In many interactions with our intimate partners, whether mundane or challenging, we have an opportunity: We can choose to be aware and present. When Pema Chodron writes about "waking up," I think of that as staying present with the discomfort--the mental and emotional and visceral discomfort--in any moment. But what do we often do, when faced with difficult topics and situations with our partners? We often "sleep"--meaning we do our automatic patterns of shutting down, lashing out, or numbing/distracting. All because we don't want to, or don't know how to, stay with the discomfort in that moment.
Consider these common scenarios in long-term relationships:
- Your partner wants to talk about your sex life, and you'd rather avoid it or shut it down.
- You have sexual needs that you're not expressing to your partner.
- When your partner brings up any uncomfortable topics, you make negative assumptions instead of asking genuine questions.
It's not easy to allow those uncomfortable circumstances to awaken us, but it is possible. So if you're reflecting on what this quote could mean for you, consider moving towards these difficult situations and uncomfortable feelings, instead of away from them. And as always, be kind to yourself in the process.
~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sexual Mindfulness Speaker, & Sociologist