Noted couples therapists Jim and Ruth Sharon draw on over forty years of professional and personal experience to offer useful perspectives, tools and practices to cultivate a soulful relationship with your partner. Combines insights from psychology, the world’s spiritual traditions, and the experiences of many kinds of committed couples.
Jim Sharon, EdD, and Ruth Sharon, MS
6 x 9, 192 pp | 978-1-59473-554-7
The map to soulful love is locked within the secret chambers of your heart—here is the key.
“Each of you holds the secrets of what really works in your relationship. Perhaps you have not thought about or expressed your secrets. In reading this book and participating in soulful couples activities, you are likely to tap into your dormant wisdom and gain the courage to unlock those secrets.... Ready to go exploring?”
—from the Introduction
Noted couples therapists Jim and Ruth Sharon draw on over forty years of professional and personal experience to offer you useful perspectives, tools and practices to cultivate a beautiful, sacred relationship with your beloved. Combining insights from psychology, the world’s great spiritual wisdom traditions and the experiences of many kinds of committed couples, the Sharons guide you to:
- Identify and replace unwanted habits with positive patterns
- Master soulful communication
- Reignite and sustain sacred intimacy
- Achieve balance between your life as an individual and as a couple
- Thrive as soulful partners while parenting
- Build a lasting legacy of love
- And much more
“A true gift ... deep wisdom and loving guidance is present each step of the way.... A beautiful guide for anyone desiring to create and sustain a profoundly connected and truly fulfilling relationship.”
—Mali Apple and Joe Dunn, authors, The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships
“It is not good for humans to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). But it is a lot worse to be trapped in a lifeless union. Jim and Ruth Sharon help you avoid both. This is a practical and heartfelt book on creating the relationship you want.”
—Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author, Embracing the Divine Feminine: Finding God through the Ecstasy of Physical Love—The Song of Songs Annotated and Explained
“Great insights from a couple who has been married for a long time and know what it takes to keep the flames burning.... That testimony gives credibility to their practical ideas and suggestions.”
—Kay Yerkovich, MS, MFT, and Rev. Milan Yerkovich, authors, How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage
“Insightful, loving and full of real understanding of what makes marriage rich and meaningful.... Jim and Ruth have successfully shared the knowledge they have gained from their own marriage and from years of counseling and teaching others. A deeply engaging book!”
—David Karchere, spiritual director, Sunrise Ranch, Loveland, Colorado
“Brings couples face to face and soul to soul. I have no doubt that thousands of soulful couples will find this book transformative as they seek to love more deeply and create the kind of partnership that blesses everyone.”
—John Backman, author, Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart
What prompted you to write this book?
“Filling up and spilling over, it’s an endless waterfall,” are lyrics by Chris Williamson, one of our favorite singers. We know that love is endless and abundant and we want to spread the good news! A drink of love has the power of healing, connecting and awakening our spiritual nature. We want to widely share the immense joy we have experienced and the vital secrets we have uncovered throughout our marriage. Having worked with thousands of couples as marriage counselors, program presenters, retreat facilitators and coaches for soulful couples, we have a wealth of practical suggestions and helpful practices to share with committed couples seeking to expand their love.
We realize that a vague and perhaps unfulfilled promise of love in a marriage can create so much pain and confusion for many people. We hope that readers benefit from and appreciate the lessons inherent in our personal accounts and stories, and those written by diverse couples who are developing sacred marriages. As shifts in consciousness about marriage are emerging, we feel compelled to narrate and illuminate the evolving changes.
Who will benefit from reading this book?
This book is primarily intended for couples of all ages and orientations who are dedicated to self-development and to enhancing their primary relationship in many areas. Our book is also written to serve those in the process of grieving the loss of a significant relationship and to offer inspiration and direction for people seeking a future strong, loving relationship. Those who embrace spirituality and vision building in their marriages are especially likely to gain value from this book.
We have identified five main groups who will benefit:
- New couples, whether in a first or subsequent marriage, who want guidance on the path of sacred partnership
- Busy couples raising a family who want to stay connected to each other while parenting
- Couples in committed, long-term relationships who want to rekindle the flame together
- “Empty nest” couples who want to start a new chapter together
- Singles seeking a healthy, soulful partner
What are the essential qualities of a soulful marriage?
Foundationally, self-acceptance and self-love set the stage for authentically loving your partner and humbly being loved. Sufficiently completing your past patterns and healing your wounds open the way to healthy marital interaction. Being deeply committed and loyal to your beloved, taking responsibility for your own needs and feelings and supporting each other’s overall well-being and life purpose(s) create and sustain soulful marriage. Important aspects of spiritual development include treating each other with respect, actively building trust, communicating effectively and gaining skills and attitudes for resolving conflicts. Sharing spiritual practices and perspectives elevates love and expands soulful connections.
How do you assess whether your relationship is a soulful one?
The term “soulful marriage” is highly subjective. Its meaning varies considerably from one couple to another, depending on factors such as personal background, values, personality types, needs and interests. That said, this book identifies various key ingredients that most couples endorse as important contributors to the vitality, strength and sanctity of their marriages.
Here is a quick informal checklist. Are you:
- Able to manage household and financial responsibilities cooperatively?
- Enjoying each other’s company?
- Having a satisfying sexual and intimate connection?
- Honoring and respecting each other with heartfelt love?
- Open, honest and proactive in developing yourself and your relationship?
- Cherishing, admiring and affirming your partner and your relationship?
- Attuned to your personal and collective soulful, spiritual nature?
Preparation for Group Book Club
- What support and understanding do you need/want from the others in your group so that the book club is a worthwhile experience? What agreements can you establish so you can feel safe to grow as your own evolving soulful self and as a couple? Are you willing to take responsibility for your personal needs getting met? Will you encourage others to be assertive about their needs too? Keep a record of your agreements and guidelines.
- Decide on the format, meeting times and places and duration of your book study, as well as leaders and support roles. Will you include food? Alcohol? Babysitting support?
- Will you bring in outside speakers or facilitators to enhance the experience? Seek guidance and support from the authors of Secrets of a Soulful Marriage, Jim and Ruth Sharon, through www.energyforlife.us.
Table of Contents
- As you read over the Table of Contents, what chapter first calls your attention? What draws you to that chapter?
- What emotional reactions (positive or negative) are you aware of when you read the Introduction and prepare to delve into this evocative book?
- Share your personal story of meeting your partner.
- What are you placing in your “backpack” to take on the journey of a soulful relationship?
- How has your personal history influenced your current or most recent love relationship?
- What condition is your “I am lovable and capable” sign in right now? What do you need in order to repair rips and tears from your past? How might you polish and shine your sign?
- What has helped you to overcome your need to be perfect? What tips can you offer about accepting yourself? About embracing your partner?
- Discuss what the term “shifts in consciousness” means to you.
- Keep a journal or record of your changes throughout this book study. Be creative in how you express your journey (art, poetry, prose, etc).
- What are some negative attitudes or behavior patterns from your past that you have discontinued? How are you now more authentic in your life and in your relationship?
- What are some ways that you and your partner encourage each other’s independence or autonomy? What are some examples of how each of you supports the other to express his or her individuality?
- What is the next step you would like to take, or know you need to take, toward forgiving yourself or your mate?
- List a few instances in which you managed or overcame fear and in the process improved your relationship.
- Discuss your challenges in speaking clearly, assertively and powerfully, especially when angry or stressed.
- Share several examples of you and your beloved communicating successfully and masterfully.
- What are you learning about listening in a “dance” with your partner’s speaking?
- How can you use the “cup” and “sword” to de-escalate the power struggles you and your partner engage in?
- What communication tools, including fair fighting, do you practice to connect effectively with your lover? What supportive tips can you offer to the group?
- What communication skills do you want to practice or hone through your group participation?
- Describe some of your thoughts and feelings of cherishing your beloved. How have your feelings deepened or intensified over time?
- What are some ways you demonstrate respect for your mate? How have you been more respectful over time?
- How would you want to honor your spouse more? What concrete changes can you imagine resulting from being more adoring and respectful?
- List some ways in which you and your partner honor differences between you.
- What are some of your favorite ways that you two reignite the fire of passion and bask in the warmth of intimacy?
- What risks are you willing to take to share more of your authentic self?
- How effective are you at expressing your dreams and goals? Your true feelings and needs? Vulnerable aspects of yourself?
- Growing takes courage and commitment to evolve into more of yourself. What does being curious, living in the mystery and exploring positive possibilities mean to you?
- What types of in-house dates bring you closer? What out-of-the-house dates do you want to plan for the near future?
- How would you introduce more surprise into your soulful relationship?
Identify two or three areas of your personal life that are flowing rather smoothly, such as your job, exercise, recreation or spirituality. Conversely, what are a few areas you need to further develop?
What facets of your relationship with your partner are in harmony, such as common interests, romance, household management and parenting? Which ones are “out of sync” or require greater collaboration?
What are the main challenges you encounter in leading a balanced life?
To what extent do you and your spouse balance personal autonomy with soulful
connection in your relationship? Explain your response.
Tell the group about your children or your intention for having children. Describe your parenting style and challenges. What “shifts in consciousness” are you aware of regarding how you were raised and how you raise your children?
What are some of your secrets for staying connected while parenting? How would you describe couple care?
Who is in your village (supportive community)? How do they help you to raise your family in healthy ways? What role models do your kids emulate? What support do they offer you?
How do you develop a spiritual home for you and your family?
What works and what doesn’t work in your efforts to evolve as a soulful family?
- Extend your wishes and dreams further than usual in picturing a glorious future for your relationship. What would be some initial steps that you and your beloved could take toward realizing at least some of that splendid future?
- If you were to draft a mission statement that represented your relationship ideals, what key items would you want to include?
- What “keys” are you willing to use to clearly enliven and enhance your relationship?
- How can you more actively support your partner to fulfill her or his life purpose?
Invitation: The Promise of Love
What does the opening quote about living as a spiritual being having a human experience mean to you?
What wisdom can you share with the others in your group that may light their path?
What do you sense about your partner being a catalyst to your spiritual awakening?
Describe how you have matured emotionally and have become more available to love and be loved in your relationship.
What do you think, feel or sense about love being a holy crucible? In what ways do you consciously energize your soul purpose by being together?
Share your vision of the promise of love being fulfilled in your soulful marriage.
Feel free to add other questions for your group and send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Affirm yourself and those in your group for taking the journey as a soulful person in soulful relationship.