How Can Change Happen Within a Relationship?

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

This quote by French writer Marcel Proust is especially applicable when speaking of change in committed relationships. A relationship is indeed a voyage of discovery, a journey of living life. Too often we think of relationship as a static structure rather than the ongoing, interactive process that it is. Within that process, change is always naturally occurring, because we are always changing, in our relationship both to ourselves and to others.

When we’re upset, tired and frustrated, we see and interpret the world through the lens of our discontent. A child’s innocent tug at our sleeve results in an overblown reaction. A broken dish calls forth a torrent of tears. Our partner’s familiar quirks greatly aggravate and annoy us. We may even think that we want out of the relationship, that the grass is going to be greener somewhere else or with someone else. We see with darkened eyes.

At other times, when we’re in a good mood, we see and interpret life more gently and gracefully. We have time for the child, we express disappointment without hysterics and we lovingly laugh at our partner – and ourselves. We see the light. The old adage that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder is true. But how do we get there from here? How can we change how we see things?

Ghandi urged us to “be the change we want to see in the world.” Well yes, if we want to see love, we must be love. But how do we do that? How do we create new eyes to see with?

There is a way. And it is with us – or more specifically, within us - at all times. When we are centered in our own being, centered and grounded in our moment-to-moment embodiment, our vision is quite different from when we are off-center. We literally see differently. (Our actual visual acuity may even reflect this difference.) And when we see differently, we interpret and react differently.

But the question still remains. How do we become centered enough to change how we see and interpret things? How can we stay centered when life is pushing and pulling us all over the place? It is helpful to think of this inner centering as a process similar to the auto-pilot used on airplanes and boats. The auto-pilot does not keep the craft constantly going in the intended direction. What it does is make corrections, over and over again, each time there is a drifting away from the desired path.

We can’t put ourselves on auto-pilot, and we wouldn’t want to. Being mindful is quite the opposite. It is unlikely that most of us can stay centered 100% of the time. What all of us can do, though, is to notice when we’re off-center and then make those small corrections that continually bring us back, returning us to our own true center.

Feeling grouchy, bitchy, mean or just worn out? Does the world – or your partner - look inadequate and unsatisfactory? Your perceptions may be muddied by your own off-center vision. There’s your clue, just what you need to remind you to shift, yet again, back into center.

We all have the necessary mechanism for such correction: our own physical body.

When we take a moment to be mindfully aware of our body, we shift into a more peaceful state of mind and consciousness that is automatically aligned with the best of ourselves. When we move into that state of consciousness, we change how we see the world.

Energy follows attention. When we bring attention into the body, we can experience that shift. Tantra, an ancient spiritual teaching from India, provides instruction in how to center your energy within yourself, and how to share that moment, intimately, with your partner. Right now, as you read this, bring your awareness to your hands. What do you notice? Shift your awareness from one hand to the other. Is your breathing affected? You are still reading, but sensing yourself in a different way. Now feel your seat on the chair, sense-feel how it is supporting you, perhaps also your back... After a few moments, move your awareness to your feet. As you position your attention in different areas of your body, you bring yourself home. You are gathering all the disparate parts of your self and reorganizing them into the whole that you are. When you are home, in this centered place, you will see the world, your relationship, your lover – and yourself - through new eyes. Relationship truly becomes a voyage of discovery.

Author's Bio: 

With her husband Richard, Diana Daffner leads Intimacy Retreats for couples, held in romantic locations. The Daffners are the authors of Tantric Sex for Busy Couples: How to Deepen Your Passion in Just Ten Minutes a Day and the creators of Tantra Tai Chi, an easy movement program that helps couples synchronize their energy through awareness. Diana is a relationship and marital coach, holds an M.A. in counseling and a black belt in Aikido, and has taught massage, meditation, Reiki and other body-centric spiritual arts for many years. To contact Diana, or for a free brochure and schedule information, please call (941) 349-6804 or visit