All relationships have the energetic patterning of seasons and weather, just like in nature. Different stages of our relationship can make for overarching seasons and the weather is more a reflection of the day to day experiences between us. Many of us feel a constantly changing, unpredictable, British-style weather as we navigate interaction and connection with our partner. Society has told us that relationship must all be like summer days and that rain is a bad thing, but I believe that weather is a potent mirror to show us the health of the relationship and highlight which aspects of it might need some tending. And just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village (a robust, resilient support network of people) to support our relationship. This is the heart of the work I do with Mark and the couples that come to see us.
Of course we like the sun to shine, but sometimes we get a particularly heavy storm. Sometimes the nights feel too long, and the bursts of sunshine too short, and too few. The earth between us grows cold, and it can seem as though nothing tender will ever grow there again.
In these moments of long winter, it’s tempting to think that the relationship has died and abandon ship. However, often it’s actually a particular way we have been relating that needs to die rather than the whole relationship: a dynamic we have got stuck in: a pattern of communication or a hurt that has not been healed for example. But we often don’t recognise this and throw away the whole relationship prematurely. These times are what I call a threshold, and thresholds hold the key to transformation.
These thresholds can be recognised as the times when we feel hopeless, powerless, emotionally overwhelmed, like it’s unbearable and just all too much.
If this is how you feel in your partnership, you have come to a threshold and this liminal space holds the key to transformation.
What we need to do with these thresholds is re-frame them. Often when we get to a threshold, it feels painful because we feel 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. But when I’m in a session with a couple, this is exactly the moment where I get excited : I feel the possibility of transformation; everything is right at the surface asking to be met and moved.
Which might sound weird, I know, but hear me out. When things feel their absolute worst is when change wants to happen. The chrysalis is about to become the butterfly. I know that sitting in the mush feeling like it’s pointless and couldn’t possibly become anything better is hard. Just as the mush doesn’t know it will be 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.
This is why there is wisdom in being able to recognise the chrysalis in process and reaching out for support in these moments; to see what needs to die and whats wanting to be birthed. Seeking support here is a wise and powerful act of self love and care for the relationship.
This is exactly what Mark and I do, we offer you the vision that is so hard to see from the inside. I really come alive in these moments and it feels like such an honour to be present in the process of death and rebirth. Sitting with a couple facing a threshold is potent – I feel the transformation that is possible at these times so strongly.
Even in the mush. Even in the deepest darkness.
Transformation is possible.
Just as in the darkest point of winter, when the ground is cold and the days are short, and it looks like nothing is happening above ground. Underneath, spirit is having a conversation with the soil and the rotting leaves and buried seeds and negotiating the new birth that will come forth in spring.
In moments of threshold in our relationship, if we are willing to lean into the deep soil and mulching leaves, to go into the darkness and examine what is going on, there are treasures to be claimed. If we don’t do this, if 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 might be that your relationship is ending. That’s a possible route that the transformation could take. But in that case, I believe it is better to be out of the murkiness, to finish your time together with awareness and acknowledge the gifts given and received. When you’re in the winter and it all feels dark, it’s normal to start asking if it’s the end. We have to meet the dark to find out. We can’t know it from above ground.
But if we can take courage and step inside there is an inner light shining that is our Soul’s longing calling us home to our hearts and to the next step into Love.
What we do at Couples in Threshold is guide you through this process. 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 (and not being able to reach them is probably why you find yourselves at a threshold now). 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 all need support at different times in our lives, and there is real value in getting that support from people outside of the situation. We can’t be therapists to our partners: we’re too invested, we can’t be objective or remain unaffected by their emotional expression. Mark and I can see your relationship from a different standpoint, we help you to get the whole picture because we’re highly skilled and experienced at seeing the things you can’t see from the inside. We can create the safety you need to go to the stuck places if safety doesn’t feel possible within your relationship.
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 weather your storms and tend to your composting so that new life can grow.
Picture by Johannes Plenio