This is a post written by Elephant Talk—an elephant partner. We’re honored to work with anyone who is this dedicated to conscious partnership and to helping us have courageous, open conversation about the normal, difficult things we encounter in love. ~ Ed.
Love, real love, in all of its raw, beautiful, dirty, confusing, funny, and sexy forms is what connects us.
It’s the grittier aspects just as much as the beautiful aspects that make partnership wonderful.
In one of the most popular self-help books of all time, The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck writes in his very first sentence, “Life is difficult.”
He goes on to say “But when we own that it’s difficult, it’s not…”
Well, the same admonition is needed even more for an intimate partnership. Intimate partnerships are difficult. And the fairy-tale expectations of just finding the right person and settling down only make it more difficult. But when we let those inflated expectations of happily ever after go and we accept the reality that relationship is hard…it no longer becomes hard.
I’ve had first-hand experience with this dynamic because for 15 years, I was a licensed couples therapist.
Too often, couples would come in having waited too long to seek help. What also was true about nearly every couple I saw, is that they were horrified when I asked the question: Have you shared your challenges with other couples?
When it comes to talking about intimate relationships, there is lots of dialogue around meeting someone, falling in love, and getting married, and very little courageous conversation around the challenges associated with succeeding in partnership.
This lack of dialogue about navigating very real and normal struggles forces couples to become isolated—because we don’t really know how to talk about those things. So, we avoid the conversation, resigning ourselves to a “this is as good as it gets” mentality.
Once in partnership, we unconsciously lower our expectations for what intimate partnership can bring to our lives. We suffer silently, thinking we are somehow unique. Or, we believe our partner is uniquely messed up or that we are broken. I’ve too often seen couples break up just when they were getting to the good stuff, the possibility for healing and change and growth.
Rather than share those challenges with our partner or with other couples, we abdicate the dialogue to the “experts.” And they sure do have a lot to say! With a 100 billion per year relationship industry, experts line up to give advice and tell people how to be in partnership, how to fix the “problems” that are so prevalent to them. What is almost never included in that advice is the idea that we might be well-served to speak with other couples about the very normal hurdles we are having to overcome. That we can lean in toward the more difficult conversations with our spouses as a way of getting to the other side.
Elephant Talk aims to change all that by elevating the everyday couple and recording them talking about their relationship.
Rather than give advice, they instead opt to tell stories by sitting down face-to-face and having a conversation with one another (and two microphones)!
Most stories about relationship involve the well-worn narrative of happily ever after, and at Elephant Talk, we instead move toward everything else in intimate partnership—what we call the Four S’s. The Stormy, the Soulful, the Silly, and the Sexy. This is where we see the beauty that relationships hold. Making room for all of it in our relationship, and in ourselves, helps us be more fully alive in the world.
As Brene Brown says: “We are hardwired for story.”
Elephant Talk is just that—real stories of real love.
Because the fact of the matter is, partnership is a skill that can be learned. When we are willing to fully engage and not vacillate between the crazy expectation of perfection on one hand and “you’re f*cked up, I’m outta here” on the other hand, we step into a beautiful place.
It’s a place that allows us to heal the wounds from childhood and slowly dissolve the defenses around our hurts. It matures us, and helps us grow up. We become more able to allow ourselves to be fully loved, with all of our foibles, and to love our partner fully, with all of their foibles. We gain something profound by the experience of more deeply opening the heart. We grow—we become stronger, more powerful, and more alive to love in all its forms.
We need courageous conversation now more than ever.
Facebook and social media has created a “public” vs. “private” couple, and often, the image that is projected to the outside world has little to do with what really goes on behind closed doors. There is now an almost unified “brand” to couples on social media, rather than a true reflection of who the people really are.
There is increasing evidence of just how isolated and lonely we are. Social isolation and its negative impacts are increasingly measurable, physiologically. Life span and quality of life are shorter and less satisfying for those who aren’t in connected relationships.
We are also in a time that is seeing the emergence of “communities of learning.” Elephant Talk is just that—education for couples who have normal struggles around universal themes—and it offers an opportunity to be part of a community of relationship “pioneers” as they experiment and learn and help birth new possibilities together.
So join us! Come and be a part of this dialogue.
Each week, we feature a new couple sharing stories of real love. We’ve taken out the interview voice—the therapist, the “expert” in the conversation—and just kept it between two people talking about this thing called their relationship. There is also an additional interview to add perspective to intimate partnership in our world today.
Curiosity and a passion for finding connection, fresh perspectives, and honest, no bullsh*t, communication are the driving force behind every episode.
Here is how you can use Elephant Talk:
a. Listen to the Podcast.
b. Go to the website and check it out.
c. Become a part of this grassroots movement toward courageous conversation in relationship by initiating dialogue in your partnership.
Editor: Catherine Monkman