Yup, here’s a 5 minute video that tells you everything you need to know about Conscious Dating in 5 minutes. Should be required viewing for all singles. Enjoy!
Like this? Please share with your single friends and family members!
Yup, here’s a 5 minute video that tells you everything you need to know about Conscious Dating in 5 minutes. Should be required viewing for all singles. Enjoy!
Like this? Please share with your single friends and family members!
In this outstanding program David and Darlene Steele share intimately about their own soul mate experience and provide specific strategies for using Conscious Dating to find your soul mate (47 min)
This program covers-
“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys,
and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to
open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be
completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for
who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each
unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else
goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in
our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our
deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two
balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are
we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one
who makes life come to life.”
Like this? Please share!
This month, we check in with David and Darlene Steele. David, the founder of the Relationship Coaching Institute, met Darlene three years ago. They were engaged in 6 weeks and then married 8 months later in September 2008. Flash forward two years later as we check in with the happy couple to ask them still more questions about their relationship. In the spirit of David’s book, Conscious Dating: Finding the Love of Your Life in Today’s World, he did just that!
Editor, Relationship Coaching Institute
1. David, you and Darlene were engaged to be married after knowing each other only six weeks. How has the speed with which you and Darlene committed to each other shifted your thinking, if it has, around testing for requirements over time?
David: Correction — we were not "committed" in six weeks. Remember that in our five-stage model of relationship coaching, becoming a couple (pre-commitment) and even getting engaged (pre-marital), is not "commitment."
I continue to believe that we need to give ourselves as much time as necessary to test for our requirements and be 100% confident that this is the right relationship for us before making a commitment. After all, even though we might have feelings of urgency, there is no need to hurry and no such thing as a relationship emergency!
I’d also like to mention that in those first six weeks, I gave myself a reality check by reaching out for support to our community of relationship coaches here at RCI and I consulted several of my mentors, both individually and with Darlene. While we were engaged after six weeks, we were married eight months later, which gave us plenty of time for further testing.
The tricky part is about how to become 100% confident in your relationship choice –consciously and without overlooking red flags (as I’ve done before). This is where a relationship coach trained in Conscious Dating is invaluable.
2. Is it possible to speed up the testing part of the process when you have a crystal clear relationship plan?
David: No, having a clear plan speeds the "finding" part but not the "testing." Our testing process was compressed because we both worked from home and became inseparable after we had "the talk" and became a couple. We spent every day together! Also, we were both pushing 50, had plenty of relationship experience, and had done the work to be clear about who we were and what we wanted.
We both were in a position to recognize that we had found what we were seeking at a very deep, authentic, and conscious level. I have "fallen in love" before and had the understanding and consciousness to know that this was the real thing on all levels; a "soul mate" connection unlike anything else I’ve experienced. It was scary and overwhelming, but felt right at the same time.
3. What religion is each of you and how have values from your religion impacted your relationship?
David: We are both "spiritual but not religious." We both are strongly drawn to universal spiritual truths and prefer not to follow any particular religious dogma. This path started for me when I was five years old and participating in my first Jewish "Sunday School" class (which is actually on Saturdays), having a skeptical reaction when the teacher informed us that my people are "the chosen people."
I just couldn’t accept that God preferred one people or religion over another. I believe my attitude of acceptance and tolerance for all truths makes me a good coach! We are amazingly aligned in this important area.
4. Darlene, when you married David, you became a step-mom to his twin sons and his daughter. What has that been like for you, and, as far as you can tell, for them? How does step-parenting impact your marriage? What, if anything, would you have done differently?
Darlene: What a strange, new experience for me. I have two grown children myself, and felt very comfortable with being a mother, but had no experience with being a step-parent. Becoming such an important part of the twins lives so suddenly – it was both a huge responsibility and an honor. (His daughter was grown and out of the house).
Parenting is probably the area where David and I differ the most. Our parenting styles are quite different. The first thing that was apparent to me was that I needed to simply leave the parenting up to David and the boys’ mom. It is confusing enough for the boys having parents with two unique parenting styles – I didn’t need to add a third.
The boys and I get along great and they have told me that they think things are better since I have been around. (Certainly they benefit from home-cooked meals!) The only impact that the boys have on our marriage is that of logistics. We plan our calenda r around the days/times we have the boys. I think it is too soon to answer the "what I would have done differently" question. Right now, things seem to be going well.
5. David and Darlene: I would like to know which Relationship Coaching Institute exercises have been most beneficial for both of you since you were married. And, what were the most important ones for you prior to your wedding? My coaching clients both single and married are always seeking true stories to give them encouragement.
David: The most important exercises were the ones prior to finding each other that helped us become ready for a relationship and clear about who we are and what we want — Vision, Purpose, Requirements, Needs and Wants. The clarity from this work helped us recognize our compatibility and brought us together.
Darlene: I completely agree with David’s response. We were both very clear about who we were and what we wanted. Neither of us represented ourselves as anything but ourselves from the moment we met, so there were no surprises when the "real" people came out.
David (continued): "Exercises" are great tools to learn skills and are not needed once the skill is mastered. We haven’t used any structured exercises after getting married because we haven’t needed to! Our relationship flows and deepens naturally, without structured exercises.
6. David, it seems that you and Darlene made an intuitive leap in committing to each other. Comment on this and how this would influence your recommendations to others.
David: I’m not so sure it was "intuitive." I’m a very intuitive person and certainly experienced an intuitive "hit" when I found Darlene, but the conscious process was more important in bringing us to commitment. I’ve always thought of "chemistry" as the "radar" that helps you find your target, and then you need to rely on your "head" to make a good long term choice. This applies to "intuition" as well.
7. David, if someone found "the love of his/her life" and decided to get engaged after six weeks and asked what you have learned from your experience regarding this with Darlene, what wisdom would you share?
David: I summed up my most important learning about the journey to finding lasting love in an article I wrote after getting married entitled "I’d Rather Be Single Than Settle" For anyone in the situation of wanting to make a commitment in a short amount of time I recommend talking to others and seeking coaching.
The best way to be sure you’re not fooling yourself is by being supportable to others. When you don’t want to talk about it to others because you fear their reaction, or if you don’t like what you hear from others, that’s a big red flag.
8. David, did your previous relationship with "M" meet your requirements? Was there some other factor involved in selecting Darlene other than whether or not she met your requirements?
David: "M" was a great example of an 80% relationship, as in 80% percent worked and met my requirements, and 20% didn’t work. She broke up with me over that 20%; I would have hung in there out of loyalty and commitment as is my pattern; a huge gift she gave me.
With "M" I really "got" the lesson of what happens when you settle for less than 100%, but like most people I …
- didn’t really believe 100% was possible,
- if possible, didn’t really believe I’d find it, and
- if I found it, didn’t really believe I deserved it.
Some "other" factor? Yes. Surely Darlene met my requirements, but the strongest factor that helped me find and choose her was an overwhelming experience of her as my soul mate.
I’ve always longed for a "soul mate" and had an intellectual idea of what that meant, but was not prepared for the reality. It is so strong, clear, surreal, and unmistakable. "Falling in love" can be strong and overwhelming, and might feel like a soul mate connection, but the difference is whether that feeling and connection continues after the romantic infatuation wears off (up to 18 months later).
Our connection is so strong and unmistakable that people come up to us and say things like, "You guys are so inspirational together!" when all we’re doing is standing in line at the grocery store. This seems to be who we are together and doesn’t feel like a temporary condition; we’re not newlyweds anymore, but stay tuned and let’s see if this holds up over the years (I’m sure it will!).
9. How did your families react initially to your relationship? Were they skeptical? What did you tell them?
David: Both of our families were very accepting, it was our friends we had to convince (and did)!
Darlene: Actually, I guess David doesn’t remember this, but both of our daughters, who were 20 at the time, thought we were CRAZY and let us know so. Makes sense though – they knew that we would be very upset if they announced a commitment so quickly. "You would kill me if I did this!!" And, they were right. They did not have the life experiences nor had they done the inner work ahead of time, which provided the clarity we needed. However, in no time at all, they both accepted and supported our decision.
David: Darlene is right about the girls (forgot about that!), but everyone else — her mom, her brothers and sister, my family, etc., were all accepting and happy for us.
10. No relationship is perfect. What has been one or two types of challenges both of you have experienced these past two+ years and how have you resolved them?
David: We mulled this over quite a bit and had a lot of trouble coming up with "challenges" in response to this question because the question implies difficulty or stress. Believe it or not, we do not have any stressful relationship challenges. The closest thing might be when I ask Darlene what she wants (food, activity, etc) and she doesn’t have a preference and responds, "What you’d like is fine," and when she asks what I want and I respond, "Whatever would make you happy."
We’re both pretty easy-going and want to please the other and it can be challenging to make a choice sometimes, but it’s not hard to do. We also have different decision-making processes; I make decisions quickly, and Darlene needs a lot of time to come to a decision. While I’d rather not drag out making a decision, I respect her process and it has had great results for us, so I can’t argue with that!
11. David, what’s something new and amazing you discovered about Darlene after you married her?
David: This is a great question, however, as above; we mulled this over and had tremendous difficulty coming up with a single thing. We knew each other very well when we got married and there were no surprises afterwards. Perhaps this is because we were (and are) very authentic and transparent with each other — we’re completely honest and share everything we think, feel, experience, etc.
Feeling emotionally safe to do so helps, as well as being emotionally mature and available, but this is also who we are as people. I’m a very direct, up front "what you see is what you get" person and so is she.
12. Darlene, what’s something new and amazing you discovered about David after you married him?
Darlene: I’m not sure how to answer this. We knew each other so well before we married that I haven’t really discovered anything new since. Thank goodness because I love him just the way he was/is!
13. What are a couple of goals you both share? How has this influenced the quality of the relationship you enjoy?
David: When we first met, we both worked from home and enjoyed having 24/7 access to each other. When Darlene got a job and started commuting to work it was an adjustment and we decided our goal was for her to work in the RCI business from home, which also happens to be a life-long dream of mine to work together and share my mission and purpose with my life partner. Just last month Darlene left her job and is now working from home with me. Life is good!
14. What methods or systems do you employ for resolving your disagreements?
David: Nothing extraordinary — we hear each other’s positions and find a way to meet each other’s needs. We have very similar and compatible values and preferences, so it’s highly unusual to be at polar opposites on anything, but if it happens we both are pretty unattached and very willing to let go enough to meet in the middle or find a creative solution.
Contrary to what I’ve experienced in past relationships, this process with Darlene is very easy. It really helps to have maturity on your side, have a sense of humor, treat your partner’s needs as important as your own, not be attached to having your way, and not take things too seriously.
Darlene: I think another thing that helps is that we both understand, and I mean REALLY understand deep down, that we are a team and that we are there for each other. We have no need to compete and we get that at a subconscious level. So, when we have a differing opinion on some thing, we will tend to lean to the side of whoever is having the stronger reaction, with no regrets and no "keeping score." There really isn’t a need to as we are both equally willing to give to the other.
15. Anyone in a relationship knows how important it is to have time for oneself – to work on personal interests and hobbies, and sometimes to just be alone with one’s thoughts. While we’re in relationships with others, the relationship with ourselves is also important to work on. What are some of the personal activities each of you enjoy when you’re not together?
David: There’s a paradox in human development– the more mature (differentiated) we become, the better able we are to be intimate with another and maintain our identity in a relationship. Yes, at certain levels of development it is important to have time to oneself to maintain individuality, prevent enmeshment, and develop ourselves. The wonderful payoff later in life is to be able to truly share your life with someone on all levels without losing yourself.
That said, we both want to be together as much as possible. We’ve spent plenty of time developing ourselves separately and now love being constantly connected. We don’t spend much time apart, but when it happens one benefit is to catch up on TV shows and movies that don’t interest the other.
Darlene loves gross medical shows, chick flicks, and "America’s Next Top Model," while she’d rather not sit through my war movies, military documentaries, etc. Darlene loves aerobics and Zumba dance/aerobic classes (very unmanly), and we each have our own favorite solo computer game (Darlene’s "Free Cell" vs my iPhone/iPad app "Tilt to Live").
16. Now that both of you have been together for about 3 years, what do you do and/or what type of mindset have you adopted to keep things vibrant within your relationship?
David: I adore this woman. I love to look at her and remind myself of how lucky I am and how much I love her. This is a conscious choice as well, because after it took me 50 years to find her I don’t take her for granted and don’t want to do so.
17. David: What’s one of the most important things you learned about yourself/life as a result of being in relationship with Darlene?
David: That I am truly lovable and deserve happiness. While understanding this intellectually, Darlene helped me experience the reality. Some things you can only learn, experience, and "get" in relationship, and some only in a good relationship.
18. Darlene, what’s one of the most important things you learned about yourself/life as a result of being in relationship with David?
Darlene: Oh, this is an easy question, and an important lesson I’d like to share. I realized early on in my first marriage that the marriage wasn’t providing what I wanted, needed, or required. However, my first husband was not interested in taking our relationship to a higher level. In fact, when I mentioned any dissatisfaction, he simply told me to "grow up."
I understood that I would never have the type of relationship I knew was possible staying in that situation. I realized that I did not have the power to "fix" my marriage and be truly happy without the buy-in of my partner.
I remember the exact moment, right after meeting David, when it occurred to me that the type of relationship I had always imagined was not only possible, but was right in front of me. It feels amazing how safe, free and empowering life is with a partner that is aligned with you. We are truly a team and work together on common goals.
19. What’s the secret of your relationship success?
David: The number one most important factor in the success of our relationship is our compatibility or "fit." The success and potential of a relationship is enhanced or limited by how well your values, goals, attitudes, vision, requirements, needs, wants, preferences, and physical chemistry fit together.
Secondly, I would say emotional maturity and availability. Twenty years ago we could not have had the relationship we have today.
Lastly, I would credit our rituals and routines. Every couple has their own culture, which is largely composed of their rituals and routines, whether they consciously choose them or not. Even when we travel, we get out of bed the same way, make time to have coffee and read the newspaper together, and get ready for bed and go to sleep the same way.
For example, the last thing we say to each other every night before going to sleep, without fail, is "I love you." Our rituals and routines are expre ssions of love, comforting, intimate, and constant reminders that we’re connected to each other.
Copyright ©2010 by David and Darlene Steele. All rights reserved in all media.
To get what you really want, you must say “No” to what you don’t want. Simple, but not easy.
I’ve settled for less than I really wanted many times in my life, and each time my awareness of just how much of myself I gave up to accept that “OK” job, buy that “OK” car, enter that “OK” relationship that was less than I really wanted came much later, when it was too late to do much about it.
Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, what could I have done differently? Honestly, probably nothing. I had lessons I needed to learn, a journey I was destined to take that led me to find the love of my life and the life that I love.
What did I learn from making all those choices that seemed right at the time? Here’s a few things-
Is it possible to catch myself settling before it’s too late? Yes, I just have to listen to the garbage I tell myself; such as-
Examining these statements now it’s easy to see they’re all FALSE. Looking back, I knew I was telling myself these things, but my awareness was dim enough, and my self-esteem low enough that I allowed them to dictate my choices.
What could I have done differently? Simple. Require 100% and not settle for less.
All the times I talked myself into accepting 80% prevented me from finding and experiencing 100%. This hit home for me when I broke up an 80% relationship and then met the woman I was destined to marry just a few months later. It’s like I finally passed a cosmic test of some kind.
Five years after writing the book “Conscious Dating: Finding the Love of Your Life in Today’s World” and two years after finally finding my soul mate, the biggest secret to finding true love that I’ve learned is to love myself enough to fiercely go after 100% of what I really want and truly believe that it’s possible.
Fiercely believe “I deserve to love and be loved.”
Fiercely believe “Seek and ye shall find.”
Fiercely believe “Build it, and they will come.”
And, fiercely believe “I’d rather be single than settle!”
David Steele, MA, LMFT is the founder of Relationship Coaching Institute and author of the ground-breaking book for singles “Conscious Dating: Finding the Love of Your Life in Today’s World,” now in it’s second edition.
For more information about David’s personal conscious dating journey visit www.darleneanddavid.com For free access to his audio program “Conscious Dating for Relationship Success” and other free resources for conscious singles visit www.joinconsciousdating.com
Questions submitted by the members of Relationship Coaching Institute-
1. How long was it before you had sex with Darlene?
Wow … not wasting time getting to the juicy stuff! For Conscious Daters, more important than "how long" is "at what point in the relationship?"
I’m happy to report that I practiced what I preach and we did not have intimate physical contact until "the talk" when we became an exclusive, pre-committed couple.
A few weeks after first meeting online and getting together in person a few times, we both knew that this might be the start of something big and had a five-hour conversation about our vision, requirements, needs, and wants.
I had a reservation about being her first "relationship" after her divorce a year and a half ago and asked the RCI coaches for feedback. We discussed that feedback during "the talk" as well. After five hours of hard questions and close examination of our compatibility we decided we were a match and officially became a pre-committed couple and have been inseparable ever since.
2. Did you kiss on the first date?
I’ve never kissed anyone after just meeting them for the first time! Our first meeting in person was the classic "coffee date." I’ve had lots of these first meetings as a single and most did not lead to a second date. Our first physical contact I call "the hug" was after our third date. The chemistry was so strong for me after that I had insomnia and couldn’t sleep for two nights straight.
3. Have you ever had any doubts, after becoming engaged, about getting married to Darlene?
This is the first time in my life I can honestly say that I have no doubts or reservations. I’ve talked myself into relationships in the past by rationalizing the red flags, and amazingly, in this relationship there are none. For awhile I was disbelieving and tried to find red flags until one of my mentors kindly, but firmly, told me to stop and enjoy my good fortune before I sabotaged it by looking for things that aren’t there.
4. Don’t you think that 6 weeks is a bit soon for an engagement? You barely know someone in that length of time.
Yes, for 99% of the population, six weeks is an insanely short amount of time. In this case, we both worked from home and have flexible schedules, and were able to spend every day (and night) together. As I mentioned before, we became inseparable. Practicing Conscious Dating, we were both testing each other and the relationship as thoroughly as possible. Both of us are very direct, upfront people that don’t wear masks. We were not BS-ing ourselves or each other. We were both very clear about what we wanted and clear that we’ve found it in each other.
Ironically, being married and divorced twice gave me the life experience that helped me to be so clear about this relationship. As a result I’ve learned that when two people are truly right for each other it is unmistakable and unambiguous.
When you’ve had a lot of life experience and have done the work to clearly know who you are and what you want, you’ll recognize it more clearly when you find it! It was hard for me to believe at first, and a piece of feedback from an RCI coach was very helpful to me at the time- "When it’s right, it’s right."
5. What will you do if this relationship fails? What’s your exit plan should things go awry?
Well, I’ve survived two divorces and I suppose I can get through another if it happens. Failure isn’t the end of the world; it represents a new beginning. As one RCI coach put it- "It’s a risk — but so is crossing the street."
6. With knowing someone just 6 weeks, you didn’t really have time to test any of your requirements – how did you test your requirements?
I tested enough to want to be with her for the rest of my life, and for Conscious Daters the testing continues up until the actual commitment is made. Even though we were engaged, both of us had enough wherewithal to call it off if it turned out to be a bad idea.
7. Why did you get engaged so soon? Couldn’t you just have dated a year to see how things worked out and then get engaged? What was the rush?
There was no rush; it just felt right. Yes, we could have waited, but for what? Some useful feedback from the RCI coaches included giving myself permission to follow my heart (which is a challenge if you don’t trust yourself), and my heart wanted to say YES to Darlene at every level. I’m a "go for it" person and not a fan of being passive or waiting for the sake of waiting.
8. My therapist told me that many relationships fail within the first two years – so it’s better to date at least two years before getting married? Do you agree with that or have you heard about studies supporting this?
I was with my second wife for three years before getting married and it didn’t work out. There’s quantity and there’s quality. A quantity of time, by itself, doesn’t ensure success.
9. Many relationship red flags don’t rear their ugly head until you’ve invested more time in the relationship. Has anything come up for you in the last 9 months? It’s hard to believe this relationship is without its ups and downs?
I know, it is hard to believe that two people can be such a good fit that there are no red flags or roller coaster dynamics, but that’s the reality here and a big learning for me about how settling for less in the past hasn’t served me. I unconsciously assumed that I couldn’t have what I really wanted so I had to settle for the best I could find. I see many, many singles doing this. My new message is, DON’T SETTLE! Assume that what you really want is out there and give yourself permission to say "no" to anything less.
An important difference about this relationship is that we are both mature enough to know ourselves and not take control issues seriously. We’re both strong individuals and might be arguing a lot if we met before we had the communication skills and mature attitudes to handle differences effectively. I tease her about being a control freak and she teases me about being stubborn. We marvel at how different (and more difficult) our relationship would be if we had met 20 years ago!
10. How soon did you introduce Darlene to your children? Is this the soonest you’ve ever introduced someone to them?
After we decided to become an exclusive pre-committed couple Darlene was introduced to the kids. Yes, I would say it’s the soonest in my history.
11. I am twice divorced, and one coach who knows this about me made a smart remark/question — "Is this like ‘those who can … do, and those who can’t … teach’?" Obviously, you’ve been successful despite your history. How have you transcended stigmatization?
I never liked that saying as it’s derogatory of teachers, a critically valuable role and profession. For anyone, it’s not that we "can’t" – it’s that we need to learn how. When you are passionate about something you will pursue it, whether to "do" it, teach it or help others with it. Teaching (or counseling, therapy, coaching, etc.) allows you to immerse yourself in your passion and you continue to learn and become more accomplished. I don’t believe in absolute "can" or "can’t"… we are all learning.
12. Was it a common purpose or mission that helped you make the decision that Darlene was the one? Was it mostly chemistry that drew the both of you together?
Very simply, she is my soul mate. Certainly having a common purpose/mission is important and having strong chemistry is important, but the alignment was so broad and deep it was unmistakable and clear.
13. Was it the feeling that if you did not move on this one, that you would lose her? (I’ve always wondered if the reason you and Maggie broke up was because you wouldn’t marry her.)
Maggie broke up with me! Looking back, she was very wise, as I was/am just too committed and loyal to quit when I should. No, I had no sense of urgency that I might lose Darlene. To the contrary, I was very willing to walk away if it wasn’t a fit.
14. What questions did you and Darlene ask of each other that you felt were the most important questions to ask?
The hard questions related to requirements, with an absolute willingness to walk away if it wasn’t a fit.
15. I am happy that you were able to find "The Love of Your Life, and The Life You’re Gonna Love!" What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your previous relationships that will help you keep this one together forever?
To tell my truth, especially to myself. I’ve avoided conflict, held back my thoughts, needs and feelings, rationalized unsolvable problems, put other’s needs before my own, and every other mistake a co-dependent, nice-guy type can possibly make. My most important lesson was to love myself enough to not settle for less than I really want.
16. If you were coaching someone as a single and they came to you and said they were getting married after 6 weeks of meeting someone, what would you say as their coach?
I would ask a lot of questions!
17. Since you met and got engaged to Darlene, is there anything about the Conscious Dating or Couples material you’d change?
I would add something about the reality of "soul mates." It’s always been a romantic fantasy of mine, but the "realist" in me left this out of Conscious Dating. Hard to write about something you’ve never experienced!
Also, I would strongly highlight the Scarcity Trap and the dangers of settling. You really can find what you really want by saying "no" to what you don’t want, but it takes courage. This can’t be over-emphasized enough.
18. How did you "hands down" know that Darlene was the "one"?
Being married and divorced twice gave me the life experience that helped me to be so clear about this relationship. As a result I’ve learned that when two people are right for each other it is unmistakable and unambiguous. When you’ve had a lot of life experience and have done the work to clearly know who you are and what you want, you’ll recognize it more clearly when you find it!
19. How did you know after 5 years that Maggie was not the one? Did you have instincts from day 1? What was missing, what was present, what was the turning point for you in "knowing what you know?"
My relationship with Maggie was a constant challenge, for many reasons, especially the blended family situation and our different parenting styles. We both worked hard on our relationship and making our life together work, perhaps too hard. Maggie was wise enough to break up with me as I focused on adapting and making it work out of loyalty and commitment. I loved her and she loved me, but love is not enough. This relationship reinforced that I needed the clarity and wherewithal to take care of myself in my relationships instead of attempting to please, "make" it work, and adapt by putting my needs aside.
20. Given your experience with Darlene, what has changed for you as a coach, and some of your stances regarding scouting, sorting, testing and "playing the field" before committing?
"Playing the field" is a necessary phase for many singles, but risks getting involved with someone that is not right for you. My experience with Darlene encourages me to be a strong advocate for my client staying true to who they are and what they "really" want, as the temptation to settle is so strong. Before Darlene, I "believed" that Conscious Dating would result in finding a relationship that is right for you. Now I "know" it will!
21. Did you both have AIDS and STD tests before having sex?
No, didn’t seem necessary as both of us are the monogamous type that did not sleep around while dating.
22. When you first had sex … who came first? And it’s an important question! (If he did, it often shows that the man is putting his needs first… and drowning her out – because once he’s done — it’s over. If she’s treasured and honored, the relationship generates more life, and mutual giving!)
Wow, now THAT is a highly personal question! Let me just say that as a man I derive much pleasure from my partner’s pleasure.
23. What’s the first gift that you bought Darlene?
That would have to be coffee at Starbucks for our first meeting. I asked her in advance by email what I could get her as it didn’t make sense to me that we both wait in line. Her response was "tall, non-fat vanilla latte," which was waiting for her on the table when she showed up.
24. What’s the first gift that she bought you?
That’s a hard question as Darlene is very generous in many ways but pretty unsentimental when it comes to cards and gifts. We’ve agreed that our gifts to each other would be "experiences" and not "stuff." I would say that her first "gift" to me was to cook an incredible meal for our third date.
25. What’s your favorite personality quirk about Darlene?
Being macho. She’s petite (5′ 1" and 95 lbs) and feels much bigger as she’s not intimidated by anything or anyone, embraces physical challenges and proudly asserts that she’s "not a girly-girl."
26. Do you have endearing nicknames for each other?
We both use "Sweetheart" a lot, and I occasionally call her "Cutie" and she’ll call me "Handsome."
27. What do you both find as the best way to spend an evening together? Out on the town, quiet at home?
We both like to adventure outdoors during the day and cuddle on the couch at night watching DVDs, TV, or playing games. We hit the sack around 9:00 p.m. so spending "an evening together" is typically a couple of hours after dinner and dishes. The key here is that this is truly what we both like to do… neither is giving anything up.
28. What has changed within you after meeting Darlene? Sometimes we find that different people awaken different parts of our souls or psyches? How are you an even better person as a result of meeting Darlene?
Very simply, I don’t feel alone anymore. It’s a wonderful feeling to love and be loved by your soul mate; like a completion. How am I a better person? Darlene influences me to be more patient, trusting, tolerant, and compassionate (among other things).
29. What have you found in Darlene that you’ve never found/experienced with anyone else?
A soul mate. Someone who truly "gets" me and loves me for who I am, including my flaws and weaknesses. In all my other relationships I felt that I wasn’t good enough, couldn’t do enough to please and make my partner happy.
30. Is Darlene changing her last name to Steele?
Yes. She looks forward to leaving behind the vestige of her 24-year previous marriage to embrace our identity as a committed couple in name as well as fact.
31. How do you plan to balance your time with your wife and with work?
My dream is to work with my wife! Darlene and I have dreams and plans in this direction.
32. What does a typical day look like now and how will it change when you’re married?
Darlene is an RN who works days as a Psychiatric Nurse at the V.A. We get up together at 5:45am to share coffee and the newspaper, our favorite time of the day. She leaves for work at 7 and I start my work day. She gets home around 4:30 p.m. and we typically go for a run and/or workout together, make dinner (she’s the chef, I’m the helper if she lets me), do the dishes (I wash), cuddle on the couch to talk, watch a DVD or TV for an hour or two then head to bed at 9:00 p.m. This will stay the same when we’re married.
33. What will you have to sacrifice after you’re married?
Hmmm… being alone, unilateral decisions and freedom. I enjoy my alone time and find that I equally enjoy being alone with Darlene, so it’s not really a sacrifice. I like to make my own decisions and it’s a bit of a challenge to share decision-making with someone who has a different process (the outcome is usually the same as we’re like-minded, but I reach a decision in seconds while Darlene likes to "think about it" for minutes, hours, or days). I won’t have the freedom to do what I want when I want, which is a sacrifice I willingly make to share my life with this amazing woman.
34. What concerns do you have about getting married?
None. Eyes wide open with the benefit of past experiences and accumulated (hard-earned) wisdom.
35. How confident are you that you’re making the right decision?
36. How challenging has it been to be a relationship coach while being both single and divorced?
It was more challenging to be a divorced therapist as some clients tend to put you on a pedestal and want you to be perfect. As a coach, I’m free to be transparent about who I am and share my journey with my clients as they share theirs with me.
37. What advice do you have for married couples that are juggling a lot (work, kids, in-laws, household duties, church, etc.) and having a hard time finding quality time to spend together?
It’s about quality, not quantity. Rituals and routines are the key so that no matter how busy they are and how demanding work and kids can get, couples need to continue to connect and re-connect through their rituals and routines. For example, Darlene and I go to bed early and get up early to spend more time together, such as sharing coffee and the paper every morning, no matter what.
Before I met Darlene, my pattern was to stay up late and get up at a correspondingly late hour. I gladly changed my habits for Darlene. Going to bed at the same time is a great routine as well that is necessary for a good sex life, which is also very connecting! Sometimes the kids make this a challenge, but we work to be a team and stay one step ahead of them. You have to WANT to spend the time together and be WILLING TO CHANGE HABITS to do so.
38. How do you think your life will change after you get married?
On a surface level, not much. Over the long term, we will build a life together that neither of us could on our own, full of intimacy, love, adventure, family, and growing old together.
39. What do you do to show your future wife how much you love her?
Make her important in big and small ways every day. For example, I time my work day so I can be available when she gets home so we can be together, share about our day, and work out together. I walk her to her car every morning when she leaves for work. If she identifies something she wants or needs I get it for her as her frugal nature resists getting them for herself (most recently a new pair of sunglasses).
Keeping our rituals and routines, such as, "Good night, Sweetheart" being the last thing she hears from me before going to sleep (one night I forgot and she reminded me!). John Gottman’s research shows that happy couples perform over 100 loving acts per day for their partner and I commit to meeting or exceeding that every day.
40. What caused your previous divorces?
Divorce #1- Married too young, incompatibilities too large to overcome.
Divorce #2- Drug addiction and unwillingness on her part to commit.
41. What does Darlene say she loves most about you?
"He’s pretty lovable, don’t you think? David is an even-tempered, honest, direct man who proves to me continuously that I am The Love of His Life. There are so many things I love about David. First, the little things he does, like getting up with me early in the morning before I go to work so we can have coffee and newspaper time together. When I get home from work, he eagerly takes my hand and leads me to the couch so we can catch each other up with the day’s events. He watches my favorite shows on the Food Network with me. Etc, etc, etc…
I feel very safe with David and love talking with him about anything and everything. When I was looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with, an important trait I was seeking was someone I could talk to in an intelligent, rational way. I want to be able to talk about politics, religion, family, money, food choices – any subject – reasonably and safely, without fear that my thoughts or feelings would create upset or conflict.
David shows up as a true partner. He willingly accepts responsibility and wouldn’t dream of putting a burden on me. We share running the household, but I have to admit, since he works from home, he does the majority while I’m at work! He teasingly refers to himself as my “house husband.” I love that he values personal health as I do and we enjoy the same activities, like biking, hiking, kayaking, running, and eating well. And, I absolutely love that he loves to cuddle with me on the couch in the evenings. He’s a great cuddler!"
Note from David- Thank you for indulging us in celebrating my wedding this month. I hope you found this interesting, and perhaps even inspirational. Answering these questions while preparing for getting married was a fantastic gift. I thank the RCI coaches for submitting their questions.