Love is not a fruit that grows on trees or a flower that drops from heaven and remains fresh for a lifetime. It is journey, an ascent up a steep incline toward an ever-receding peak. It is not a thing to be grasped and possessed, but an adventure of self-discovery for the brave of heart that grows only in complete freedom and requires unwavering courage, spotless sincerity, unending patience and unstinting perseverance. Romance is not something that happens to us, but something we choose - a way of living, a way of being.
Many of us can recollect at least one special moment in our lives when our relationship with another person transformed the whole world into marvel of ecstatic joy. Love may come by surprise like an arrow from cupid's bow. Or it may grow slowly and unnoticed like wild flowers beneath the shade of a tree. However fleeting the experience, during that time it feels like we have attained some heavenly state that will last forever.
Because it arrives suddenly and often when we least expect it, some may have the impression that the feeling of love can be sustained for a lifetime without any real effort on out part. Yet all too soon, the wonder fades into the common light of every day life and is tarnished by the dullness of familiar routine and the pain of difference and conflict. Feeling that experience of ecstatic joy for a moment is one thing. Converting the experience into a lifetime of harmony, affection, sweetness and bliss is quite another. The experience comes to many, the permanent state of romantic fulfillment to very few. Guiding seekers to that goal is the objective of .
Many find themselves in relationships in which the spark of romance seems to have never been born or has faded away long ago. They regret the decisions that they have made in the past and believe that romantic fulfillment is not possible with their present partner. True romance is not something that can ever be lost. It remains alive beneath the surface and can be awakened at any time, often long after the initial attraction has disappeared. Romance lies ready to be awakened even in cases where that initial attraction was never felt. Finding a perfect partner never was the true basis for romance. Whenever people are attracted to one another, it signifies that they share a deeper complementarity which can become the basis for true romance. The key lies in discovering and bringing to the surface that hidden complementary.
The Stairway Of Romance shows the steps involved in the ascent from the charm of love at first sight to a lifetime of romantic fulfillment. The value of the scale is that it shows an ascending path and it provides practical strategies to help you move from wherever you find yourself to wherever you want to go.
This scale is based on the fact that human consciousness consists of several levels - a physical level which includes our physical needs and bodily sensations, a vital level of nervous impulses, interests and desires, an emotional level which is the source of our attitudes and deeper affections, a mental level based on opinions, ideas and ideals, and a spiritual level deeper within and above which is the source of our highest values and aspirations. The feeling of attraction to another person can occur at any or all of these levels. The lower the level from which it originates, the more physically intense but short-lived the experience. The higher the level which it embraces, the sweeter, more lasting and harmonious the relationship. The lower levels give rise to desire which generates fleeting pleasure. The higher levels give rise to enduring affection and ecstatic joy that is everlasting.
Each of these levels, but most especially the physical and vital, are characterized by both positive and negative factors that impact on the nature of a relationship. That is another reason why ascending the scale brings greater happiness. Our physical consciousness is subject to doubt, insecurity, selfishness, and clinging possessiveness. The vital can be excitable, irritable, angry, domineering, jealous and greedy. The emotions can be turbulent and demanding. It is only when romance is influenced by the higher mental and spiritual centers that it becomes refined, sweet, lasting and pure.
The ten levels represent an ascending scale of romance beginning with the most physical and rising to emotional, mental and spiritual levels. The ten levels are not entirely separate or disconnected from one another. Attributes of each level can be found at levels above and below but they will be less prominent. Each higher level includes the essential strengths of the levels which are below it. The positive aspects of the lower levels are purified and refined and the negative aspects become less intense and insistent as you rise up the scale.
Starting at the physical and vital levels, we can ascend the stairway to higher levels of emotional, mental and spiritual fullness. Each step upward removes some of the dross of the lower levels, expands our being and brings greater happiness and fulfillment into our lives. Use the scale to identify the present level of your relationship and to learn practical strategies to rise higher. Ascending the scale requires real commitment, serious effort and perseverance. But that is only natural. Whoever said that romance was for the faint of heart or a gift to be acquired just for the asking? It has to be fought for and won by self-discipline and self-giving, but those who sincerely aspire to attain it are sure of success.
Relationship is a journey that two people embark on together. So the question naturally arises whether you can rise to higher levels without the full cooperation from your partner. Cooperation is certainly welcome, but it is not the essential condition for success. That condition is your own determination. Too often partners think that their happiness lies in making the other person different than they are. In reality no one has ever attained romantic fulfillment by changing another person. Eternal romance is attained only by those willing to grow and change themselves. Ultimately your romantic fulfillment does not depend on a second person at all. It is something you create in yourself. And when you do so, other people and circumstances change to convert your whole life into an adventure of romance. That is part of the secret of romance which you can discover on this journey.
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This article provides practical strategies for ascending the scale of romance in your relationship. If you have not already done so, please begin by reading the article Stairway to Romance and studying the Scale of Romance to identify the current level of your relationship.
Choose your goal
What you achieve depends entirely on what you aspire for, the extent of your enthusiasm and determination, and the effort you are willing to make to achieve it. The higher your aspiration, the greater your enthusiasm, the stronger your determination and the more serious your effort, the greater the goal you can achieve and the faster you can achieve it. Romance is what you discover within yourself. Your partner is a field for its expression. If both partners awaken to the spirit of romance, the intensity and fulfillment will be complete, but your attainment essentially depends on your decision, your attitude and your actions, not on those of a second person. Those who want to receive romance from others never find it or retain it. Those who seek romance for its own sake and give themselves to it can always discover it.
The first step is to formulate a relationship goal you enthusiastically aspire and are willing to seriously to attain. Your goal may bring back the intensity of romance which you have once felt or to raise the entire relationship to a higher level or to eliminate a disturbing element. It is important to ensure that the goal you choose is based on genuine goodwill for your partner and not a desire to change or dominate them. These methods only work when your attitude and intention toward the other is entirely positive.
If your present relationship suffers from any of the common negatives - quarrels, anger, tension, etc. - your next step should be to raise the level of harmony by removing those negatives from the relationship before you try to enhance affection, love and romance. Follow these steps to eliminate problems and increase harmony:
- Assess your relationship to determine where it is on the Scale of Harmony.
- Raise the level harmony in your relationship by applying the Strategies to Increase Harmony in Your Relationship.
- If you have any serious relationship problem, consult the IRES expert system to obtain personalized advice to resolve it.
- Once problems have been addressed, you are ready to rise up the scale of romance. See Unfailing Strategies for Love & Romance.
Unfailing Strategies to Improve any Relationship
Some of the strategies listed below are simple and obvious, but most are rarely applied consistently or with the right motive and attitude. Others are more profound and powerful methods that will require thoughtfulness, study and repeated effort for you to master. The quality of your attitude and motive determine the result. If practiced with harmony, goodwill, joyous expansiveness and self-giving, marvelous results are guaranteed. Practice them with the intention of bringing joy to your partner.
1. Take responsibility
Many people believe that their relationship would be vastly improved if only their partner would listen to reason, do what they say, eliminate the behaviors they find objectionable and be as sincere to the relationship as they are. The first rule for progress in human relationships may be the hardest for many to accept, but it is the single most important principle for rising in the scale of romance. It states that we have the power to improve our relationship only when we realize that we and we alone are responsible for making it better. This rule seems to contradict that obvious truth that in any relationship both parties contribute to the problems that arise between partners and to the solution to those problems. This principle is based on a profound truth of life. We acquire power of mastery in our lives only when we realize that we are the determinant of our own lives and not any circumstance or other person. Taking responsibility means to stop blaming your partner, family, friends, fate or misfortune for the difficulties you encounter in the relationship. As you apply the other principles listed below, you will come to understand the true wisdom of this approach and the real effective solution to any problems you encounter.
2. Give attention
The early stages of relationship are often characterized by sensations of novelty, suspense, anticipation and insecurity which generate an energy and excitement that can be mistaken for real affection. Once the feelings of newness subside, the intensity subsides. But even affectionate relationships can become flat over time when the partners' attention is absorbed by the demands of work, family, household and other routine activities. But this does not mean that the essential basis for romance has disappeared or cannot be revived. Any flat routine moment or event can be energized and be converted into a live or romantic moment by giving genuine personal attention to one's partner. Attention energized. Personal attention that focuses on what your partner thinks, feels and aspires can release deeper emotions and make any moment fresh. Even the most mundane work or activity can be made an occasion for attention when the importance is shifted from the activity to the person. Even just physically observing your partner's movements can have an energizing effect. Also trying to recall an experience your partner has undergone or a story or words your partner related to you months or years earlier is a form of attention.
3. Listen deeply
Encourage your partner to talk about any of his/her interests, listen carefully. Take genuine interest because it interests them. Take joy in what they enjoy for the sake of their enjoyment, not the thing itself. Many people in relationships have a long list of things they would like to tell their partners, but never do so either because they know the other person will not listen, is not interested or will not believe what they say. Deep listening is one of the simplest and most powerful strategies for raising the energy level and improving the quality of any relationship. It is also a powerful means for awakening a positive vibration of romance. Listening is a way of taking interest in another person for the sake of making them happy and discovering more about them. Even when you have known a person for decades and you think your know them inside out, the mind and heart remain a mystery. Allowing that mystery to express itself can release the wonder of romance. To be a good listener you have to know how to encourage your partner to talk about whatever is of interest to them, without interrupting, passing comments or criticism, either expressed or unexpressed, and most certainly without reaction of any kind. Silent listening without a thought in your mind is most powerful.
Listening is means of giving attention to the other person, pleasing them by your genuine response. The person is important. What the person speaks is secondary.
Jenna & the Doctor (The Waitress)
Jenna has been living for years as the psychologically abused wife of a dominating, suspicious, possessive, jealous husband, so jealous of her attention that he fears even his own baby will steal it away from him. He controls all the money so she has no freedom of action, demands that she agree with his every thought and sentiment, and forces her into a self-defensive shell of passive conciliation and submission. When she accidentally becomes pregnant, she meets a young married physician who is gentle, kind, respectful and accepting. In pouring out her long pent up grief and resentment to him, she feels a soothing balm of relief and springs of life rising up within. His simple act of listening – without interruption, comment, judgment or interpretation — just simply accepting her for what she is and has been through is enough to make her feel passionately drawn toward him. Later she realizes that what attracted her was the sense of freedom, which his listening helped awaken and liberate, giving her the strength to free herself from tyranny and set forth confidently on a new life. Life responded to the strength and purity of her decision, as it always does. When her externally rough and ornery former employer passed away, he left her a large inheritance and ownership of the restaurant where she worked.
4. Take your partner's point of view
Often we assume that we are right on an issue without even listening to our partner's point of view. No matter how right and justified we may think we are, there is always more than one valid point of view on any issue. Learn to discover the truth in your partner's point of view, no matter how partial or limited it may be. Invite your partner to express his/her viewpoint and genuinely acknowledge the truth in that perspective. Even when you believe your partner is wrong and have facts to support it, try to understand and acknowledge any factor that justifies their viewpoint or actions. When you make this effort genuinely you will find your partner less defensive and more willing to respect your perspective. Three quarters of all relationship problems will disappear if this strategy is seriously followed.
Romance is always fresh, spontaneous and personal. It is not generated by stereotyped situations and behaviors. It can be fostered by being more personal, more pleasant, more thoughtful, more intimate, by expressing a deeply felt emotion, by a greater sincerity, or by a spontaneous gesture or caress. In Pride & Prejudice Elizabeth transforms a formal moment into a romantic adventure by confessing to Darcy that she is a selfish person who cannot refrain from expressing her gratitude for all he has done to help her family. Darcy responds with equal intimacy and sincerity when he recalls how she had once rejected him by saying his conduct was ungentlemanly and that she had considered him that last man in the world she could ever marry. The essence of intimacy is the desire to please the other person and the impulse for total self-giving in utter self-forgetfulness that never seeks or expects a return.
Expansiveness is an emotion that arises when excess energy presses to burst forth in expression. It can be generated by an amusing activity, a caress, an exchange of affectionate words, a thoughtful or unexpected gesture of help, appreciation of what your partner appreciates or any out-ward directed movement that opens to the other person in self-giving. Recall the most ecstatic moments in your relationship and try to recreate it in your shared imagination. You will find the atmosphere and sensation of the original experience returning. If you can recollect the emotions you felt at that time - not merely the circumstances, words and actions - the experience can even return in full intensity.
7. Recognize and appreciate your partner's strength
When we first meet a future partner, we may be attracted by some unique qualities seldom found in others. Yet over time we get accustomed even to the qualities we like best and tend to take them granted or focus more on other qualities we wish were present in greater measure. Often we are reminded of the value of our partner's essential qualities only when faced with a crisis that brings them to the fore. Try to enumerate all your partner's positive qualities and be conscious of them. Express your appreciation when those qualities express. Silently appreciating them at other times will create a tenderness in the relationship.
Romance is a vibration that can only exist in an atmosphere of trust and freedom. That is one reason why it appears at the onset of a relationship and then disappears as commitments are made and responsibilities accepted. Romance is an adventure freely undertaken and an emotion of self-giving freely offered when nothing is assured, nothing guaranteed. Conditions, demands, doubts, suspicions and restrictions chase romance away. Extending the boundaries of trust and freedom you give your partner within the relationship to the maximum extent possible creates the best foundation for romance to flower.
9. Discover the inner Correspondences
The title of Pride & Prejudice reflects a profound truth of human relationship. There is an one to one correspondence between what we are psychologically and what comes to us from life. Darcy's pride and Elizabeth's prejudice are contradictory and opposing characteristics that meet and clash violently in the story. His proud, arrogant conviction in his wealth and social superiority confronts her prejudiced faith in her own superior insight into human nature and her own family background. By the clash between these similar but opposing attributes, both come to recognize their own deficiencies and become more humble, better and happier people. By recognizing the truth of the correspondence between them, they are able to convert mutually opposing traits into complementary characteristics that form the basis for true romance. Discovering the reality of inner-outer correspondences requires some study, thought and effort. If you want to acquire that knowledge, see the examples on this site, read the novel Pride & Prejudice, watch the five-part BBC video version of the novel, and study the articles on http://www.prideandprejudice.info/. If you still have questions, send them to us. Read more on inner-outer correspondences.
10. Discover your Complementarity
The complementarity between two people is the true basis of romance and the source of its endless attraction and perpetual mystery. That complementary can exist at different levels and take several different forms. In some it expresses as a similarity or compatibility of temperament. In others it expresses as very different capacities which augment and supplement one another. Or it may manifest as starkly different and apparently opposite tendencies which pull in different directions or even clash with one another. However it may express, the natural complementarity that initially attracts one person to another at an early stage of acquaintance is always based on a deeper truth and a deeper need, which may be overlooked or even regarded as a source of incompatibility. At the level of complementarity there are no good or better qualities, there are only aspects that combine through the relationship to create a greater whole which represents a greater truth. Value judgments have no place here. Becoming conscious of the deeper layers of complementarity between partners is an unending adventure in self-discovery that can release deeper appreciation of the other person and strengthen the bonds of relationship immensely.
The scale of romance is not a fixed and rigid set of cubbyholes in which relationships can be classified. It is rather an ascending stairway of graded levels defining the possibilities for any relationship to rise. Often we find partners fall to a lower level after the initial phase of infatuation is passed. Sometimes we see movement in the other direction, when couples who initially clashed or came together without strong binding feelings later grew to know and love one another deeply, elevating their partnership from lower to higher levels of romantic relationship. In a few rare instances we find partners traversing the entire scale from the lowest to nearly the highest levels. Learn how Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet traversed the entire scale in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
If you would like to raise general questions on romance, love, marriage and relationship or about any of the content in this article, please post your entry in the appropriate forums