Intro to Whole-Body Loving

For all their myriad struggles, most distressed couples actually have the same basic complaint:

They feel differently about each other than they did when they first got together.

The love and aliveness they used to share has been replaced with anger and resentment, numbness and emptiness. Along the way, they have often ignored red flags, talked themselves out of getting help, and found other ways to cope. It’s only when the gnawing discomfort escalates into something unbearable that they find themselves admitting “I don’t feel the same anymore.”

The operative word here is feel. It it is often overlooked that partners in struggling relationships feel physically different than they used to.

Their muscles have become tense and guarded.
Their blood pressures run high.
Their breathing is rigid and shallow.
Their chests are armored around the heart.

One of my clients summed up his difficulties with his wife: “When she walks into the room, my blood boils.”

The physicality of relationships is primarily discussed as it relates to sex, but seeing as how most relationships are composed of two people with bodies, it makes sense to speak about how those bodies interact. The body we each bring to our intimate relationships is much more than a sexual instrument or a chauffeur for the brain — it is foundational to our ability to connect. For connection with another person to have any real meaning, it must not just be perceived, but also embodied — it must be experienced in a body, by a body. Ultimately, it is this embodied connection that fulfills our deepest longing to feel fully alive.

Bodies that affect each other physically are a defining feature of all significant relationships. If we didn’t feel ourselves light up at the site of our beloved, or experience the effects of that person’s absence, we wouldn’t feel attached to them. This fact, known intuitively by generations of artists, musicians, and poets, has been corroborated by modern study of adult relationships.

But more important than the discovery that bodies affect one another is the research that shows how they do so. Interwoven physiology may be a defining feature of relationships, but the precise nature of that weave has profound effects on the wellbeing of both partners, as well as the bond between them. Relationship problems occur when this delicate weave either begins to unravel — literally, when it “un-couples” — or when it threatens to consume both partners.

Unfortunately, lacking awareness of the ways our bodies mutually impact each other, we cut ourselves off from the very resources that would soothe our bodies and nourish our relationships. We create unconscious relationships ruled by our automatic, knee-jerk reactions, rather than conscious intention. Without strategies for mitigating these responses, they become triggered more frequently and intensely as we come to know our partners so well. We begin anticipating pain and, like my client, our bodies become primed for defense, not connection.

Whole-Body Loving is about reclaiming the physical self as a resource for passion and aliveness in our intimate relationships. It rests on the simple fact that every single relationship experience presents a new opportunity to move, sense, and feel in more fulfilling ways. By opening ourselves up to these opportunities, we can transform them to spend less time on the defensive, and more time connecting with our partners.

With practice, any body can learn to make choices that cultivate the conscious, loving relationships desired by all humans. Doing so simply requires learning a few new strategies that I present here. These strategies may run counter to what you know, but that is exactly why they are so powerful.

Without further ado, here are 7 Whole-Body Strategies to get you started. You can begin implementing these strategies TODAY to reawaken the flow of connection in your relationship. By practicing these strategies you’ll learn to

  • Move through stuck places more quickly
  • Align yourself to attract the kind of nurturing love you desire
  • Love with intensity and intentionality
  • Expand your capacity to give and receive genuine love
  • Bring about your partner’s true essence
  • Feel safer and stabler in your own body
  • Melt resentment
  • Recommit to your relationship

As you work through them, be patient with yourself and your partner. It takes practice to learn new ways of relating, both outwardly with another and inwardly with yourself. Remember to get help if you need it! Soon, you’ll be on your way to creating the Whole-Body Relationship you deserve.