How's your relationship?
It’s a question we don’t often take the time to answer meaningfully. So I invite you, now, to take a moment to consider it. How’s your heart?
The last 2 years have been difficult for lots of us. So many of the people I work with have come to me with make-or-break situations in their most intimate partnerships. We’re witnessing so much heartbreak, loss and confusion, as well as insight, awakening and growth. It’s an intense and volatile time, no wonder our romantic partnerships are being tested. We are meeting a threshold as a collective of humans, but also many of us are meeting thresholds in our love relationships.
This is why it’s important to zoom out and remember our interconnectedness. Humans are elemental nature beings and our feelings and experiences of being human need to be contextualised within a wider understanding of our ancestral deep time conditioning. A lot of what we get stuck in with relating is due to the systemic generational patterning that we get taught down the lineage and through cultural conditioning.
Let’s first take a look at what I mean when I say “threshold” in the context of relationship. Thresholds in our intimate relationship can take many forms, but some of the most common experiences are :
~ Feeling the potential in your relationship to go to the next level but not being sure how to make that happen
~ Wanting to see what is possible between you, but feeling the edges of the unknown
~ Going round and round in the same conflicts and arguments
~ Longing for things to “work”
~ Feeling a need for change
~ Being on the edge of splitting up or just feeling at a loss
All of these things can bring up our deepest wounding, but they can also be portals to a deep wells of healing if we can tend to them carefully. Often when we get to a threshold, it feels painful because we feel so powerless: unable to get to where we want to be, or that some deep longing or need is not being met that feels too fundamental to let go of. We’re desperate to move beyond it, but we can’t see a way out, and we give up.
Working with these worn-out, terrified parts of ourselves is a delicate, vulnerable process, so there’s a lot of wisdom in seeking support at this point. Often if we just rely on our partner to muddle through, we can end up even more dug into our triggers and defensiveness.
In a lot of ways, this has been my work throughout my life : to offer you the vision that is so hard to see from inside the issue.
Working with our shame
Many of us feel shame when our relationship isn’t how we’d like it to be because we’ve been taught that we should just naturally be good at love. We grow up with fairytales that end with “and they lived happily ever after”. The message we receive is that once you’ve found your partner, the work is over and you can just relax and have a good time. So when that isn’t the case, when we are struggling, it’s very natural to feel like something has gone very wrong.
Our culture supports us to be beginners and students in many areas of our lives, but somehow relationship is something we’re all just supposed to naturally succeed at. There might be fear, despair and hopelessness, or even anger and frustration underneath. But the first step is to come into connection with any shame we might be experiencing, so that we can then really feel into the depths.
The good news is, once we’ve taken that top layer of shame off, the threshold is a ripe place of transformation.
Reframing relationship struggles
The work of tending to a threshold can be deep, raw and challenging. I don’t want to minimise that. But honestly, when I’m in a session with a couple, this is exactly the moment where I start to get excited. I feel the potential for transformation; right at the point where both people are feeling completely hopeless is when change is ready to happen.
The chrysalis is about to become the butterfly.
I’ve seen it happen time and time again. But from inside the situation it’s hard, if not impossible, to hold that vision. Just as the goo in the chrysalis doesn’t know it will become a butterfly, so we often miss the moments of potential in our connections. If all we’re experiencing is chaos and uncertainty, pain and overwhelm, seeing the bigger picture can be nigh-on impossible.
It feels like such an honour to sit with a couple in these processes, to be present in their process of death and rebirth. The energy is potent, I feel the transformation that is possible so strongly.
Throughout my 3 decades of working with couples, I’ve seen alchemy happen, in even the most painful of places a couple is stuck in. I’ve witnessed ‘aha’ moments where the sacred space of the heart dissolves all the strategies, all the defences that keep you separate, unreachable and scared to let down your guard. And this doesn’t mean that all thresholds end with the relationship staying together. Sometimes the truth of our hearts is that we need to go our separate ways. But I truly believe it’s better to know that, and hear that from this place of soul, with support from community and land, than it is to continue in our stuckness.
In moments of threshold in our relationship, if we are willing to lean into the composting process, to go into the darkness and examine what is going on, there are treasures to be claimed. If, however, we can’t bring ourselves to meet the process, the new birth we long for can’t happen. We must allow the old ways of relating to die, to fall away, to be fully composted so that the new seeds of life can crack open and be supported to grow from the soil that was made by the death process.
It takes a village
We were never meant to do this alone. In this 21st century, our relationships become ever more isolated bubbles, and it’s easier for thresholds to get drawn out. In cultures that have retained their ancestral practices and traditions, a couple is often offered the support of the village, through ritual, practical support, ceremony and the listening ears of elders.
What we do at Couples in Threshold is offer you such space. We sit with you in person, holding you both in love and the highest regard, because this work is so vulnerable, and the field between you might be volatile or even feel totally numb. We offer you a container of safety to go to the places you haven’t been able to reach on your own. We sit with you and offer our guidance and kindness while you feel your way into the darkness together to see what is moving and how to come back into the light.
We don’t have an agenda for you, other than that which feels best for both of you.
Another advantage of the format of Couples in Threshold is you stay here in the forest with us long enough to get through your layers of protection; you have sufficient time to pierce the membrane and get into what’s really going on. You can hold your breath, bite your tongue, hold back for half a day, or even 24 hours. But 4 days is enough time for your nervous systems to drop enough so that you are available to do the work that’s being asked of you. It’s time enough for you both to feel the pulse of the in-breath and out-breath ; to do the work and integrate it, here on the land. You are surrounded by magnificent nature, which allows your nervous system to assimilate and digest before finding the next layer.
We hold you, and so does nature itself, who is all-pervading here at EarthHeart. You can witness the cycles of the day and the movement of the weather as a mirror to your own processes of work and integration, and remember your places within them. We offer ample time for all parts of the cycle.
If you and your beloved find yourselves at a threshold, and feel you would benefit from guidance to make your way through, Couples in Threshold is a supportive retreat in which to find a way through.