Recently I been clearing my closet of the items that I believed I just could not let go of: the dresses I wore for my sons’ weddings or the necklace I remember my mother wearing so elegantly. They represent memories that are dear to my heart and yet so many of these items which have been unworn for years don’t leave room for new and exciting additions to my wardrobe.
As I let go of the old and cleared half of my wardrobe I pondered how this parallels my work with couples. Couples can hold tenaciously to the old stories and conflicts not knowing the promise of a new way of being with each other.
Sometimes I hear “we’ve had this issue around for a long time. ' The eyes role or look away as one partner utters a familiar triggering topic. Both of them say, “let’s not go to that issue, nothing new will happen.” They have longings and needs for connection and don’t know how to let go of the old patterns to embrace the new awarenesses and experiences of the day with each other.
The good news is that as I sit with couples and teach them meaningful ways to talk and listen they find a new path to connection. They learn a different way of being together that allows them to share old and new stories about themselves. Sometimes I hear from a surprised spouse of a 20 year marriage, “I didn’t know that about you.” Even expressing appreciations to each other can be difficult if it's not a familiar practice.
I have heard a spouse say "it's just not natural for me to do this.” What a revelation when a couple finds a new natural like enjoying conversations after work, bringing each other the morning cup of coffee, and taking a break from the “to dos “ with the children just to catch up on the day.
As they move forward in cleaning their closet of old stuff to new insights and understanding they discover an ease with each other. I see it in the softening of their gaze and the gentleness of their conversation.
It’s a new light shining forth in each heart. JohnO’Donohue describes this quite aptly in, “To Bless the Space Between Us.”
“There is a quiet light that shines in every heart. It draws no attention to itself, though it is always secretly there. It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty; our desire to seek possibility and our hearts to love life.”