I just got back from the first Couples Alive program offered at The Haven. CrisMarie and I had been engaged in the design process as part of a team that included Cathy and Ernie McNally, David Raithby and Sandy McCarthy. The process of designing the Couples Alive Series (four five day programs) has been very exciting and rewarding. So the idea of fully participating in the first of the series seemed like a great idea. Later in the year we’ll be leading the same program, and I always like to live what I teach.
I believed that the simple yet profound nature of the models and concepts would easily be effective for all stages of relationships. I have close to thirty years of living, leading and teaching programs based on the same foundational models, models that continue to offer me ways of going deeper. The idea of that same exploration happening within my most important relationship made complete sense. Though we regularly work to apply and live what we have each learned though The Haven, I know I can be habitual and lazy at times. So participating with other couples and checking in on the health of our relationship was an exciting opportunity.
Of course, as we stepped into fully engaging, we had our rough spots. There were a few times when I wondered why I had signed up for this. However, as I listened and stayed open, I was reminded of the amazing possibilities that a relationship offers when we are not trying to control or change each other. I revisited the romance that brought me into wanting to live, work and be with CrisMarie. I also revisited the power struggles that arise simply because we each have different hopes, dreams and imaginations. Of course, we bump, and of course, I can make her wrong. But looking at the choices, to relate or to isolate, I stepped towards the aliveness that comes from being vulnerable and curious.
By participating in the program, I found some pockets of apathy and openly brought forward my concerns with anxiety and excitement. As always, I was surprised to learn that getting my way wasn’t nearly as important as speaking up and simply being heard by a loving witness. We didn’t have to fix anything. Yes, we agreed to a few new ways of keeping ourselves honest and open. In a month we’ll check in to see if our new tools are working. I’m hoping we’ll be able to make the next part of the series, The Edge.
The best part of our relationship is that we both value growing and learning. That is so special and it was delightful to be with other couples who hold that same value.
In general, I think I know when I am creating distance in my relationship; however, a couples workshop is a bit like an annual health visit. I highly recommend anyone in a relationship to consider going to The Haven. I have provided a link to their website. Take a look. I want to be sure we are healthy, I and we are worth the investment.