For the past five years I’ve been single again after a rocky marriage that didn’t go as I had hoped. At first, I was filled with enthusiasm as I looked forward into the future to get a fresh start at love. But, as many of you might have discovered, starting over isn’t always easy. In short, there are a lot of wounded hearts out there. And, when all these wounds bump into each other it can be hard to know how to create a healing balm. Well, here is one solution. Love.
But, in this article I am speaking about a particular kind of love, one that I first learned about many years ago when passing by a church billboard. It said simply, “How do you spell love? T – I – M – E.” That gave me a lot to reflect on. You see time is about bonding, or connecting, which is what two of my favorite relationship counselors, Pat Love and Steven Stosney share in their brillant book, “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It.”
This is true whetherthe time spent it is between partners, parents and children, friends, or co-workers. And, it isn’t just a matter of quality time, it’s time, period! As another favorite saying of mine relates, “Time is priority, we always have time for our priorities in life.” Meaning, if you want to know if something or someone is a priority to you, look at how much time you invest in that person or activity.
On a personal level, I really got to experience how time heals in recent years. But, understand that I am not talking about taking time apart so that bonds can dissolve, but spending time together to lift everything up into a state of love, whether you keep things at a partnership, or just friend level.
One example of this especially stands out in my mind. It concerns a relationship I had with a man for a few years, that for various reasons didn’t work out. Though at first we needed some time to pass apart from each other to cool things down and to heal our hurt, what really mended our hearts was making a commitment to spend loving time together. Not so we could become a couple again, but to honor what love had been shared between us. Believe me, it worked!
The time together consisted of casual lunches, a few movies out, some early evening dinners, karoke, and friendly chats on the phone. The goal was not to get back together, but to find a way to honor one another and help us remember the love that was shared between us. Over a series of months of doing this, the “salve” worked and our wounds were healed. Today a loving friendship exists because we took time to heal one another, and lift ourselves back into a state of love. (Michael – thanks for taking the time to help us heal so we could move forward in a healthy way and be free to love others).
Now, I know sometimes this isn’t always practical. If we are speaking about relationships that are over, it could be one or both people have moved on with someone else. Then, you need to have an understanding partner who respects what the two of you are attempting to do. Strange as it sounds many years ago, I was actually invited to meet with a former boyfriend and his new girlfriend to be involved in such a healing process. Upon their request I took the time to drive from Los Angeles to Sacramento where they lived. There we spent three days together. During that time, I was able to bring love, compassion, and respect to the man who had never fully let me go, though we had not been a couple for years. And, I was able to bond with his new girlfriend, who finally saw first hand that I was truly not a threat. To my amazement she and I became fast friends as we spent time together. There were tears, but also there was a lot of laughter between us. I still have the picture that the man took of her and I holding each other in a loving hug just as I was about to go back home. I have never forgotten how powerful it was to spend that kind of loving time together. (Marvin and Olga – I still remember this, thank you for your gift of love).
You see in a world where more and more people feel abandoned and neglected, and where people are increasingly preoccupied with spending time at work, making a living, or vegging out in front of the television, too many of us are not spending the time together to bond, connect, and share our love. We are not holding each other, laughing enough together, greeting each other with a warm hello.
So, let me ask you this. Especially as we move into the holiday season, is there someone in your life you need to spend time with to bring about a healing? A partner, parent, child, co-worker, friend, former loved one that you are now estranged from? If so, here is what I recommend. Make a commitment to take some time to be together. Make your healing and reconnection a priority in your life. Don’t let other priorities dominate and crowd out the time you have set aside to do this, or you will end up increasing the sense of abandonment and hurt all over again. Then, the healing will become even more difficult.
And, if you choose to do this here are some ground rules.
1. Set aside time to be together.
2. Know that the goal is to help each other heal.
3. Don’t discuss hurts at first. Just keep it casual.
4. Reconnecting in public is a good idea to start. Lunches are best at the beginning.
5. If you were partners once, refrain from anything sexual. This is not an attempt to rekindle a relationship at this point, it is only about healing past hurts.
6. As much as possible, as you are first reconnecting, keep the time spent to a minimum, but be sure to make the time you spend together consistent! Long gaps, or broken commitments regarding spending healing time together, will only create more hurt.
7. If the two of you do want to talk about any hurt caused between the two of you, don’t do it until you have had at least five casual reconnections, maybe even as many as seven. Remember the goal at first is connection, not communication.
8. If someone feels sensitive, or mistrusts your intention to spend healing time together, know that time spent in the right way will help that as well. Share that you care about that person. Let them know you want to spend some time with them. Pick something to do together that the two of you would enjoy. (And, remember I am talking about parents spending time with children, and friends spending time with friends, not just former partners healing hurts together).
Ultimately, I have found in my own experience that this kind of healing time really works. But, remember to be consistent in doing this. Set a regular time if you need to. And, stick to the rules to not discuss any hurt between you until you have had consistent casual time together.
Believe me, this works. And, what better thing to do over the holidays than to mend hurts with the people you love (and once loved), than to let them fester any longer.
Want more help? Also, consider this book, “I Thought We’d Never Speak Again.” Or, call me for a counseling session. Information about how to contact me is available at my website. http://www.doctorlisalove.com/
Happy Healing to You!
Blessings and love,
Copyright 2009 by Dr. Lisa Love. All Rights Reserved.