Linda and Charlie Bloom
"Lovers are those for whom no minute is like any other, people between whom nothing habitual takes place, just what is new, unprecedented, unexpected. In such connections there exists an almost unbearable happiness. When we love, we must not forget that we are beginners, bunglers of life, apprentices in love. We must learn love and that takes calm, patience, and composure."
The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote these words nearly 100 years ago and they are still true and most likely will continue to be 100 years from now. They represent the essence of what is unquestionably one of the most difficult to describe experiences known to humanity. The notion “learning to love” may sound strange, especially coming from a poet known for his mystical writings. And yet for those of us who have traversed the territory to which Rilke refers, his words serve as striking reminders of the inner qualities that are required of those of us who have committed ourselves to this path of the heart.
It is a great mystery that a process as natural and universal as loving should be as difficult as it so frequently can be. And yet, mastering the art of loving may well be the most demanding challenge of our lives. Many people, having made a number of painful or unsuccessful attempts to develop sustained, loving relationships, conclude that they’re just not up for what it takes or that perhaps they’re not the type to settle down with one person. They choose instead to forego their dream rather than risk the prospect of risking pain, frustration, and disappointment.
Why is it that loving relationships can be so difficult for us to create and sustain? Is it true that there really are very few good candidates out there who are willing and able to relate honestly and authentically? And is it possible for us to unlearn defensive patterns that may have served us in childhood but now cause us to feel frustration and isolation?
These and many other questions inevitably arise once we make the decision to embark upon the path of love. And the further we go on this path, the more daunting it can appear to be. Many believe that the opposite should be true; that is, that the deeper the connection that we develop with someone, the easier it should be, and if it’s not getting easier it’s because something is wrong; wrong with them, wrong with me, or wrong with us.
Not necessarily. Deep relatedness can bring out the worst as well as the best in us: our deepest fears and our greatest hopes, our selflessness as well as our possessiveness, our kindness and our insensitivity, our generosity and our self-centeredness. In working consciously with these aspects of our experience, we can begin to feel more trusting and open with each other and gradually gradually let down the defenses that shield and protect us from the emotional distress, that we must be willing that least occasionally endure in even the most loving relationships.
Great love, great sex and great intimacy are the hallmarks of great relationships. Like the pursuit of happiness, great relationships don’t happen by seeking them directly; rather they are a by-product of living life in a way that creates the conditions that will support the fulfillment of our intention. Getting clear about the kind of relationship that we want and the kind of person that we want to share that relationship with are undoubtedly important steps in the realization of our dreams. But the most important aspect of creating an optimal relationship has less to do with finding the person of our dreams than being the person of our dreams. It’s about who we become in the process.
When we identify the qualities that we seek to strengthen within ourselves, the likelihood of attracting the right person increases exponentially. Being a great lover has less to do with technique than with our quality of being. As we cultivate qualities like presence, generosity, compassion, commitment and trustworthiness, and integrate practices that embody those qualities into our lives, the quality of our relationships will naturally become enhanced.
There is truly no limit to what is possible when two people are partnered in a mutual commitment to support each other in this amazing quest of discovery. Yes, it does take effort, time, and energy, and did we mention courage? The courage to live with an open heart rather than a defended or closed one. But as anyone who has stayed on the path for a while will tell you, the result is worth every ounce of energy that it takes to do the work, and much more. The choice is yours and you can make it at any time. So, what are you waiting for?
Trained as psychotherapists and relationship counselors, Charlie Bloom M.S.W. and Linda Bloom L.C.S.W. have worked with individuals, couples, groups, and organizations since 1975.
They have lectured and taught at many learning institutes throughout the USA, including the Esalen Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, 1440 Multiversity, the California Institute for Integral Studies, the Meridian University, John F. Kennedy University, the Crossings, Omega institute, the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, Sonoma State University, University of California at Berkeley Extension Program, the Hoffman Institute, the World Health Organization and many others. They have offered their seminars and lectures seminars throughout the world, in countries including China, Japan, Indonesia, Denmark, Sweden, India, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada.
Charlie and Linda are the authors of three published books, including their best-seller, 101 Things I Wish I Knew When Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (Over 100,000 copies sold). They blog for several on-line journals on a regular and frequent basis, including, Huffington Post, Psych Central, OM Times and Psychology Today where their posts have received over 5 million hits. Charlie and Linda have been married since 1972 and are the parents of Jesse and Sarah and grandparents to Devin, Ashton, and Seth.
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