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How to maintain mystery and distance in a relationship

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[howdini, get yourself a guru] Hello, I'm Lisa Birnbach for howdini.com. Is your marriage feeling a little too safe these days? Here to help shake things up in a good way is Esther Perel, a marriage and family therapist and author of Mating in Captivity, Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. Esther, thank you for coming to howdini today. >>My pleasure. You suggest that spending time apart is very good for couples. How does that promote togetherness? Well, when you think any relationship actually struggles, two sets of needs--our needs for closeness and togetherness and security, but also our need for independence and for freedom and for space. It's that balance between the two. If you just do that, then at some point you become extensions of each other. If you keep too much distance all the time, then you lack the connections. But if you actually cultivate that individuality of the two people, then you become interested, curious, connected to this person who is separate from you, and at the same time very close. You talk a lot about mystery being beneficial to a relationship. Because there is a certain illusion that people sometimes have, by virtue of living with someone, that they know the other person like the inside of their pocket and there is nothing anymore to discover or to explore. And that's actually the grand illusion of love. Your partner is actually forever somewhat mysterious and unknown and elusive if you can stay open to that. But often, the unknown in our home makes us threatened and so we close ourselves off and we complain of boredom. Let's say you're married for quite some time. How are you going to cultivate mystery? When you talk to people and you ask, When do you find yourself most drawn to your partner?" It's often descriptions when they look at their partner from a comfortable distance, not too close when they blend it into eachother's eyes and not too far when they no longer can distinguish them. It's always moments of unpredictability. That's what mystery invites, suggestiveness, unpredictability, the unexpected, that which keeps you engaged in life. How does the couple that feels they're in a rut-- how do they go about just starting to leave open the window for mystery? Is there a way? Sometimes, as a woman said to me last week, it's when she takes a risk with me and she goes slightly outside of the predictability of her role, the way she's always with me. And in that moment, you are slightly unsettled, and in that space between anxiety and fascination, there resides mystery. So it's a little dangerous? We're not talking about big danger; we're talking about a sense of openness that is founded upon trust, upon connection, and upon closeness. It's from that place that you allow the other space to actually develop. Mystery is also about allowing differences, about allowing separateness, otherness in the relationship. Now when you're working with couples who are feeling that kind of conjoinedness (sic) and don't know how to break apart, what do you do when they feel threatened by a chance that they're partner is taking? Well you talk about what it is that people are afraid of. Why is it sometimes threatening to them? What is it maybe about the lack of trust that in the relationship that doesn't allow them to comfortably accept a little bit more separateness or space? Because, the two are very much connected. And you also work with them being the one who actually comfortably takes some steps. Steps can be the last time you actually took a walk by yourself, went out. It's not always very sophisticated things. But the small examples can shift the structure of the relationship and allow people to actually trust that when you leave, you come back and when I leave, I come back and we have more elasticity and more fluidity between the two of us. Now what if when you go out, you find someone else? Romanticism doesn't exist without the threat that, "You fell in love with me, but you could have fallen in love with someone else and so could I." Oh, it's so interesting. Thank you so much Esther. My pleasure. For howdini.com, I'm Lisa Birnbach. [howdini-www.howdini.com]

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 20 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Producer: Howdini
Views: 89
Posted by: howdini on Jan 11, 2011

Too much togetherness can be bad for a marriage. It can lead to boredom and a lack of individuality. Couples therapist and author Esther Perel says you can be closer by adding distance and mystery to your relationship.

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