Writer, producer and coach Kathrin Seitz and Marc Felix, a Camden psychotherapist and student of shamanism, are exploring this winter the phenomenon of relationships –- what they are and what they mean for the human experience. In March, they will hold a daylong workshop to invite relationship into lives and enhance the relationships one has. As part of this winter project, they also will venture forth with the broader Midcoast community with this periodic column, to investigate the idea of relationship, that heavily nuanced word in the English language that implies much but is so hard to define.

Melissa from Rockland asked us what we thought about romance.

Marc’s answer

If ever there was a subject of high controversy, it would be romance and the whole territory of falling in love. Some are certain that it’s an irrational and dangerous delusion akin to mental illness. Others view it as beautiful, blissful and bordering on divine revelation. I’m in the latter category, though I have had bouts of cynicism and my own prayers for romance haven’t been answered yet. I like the saying “love is a religion in which the other person is believed in.”

Is there anything more exciting than the buoyant sense of walking on air when you’ve met that special person who seems to be just right for you? The experience is often so sudden and so thrilling that the ancient Greeks attributed it to being shot by Cupid’s arrow.

The promise of romance is that we’ve found someone to share our life and share our vision. We’ll never be alone again. We have someone we can merge with like Shiva and Shakti, the Hindu god and goddess who are ecstatically united in an embrace of eternal passion.

Everything about the beloved is wonderful. We worship the ground they walk on. In romance we see all our similarities and minimize or ignore our differences. We have a feeling of completeness, and in extreme cases feel that our love even makes words unnecessary. We are intoxicated, exulted, in that heaven that only lovers enter.

Of course, such an idealized rapture sets us up for quite a fall. The intensity of the rapture is fully matched by the intensity of the heartbreak when the romance ends.

But keep in mind that, like the moon, romance will wax and wane in a natural cycle.
Love is our most mystical journey of unfolding, and it requires ongoing maintenance, care and nourishment.

Kathrin’s answer:

I, too, love the intensity of falling in love. I love the romance of new love. And, I know we can fall in love at any stage of life. But what interests me more is how to keep romance alive for the long term. Here in Midcoast Maine, there are lots of happy couples who have been married for years. I figured they might have an answer to the question. Jenn and Orion, who are in their early 30s, are both gainfully employed and like to get away, stay in a hotel and visit their favorite haunts without telling anyone where they are. This is the true escape, and gives them time, as Jenn said, “to look into each other’s eyes and remember why we love each other.” Several women in their 30s and 40s, married and single, said they love going out to restaurants. They all said they wanted to be seated in a corner, with candlelight, and left alone to enjoy their boyfriend or husband. When I asked the husband of one of these women what he considered romantic, his wife rolled her eyes and said, “The Red Sox. He thinks the Red Sox are romantic.” After we finished laughing, the guy said, “That’s right. Tickets to the Red Sox. Preferably in the Green Monster Section.”

A handsome couple in their 50s, both fit and active, said, at the same time: “Not a restaurant. A restaurant is not romantic.” And then the wife added, “Yes, something outside in nature.” And then she got quiet and said, “A bike ride, with champagne in the saddle bags and full moon in the sky.” Her husband looked astonished and said, “You remember that?” What a nice moment! I could see how much these two love each other and how good it was for them to be reminded of their romantic times together. I am sure they went home and talked about this and other romantic moments in their lives, and I sure hope they took advantage of what they had learned in that moment of memory.

So, as we roll by Valentine’s Day and move into spring, the season of romance, we invite you to talk with your partners, your friends, even your parents and siblings about romance. Ask them what they consider romantic. Ask them about their most cherished romantic fantasy. We guarantee you will learn something and you might even have a better life. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get tickets to Fenway Park for a Red Sox game!

Our next article will answer a question about friendship.

Marc Felix holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and has been a psychotherapist in private practice for more than 30 years. His work radically shifted after completing a two-decade shamanic apprenticeship with an Apache medicine chief. His current work is body, mind and spirit healing of individuals and couples.

Kathrin Seitz has more than 30 years experience in the publishing, television and film businesses in both New York City and Los Angeles. She has been teaching Method Writing for more than six years in New York City, Newport, R.I., Maine and Florida. While working in the entertainment business, Seitz trained and worked as a lay analyst.  She took several years of courses, reading all the important psychoanalytic literature, and worked with patients in a supervised setting for four years. Visit kathrinseitz.com.