Waxing poetic on the subject of love and marriage, Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet said, "Let there be spaces in your togetherness." Gibran is not suggesting that couples take an occasional breather from each other (although that might be a good idea, too). In beautiful, lyrical language Gibran reminds us not to lose ourselves in our relationship, but to maintain our individuality, and that by doing so we are stronger as a couple.
The passage includes this, " And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart . . ." I would happily trade a valuable body part for the ability to write like Gibran but no one has offered that deal so I'm stuck with elaborating in my far less lyrical way. "Togetherness" is not about being joined at the hip. "Togetherness" is about the emotional and mental bond that connects you and, like the pillars of the temple, supports your relationship even when you are physically separated. It's the reservoir of strength you draw on when you need to be strong. It's the hand at your back when you need encouragement. It's the well of confidence you tap into when your self-belief wavers.
The Gibran passage concludes with, "And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow." "Togetherness" is not about being each other's clone. It's the freedom to be who you are without fear of losing love. It's permission to make mistakes, change and grow. It's willingness to learn at each other's knee.
"Togetherness" is the cornerstone of emotional intimacy and when you experience unadulterated togetherness, it's akin to being in a state of grace.
So, look, the next time you're about to make some snarky comment to your sweetie, or let loose with a piece of your mind, or turn a cold shoulder, or go to that he's-such-a-jerk or she's-such-a-witch place, or "forget" to keep a promise, or shrug off your partner's wishes, or, well, you get the picture, ask yourself if what you're about to say or do will put a chink in your "togetherness." Too many chinks and you'll slip right into "aloneness" and that sucks. Protect and honor your "togetherness" by being thoughtful, kind, loving, generous, supportive, understanding and, well, you get the picture here, too.
From Gibran . . .
"Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow." Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
From me . . .
"Togetherness." It's way cool. Go for it.
Shela Dean is a Relationship Happiness Coach, speaker, and Amazon bestselling author of Frequent Foreplay Miles - Your Ticket to Total Intimacy, available through Amazon.com and other booksellers. Shela's common-sense approach to relationship advice has helped many couples improve intimacy and strengthen marital bonds.