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Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Taking Space in Thailand

As April heads to a close, your Intrepid Guide finds herself on the wild boarder where Thailand meets Burma. I've thoroughly enjoyed this past month – the steamy street markets and food stalls of Bangkok, the constant call of the crashing waves and the response of the cicadas on our tiny island sanctuary in the gulf of Thailand, and now the relative cool of the rice-terraced mountains of the North.

Having just gone through a rough patch with my boyfriend a few months ago, we are enjoying the fruits of our efforts, recalibrating to a life of love and adventure together. Living on top of each other in and out of asian countries for a year with no real support but each other put more pressure on our relationship than usual. I am blessed and cursed to be with a younger man, which has many advantages (ahem), but also puts us at different stages of life, wanting different things from our lives due to our age/experience. This came to a head a while back, swinging us both into an uncharacteristic space of not being able to work it out together.

These last couple weeks, I notice a trend with my clients that echoes this very one: trying to work out an issue with the very person they are having the issue WITH. It is hard, and often counter-productive – and what to do about it?

The best way I know out of it is to either involve someone else, a "neutral" third party whom you both trust, or take some time and space – or both.

Our choice was to take some serious space. We have always been good about asking for time alone in our four plus years together, but never to the extent of putting tens of thousands of miles between us for a month at a time. I went and stayed with friends for a couple weeks, he went to be with family.

Ah, the benefits of taking time and space! It can be more helpful than any "working at" the issue, like a crowd of busy beavers. Space apart has a way of bathing the issue with a gentle mist that, partnered with time, lifts to reveal things settled, calmer, and somehow clearer.

And no, it doesn't have to be thousands of miles worth of space. Among my clients and family and friends, I have noticed creative, interesting options for "taking space" within relationship.

One client of mine has taken a lover, and she finds that a date once and a while renews her commitment to her relationship to her husband and their kids. (Of course he knows about it).

Another client and her husband worked out that every year they would take one month to be apart and do whatever they wanted, including being lovers with others, with the full understanding they would return to their marriage at the end of the month. They found that having time to be on their own and accountable to no one was a great refresher for their relationship and marriage.

Another, with a business with her partner in a very small town, takes time to travel on her own often for a month at a time, several times a year.

In addition to the drastic thousands of miles approach, my boyfriend and I often take a couple nights a week to do our own thing. I favor alone-time or girl-time, and he favors the movies.

Taking time and space – however much or little – is a opportunity to get centered, regroup as an individual, and mostly to miss your partner. It is important to re-remember all the things you love about them, which are sometimes easy to forget or take for granted when you are together, entwined and on top of each other all the time.

Where did I go during my month across the ocean? I went into the very necessary place of contemplating NOT being together, untwining our lives, and what it would take, emotionally and spiritually, to do it on my own. That was an extreme place to go to, but important. Because of going there, and the gift that time always gives me of seeing my partner for all that he is rather than all he is not, I was able to re-choose clearly and strongly into this relationship. And I do re-choose it, consciously and actively, everyday.

SO where does that leave me and my boyfriend, here in Thailand? Closer than ever.

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Posted by LiYana at 1:10 am

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