One of the hardest things for a man to reconcile himself with is, in my opinion, balancing his need for love with his thirst for freedom… and with his desire to accomplish something in the world.
Have you gotten your head around that love triangle yet?
For years, these three different topics wrestled for my attention, elbowing each other in the temples, in the martial art arena of my mind. Prioritisation, what a dilemma! Due to all that tangled in-fighting, I made slower progress in all three.
1. Our desire for a ground-breaking, life-defining love with a beautiful woman…
2. Our hope to make best of our talents, and leave a mark on this world…
3. Our hunger for an initiation odyssey: a thrilling and oft-exposing adventure of self-discovery.
David Whyte called these the ‘three marriages’, and said that every man is married—inextricably so—to these fifty-foot bedpartners throughout his life.
Woman. Work. And Self (or ‘the Sublime’). From cradle until grave, there is no getting away.
But if I want Mastery in any of these three, I need to explore them in depth.
If I explore each in depth, I have no more luxury of time.
In fact, I’m so busy, there’s no space left just to live.
I don’t know about you, but for many years I was too busy with myself to really, truly live.
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Flying at 30,000 ft
It is painful to be smothered by the three marriages, and not find a strong sense of progress in each. How does one conquer the mind’s drive for effort, the addiction to productivity? Is it possible to s l o w i t a l l d o w n ?
The big discovery—or acquiescence— that I made, is that I will never have time to bring any of these three marriages to any sort of completion. No. They are ongoing processes, open to all kinds of emergence, novelty, loss, or outcome.
Instead of driving any of these marriages toward some imagined goal of perfection, I learned to take time behind the three marriages, accessing a deeper state of mind. I’d take the helicopter view, as a client of mine called it a couple of years back. When pausing well, I found I could dwell in a state of insight, from which the three warring marriages appeared far more interrelated than they had previously and heretofore occurred.
And the more I saw these marriages’ strange and perennial inter-relatedness, the more shortcuts I learned to take through the woods, and the less busywork I found myself doing in each.
By realising how inextricably I’m already living the three paths fully—that they’re not destinations I hope to reach in the future, way out there—the more I seemed to claim my time back.
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Collapsing The Walls Between Loves
About six months into my relationship with Adelya, we found ourselves in an expensive part of Europe with my bank account hurtling quickly towards zero. Sure, we kicked off our relationship with an amazing time on the road, but all of a sudden, my need (and my hustle) for work grew in my entrails like a stinging boil that had no release.
This led to some stressed days: wake up, cappuccino, laptop out, attention directed. No long mornings writhing amidst the fabric of our sheets, no sumptuous elongated brunches rich in croissants and napoleons. I’d take calls late into the night, my thoughts amidst charts, plans and predictions. I became irritable: less so with my work, but more so with my woman who would belittle and distract it.
I get the sense my woman is jealous of my work, I pondered. And the harder I focused the more she fought back, ripping it down, stealing attention, disparaging it, as if my career were another woman in my life to eliminate. In response, I only closed up and guarded my work-time further, snarling at her through fiery breath and gritted teeth, the way every absent husband has done throughout history: Stop it! I need to work!
Things got tense. My woman and my work were in conflict, and I couldn’t seem to make both happy. Since I possess a sort of itchy trigger finger around the topic of personal freedom, who do you think would be first out the door if they came to a full-on fight?
How would you get out of this?
For me, it came to a butt-naked profusion of vulnerability. One morning, bursting with stress, I turned fully to face her, breathed everything in, and let my true feelings show. This is what happens to me, emotionally, stress-wise, virility-wise, if I don’t do my work. This is what happens to us, as a couple. I burn up with fears of our survival; I’m eaten alive with fears of squandering my life.
The show of emotion stunned her.
She didn’t need to understand—she needed to feel—the function of my work-life in terms of identity, stability, sanity, of keeping both of our heads above water. She had to witness, first hand, the naked stakes of a man’s vocation, so she could understand its place in both of our lives. Yep, man’s beloved work has a place in both partner’s lives.
The more she got to see that any professional success was a relational success—that Jordan’s working wins were not private affairs, but translated directly into money, survival, luxury, excitement, and even thrust in bed—the more (surprise surprise) she became a supporter of it. As you might have seen, Adelya began supporting me at conferences and retreats, and drew a new identity for herself not just as lover… but as confidant, mirror, and muse.
Essentially, I needed to be seen in my process—to share my spiritual, vocational and artistic unfoldment—as hers. The truth is, when you’re in a committed partnership, where the two of you you become one as much as you remain two, all of this is her adventure, too.
Otherwise, I’m a private guy in a tryst of roommates, keeping silos, keeping secrets.
Productivity-wise, I had to reconcile myself with the fact that living with a woman slows me down. You know, late-night runs for groceries and cat food. Excessive visits to the clinic and hospital lounge. Emotional débris, sure, intimacy churns up. Listening to her worries and her woes. That’s a lot of time I’m not at the laptop!
One would be tempted to always keep women at bay.
But this slow, natural furrow into the soil, into the roots, composts a man in unchosen and inadvertent ways, and our entwined—sometimes painful—union ventures me deeper, so when I do hit the keyboard or the coaching room, or stand up in public with a yes advertent vision, there’s much more depth to transmit.
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How are you currently faring in your ‘three marriages’?
Are they in sync, at war, or simply trailing behind?
These more refined, life-defining questions about your deepest commitments are what we will cover, in depth, throughout Legacy.
Do you wish to arrive at a place of stability, cohesion, balance and depth… in all the pursuits most meaningful to you?
There are just six spots for Legacy in 2022. It’s the first time we ever run this programme. And it’s a culmination of everything the Ars Amorata’s been pointing at so far.
I hope to see you inside.
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P.S. One of the main causes of sexless marriages is inner stress—caused by the tension between marriages. I don’t want to fuck tonight, because my focus is internally divided.
My work, my purpose, is demanding so much.
The counter-intuitive solution to this is having, in your body, the realisation that the fruits of sex (the love, the inspiration, that tingly energy) actually seeps through into your work, filling it with the passion and delight you’re substituting for with your endless refills of coffee.
Counter-intuitively, the most cost-effective, authority-enhancing, and innovation-laden solution to problems with purpose (and also your spiritual quest) come from having more—and better—sex.
Your income, your status (and your ‘enlightenment’) will actually go up.
More on this another day.
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