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Tag Archive 'love'

Oct 02 2014

Reinventing Yourself

Published by under Knowing Relationships BLOG

escher hands



Sometimes I find the same basic idea in contemporary psychology and also ancient wisdom. So then I think there is a lot of truth in it. And then, when I find it in a quote by an artist I admire, I feel that I’ve found something especially trustworthy.   Here is the quote:

“We have to invent and reinvent who we are until we arrive at a self we can bear to live with and die with.”

It’s by the poet, Stanley Kunitz and I don’t know how he discovered the principle. I hadn’t heard it elsewhere. Usually what I hear is “Be true to yourself.” How do we reconcile those two thoughts? How do we reconcile “being true,” with “reinventing?”

Kunitz died in 2006 at age 101. He was twice named as U.S. poet laureate.  Younger poets made pilgrimages to be with him. I’m sure he practiced what he preached. In the quote, he was talking about how he became a good poet.

The more I thought about what he said, the more I felt that it also applied to becoming a good  partner. If you have a love relationship and the two of you are building a life together, all that he said about being a poet is also true for being a partner.  What’s true of creating is also true of co-creating.    Send article as PDF   

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Sep 10 2014

“Live with Purpose” or “Live one day at a time.” Which will it be?

Published by under Knowing Relationships BLOG

teeter totter



I had a very interesting conversation over the weekend with a man I’d just met. The conversation was so good that  we ended up with a better question than an answer. It’s always very satisfying to walk away with something to think about. I’ll share the question first, then the story of how we got there, then how I think I’ve answered it.

First, here’s the question:  How can you live your life according to your highest purpose and also live in the moment? And this wasn’t an idle question. It had serious consequences.

It all started on a Sunday afternoon in late August in one of Montreal’s most beautiful city parks. There was a lake with ducks, people wandering the paths around the lake, a white lodge with a café on the terrace serving lunch under the trees, a man playing accordion near the lunch tables, a great lawn with many picnic tables and grown-ups and kids and dogs all over the place, everyone very happy. Cyclists and joggers passed by one the paths and mountainous clouds passed by overhead.    Send article as PDF   

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Jul 22 2014

How love writes its truths on your soul, and how you can read what it has written.


I was at a funeral. This woman who died was one of those heroically wonderful women one meets only some times.  She was beautiful and brilliant and a great mother and an athlete and light-hearted and friendly and dearly loved her husband and her life with him.  He was handsome, successful, good-hearted and very much in love with her. They were generous people. They had three children and adopted a fourth. It was a picture too good to be true, it seemed, and in her late forties when she went for her yearly check-up, they discovered a brain tumor.

“We will remove it,” they said, “But when it comes back, and it will because it’s that kind of cancer, you will only have months to live. So prepare yourself.”  Brain cancer.  I remember speaking to her in her final months. She was all puffed up from her medications.  She said to me, “Well, I’ve lost my ability to listen to classical music. My brain can’t handle it. Dying is so weird.”

I share all this with you because, at her funeral, her husband, who wanted us to understand who they were to each other and why he loved her so, shared the story of the moment he knew that he was going to fall in love with her. It’s an amazing story and it is the perfect example of what I wish to share with you in this writing.    Send article as PDF   

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May 06 2014

Can A Relationship Be Sacred To One But Not To The Other?

cat and horse


Let’s look more closely at this and we’ll start with the least sacred way of thinking I can imagine: cold, impersonal, chemical interactions inside the brain. Ah, psychology has a way of getting to the heart of things, don’t you think? The presence of loved and loving partner, may I say, “the sacred presence,” triggers a specific brain chemical called oxytocin.


Now it would be a great mistake, if not a modern one, to reduce all this to oxytocin and say, “Well Really, it’s just a change in brain chemistry.”  I cringe. That would be like saying that the chemical level is the only level that really matters. But still, in the presence of the Sacred, we do have a change in brain chemistry and this change makes a change in the way we experience life. Oxytocin makes us get personal and gushy. Oxytocin is the cuddle neurochemical. It appears in the brains of babies and mothers during nursing. It’s in lovers in their sweet afterglow. It appears in the brain when two become as one. It appears when we become part of something bigger than just ourselves.    Send article as PDF   

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May 06 2014

How the Sacred Appears in Intimate Relationships.

spring waterI was going to call this post, “How to make a relationship sacred,” but that can’t be done. You can’t make something sacred. You can recognize, or discover it. You can’t make it. And there is something sacred within some relationships. However it exists independently of you or your wishes and schemes, and that’s partly what makes it sacred.

What you can do, in response to that sacred something is honor and protect it, or desecrate it. Either/or. I don’t think there is a neutral position.

But first, I’m going to try to define the sacred without using words like “God” and “Spirituality,” words that are equally mysterious and poetic. (I am trying find ways to think about my experience of these things that feels fresh and personal. I don’t want to just listen to elders without including my own voice, especially now that I’ve become elder myself.)

What does it mean when I say something is sacred? I was fascinated to learn that the Hebrew word for “blessing” was very close to the word for a fresh water spring. It also means something set apart.

I like looking at how humans first start using a word. I helps me understand the deep meanings of that word. Maybe the old word for holiness is an ancient metaphor. Suppose we lived in a desert and one day, one of us found a fresh water bubbling up, a spring. Imagine that, water, the stuff of life, coming up out of nowhere right in the middle of a desert! We’d all stop and look and remember this place forever, something we discovered that changed our life for the better. That is want it’s like to find something sacred.    Send article as PDF   

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Oct 30 2013

Our Response to the Contest to Name “Hot” Rabbi Couples:

Ronnie and Karen by Kitra

We told friends we were submitting an article to “” in response to their “Hottest Rabbi Couple” contest. They said, “You’re kidding.” We heard those exact same words a year ago when we told them the title of our book.

Our book, “Rabbis in Love” is a book of conversations with rabbi couples who are very much in love. The picture above is a picture of Rabbi Ronnie Cahana and his wife of 35 years, Karen, taken by their daughter, Kitra, in the hospital as Ronnie recovered from his stroke. ( They are the first couple in the book, the one who inspired us to do the book.

Reb Leibish and Deena Hundert, another couple in the book, gave us a story about sexual curiosity that comes from the Talmud, surprise! A Rabbinic student hides under his teacher’s bed to observe how his teacher makes love to his wife. The punch line comes after he gets caught. He explains, “This, too, is Torah I need to learn.” The point of the Talmud story is that earthly love and spirituality embrace each other. Being romantic and passionate is a high calling for Jews. Doing the book, for us, was a modern version of hiding under the bed.

We interviewed ten couples and included nine in the book. One couple felt they had revealed too much and they backed out. These conversations are about what really happens between the partners when they are alone. It’s about how they figure out how to love each other across time.    Send article as PDF   

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Oct 07 2013

What Can You Learn From Feeding Your Dog That Translates Into Having A Great Sex Life?



Foreplay begins with longing, a mental state. Before the first touch, even before eye contact, there is longing.

This is not a new idea. The Song of Songs is maybe 2500 years old and when you read it, you sense that the lovers really get off on thinking about “next time.” Eroticism is much about longing.

For example, there’s the story of Rabbi Shefa Gold and Rachmiel O’Regan, one of the couples in our book, Rabbis In Love. (See Rabbi Shefa wrote “In the Fever of Love,” her translation of the Song of Songs, after they got together. That probably says something about how their relationship unfolded. In their interview they talk about how, when they first met Shefa was so busy she couldn’t schedule a second meeting for three months, but when they ran into each other by accident only a month or so later they hugged with such intensity that their companions said, “Who was that!?” “It was like being in the Star Trek beam,” said Rachmiel. Their unconscious minds were already in the longing. (Her website is One of the themes of their story is “Do not awaken love until it is ripe.”

The ancient text says that the longing is part of the fun. Contemporary neuroscience agrees. When ancient wisdom literature and modern science come to the same conclusions, there is a good chance that they are both onto something. What they are on to has something to do with cocaine.    Send article as PDF   

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Jun 24 2011

Affairs That Initiate a Midlife Crisis: What’s Going On, Why They Work and Why, Eventually, They Usually Don’t Work.    Send article as PDF   

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Apr 26 2011

How to Read Someone’s Intentions Like a Pro.

In almost every counseling and coaching session I end up teaching this particular tool, so I’ve decided to write down the mini-lecture. It’s the sort of thing that took me years to finally learn and appreciate. So rather than repeat it as many times as I needed it repeated to me, I’m going to write it out. Please read and re-read. Please pass it along. As far as I’m concerned, it’s gold.

“The dangerous man is the one who has only one idea, because then he’ll fight and die for it. The way real science goes is that you come up with lots of ideas, and most of them will be wrong.”  Francis Crick.

If you’ve settled into a relationship, really settled, you know your partner’s quirks and you know how your partner is unique and different from you. But if you haven’t settled in, sooner or later you are going to be challenged by something your partner does that doesn’t make sense to you and which, often, you won’t like.

It’s important to remember this: You don’t know this person intimately. Not yet. The only people you know intimately are people you’ve had previous enduring relationships with, and maybe not even them. You are still learning.

What mental habits do you need in order to help you understand this new person’s intentions?

Here’s the golden rule: Always have three guesses about what’s really going on. And then watch how things unfold to see which of your guesses is best.    Send article as PDF   

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Aug 03 2010

Is Your Boyfriend a Werewolf?

by Philip Belove, Ed.D.
Remember “The Wolf Man”? It was old silver screen horror story that mayseem pretty tame by today’s standards, but lately I find myself thinking about it as I work with people struggling to create good, intimate relationships.
Here’s a plot summary: The lead character is warm and easy to be with — that is, except during full moons, when he grows long teeth and hair, gets angry and rips people apart. He can’t help it; he is a good person, but with a curse. But here’s the key part: He wants to be released from his curse and the only way that can happen is for someone who really loves him to shoot him through the heart with a silver bullet. He has to be in a relationship with someone he really loves and she has to see the darker side of who he is and then she has to destroy him.
Someone who approved this script said, “That’s right. That makes a certain kind of sense.”
How does this weird lesson apply to the successful creation of a long term relationship?    Send article as PDF   

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