Why do relationships exist? This was the question that nagged at me when I began taking a deeper look at relationships. At that time, I came to the conclusion that relationships could be an extremely powerful driving force for our development – if we knew how to work with them. Over time, another question kept coming up: what keeps us in a relationship no matter how difficult it is to stay? The immediate answer was “love”, but it turns out that it’s not that simple.
We all need love. Love is a deep and important basic need, and much of our quality of life depends on it. It’s not surprising that when two people decide to become a couple, they want love to come first in their relationship. This seems obvious at the beginning, but unfortunately, as time passes, many couples do not manage to hold on to the love they yearn for.
This seems very strange when we look into it. Love is so basic; we all want it and try to attain it – and yet it seems so unattainable. So often we’ll see how the absence of love results in pain, unfaithfulness, non-exclusivity or even the complete breakdown of relationships. So, what is it that we don’t know about love, what can help us hold on to love in our relationships?
Relationships usually begin with love, as I mentioned before. We feel love for the person we’ve chosen to be our life-partner, and we also feel his love for us. But what happens to love further down the road, and what is it that we aren’t understanding here?
The Gift of Love in a Relationship
As a woman myself, and from observing women over the years, I’ve noticed that most women have two types of fulfillment. We experience what I call “external fulfillment” in our dealings with the world, and we experience “deep fulfillment” when we become mothers.
I spent years searching for the equivalent of “deep fulfillment” in men, a fulfilment beyond that which they experience in their external lives, in their dealings with the world. What I discovered amazed me. From many conversations with men and with couples, I discovered that when a man loves a woman and his love pleases her and makes her happy, the man feels satisfaction and fulfillment. This is the “deep fulfillment” of men. Another exciting discovery was that this same love a man feels for his partner sustains and energizes her. In this way both partners are actually nurtured by the same love when it exists in a relationship.
I found additional relevant information in Moshe Sharon’s explanation of the Jewish Kabbalistic approach to couples (“Zugot, Zugot”, published by Divrei Shir, 2018). Sharon demonstrates how in the Kabbalah, the man in a relationship is considered the woman’s source of abundance, and it is his job to shower her with everything she needs, so that she can pass it on to the next generation. This is also the source of the practice of the ketubah – the Jewish marriage contract – in which the man promises his partner to take care of all her needs.
We know that in order for a woman to be able to find fulfilment in motherhood, she needs a male sperm. Few realize that the man also needs something from the woman, in order to achieve his “deep fulfillment”. He needs a woman who will give herself to his love and take pleasure in it. From an evolutionary perspective, the connection is beautiful. I call this natural movement couples love flow.
The Challenge of Love in a Relationship
If love is a natural process and both partners want it, then what really happens in relationships? Why do they break down over time, sometimes very suddenly?
My study of the subject revealed two issues. First of all, due to a masculine culture that disconnects men from themselves, not all men are connected to their inner part that is linked to the couples love flow. (An important book on the subject is “From masculinity to liberation: releasing men and women from the burden of masculinity”, by the Israeli psychologist Amnon Toledano, published by Shulchan Ktiva, 2019). But what surprised me more was the discovery that, at least among the couples I met, the women were most challenged where the flow of love was concerned. It turns out that many women have a hard time accepting the love of their partners, recognizing it and surrendering to it.
From my conversations with these women, I learned how we, as women, carry within us the inner experiences resulting from the treatment of women by men, throughout history and during our own lives. These experiences, or their residues, prevent women from surrendering to the love of their male partners.
The historical roots lie in the patriarchal era, where men used women, exploited them, deprived them of their freedom, enslaved, raped and trampled them. To this day, there are women among us who remember the burning of the witches as a personal experience. The extent of the distortion of the standing of women in the world has been emphasized by the feminist movement and its long-standing war for equal rights for women. The fight for the rights of women to influence the choice of leaders in various countries continues to this day.
Furthermore, even nowadays a significant number of men still treat women disrespectfully, sexually exploiting girls and harassing women on a daily basis. Every woman experiences some form of disrespect from men at some point during her life. The Me Too movement, which took root not long ago , highlighted the extent of the phenomenon and was designed to create awareness of the situation and to put a stop to it. Even men are aware that trusting males may be dangerous where women are concerned, and almost every father will warn his daughters to be wary of men.
It can be assumed that in the patriarchal era, which was founded on forceful exploitation and where men were raised to control women and enslave them, someone benefited from the loosening of the marital bond. The weakening of the relationship between the couple, which was based on the love that strengthened both of them, reduced their resilience and made them easier to exploit by those above them in the hierarchy – whether that of family or community .
The harm done to the couples love flow weakens the bond between the couple, sometimes opening up the possibility that one or both will be unfaithful or even break up the relationship. In this weaker state, when the partners don’t have the strength the flow of love instills, the inevitable life challenges that arise over the years become more complex and difficult to handle. Without the security and power of love, even attempting to solve challenges in the relationship itself becomes much more difficult.
Another important issue that harms the couples love flow is that some men believe they deserve a reward for loving their partners. This is matched by the belief of some women that they have to pay for everything they receive from their partners, including love. This sense of obligation prevents them from surrendering to the love of their partners, for fear of the price they will have to pay.
Nowadays, when couples decide to live together, they’re aware of the positive potential of the couples love flow. What they don’t yet know is the size of the obstacles they’ll have to overcome to realize that potential, stemming from their very decision to live in a relationship. They don’t yet know what tests await them further down the road, and whether the flow of love between them as a couple, will be able to survive them.
Restoring the Flow of Love in the Relationship
When I realized what was happening to the flow of love in my own relationship, it was so painful that I needed several days to recover. If you also feel this way, I suggest you give the pain you’re feeling the space it needs. The couples love flow is part of our nature, it is a basic need and the cornerstone for relationships. It’s important to remember that when the flow of love is taken away from us, neither partner is responsible for this situation, nor is he or she to blame for it.
Having done this in my private life and with couples I have worked with in my clinic, it is clear to me that it is possible to restore the flow of love to a relationship. However, this process requires the resolve of both partners. To restore the flow of love, we will have to explore the development of our relationship, and to sift through everything that we absorbed from others and that is not really ours. This objective is so important and precious, and I am happy to see that it is really happening – as soon as they discover what has been happening to them, many couples immediately take steps to recover what they naturally deserve – the couples love flow in their personal relationships.
Let’s look at Anat and Tovia, for example (all names are fictitious). When they were still newlyweds, their love burned so strongly, it seemed that nothing could stand in its way. Several years later and after their children were born, their relationship became task-based and duty-oriented. The fact that one of their children had special needs also weighed on them. At the clinic, when we looked into what was standing in the way of the flow of love in their relationship, it became clear that the problem was time. They were so busy they did not have the emotional free time needed for the flow of love. When they opened up more free time for themselves (with the help of relatives or paid help), they rapidly felt the renewed outpouring of their love. They experienced the power and importance of their love for each other as a natural resource that was at their disposal, and it improved their lives as a couple as well as their ability to cope with any problems along the way.
I met with another couple in the clinic, Michal and Michael, Michal had many complaints about her partner’s behavior. These claims, even if at least partly justified, closed her heart, and prevented her from seeing all Michael’s demonstrations of his love for her. When he cooked for her, she was angry about the mess he left in the kitchen; when he tried to let her sleep late in the morning, she was angry about how he handled the children, and more. When we gave Michal the opportunity to experience Michael’s love again, she was strengthened by these demonstrations of his love, and was able to gently direct him so that she would enjoy them more.
The flow of love also influences the couple’s ability to communicate. When the presence of love is strong, the partners become more secure in the relationship, allowing them to communicate complex messages to each other. For example, for many years Yael and Lior were afraid of talking through the problems they had with each other. This was partly due to their concern that one of them might be hurt by this kind of communication, which could lead to the break-up of their relationship. By not sharing, the problems accumulated and weighed down their relationship. When we restored the flow of love, their relationship – and their security in it – became stronger. Gradually Yael and Lior were able to share what they found problematic in each other, without the fear of losing their relationship. This sharing allowed the partners to reflect to each other the areas where each of them could develop further, and to gain from the potential for development hidden in these areas.
Consequently, this process has two stages:
In the first stage, the partners clean out whatever is blocking the flow of love in their relationship, and practice conducting their lives together with the presence of the flow of love. At this point, the flow of love is like a wave on which their relationship rides.
In the second stage, the flow of love has already become the natural wave upholding their relationship, flowing simultaneously with any life or relationship challenges they may experience. The couple learns how to cope with any problems and to bridge the gaps between them, against the constant backdrop of the flow of love. Issues that may arise between them no longer have the power to oppose their flow of love or threaten its existence.
We must remember – love requires no payment. The compensation for love is the flow of love itself. When love flows, both partners benefit, and neither has to pay for the love that flows between them.
Since the flow of love is natural to our psyche, the process of restoring it in our relationships is also harmonious and natural.
I am aware that restoring the flow of love to a relationship can be challenging. However, from my own experience and the experience of other couples, the benefits from releasing the couples love flow are so life-changing in their impact on the relationship and its survival in the long term, that we should strive to achieve it, no matter how hard it may be to do so.
The flow of love in relationships is part of our nature. The flow of love enables a man to love his partner, and his partner to surrender to his love and be filled with life forces that will help her in everything she does. For the man, his partner’s acceptance of his love and seeing how his love nourishes her and makes her happy brings the deep fulfillment that also nourishes him.
When we live with couples love flow in our relationship, we become stronger and can shoulder life’s challenges together with our partner. Coping with difficulties together will be much easier, whether they are external or come up within our relationship as a couple.
I invite everyone to make the choice, to restore the flow of love they naturally deserve to their relationships and their lives. It is time to cleanse the remains of the patriarchy from within ourselves. Even if it is not directed against us personally, it still sabotages our lives, and unless we do something about it, will continue to sabotage the love relationships of the next generation.
It is possible to improve the couples love flow through Couples Harmony coaching, and the “Flow of Love in Relationships” workshop.