Others consider it to be fall. Which one are you? Those in favor of spring cite nature’s pristine growth and the birth of all creatures great and small…spring is heady and the harbinger of new romance. Those partial to fall allude to innovative new cars and TV show introductions historically, as well as harvest time and the brand-new school year. Of course, the season kicks in from football games to galas to the holidays. We here choose fall–it is a time of renewal as it signals the hope of wonderful things and perhaps most of all the possibility of new bonds and friendships.

 

Particularly this fall. The pandemic and its isolation provided an opportunity for us to look at what types of friendships are the most important to us. And what friendships are, well, not so vital. It wasn’t necessary to look at our relationships and their value…it just happened. It can be said this was one of the few benefits revealed during this challenging time. The pandemic enabled us, really forced us, to appraise our relationships in every sphere of life.

 

The Secrets of Lasting Friendships, David Brooks article in The New York Times, cites Robin Dunbar’s book, Friends. Dunbar is celebrated for his ‘number: 150’. Brooks quotes, “The maximum number of meaningful relationships most people can have is somewhere around 150. How many people are invited to the average American wedding? About 150. How many people are on an average Christmas card list? About 150. How many people were there in early human hunter-gatherer communities? About 150.” Maintaining 150 friendships? That can often seem exhausting.

 

Brooks’ article goes on to reference Jeffrey Hall, an expert in the psychology of friendship, who studied 112 University of Kansas freshman and found it took about 45 hours of presence in another person’s company to move from acquaintance to friend. To move from casual friend to meaningful friend took another 50 hours over a three-month period, and to move into the inner close friend circle took another 100 hours.

 

What do you look for in a friendship? For me, friendship requires reciprocity. By reciprocity I am not referring to a transactional relationship. Where every favor or dinner is matched one-to-one, spontaneity can be crushed, and intimacy compromised. There doesn’t need to be a score keeper. In true reciprocity, a subtle feeling of lightness and ease is present. What commonly exists is a mutual understanding all will work out at some point, or not. No worries.

 

Lauren Mechling writes in her New York Times article, How to End a Friendship, “We are wired to pursue friendship: In the company of our favorite companions, studies have found, our brains release dopamine and oxytocin. The early stages of friendship are their own romance.” Oxytocin is involved in bonding, between lovers–and mothers and their infants. It creates the romance. Dopamine impacts the development of social memories and preference.

 

As in romantic relationships, friendships can indeed end, or have a natural expiration date. Sometimes couples, as well as good friends, can grow apart. It’s helpful to know that when a friendship comes to completion, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Change can be an opportunity. According to Catherine Pearson in her New York Times piece, How Many Friends Do You Really Need? “Three decades ago, 3% of Americans told Gallup pollsters they had no close friends; in 2021, an online poll put it at 12%. A year into the pandemic, 13% of women and 8% of men aged 30 to 49 said they’d lost touch with most of their friends.”

 

As we head into the renewal of the 2022 fall season, it might behoove us to be appreciative and grateful for our lasting friendships, accept they could change, and to welcome cultivating new possibilities.

 

NOW, MOVING FORWARD

NOW, MOVING FORWARD

As we all want to push beyond Covid-19 and its effects, we also have the opportunity to be mindful of our emotional growth for the future, according to our insightful Resonance Repatterning expert, Mary Schneider.

Post Covid-19, take a deep breath. What a relief. I recently spent time on the East Coast and I observed many people there were of the same mindset. Covid has taken a hiatus. So, we might as well make hay while the sun shines and get out and dance like nobody is watching. Despite the colloquialisms, evidence suggests this is the thing to do now.

 

In his New York Times article, You’ve Done Self Care. You’ve Languished. Now Try This, Brad Stulberg suggests we have been in a state of languishing and that it is now time to move on. The solution he advises? Take action–whether we want to act or not. Stulberg cites another New York Times article by Adam Grant, a Wharton organizational psychologist. In his article, There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing, Grant defines our all too familiar pandemic mindset. Grant asserts, “Not depressed” doesn’t mean you’re not struggling. “Not burned out” doesn’t mean you’re fired up. By acknowledging many could feel languished, we can start giving voice to quiet despair and lighting a path out of the void.”

 

Action may very well be the solution. The Fire Chakra (solar plexus) is about action in the Ayurvedic Chakra System. Each chakra has a corresponding emotion, and fire represents anger and resentment. Anger is the fire; resentment is the smoke underneath. Make sense? Any action, even a little, is highly recommended to heal this anger and resentment. After all, depression can be anger without enthusiasm.

 

Similarly, in the Chinese Five Element Acupuncture System, action again is the antidote to anger and resentment. The Wood Element is related to the achievement of life goals and growth. It is the Element of Spring and consists of the liver and gall bladder Meridians. Simply put, the liver meridian is associated with anger, the gall bladder with resentment. Liver; livid–it’s not an accident. When these meridians are in balance, some people can enthusiastically move forward in life to realize their dreams and goals in all areas.

 

Judgment is not the issue here. Feeling anger or resentment is not bad or wrong. It is just what it is. Human beings generally have good reason to be angry. Anger gets things done, and it, too, can be a great motivator. We would not have any human rights movements in this country without it. Anger can be very potent, but when anger devolves into a deep depression, it can stop us.

 

One helpful addition to action is acceptance. Acceptance is even more potent than anger. Often, in difficult situations, I find myself thinking this should not be happening. Yet acceptance gradually emerges and almost any upset eventually dissipates. I recognize this can be challenging, even tough, or impossible in some circumstances.

 

Our prayers and compassion go out to anyone who lost a loved one in the pandemic or is suffering as long-haulers. My wish for us all is to reach a place of acceptance and move on with our lives in whatever form manifests. Get your rest, enjoy the time available to do that, and then dive back into whatever you wish to do moving forward.

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