Dr. Kirk Schneider on Romantic Awe

Watch an excerpt from PsychAlive’s interview with Dr. Kirk Schneider.

Dr. Kirk Schneider , author of The Polarized Mind, talks about romantic awe. 

Lisa Firestone:      In your new book, The Polarized Mind, you describe romantic awe.  Is this something partners could aspire to in their relationship?

Kirk Schneider:                 I hope so.  I mean, my wife and I have tried to aspire to that.  Definitely.  What does that mean?  I suppose everybody has their own definition of that.  But, what does it mean to take an adventure together?  Travel, you know. Witness amazing sights, either in nature, through, again, books, films, contemporary challenges … opening your sex life with each other, enjoying the differences, you know, opening to otherness in each other, allowing yourself to be sparked by that.

LF:                  Again, it seems like presence is a big issue.  Because to share those experiences really, to have a shared adventure, whether it’s, you know, a travel adventure or an adventure in raising children or an adventure in sexuality, it seems like you have to be pretty present.

KS:     Yes.  Time together.  Step back and appreciate each other.  How much do we do that, you know, in the day-to-day hubbub, do we take that step back, and, you know, look at each other’s beauty or something that sparks us, something you realize about that other person that’s taking you to places that you’d never go otherwise.

I actually, I feel that the therapy that my wife and I did, we did some brief therapy before we got married.  A lot of it was around dealing with some cultural differences, some significant religious, cultural differences.  It was really important in allowing us to be more open to those differences.  And now, and through our relationship, eventually again coming to a place of being sparked by those differences, of being turned on by those differences.  Not cookie cutter partners in America.

I mean, she’s of Eastern European background, Catholic background.  I’m of Jewish mid-western background.  There’s a lot of room for both fire and fireworks, with that.  And in the early days, there was a good deal of fear of each other and that manifested as defensiveness and arguments.  Not overwhelming, but notable.  We were both scared.

LF:                  I think it’s scary to be vulnerable to a relationship.  It’s going to raise anxiety, again.

KS:                 There’s anxiety, yet opening.  The prison becomes an opening, potentially.

LF:                  Yeah.  And I’ve seen recent studies showing that appreciating, if you appreciate your partner, that relationships are much more likely to last.

KS:                 That, too.  Absolutely.  Little things, calling her Love, her calling me Love, in letters or little notes, even grocery notes or whatever, Can you pick up this or can you do that or whatever, I think all of that makes a real difference, a major difference.  You know, still the little cards or beautiful little notes.  I’ll sometimes find little travel notes in my suitcase, if I’m abroad or whatever, from my wife.  All that adds up.

About the Author

Kirk Schneider, Ph.D. Kirk J. Schneider, Ph.D. is a leading spokesperson for existential-humanistic psychology and the recent past editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.  Dr. Schneider is an adjunct faculty member at Saybrook University and Teachers College, Columbia University, a founding member of the Existential-Humanistic Institute, and the author/editor of 10 books including The Polarized Mind and Awakening to Awe.

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