Maybe there's another way…

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If you really want to deepen and grow your relationship life, take a look at the person in the mirror, pour fertilizer on yourself, and grow.

That’s right. Changing yourself is the fast track to relational depth.

Of course, I’m not talking about getting a new wardrobe or haircut. I’m talking about changing your internal world, the part that no one can see.

If I want more depth out there, I have to go deeper in here.

When I was 29 years old, I was in a lot of pain and doing a great job of hiding it. I dated a lot of women, but felt unsatisfied in every relationship. I wanted something more yet I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that I wanted. Looking back, I was longing for true love, a deep intimate relationship where I felt met, seen, and alive.

Because I didn’t know how to get what I wanted, let alone know what it was that I wanted, I blamed each of the women I dated and made my dissatisfaction their fault. I genuinely believed that I would feel better if only “she” would be different. 

So, with ten or more years of limited results and unfulfilled relationships, I hit a tipping point.

My pain was so substantial and my desire for different results was so strong that I was ready to finally ask, “What if I’m the problem?” After all, I was the one common denominator in every relationship I had.

This is when everything shifted.

Once I asked the above question I could then make this statement:  "I am willing to do whatever it takes to get different results."

The problem was no longer “out there.” It was “in here” and that I had the power to do something about. Damn!

This was a huge turning point in my life, which catapulted me on to a spiritual path that continues today.

Once I had the humility to ask the question “what if I’m the problem?” my relationship life began to shift slowly.

As I changed, I attracted new people. People that wanted to be authentic and real. People who were willing to talk about the hard stuff in life and not hide it. People willing to go to therapy and ask for help when they were stuck in the weeds. People willing to lead with their vulnerability. Wow. I began to meet women and men that could go deeper in relationship because I was going deeper in myself.  All of the sudden, my relationships began to nourish me.

It took serious pain, serious longing, and a simple question directed inward, to change my relationship life.

And today, every time I find myself wanting to change my partner, I slow down and take a look at the man in the mirror.

Because change starts with me.

by Jayson Gaddis

Harvesting Love

by Jayson Gaddis on September 28, 2011 · 29 comments

My wedding anniversary was last week.

10 years ago I said I’d never get married.

I also said I’d never have kids.

Now I’m married with kids and it’s the most brilliant ride I’ve been on thus far.

And, anyone with a spouse and two kids under 2.5 knows, it’s a lot. I mean, a lot. Life has turned up the heat and I’m ripening in the most helpful of ways.

The more I resist the heat, the more painful my life is. The more I surrender to the heat and what is occurring, the more I enjoy the ride.

The Fall Equinox just happened and this past weekend was my wedding anniversary.

The Autumnal equinox is a time of transition where light and dark are balanced. Darkness is now slowly overtaking the light as we move toward winter.

The equinox always asks me to pay close attention to my life. It is a wonderful time to focus on balance and to reap what I’ve sewn from the summer.

What am I harvesting right now?

And since I’m all about love these days, what am I harvesting relationally. How are my intimate relationships?

My relationships help me see how much joy or pain I am experiencing in life. By using other people, mainly my wife and kids, I can begin to see where I am opening and closing down to love.

If I want to experience more love, I evaluate my relationships.

Four years ago my wife and I married ourselves in the Utah desert. This past Sunday we had our baby sitter watch our kids while we walked to the park hand in hand (This kind of date is a rare moment for us sleep-deprived new parents).

Our intention was to review and update our wedding vows.  To “check in” with where we are as a partnership.

So, under the shade of a giant maple tree we pulled out our journals from that time and took turns reading our vows and commitments.

We gazed at each other as we read each one and reflected upon it. As our eyes met, they welled with tears of love and gratitude. The depth of our connection was right there, pulsing and vibrant.

We noticed how true each vow still was and how “on” we were with each back then. Each vow was a bold, yet vulnerable statement about connection to self and other.  We didn’t add any new ones as our original vows are still hitting the mark.

My heart kept opening wide as I gazed into her eyes. I felt so awake and clear. I felt my deep love for her and we smiled and cried.  We laughed at the insanity of raising two amazing kids and the relentlessness of our lives.

A simple yet profound connection in a short window of time.

We walked back home to baths and bedtime stories with our children.

So ask yourself, how can I harvest more love using my close relationships?

Here are a few ideas…

  1. Take inventory of your closest relationships. Reflect on “what is so” about each one. Notice which are nourishing and which are depleting.
  2. Make a list of people who you want to move closer to (friends, family, co-workers etc)
  3. Now pick only one.
  4. Ask yourself if you want more closeness and connection to this person. If yes, move on to step 5.
  5. Do a relationship review with these friends. This can help you determine what’s been in the way and if the other person also wants to move closer. Are they a person that is worth the potential investment? Practice honest truth telling and trust they can take care of themselves. You don’t need to protect them from their feelings. If it’s your spouse, perhaps it can be a time to review your wedding vows or commitment to each other.
  6. Notice if you are making your desire to move closer dependent on the other person changing and instead, consider working with the practice of acceptance. Check in with your real motives. Am I trying to change them so that I can feel less agitated? Or am I willing to stay on my side and work with whatever my agitation is about in me?
  7. How was this process? Share your experience with each other. Let them know what it was like and what you learned about yourself.
  8. Pick a new person and share this process with them as an example of how you want to move closer to them too.

In a way, my wife and I are starting this autumn anew, freshly connected, and actively engaged in our partnership. We are harvesting the love big time.

I’m using my family to practice accepting more and opening to more and more love. When I treat my relationships as “practice” in this way, it takes me out of a victim stance relationally and into a place of awareness, choice, and strength.

Decide what you want to harvest and with whom. Then, dive in and practice.

by Jayson Gaddis