Our First Flesh+Spirit Reunion
31 Jan 2006
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Last Sunday (29 Jan) Mary and I led a "reunion" day for 9 couples (counting us). We had 3 couples from one of the workshops we taught, 4 couples from the other workshop, and 1 couple who took an F+S workshop with us about 4 years ago. It was intense; about 12 hours (although we had breaks for lunch and dinner and so forth).
First we went around doing introductions, something like taking the temperature of the relationships. Then we launched into a long series of questions about the practice, where the answer led to more questions and comments from the experiences of all of the couples. It was great to have people talk about their relationships in such an honest way.
A lot of the questions centered on what this practice calls "the Third." We all have our own interpretations, but for me the Third is the voice of the relationship. When the third speaks it is from a place where the interests of both partners are equally valued. It is common to talk about the third as the spirit of the relationship, where the desires of the third are for the health of the relationship.
Coming from a long-term hard science kind of guy this may sound as though I've joined a cult. Yet the reason to hold the Third in this way is that it seems to work for the benefit of both partners. It is intensely pragmatic to have a reminder for each of the partners of the common interests and emotions.
After lunch we had one couple who wanted a witnessed council. They worked hard for about 2 hours, and the group followed it up with a discussion of the process. Since each person in the witness circle can come in to comment as the Third we had a lot of commenting to process.
After this council we did a men's circle (with the women as witnesses) and a women's circle (with the men as witnesses). The topic was aging and its affect on relationships. This was a place where we probably needed to make the process a bit smoother, but the material was certainly interesting (and we ran over, of course).
After dinner we had a round where we expressed our intentions for carrying on with this practice. This round was quite sweet. We will have to have another group meeting some day.
Overall I felt pretty happy with what these people were accomplishing. Several of the couples had significant improvements in their communication, especially being able to honestly share emotions.
I still feel quite new in all of this, since Mary and I have only taught two workshops, but we intend to teach more. In October we get to "intern" at the Flesh+Spirit level 2, which adds some more material on building deeper relationships. I expect that we will get to teach F+S 2 some time in 2007.
There are times when I realize how little I control my own life. I have been fortunate in so many ways: my dream education, my dream job, and a rich family life. And now I enter a richness that I could not have dreamt, and that I hope to pass along where I can.