By Victoria Fann
Guest writer for Wake Up World
“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.” ~ Lisa Kleypas
In order for an intimate relationship to be healthy and sustainable, The Four Golden Threads — Physical, Emotional, Intellectual and Spiritual — need to be active and connected between two people. When entering into an intimate relationship, many people don’t pause long enough to make sure that all of these threads are lit up and in alignment with their partner. This simple misstep can lead to short-term pain or long-term misery, especially when two mismatched partners get married and have children together. Ultimately, what’s missing in the beginning will be the thing that derails the relationship in the end.
Think about it. In the beginning of a relationship when everything is new and fresh, we often tell ourselves, “So what if everything’s not quite what we’re looking for?” However, over time, little bits of compromise creep in. We see what we want to see and ignore the rest. It’s usually months or years later, in retrospect that we see that the clues of what went wrong were always there; we just chose not to pay attention to them.
Grace and Hope
Not long ago, “Grace”, a client of mine, told me the story of her recent marriage and divorce. Grace’s husband was a lifelong friend that reappeared in her life after his marriage broke up. They got together and the relationship moved very quickly — too quickly for her — but as she put it, she got “swept along” by it. Then when he got down on his knee to propose in front of her family, she was too embarrassed to say no. Grace ignored her intuition, which told her to wait, and she ended up selling her much-loved Seattle condo, moving away from her family and setting up house in Kansas.
During the first few years of Grace’s marriage, the red flags she should have heeded began to reveal themselves, and she knew she’d made a terrible mistake. Ironically, one of her best sources of solace was her husband’s ex-wife. She understood what Grace was dealing with better than anyone, and the two became fast friends.
All the while, Grace knew she only had herself to blame. Well into her forties, this was her first marriage. Her fear of embarrassment and being judged by her family was so strong that she willingly ignored her inner voice and walked into a situation that she knew might not work.
There are thousands of similar stories out there. The point is to slow down, listen and observe. It can be so easy when we’re swept up in the excitement of a new relationship and the promise of companionship, to compromise and ultimately sacrifice our own needs and values in the false hope that things will change.
News flash: they usually don’t!
Let’s first examine each of The Four Golden Threads with special attention to the impact of their absence:
If we enter a relationship with a weak or absent physical connection, what might that look like?
- No chemistry
- No passion or excitement
- No playful flirting and fun
- No meaningful or close feelings of intimacy
- No deep levels of affection
If we enter a relationship with a weak or absent emotional connection, what might that look like?
- No shared vulnerability
- No healing of emotional wounds
- No understanding of your emotional states
- No compassion or empathy for your experience
- No real nurturing or heartfelt affection
If we enter a relationship with a weak or absent intellectual connection, what might that look like?
- No one to share your big picture interests
- No one to talk with for long hours into the night
- No one to share your favorite movies, music, theater, books, etc.
- No one to continually pique your interest and curiosity
- No one to learn new things from
If we enter a relationship with a weak or absent spiritual connection, what might that look like?
- No shared values or vision
- No one to witness your experiences
- No one to support you as you navigate the inner realms
- No one to see and recognize your Higher Self
- No spiritual companion
It’s much easier to see when spelled out this way. Once you recognize the warning signs, you might not want to get involved with someone you thought was a perfect partner after all. Far better to open your eyes, get some clarity before you make a long-term commitment and find yourself in the land of regret. In addition, when one of The Four Golden Threads is missing, you’ll always have that gnawing feeling in the core of your being telling you something’s wrong.
Examining The Four Golden Threads helps us to move this subject out of the closet, where it’s vague and hidden, into the light to be seen. Once illuminated, we can recognize our patterns of behavior.
Why then, are so many of us willing to compromise and leave one of these four threads out? More than likely it’s due to the following:
- Fear of being alone
- Wanting someone (anyone) to share life’s experiences with
- Not believing that someone with all four areas of compatibility is out there
- A lack of trust in life
- A desire to escape from one’s self
- Pressure from friends and family to be in a relationship
- A willingness to settle for less than you deserve
This list helps to clarify something that can be difficult to see and opens up the possibility of making different choices going forward.
Now that we’ve shed some light on what can happen when one of The Four Golden Threads is missing, let’s imagine what it would be like to partner with someone with whom all Four Golden Threads connect.
- … shares vulnerabilities with you
- … is willing to help you heal your emotional wounds
- … understands your emotional states
- … is compassionate and has empathy for your experience
- … shares your interests
- … supports your creative expression
- … enjoys talking with you for long hours into the night
- … enjoys sharing your favorite movies, music, theater, books with you
- … continually piques your interest and curiosity
- … is attracted to you
- … enjoys meaningful or close feelings of intimacy with you
- … frequently expresses deep levels of affection with you
- … has chemistry with you
- … shares and supports your beliefs, values and life purpose
- … wants to witness your experiences
- … supports you as you navigate the inner realms
- … loves you unconditionally, both your gifts and your wounds
This may sound idealistic and a bit too good to be true, however, when you look at the option of leaving one of those things out, it doesn’t seem even worth pursuing a relationship like that. Does this mean we need to seek the impossible in a partner? Do we need to look for the perfect match?
No, neither of those things.
It means we need to look for the perfect partner for us. We’re not looking for a pie-in-the-sky dream partner, we’re looking for someone whose gifts and wounds match well with our own. In other words, when you meet someone with whom all Four Golden Threads connect, you have the opportunity to get to know this person’s innate gifts and wounds, to love and accept the good with the bad and to work with all of it, because the blessings are so damn worth it.
The trick is to enter into the relationship fully cognizant of the fact that in order for a relationship to be healthy, fulfilling and sustainable for both parties, all four threads need attention and nurturing. Ignore one and the relationship will, without a doubt, fail or be severely handicapped.
As humans we need to connect with all four threads to feel whole and truly express who we are.
To take this to an even higher level, ideally we want to be partnering with someone who is aligned with our life purpose, supporting us to authentically express our gifts and deepest passions so that our lives are rich and meaningful. This way of living is energizing and fuels us. That way, the relationship is not a source of energy, but rather a place to share ourselves. It becomes a shared journey rather than a place to get all of our needs met. It’s also a place where we can share our deepest fears and pain so they can be witnessed and healed. A good relationship will allow for a high level of trust, so that vulnerability comes naturally, hastening the healing process.
How sad that we were not taught how to use our most intimate relationships as a context for deep inner work and healing! Alas, many come to this place late in life and pay lots of money to do workshops, seminars and retreats to sort out the inner mess, not suspecting that when they return from those experiences, they’ll have to reconcile these issues in their relationships. This is a missed opportunity because while weekend workshops are great, the wisdom and insights don’t usually stick, which is why it’s better to work through issues in the ongoing “workshop” of our relationships.
All relationships are sacred — love combined with respect. All life is asking of us is to treat others and ourselves with love and respect. With The Four Golden Threads as our guide, we can partner with another in a way that nurtures and inspires us, and supports us to live the life of our highest joy.
*This article is inspired by the collective wisdom of a year-long Meetup group Victoria co-facilitated in 2012 called The Enigma of Love. Twice a month, twenty-four men and women came together to share their experiences and insights about love.
Also by Victoria Fann:
About the author:
Victoria Fann is a writer, transformational coach, community builder and practical mystic. The foundation of her work was inspired by her time at Esalen as well as her training and inner work with many of the early founders and teachers of the human potential movement. She has been writing essays, short stories, plays and screenplays for over three decades. Her writing has been published in numerous publications and anthologies including Women of Wisdom, Newsweek, Thought Catalog, Elephant Journal, Wake Up World, Snapping Twig, Medium, BioStories, etc. Her book, Creative Alchemy: Accessing the Extraordinary Power of the Muse to Transform Your Art and Your Life will be published this year.