Love is a Practice

This is an excerpt from my new book: Conscious Men, which I have co-authored with John Gray.

If you are a man who-like us-chooses monogamy, the most important key is a level of honesty that is so moment to moment and so detail oriented that things never build up and become a big deal.

Arjuna says: I tell my wife about small attractions that I feel throughout my day. Even if I have a dream which features a 53beautiful woman, I might tell Chameli about the dream in the morning. If you practice this kind of meticulous honesty on a day-to-day basis, it may not be entirely comfortable, especially at the beginning, but it will build trust in a way that you might not expect. She knows that you are healthy normal man, who experiences sexual energy, but you also have the presence to feel it and not act on it. In the long run, this will be much more important for building trust than pretending that you are Mahatma Gandhi and you never ever notice a pretty girl.

As a man, it’s not a matter of if you experience attraction to other women but what happens when you experience attraction to other women. It happens. Feel this energy fully when it comes to you. Enjoy it as a pleasurable feeling in your body, as a rush of aliveness, as an opening of your heart. Be grateful that you are having this feeling of pleasurable energy. Direct this feeling, once it is alive in you, back to thinking about your partner. Perhaps you are having dinner with a beautiful woman when you are out of town for business or any other reason. If you notice a flush of attraction, feel it fully, and then tell her about how much you love your wife. Or if you are traveling and not going straight home to your partner, write her a romantic letter, or call her up, and bring these feelings of arousal back to remembering your attraction for her.

Love Is a Practice

52John says: I remember a moment seven years into my marriage. After making love with Bonnie, I said to her, “That was fantastic. It was as good as it was in the beginning.”
“Oh, I thought it was much better,” she replied.
“Really? How so?” I asked her.
“In the beginning we had great sex,” she said, “but we didn’t really know each other then. Now you’ve seen the best of me, and you’ve seen the worst of me, and you still adore me.” When she said that, I had to stop and think. I had never thought of it that way. It was a moment of becoming more conscious as a man. The love we had built in seven years had made the sex much more fulfilling.

To love deeply is to experience all of who a person is. It’s not to fantasize that she is perfect but to grow and love someone who is not perfect simply because you have made a decision to love more each day. You create friendships in life by giving; they do not just happen automatically. Equally, you can create a great marriage. Its starts with a fantasy, and you create it through give-and-take. In those times when it is difficult to give and your partner needs you, you rise to the occasion. You made a promise to your partner. There are temptations and distractions, and you rise above them because you made a commitment. You grow in love.

Ultimately, your relationship becomes sacred. The words “sacred” and “sacrifice” both come from the same Latin root, “sacer,” which means holy. When you make sacrifices for someone, you make that person special. You make it a sacred relationship.

We have all had the experience of falling in love, which usually happens when we first meet someone we do not yet know very well. It is a glimpse of seeing just how beautiful everything can be when you truly open your eyes and your heart. But it is not yet grounded. You need practice to ground it, to stabilize it, to integrate it, and to live it. One of the greatest obstacles that men face is the expectation that love should be automatic, just as it was in the beginning 51when there was nothing you had to do. That glimpse was the result of chemistry and bumping into the right person at the right time. However, that particular configuration of forces will quickly disappear, and then you have to commit yourself to the practice of opening up that portal again and again and again. It is tempting to assume that it is your right to experience those feelings, and when they go away, it must be your partner’s fault. Then we get frustrated because we have the unrealistic expectation that romance, affection, attraction, and passion should be automatic if you are with the right person.

Remember with Netflix, or one hundred thousand other things available on the Internet, that you can get the first month free? They are hoping you get hooked. Then you have to pay. It is just like that with the practice of love. You get a free glimpse when you fall in love, and then you need to be prepared to make regular payments through daily practice.

Learning to love is best measured not by how you feel inside yourself but by how other people feel in your presence. It is relatively easy to be impressed with your own state of maturity. When you get to the point that your partner, or your teenage children, are impressed by your love, then and only then will you know that you are onto something. It requires you making your life into an art form instead of an accident.  

From Conscious Men by John Gray and Arjuna Ardagh. You can order on Kindle or as a paperback on Amazon here.

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