Adam and I had a blast speaking with Raj & Gaby Sundra from Relationship Fun & Games. Check out the re-broadcast of our interview on "Fights Clean, Sex Dirty TV." We share all our tips and tricks on how to keep fights clean when in the heat of the argument--and even share a little about how to get that heat to move into the bedroom ;-) Enjoy!
Originally posted March 26, 2014
I’ve never believed in “The One.”
Even as a Disney-obsessed kid, collecting every VHS cartoon I could find, I still didn’t believe in “The One.”
Even today, as I sit in my San Francisco apartment married to a man I convinced is my soul mate, I still don’t believe in “The One.”
I’m not a total cynic nor do I think that love always leads to heartbreak and that relationship is ultimately the death of sex and personal freedom and your own vitality.
I think that the notion of “The One” gets wrapped up in the erroneous belief that as soon as we find someone who loves us, all of our problems get solved and all our needs will always be met and we will never go hungry again.
Dude, if you put that much pressure on anyone, you are destined for disappointment and resentment.
Sometimes, “The One” isn’t just about a romantic relationship. How many times have we said, “If only I had that job/money/workshop/enlightenment/award/fill-in-the-blank-craving, then I would be happy.”
Stop looking for “The One” outside of yourself and recognize that YOU are the one you’ve been waiting for.
When you become the heroine of your own story, you become 100% responsible for your own “happily ever after.” You stop chasing this nebulous thing outside of yourself and being a victim of circumstance.
You also invite freedom, play and growth into your life. We often use “The One” to satisfy some personal insecurity that we aren’t worthy of love unless we have something outside of ourselves to reflect our lovability.
We also search for “The One” because we fear change and view it as a threat to our survival. We hope that “The One” will provide the stability we so desperately crave. Sorry kids, but that’s just not how life works. And thank goodness for that, for it is that static way of living which is the true culprit in the death of sex and personal freedom and your own vitality.
When you realize that “Happily Ever After” can often look like “What the fuck am I doing? Help me! I don’t know. Fuck it,” then you are more willing to accept every moment as an opportunity to enjoy the ride rather than check out of life on the hungry-ghost hunt.
So here’s a poem from my upcoming book dedicated to all the princesses who are slaying their own dragons, saving themselves and choosing to grow up into Warrior-Queens. When you live life as your own “One,” whole and complete, you walk into relationships not looking for Prince Charming, but for a mature man or woman ready to share an adventure yet-to-be written.
From your perspective
It must seem as easy as
Drawing the sword from the stone
Or soaring on a magic carpet
Or spinning straw into gold
But I know myself
Princesses only stay pure
Through obstinate abstinence
So you’ll find me in the gutter
Cigarette in one hand
Ice cream in the other
And marvel at how easily angels fall
But if you’re brave enough to climb my tower
(And make friends with the sleeping dragon)
Then don’t try to explain me
(Your tongue has better uses)
Strip off your armor
(Women aren’t won with steel)
And succumb to the tumbling embers
From the beast (no longer tame)
As you rouse beauty from her slumber
With a kiss of fairy flame
(As Rilke says)
Perhaps all the dragons of our lives
Who are only waiting to see us
Beautiful and Brave
Originally posted July 24, 2013
“Honey, I think we need to take some space.”
I spoke these words to my ex-husband towards the end of 2008—seven years too late. About a month later, the relationship ended.
Two months into my second marriage, I now see how the power of space is one of the key factors in helping a partnership thrive.
Oftentimes when a partner asks for space, an onslaught of negative thoughts deluges (and deludes) our minds:
S/he doesn’t love me anymore.
S/he is cheating on me.
I’m asking for too much.
I’m too needy.
I’m not attractive.
I’m no fun.
But the truth is taking space is one of the telltale signs of a healthy relationship. It demonstrates trust, interdependency (vs. codependency) and being able to know your own needs, share them with your partner and have them lovingly received.
Taking space is not the same as running away. Running away is cutting the cord of the relationship. It’s a form of emotional disconnection and is the only refuge of those filled with resentment. What’s most needed in those moments is to stay connected, both to your partner and to your own feelings, and to share the backlog of communication you have withheld during your time together (this might take a little while and in the company of a good coach or therapist).
Conversely, taking space is about staying connected through the distance. Being in your dance of solitude while still celebrating companionship. Nurturing yourself so you return to the relationship refreshed and ready to share your bounty.
The following are my top 5 reasons why taking space in a marriage are the keys to saving it.
1. It builds sexual tension.
Ever hear the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder?” How about “absence makes the cock grow harder?” No matter how smokin’ hot your spouse is, once you see them through the domestic lens of morning breath and dirty dishes, the sexual sizzle starts to wane. But, just a little bit of space creates dynamic tension—the further apart the polar opposites are pulled, the stronger the magnetic attraction builds. Both time and distance stoke that desire. So when the moment to reunite approaches, both partners are typically aching to jump each other’s bones.
2. It helps deepen relationships outside your primary relationship.
“Ever since you got married, we never see you anymore.” So goes the lament of many a best friend when his or her pal ties the knot. Unfortunately for many of us married folk, once we start building the nest, we often find it difficult to leave. Remembering to foster your important relationships outside the marriage is a great way to build community and friendship for when you need an outsider’s perspective. Plus, when people have a strong web of external support, they become less dependent on the marriage for emotional nourishment and relieve spouses of the impossible duty to be their partner’s “everything.”
3. It reconnects you to your own needs and desires.
Most of the time in marriage, partners think in terms of “us.” “Can I afford to take a music class and contribute to our rent?” “Can I go to the museum today or did my partner have other plans in mind for us?” When you take time alone, you get to tap into your own individual desires and flow from there. You start to learn things about yourself that you may not have noticed if you’d had your attention on your partner. Perhaps you become inspired by a piece of artwork and decide to take up painting. Maybe you discover that Ethiopian food is your favorite (since you’ve never tried it because your partner hates it). Having the personal space to reflect on your needs and desires helps you return to the relationship whole, integrated and clear on what you need to ask next from the relationship.
Autonomy! It’s “do whatever the hell you want day” because no one is around to stop you! OK, not that anyone can stop you from doing anything really, but in relationship, negotiations are constantly being made. When you have your own space, you can turn up the music, dance in your underwear and eat greasy Chinese food. Or take a tour of a random neighborhood and enjoy the journey without having to check on someone else’s bladder or hunger levels. Knowing that there is space in your relationship for personal freedom builds trust and gratitude towards your partner.
5. It reminds you of why you love your partner.
Space feels pretty cool when you get to do what you want. But then there comes that moment when you want that perfect cup of tea only your partner knows how to make. Or when you ache for the depth of touch only your partner provides. Or when that silly, “inside joke” song comes on the radio and you end up singing it solo. When we feel the absence of the exquisite attention that our partner provides, we appreciate our dearly beloveds and remember why we continuously choose “yes” to the relationship.
Originally posted May 21, 2013
I got married. Again.
Something I vowed I would never do. But vows are funny things, you know. Life is constantly in a state of flux. What we vow one day gets flipped upside down the next. We either stay firm within them, or we shift with the tide.
So when the unshakable desire arose to love this man and commit to the unfolding partnership, I shifted too.
But when it came time for me to write my wedding vows, I found myself utterly stumped. Months went by. I thought the moment would magically arise and words would effortlessly overflow from my loving cup. Alas, I every time I tried to share what was in my heart, everything felt cheap and trite.
I reconsidered the whole notion of having vows. When I hear ‘in sickness and in health; til death do us part’, I think of fundamentalist, religious perspectives of the ‘proper’ roles of husbands and wives. Considering that I believe relationships can express themselves in a variety of ways, i.e. queer, poly and/or non-marriage based, this collection of antiquated aphorisms just weren’t my speed, nor did they inspire my writing.
Finally, in the shower, I had a flash in the form of a lyric from a medicine song that deeply binds me to my prayer.
I quickly wrapped a towel around me and dashed to my computer. Four lines squeezed out of me. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.
The next day, our internet went down. We called the cable company. While my partner was testing the internet on my computer, he saw the beginning of my vows, which I had idiotically left open on my laptop.
I was back to zero. And this time, I felt even more hopeless. The crappy internet had destroyed my tiny shred of inspiration.
And that’s when I decided I would start as I always do: with the truth. I made the decision to just write what I was feeling in the moment. Every mental block and aggravation poured out of me.
And from this odd pile of brain vomit arose a simple truth: I was trying to vow in a way that wasn’t in integrity with who I was. I was looking for static promises that I knew would all set me up for failure.
Instead, what I discovered, was that this love was a moment to moment choice. How our relationship will look or what we will want in the future will naturally ebb and flow with the tides of our lives. But I can be certain that I will be a total ‘yes’ to whatever arises. And this ‘yes’, to everything—the blissful and the challenging—is the foundation of orgasmic marriage.
I share these words with you today in the hopes that they carry on the spirit of that prayer: to inspire and foster growth—for myself, my Beloved and everyone we meet.
In a moment when a writer most needs her muse
Words utterly fail me—
Or rather they disappoint—
They are but brief placeholders
To the magnitude of love inside.
I remember within the first weeks of dating you
(During our emotional disarmament)
When I laid down my vanity and spoke
The ominous desire:
“I want to know what it’s like to be utterly devoted to a man.”
And so…here we stand.
Me: a woman
Just trying to figure it out.
You: the answer
To my every prayer.
This relationship has felt like a series of choiceless choices.
I can say ‘Yes’
And watch the most incredible miracles unfold--
Or…I can say ‘Yes’
Because you and I would never choose anything less than magic.
I choose connection over ‘being right.’
I choose vulnerability over pride.
I choose support for our growth over insecurity of my own inadequacy.
I choose celebration over manipulation.
I choose ‘more life’ over stagnant insulation.
I choose gratitude over resentment.
I choose play over ‘winning the game.’
I choose service to Spirit over selfish adoration.
I choose interpersonal freedom over fear-laden codependency.
I choose a pauper’s truth over a king’s ransom of lies.
“Oh my Beloved, you are always in my heart”
And this is my only prayer:
May our love be the foundation of our lives,
And an inspiration to each other
And to every person we meet.
I honor—and devote—myself to you,
My partner in this world—
And every place
Originally posted June 5, 2012
I swore off marriage when I was twelve years old. I was a jaded pre-teen with a bit of a feminist streak who had witnessed the demise of her parents’ relationship a few years before. I decided that I was never going to fall prey that heteronormative, societal slave trap. I was going to make something of my life and no amount of schmaltzy, romantic bullshit was going to stand in my way.
Ten years later I was married (life has a funny way of taking our belief systems and packing them with dynamite). I was a good wife—or at least I tried to be. I cooked and cleaned. I was understanding and kind (sometimes). And I really, really cared about my husband. But, admittedly, my heart was not in it. Nobody’s fault. We simply weren’t the best fit for each other and hung on for much longer than was respectfully necessary.
So, I ended up joining the ranks of one of the real housewives who get to say fashionable things like “My ex-husband this” or “My divorce settlement that”—all before the age of 30.
Joking aside, it was a pretty intense period of my life. Walking away from everything I had known about love and relating. Feeling like total failure. A selfish, sick little girl with no stable ground to stand on. Even though through it all I knew I was making the right choice, I was shaking with fear behind my mask of quiet bravery.
And with that mask came a resounding voice from the past: don’t ever get married again. No really. You are not wife material. You are not a mother. Do you want to put another man (and possibly innocent children) though hell?
Then five months ago he came along. And my whole system went “What the hell are you doing, Candice? Again? Really?”
No, not really. Something was different. Some puzzle piece went ‘click.’ The first part of the puzzle had to do with me. The fact that I done some deep soul spelunking, made peace with my hunger and discovered the courage to share my desire made a huge difference in being able to fearlessly express love (even in the face of inevitable rejection and humiliation).
Then, when you meet someone who totally compliments you and loves you and trusts you exactly as you are, there is a sort of ease and freedom that arises. Rather than trying to maintain some ideal of what I think wifedom and marriage should be, I am encouraged to peel off the layers and reveal parts of myself I have kept in the shadows for many years. In fact, the more intimate we are with each other, the better the relationship gets (case in point: jealousy and anger make for great raw material in sex).
And so I had to once again re-examine the voice that was against marriage. OK, so I am not in favor of the stagnant, co-dependent models of relating that parade themselves as marriage. And I think the way that marriage is represented in American culture isn’t truly rooted in love and commitment. I mean, we hungrily follow which football star Kim Kardashian might shack up with next. So-called ‘reality’ TV like the The Bachelor and The Millionaire Matchmaker have reduced marriage to the level of game shows, with husbands and wives as the ultimate prize. And as women, we get caught in this schizophrenic bind of having to find a husband and wanting our freedom: either we have to hunt him and trap him before we turn 30 (because the clock is ticking, ladies) or we give up relating all together for casual trysts that fill the gaps between power lunches and spin classes.
Cut and paste all that against the backdrop of a fierce political and religious debate surrounding the ‘sanctity’ of marriage as it’s ‘threatened’ by homosexual couples and you can see why we have a pretty twisted notion of what it means to be wedded in holy matrimony.
And it’s at this point that I settle onto my mediation cushion and find the pearl of wisdom that rests within me:
“Yes, oh Sagacious One.”
“Do whatever the fuck you want.”
Exactly. At the heart of it all, I want to marry this man. He’s so fucking cool! I get excited when I think about living a crazy, rockstar, dream life with him—a life that goes way beyond the bounds of ‘normal’ marriage. We—my Beloved and I—get to create something unique and authentic. We get to make the rules (and break them). And in the end, we answer to no one but ourselves.
But I like to make lists. And I like to write articles. And I like to make lists when I write articles. So even though there’s really only one reason I’m choosing marriage (because it’s my desire), here are 11 Reasons Why I’m Getting Married (Again):
1. It was spontaneous. And I just love that. It feels much more honest when life happens at the unfiltered speed of ‘Yes.’ If you give me the perfectly scripted diamond-ring-and-down-on-one-knee proposal, I may smile and think “Oh how sweet,” but I’m not going to be sold. But if you give me the day of a total eclipse at the Symbiosis Festival in the Reckless In Love Shack at 3am while surrounded by an inebriated gang of Brits, you have yourself a winner.
2. He’s my best friend. We don’t just love each other; we like each other. We have lots of cracked out, dorky fun together. We like singing Bohemian Rhapsody (the entire thing!). We like quoting cheesy movies to each other. We make each other fall down laughing with our free associations and impressions of other people. And if after 13 days of spending nearly every moment together (days that included very little sleep, 30 hours of driving and camping out in some pretty harsh conditions) we still want to hang out with each other, that’s a pretty damn good sign.
3. We know when to take space. And then, after the 13 days of traveling together, when I say to him, “Honey, I need the night off,” he meets me with understanding and respect. He also knows when to ask for space. We may say something like, “I miss you. I feel sad. I’m disappointed not to see you. My body aches for you.” But in the end, absence does make the heart grow fonder—or at least our relationship stronger. For when we take the time to cultivate our individual passions, we come back together from a place of fullness and energy, ready to share our discoveries with each other.
4. I want to grow old with him. What’s more, I could even see myself having our child (yikes!). This is a very, very hard piece for me to admit. It hits my pride as a ‘free woman’ on so many levels. And yet, when I slow down and feel my desire, I discover joy in the possibility of building a life together—who we are as a team is infinitely greater than who we are alone. I don’t have to spend my life with him. I know I can survive just fine. But I’ve had flashes of his wise, old face in a rocking chair on the front porch of our home. I’m choosing to stick around long enough to see that.
5. He cries. I trust a man who is not afraid to share his innermost wonder and grief. It gives me the courage to share mine. His raw vulnerability is a huge gift in a world where masculinity is falsely touted as being some unbreakable superhero. No, dear readers. The masculine face of love sheds many, many tears on the journey of opening one’s heart to a woman.
6. Because why the fuck not? I don’t ever want to say on my deathbed “Thank God I played it safe when I was in love.” I want to be able to revel in the fact that I risked it all and made the most of every second life had to offer me. I don’t think the universe makes mistakes and I certainly don’t see my first marriage as a mistake. I think it was a glorious journey that has taken me exactly where I need to be. This time, the universe has raised the stakes and I am ready to play balls out.
7. We inspire each other to keep growing. Settling for ‘ok’ isn’t good enough for either of us, even if that means discomfort on both our parts. But that discomfort is just a sign we are hitting a fertile boundary, ripe with creativity and promise. And we are both courageous enough to stay connected within the change, even when it includes some scary shit like moving to another city or exploring our sexuality with someone outside of the relationship.
8. We trust each other’s inner compass. And we strive to speak our truth and have space for the other person’s experience. When he feels something is ‘off’, I listen. When I get intuitive hits about where to go next, he pays attention. This kind of respect is not something I take for granted. It requires a high level of communication and trust to say things like:
“What’s your deeper desire?”
“Where are you right now?”
“Stop playing nice.”
“You feel far away.”
“What are you not saying?”
“I know we planned to turn right, but I’d like to go left.”
“You don’t feel connected to your heart.”
“I love you and I am fuckin’ pissed.”
“This is a hard boundary and I am saying ‘No.’”
9. I get to wear a kick-ass dress. OK, perhaps one of the more shallow reasons to get married again (and also why this list went from 10 to 11) but I like dressing up. And last time I got married at the Justice of the Peace in casual pants and a sweater, so this time I want to go all out. Think Tim Burton meets Moulin Rouge. Yeah, you know you’re jealous.
10. He’s a rock. In the sense that I can throw all my wackiest, off-the-wall, crazy, angry, jealous, freaked out, neurotic shit at him, and he’s still standing. Not only is he still standing—he’s still loving me. He’s not afraid to violate the rules I have locking my orgasm. His commitment to total presence in the face of my feminine outrage liberates the woman in me—and the delicious reward on the other side of that liberation frees us both.
11. I like kissing him. Don’t get me wrong—the sex is awesome too. And if you know anything about me, you know that I place a high value on quality sex. However, there’s something so intimate about kissing someone. There’s nowhere to hide. It’s as if I’m emotionally naked and all the faces of my desire come out as he is staring into my eyes. The warm, electric promise of more when he brushes his lips below my ear and slides his thumb over my nipple. The comfort of home when cups his hands over my ears and grazes his mouth against my forehead. The rousing of my hungry animal when he thrusts me against a wall and devours my face, while pressing his cock against my thick, wet pussy. The sweet, adolescent innocence of his soft, full lips against mine as our tongues barely caress each other. I’ve had a variety of terrific lovers, for which I have tremendous gratitude. But to know how to slake a dying woman’s thirst with just the right kiss—that’s enough to bring me to my knees and pledge a lifetime of eternal devotion.