Let’s assume, for a moment, that the Buddha has navigated the minefield that is the modern dating scene. In fact, our buddy Buddha has successfully auditioned for and adequately played the role of ‘boyfriend,’ which has led to his being cast in the more significant leading role of ‘husband.’ According to psychologist and author Dr. Charlotte Kasl, this is the point at which the Buddha’s real work begins. Kasl’s If the Buddha Married. Creating Enduring Relationships on a Spiritual Path offers reflections and practical guidance on “creating a loving, trusting bond with a special partner, a bond based on a deep level of knowing, understanding and compassion that allows each person to move easily between separateness and oneness…From a Buddhist perspective,” she writes, “the spiritual path of awakening includes understanding our attachments-how our expectations, fears, and demands lie at the root of our individual suffering, including our suffering in relationships.” Namaste.
Charlotte Kasl, author of If The Buddha Married Tells Us How to Have Love Endure Over Time!
(SOURCE: Personal Life Media)
AK: On today’s show we are going to delve into such topics as “The Proven Traits of an Enduring Relationship”, “Conscious Versus Unconscious Sex”, “The Roots of Affairs: How to Avoid One, How to Heal from One” and “How to Make a Good Relationship Great”…What are the traits of an enduring relationship and how do we cultivate them?
CK: You know, you can cultivate some but I would go back to say it is really important how you pick out a partner because everything that has been written that has been researched is that there should be a wonderful feeling in the beginning. There is a flow; there is an ease; there is a joy; there is a connection.
If people get with someone because they are encouraged because – well, you can’t be so fussy or they’re a good bet or they’ve got a good degree or they’ll give me status or well, let’s pretty good but I don’t feel too excited. That is not where you want to start an enduring relationship. Unlike the idea that opposites attract, generally people who share a lot of interest do better, not always. People have managed; I’ve seen it. Generally, the people who have something that they can share values, they can share doing things together. The core values are the deepest. The things that you like to do that are different, that can be managed pretty well.
AK: Are you saying that it is important for us to sit down before we really commit to being engaged and getting married that we talk about these core values and there is enough of an authentic love and desire for this person?
CK: Absolutely. You want that attraction to be strong. In all these couples that last they just liked each other, and they adored each other, and there was an emotional attraction almost from the outset. Now, some people it happened they were friends for a long time, and then there was this cosmic look one day, and they were lovers, you know, in their hearts.
But, then it is mind and intuition and hormones because you want to know, if one wants to live in the country and raise goats and you like New York City, well, you had better talk about it because somebody is going to have to give up one part of that for the other, if you’re going to live together.
Values are extremely important. If you think you are going to have children, what’s that about? Do you want children? Not children? What kind of faith do you bring them up in? Or any faith? The values are a very, very deep thing.
AK: I have a question. If a woman and a man get into a relationship but they are pretty unconscious and maybe she’s getting into it for security; maybe he makes a lot of money, he’s a very powerful man. And in her mind she’s thinking, OK great, he’ll be able to care for me, take care of the kids, they’ll go to good schools, etcetera etcetera. But, then they get into it for a little while, and that dynamic starts to rear its head and problems start happening. What do you suggest for people who wake up in the middle of their marriage and realize, wow, we didn’t talk about core values. We didn’t talk about important things that we should have talked about then. How do people get to agreements in places of love in the face of waking up kind of four or five years into it?
CK: This is where you do what you should have done earlier. You sit down and you really pour out your heart to each other and you listen. It starts with – you know, we have a lot of distance. We’re bored together. Our sex life is going down the drain or it’s perfunctory or we’re arguing more or just keeping away from each other. Can we talk about it? What’s going on here? See if you can get down to the feelings because analyzing it doesn’t do it. Emotion is where we make change. Emotion is where we connect. If someone gets to saying, I feel so lonely here. We haven’t sat down together and been together or felt that love. Now, the way to kill that from the other part is to say, oh, I feel fine, and there you see the pattern in a relationship.
The ‘us’ place is if one person’s hurting the relationship is hurting. You never discount if one’s hurting…Then, your heart stars to open. So you open the minds, and you open the heart, and you open the listening, and then you get two people who are starting to come together again because we connect through that emotion of vulnerability and saying, here’s what I’m feeling. Here’s what is going on with me. I want to reach out and touch you in the night, but you pull away. Can you talk about that?
AK: Great. You mentioned earlier something about the ‘us’ place, getting into the ‘us’ place. Let’s talk about that a little bit more. How can we create more of that ‘us’ place or creating the experience of ‘us’?
CK: Well, what we were just talking about is a lot of it. Let’s get together and reveal ourselves. It’s a protective feeling around the relationship, and it’s kind of like a bond. It is an attachment. It is a connection. And it is hard to just make it happen, but you certainly can spend more time together, more talking together and sharing your values and what’s happening inside. And then, it is also thinking of the other person, you know... Doing little things for each other it’s, like, never letting the vitality of that kind of thing that you do when you’re courting or in love go away.
AK: Yeah … You are talking about the extent that they are open. A lot of people have had trauma, wounding, from their childhood sexual abuse, things of that nature that they aren’t willing to admit either which has a huge impact on a relationship. I really like that concept of – What is the extent that you are open and willing to admit who you are as an individual?
CK: Absolutely. That concept of ‘us’-- post-traumatic stress really makes that difficult because a person is managing so much angst and anger and rage and fear and hurt and pain. And when they get triggered which happens easily because you’ve got so many triggers from your childhood experience that the person -- all they can do verily is cope with themselves and think about themselves and put a protective wall around them and the ‘us’ is just gone at that point. They’ll have a blow-out or a tantrum or just want to hide or scream or get away or something.
AK: Now, I want to talk about sex. One of the things I want to talk about is revisiting something you said, Charlotte, in our interview with If the Buddha Dated. We were talking about monogamy versus polyamory, and you said that people generally who are geared toward polyamorous relationships, there is a fear of them going really deep with one person and revealing themselves on a deeply vulnerable level. Can we talk more about that because I think it’s really important to talk about this because I think it is the root of why people have affairs?
CK: Yes, because you are talking about not going deep into the oneness, into the ‘us’, into that deep sense of intimacy. When we don’t go in there, then we want new stimulation and new novelty instead of with our partner where we can’t seem to get deep and then we are longing for something else. You know, the sexual act is not a big deal in one way. If it is just about the sex, you know, people – and I was around in the ‘60s and ‘70s – it’s an act, it’s something. But to commune with someone through the physical body, through exploring, through being totally, physically present is an incredible experience. Many people aren’t there. There is a lot of perfunctory sex. I remember talking recently with a couple who for 25 years were having a wonderful sexual relationship and marriage. They say they have this agreement – never perfunctory sex. They have to feel connected and they have to feel close and they take time and make sure both people are really stimulated. The sex becomes an expression of the bond and the depth, and it also deepens the connection. It is circular in that way.
AK: Yeah, because I can see if the sex is off that is just like the playing ground for all kinds of things to happen in the relationship. One of the big things you talk about in your book is about people having affairs, the actual trauma it is of having affairs. I’m not sure that people are necessarily connected in with the impact that an affair has on a bond. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?
CK: Well, if they promise to be monogamous and there’s an affair, it means, OK, we’ve stirred up this relationship. What’s wrong in the relationship? How long was this in coming? How many years has this been going on? Who looked the other way? What’s missing? What needs to get talked about? Let’s open up everything and put it on the table.
Generally, if I’m working with the couple the affair needs to stop before we can really deal with the relationship because if they’re still doing it, it’s kind of like, still drinking or using drugs, you’re just escaping and you’re not really dealing with it. Both people really need to get in there. It’s often portrayed as the bad one went off and had the affair and the good one was the wounded one at home, but it’s about the relationship. They both have a part in it to some degree.
Again, that talking needs to open up and no phony forgiveness. A lot of people just right away, oh it’s fine. I forgive you. I forgive you. They say that out of terror that the person will leave. It usually just makes the other one feel more wretchedly guilty, if you can say, I didn’t like it and I’m angry at you for that. What women say almost across the board when women have had affairs is, I felt like I was dying in the relationship and someone helped me wake up and feel alive and happy, and I felt wanted and cared about.
AK: Those are all the things you want in a relationship, right?
CK: Alive, wanted, cared about, brightened up. Someone is talking to them with respect, with kindness, with that twinkle in their eye. When you feel like you are dying you’re getting into fights like free you are going to do something but not die.
AK: I think the important thing here is to allow the affair to be a vehicle for healing.
CK: Healing, I would certainly say, is getting open, getting honest. The other thing is there has to be a point in time where you don’t drag it out and throw it at the other person because it’s now five years later and they’re getting in a rough place and one brings up, well, you had an affair or something or makes snide remarks about it. There has to be a time, what will you need to have this forgiven now? What will need to happen is that person can voice what it was that they understand why they had that affair, especially with men. Women can get there usually easier, but with men it is hard for them to voice it, and they need to get there and say, yeah I get it. I was using it to feed my ego or to feel good or because it was there. I just… you know, my father did. When I go on a trip and I’m not near you, what harm does it do?
They understand what harm it does inside them as well as to the partner. We’re breaking a vow we made. If we take that vow seriously… I wrote in the beginning, I think it’s in If the Buddha Dated, but the basic vow of relationships is more than anything else, I want my self. I want my integrity and my goodness and my honesty, and I commit to that within me so I can give it to the relationship because if we’re totally out of integrity we’re going to lie to a partner. And the partner feels it.
AK: So say there was a rift in the relationship you talk about the art of apology but you add a deeper cut on just some sort of apology, like you said. Can you talk to us as we wrap up here? I could talk to you for days, but let’s end on the art of apology.
CK: A real apology comes from the heart. It’s not that I was caught, so oh, I’m sorry. That isn’t an apology. An apology comes when you really experience the harm you have done to the other person. Unless you feel it, unless you see the wound in that person’s face and in that life that you participated in creating, you are not really apologizing. You have to feel it inside yourself to say, ooh I do feel bad, not just guilty but feeling like, I hear you and I get what I participated in hurting you. Then you can say you’re sorry, but, a big but, you have to then agree inside yourself to do what it takes not to do it again because I’m sorry gets really old in a hurry. It’s a very tired phrase.
CK: The question I mentioned earlier: are we creating separateness or closeness? And that when you get all that junk out of the way there’s nothing but love in there. You can relax into each other’s arms and bodies and kisses and hugs. You can be present because there’s not fear rolling through your body, and you touch with a consciousness as if you are touching someone for the first time. It is alive. It is real. (source/full text)
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