The twice-divorced father of 4 and grandfather of 3 has worked with thousands of people on this challenging subject, individually and in his classes offered worldwide. He is the author of the newly released Divorceless Relationships, as well as co-author with Dr. Dain Heer of Sex Is Not A Four Letter Word But Relationship Often Times Is.
A romantic at heart, Douglas persisted in his marriages, believing that if his now ex-wives could just believe that he loved them, so much more would be possible. He’s now given up this fantasy in favor of a more pragmatic way of looking at relationships.
While some accuse him of being “against relationships,” Douglas insists this is not the case. “I am against bad relationships,” he states. “Psychologists tell us that more than 90 per cent of people would prefer to be in a bad relationship to being in no relationship. I think that is insane.”
In order to create something different, a relationship that might actually add to your life and be worth having, you have to first look at what is, at what is happening in relationships in this reality. In the reality that exists right now, men are always wrong.
Douglas says, “What happens in relationships now is that women expect the man to know what’s in their mind without ever telling him. Women can’t let men know what’s in their minds cause then they might be right. In order to keep men in the wrong, women have got to not let men know about what’s in their minds and then blame the men for the fact that he doesn’t know.”
To those who laugh at this scenario that Heer calls “funny and sad and true at the same time, like a Woody Allen movie,” Douglas says, “You think I’m kidding but I’m not.”
Some of the factors that keep us from creating good relationships are mis-identifications and mis-applications of what’s really so. These are lies that keep us locked up.
“No, you’ve just put the body parts together,” says Douglas. It’s a “pretense we create in this reality that copulation is about intimacy and it’s about caring. Usually it’s not.”
You create intimacy by creating an intimate relationship with yourself, says Douglas. The components of this are honor, trust, vulnerability, gratitude, and allowance. You have to have these elements for yourself before you can have them for someone else. The main way to get the elements of intimacy into existence is to count the ways in which you are grateful for the person you are with.
Another misconception is our use of the word love. “How many definitions are there of the word love?” asks Douglas. “If someone says they love you, what do they mean?” Since what we think and say is what shows up in our lives, being clear about what we say and ask for is a cornerstone of Douglas’s work. How is clarity possible when using a word with as many differing definitions as the word love? Douglas recommends using the word gratitude instead of love. In addition to being clearer, gratitude also excludes the judgment which so often corrupts our experience of love.
So how do you identify a good relationship, from Douglas’s point of view? His approach is pragmatic in the extreme. There are three elements to creating a good relationship, he says. They are:
• The person is good in bed
• They provide money
• They allow you to do whatever you would like to do, and you allow them to do whatever they would like to do
Everything else? That’s just a bonus, in Douglas’s book.
Of course, more than that is possible—for those daring enough to choose it. Douglas calls that state “communion,” and it’s a lot harder to find than those little white wafers they pass out in church. Creating communion requires “two people who are willing to be totally conscious, and most people aren’t.”
Is all hope for good relationships lost, then? No—the ideal remains. Even Douglas acknowledges that “when you are willing to be with someone who is willing to be present, you can create a communion that can be extraordinary.”
And be ready for surprises. “It doesn’t always look the way you think it’s going to look.”