How is emotion and passion expressed in your relationship?

It's a risky business - expressing the full range of emotions and passions that are a part of being fully alive and human. In our intimate relationship - it can also feel risky when our partner does the same. On the one hand, we may be tempted to repress or deny our own or our partner's extreme feelings in order to retain a sense of control. At the other extreme, we may feel justified, entitled even, to express our strong emotions or act on passions in a way that is uncontrolled and without awareness of the negative impact it may have on our partner. In relationship terms - we run the risk of either imposing too much control - and living in a safe, secure but ultimately sterile relationship - or the opposite, where intense experience and a heightened sense of passion are privileged over emotional equilibrium. These elements of our psyches have been referred to as 'the seven deadly sins' - reflecting perhaps our troubled relationship with these volatile and powerful elements of ourselves. A more useful position, if we can manage it, is to be curious about the presence of these passions, and take the difficult but potentially rewarding journey towards the fuller, richer life we long for. It's hard to attain the middle path! Relationships that achieve this balance, though, find a way to tolerate a level of discomfort while figuring out what high levels of emotion in one or both partners may be saying about a need for change, expansion or growth, without sacrificing the need for safety - be it psychological, emotional, mental or physical. Helena Phillips, a psychotherapist and couples counsellor with many years' experience, has written an engaging and interesting book about this fascinating area of human experience and intimate relationship. For more information, check out her website or her book, entitled "The Place In Between: Living and Relating with Passion" is available from Readings and The Human Condition bookstores in Melbourne.

Till next post, Vivienne.


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