On Remaining Chronically In Love

Valentine's Day is just around the corner.

Some time ago, a commenter requested that I speak about my marriage (not a "legal" one -- rather, the energetic relationship with my spouse, which is more of a marriage than most marriages I know of). Below is a piece that I wrote several years ago, which I am posting here in celebration and acknowledgment of my Beloved. (Change three years to five+ wherever appropriate -- cuz it's all still true for me.)

Remaining Chronically In Love

Something I’ve always wanted. Something I’m practicing now.

The being who serves as my primary spiritual teacher and adviser says that the thing we call being “In Love” (as opposed to simply “loving”) is produced directly by the process of revelation — when we fall in love, we hasten to tell each other stories, share pictures, and desire nothing more passionately than to “know” the Beloved at every level possible -- and to be known by them.

He says the reason we seek this experience so consistently, even after we have entered it and may have found it painful, is that it is the template for how God/The Divine loves us — not as the doting Mother or Father, but as the Beloved.

If anyone is squeamish about the "G" word -- please keep in mind that when I refer to "God" or "The Divine", I am NOT talking about the big guy with the white beard, but rather my belief in a divine unifying consciousness (more on the DUC According to Portly).

One of my favorite quotes from my teacher (indicating how DUC/God looks at us): “Oh — look — she’s fucking her life up — isn’t she fantastic!

Just as we do in the first throes of love.

We want to eat, drink, absorb, and generally crawl into the skin of the object of our “in-loveness”. They are beautiful to us, whether dancing, sitting, or drooling in their sleep.

I am experiencing that with my Beloved — my Mate — and I have been experiencing it for the past three years.

She is sleeping in the other room as I write this, and I am typing away on my blog, waiting for my computer back-up to complete — anxiously awaiting the moment when I get to go sleep next to her.

For me, that is miraculous. I not only want to sleep next to her — I want it desperately (for those of you who may not understand why I think this is a miracle, try googling “Lesbian Bed Death”).

While that (LBD) has to do with the drop-off in sexuality in lesbian relationships, what I’m talking about is much, much more than sex. I am, personally, very glad that our relationship remains profoundly “frisky” (personally, I want to still be having wild, tantric, untamed sex when I’m 120 — and beyond) -- but what I value most in sharing my life with her is that I experience ongoing fascination — continuing interest — perpetual surprise.

I used to believe that love was a happy accident, the most unlikely, and yet, most coveted, of experiences.

I thought that “falling in love” was something that just dropped on your head — a rock tossed by some capricious and unnameable deity (sometimes with the predictable results of contusions and bleeding).

You could never tell when it would arrive — or — when it would depart — the hand that had aimed that ecstatic stone at you could reach down at any moment, and remove it with no more announcement or justification than when they had hurled it in the first place.

I used to believe that.

It made “in love” a precious and scary commodity — something completely outside my power.

I no longer believe it. I am finding, in my first three years of a very long-term experiment about doing “partnership” in a completely different way, that there actually seems to be a logic and a certainty to remaining “chronically in love”.

I’ve read and heard people talking about how to “make love stay” — but I don’t think love is a Labrador Retriever — (Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: “Staaaay. Staaaay.”) In fact, my experience has been that trying to “train” love is a sure way to kill it.

I think the reason I’m still crazy about her has to do with this revelation thing.

My mate and I meet every week to talk about the state of our relationship. We have an agenda. We check in about equal exchange, agreements, intimacy, money, things we’ve noticed about our dynamics, etc. - all the things couples typically fight about (don’t mistake me — it’s not like we never argue or come to points of conflict in our relating).

We go through this agenda every week, and as a result, we keep a pretty clean slate with each other in terms of back-log — but I don’t think that’s the “secret” of remaining “in love” either. It’s simply a tool -- Okay -- a really, really good tool.

The thing that this weekly meeting does provide that seems key to me is the opportunity to check in, consciously and regularly, about whether we are still revealed and revealing to one another.

We also take a good deal of time to ourselves. For me, this means that when we come back together, there is always something that has happened to each of us that the other was not a party to — there’s a story to tell, an experience to describe, or an insight that is new.

Because we have an agreement to be “radically and utterly truthful and honest” with one another (yes, in writing, and yes, this means that if I have a sex-dream in which the person involved is not my Beloved, I roll over in the morning and say “Honey, I think I cheated on you last night.”) — we actually tell each other these stories, experiences, and insights — not assuming that we will just “know” by osmosis, or that we know each other so well that there is nothing new to know.

We have an agreement to be monogamous (yes, in writing, too), but more than that, we have an agreement to contain our sexuality between us. This means that, while we may engage in “public displays of affection”, you won’t see us making out or grabbing each other’s asses. (We do those things, just not in front of you.) I have found that this somehow concentrates and focuses the intensity of our intimacy.

We have an agreement about the order of our priorities (DUC first, Self second, Others third), an agreement about how we share money, about maintaining equal exchange with one another, about whether we will have or adopt children, about whether we will live in the same house, about whether our time is our own (unless we schedule time together) or collective (unless we schedule time apart), and about how we will deal with conflict should it arise between us.

We have an agreement that we will leave the planet (die) together (and this is not a suicide pact — it is an intention to pass from this life at the same time, somewhere around, say, age 140, preferably during a bout of “mutual friskiness”).

All of these agreements are in writing, and have been witnessed officially by a close circle of loved ones.

[Imagined dialogue in my head from the reader: “Oh My God! All those agreements! That’s so romantic! — NOT!”]

I hear this whispered in my head, but I choose to affirm, instead, that you possess a curious and searching nature, and I put in my vote of confidence that, even if this is a new concept to you, you might just be intrigued and enthusiastic — so I choose to insert another possible dialogue into my mind: “Really, Portly? Agreements? In Writing? Tell me more!”

And to this, inquiring reader, I will gladly respond.

Yes. Agreements. In Writing. We actually have four pages of written agreements. Most of them, we made at the start of our relationship as mates, although a few have been added, and several modified. We began this way because of the conclusions each of us had come to in terms of what fostered sustainable relationship and what did not, and based our agreements upon what each of us believed to be our baseline spiritual and experientially-proven truths.

The agreements are the structure -- they are not the love itself -- just a good and fertile soil where the love can thrive -- an ever-expanding pot for it to grow in.

Two things about taking the time to make these agreements out front, and doing a weekly check-in on how well we are keeping them:

1. Having ironed these things out at the beginning, we spend less time processing basic things about our relationship “on the fly” as compared to many couples I have known (in my past relationships I often found out that agreements really were important, albeit completely missing, but I usually discovered this in the midst of a huge fight, when I was least equipped to work out the agreements that would have probably prevented the fight in the first placing).
2. The mere fact that we were both willing (alright --insistent) on making these agreements was, for me, a sign of how much we each valued the connection that we believed they would sustain.

Examples of #1 above -- just in case you don’t get it:

We have sometimes had a conflict about “I’m feeling disconnected from you right now and I don’t like it. What’s going on?” We have never had the conflict about “Do you even want to be with me?! Why won’t you commit!?”

We have sometimes had a conflict about “I notice that you’ve said you’ve been worrying about money lately, and I believe that worry creates the thing being worried about, and since my financial resources are blended with yours, I wonder how that affects me.” We have never had the conflict about “Well, I earn the money, so I get to decide how it’s spent!”

In previous relationships, I’ve had the “Why Won’t You Commit!?” fight (from both sides). I’ve had the “I Earn The Money!!” fight (from both sides). I’ve had the “I Don’t Have To Tell You Everything!” fight, and the “Why Are You So Distant?” fight. I’ve had the “If You Loved Me, You’d Put Me First!”, and “I’ve Been Up All Night Where Were You?! Why Didn’t You Call!?”, and “Why Didn’t You Stand Up For Me!?” fights. I’ve had all these fights, from both sides, in previous relationships.

I didn’t enjoy them.

When seeming conflict does arise between me and my mate, these are not the issues we grapple with. Because we have agreed about these issues. We don’t tussle about whether we should be honest and truthful. We both agree that this is an absolutely necessary agreement for the soil our connection requires --

-- and --

This Is What Grows in That Soil:

I still spend a serious amount of time trying to determine the correct word for her eye-color. Cedar? Teak? Teddy-Bear Button?
I look into them often, to get my bearings, but still haven’t drawn any conclusion.

I walk into the bedroom --I glimpse all ten of her toes, curled up against one another, and I stop in the doorway, entranced.

Kissing her in the hallway makes me literally, physically, dizzy.

If I hear her laugh out loud in the next room, I am absolutely compelled to find out what she thinks is funny. I simply cannot continue until I do.

I love watching her when she doesn’t know I’m watching her, but I always hope that she’ll look up and see me watching her.

I think she is the most interesting and complex person I have ever met.

I think this every single day.

ps. If you are interested in the formula for this potting mix, and want to see a copy of our agreements/intentions in full, let me know.

copyright 2005-2008 [all rights reserved]

Posted byPortlyDyke at 12:45 PM  


Anonymous said... February 7, 2008 at 10:38 PM  

Thank you.

I'm gobsmacked.

I also love watching Tim in unguarded moments, the tilt of his head, his lovely giggle when something he reads or sees catches him just so; and, like you, I'm not sure of his eye color, either, slate-navy-with flecks of sometimes gold and sometimes pyrite, depending on his mood, and mine.

Tim and I have lived together for 22 years; 22nd anniversary in May. We never considered making lists, but what an extraordinary idea. It shows how evolved you both are.

We wish you nothing but love and more evolution until you choose to join the universe in one last big bang.

Joan Rooch

Anonymous said... February 7, 2008 at 10:44 PM  


I hope (and work toward) the day that you and your Beloved like I and mine may marry legally if that's what's best. Love and commitment don't require a his and a hers, just an ours.

Joan Rooch

Anonymous said... February 10, 2008 at 3:34 PM  

Portly, do you think all this is possible within a heterosexual relationship?


PortlyDyke said... February 10, 2008 at 4:16 PM  

beyondfeminism -- I absolutely think this is possible within a heterosexual relationship.

In fact, I think that entering relationship with clear agreements (especially as regards equal exchange) is even more critical in a relationship between a man and a woman, where cultural assumptions tend to run rampant unless brought to consciousness and directly addressed.

I say that I think it is possible because I have helped straight couples (in my work) create these agreements with one another, and have seen their relationships blossom and grow as a result.

Fishegg said... February 11, 2008 at 12:54 PM  

Can you please expand on this topic and share a copy of the agreementa/intentions?

It is such a lovely concept.

Thank you for sharing it.

Tanya said... May 9, 2008 at 7:55 AM  

What a lovely concept... and certainly something I would like to be working towards myself.

I would very much appreciate it if you would show me a copy.

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