Most of us know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It works fine in many circumstances. If you’re tempted to yell at the guy who just cut you off in traffic, you take a deep breath and give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, it could be you someday. You follow the Golden Rule when you visit a friend who’s sick, because you would want the same treatment if you became sick.
The problem is, however, that the Golden Rule often does not work with close relationships, especially when it gets down to specific actions. For example, you may be content with not hearing from your mother for a week, so you don’t call her for seven days. She, however, may worry about you if you let a whole week go by without calling her. Oops, that one was for me.
If I Want This, Then You Must Want It Too...
Then there’s the guy who goes to Home Depot to shop for a wedding anniversary present. If he could choose a gift for his wife to get him, it would be a new cordless drill and driver. So that’s what he decides to get his wife. When she opens the gift on their anniversary, he’s stymied by her lack of enthusiasm. He is, after all, following the Golden Rule.
There’s a better rule for relationships that bumps consciousness up to a higher level – The Platinum Rule – Do unto others as they would have you do unto them. In other words, treat others the way they want to be treated, rather than the way you want to be treated. It’s not selfish. It means you actually have to find out what others want.
We Don't All Have the Same Preferences!
The Golden Rule can actually be hard to break away from. I have to get personal here. I love touch. Any touch is wonderful to me. I love it when Joyce takes my hand. I love it when she hugs me or even when she jumps on top of me when we’re lying together. Now Joyce loves touch as well but, even more, she loves spoken words. They can be words of love or appreciation. They can be questions inviting her to share what she feels. Words really do it for her.
It’s easy for both of us to slip into the Golden Rule with regards to touch and words. I can forget about her love of words and, instead, touch her because that’s what I love. She can forget about touching me and, instead, love me through words because that’s what she loves. And don’t get me wrong … we each appreciate this show of love, even if it’s not the highest thing we want. It’s just that we need to remember the Platinum Rule, and switch to give what the other most wants. Then we’re really loving one another.
Asking Those You Love What They Really Want, Like, or Need
Is something missing because you may have to ask someone dear to you what they really want, like, or need? Does that mean you’re not the divine lover you want to be? It’s lovely to try to guess these things and, sometimes by trial and error, you’ll actually get it right. But we can’t be mind-readers all the time.
If you want to be a divine lover, ask your partner daily about their preferences. Ask about mundane things, like food, clothing, types of exercise, books, anything. Also ask about important things, like what specific spiritual practice would allow your partner to feel closer to you.
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Gently Reminding Your Partner About What You Really Need and Want
It’s even good to gently remind your partner about what you really need and want. This is not about nagging, complaining, or controlling someone else. That’s a turn-off for anyone. Instead, try inviting your partner to love you in a different way.
Let’s revisit Joyce’s and my touch/talk preferences, but much more personally. During love-making, I may get a little too absorbed in the sensory experience, and become quiet. Joyce has a sweet way of saying, “Barry, I would love to hear your words right now.” I hear this as an invitation to love her even more, rather than a put-down, or that I’m doing something wrong. My then opening to a flow of poetry, or even singing a love song to her, enhances not only her experience, but mine as well.
The Platinum Rule: To Really Love a Woman... To Really Love a Man
We’re writing two new books right now. Actually, we started them a few years ago, then put them on hold while we finished our last book, A Mother’s Final Gift. The new books are tentatively titled, To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man. There will be many more examples of the Platinum Rule in these books.
Want to help? We’re asking everyone the following question: How do you feel really loved by your partner? The books will be filled with your answers to this question, answers that will allow you to be a better lover, and answers that will inspire you to find out even more about your beloved.
Want to be a better lover or friend or family member? Follow the Platinum Rule of relationship.
By the way, they do sell flowers at Home Depot.
Shared Heart: Relationship Initiations and Celebrations
by Barry Vissell and Joyce Vissell.
This book is a guide for those who desire personal relationships and who want our relationships to serve as vehicles for our spiritual awakening. This book is for those of us with the sincerity and courage to look at our desires, fears, anger -- our full human condition.
About the Author(s)
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors, near Santa Cruz CA, who are passionate about conscious relationship and personal-spiritual growth. They are widely regarded as among the world's top experts on conscious relationship and personal growth. Joye & Barry are the authors of 9 books, including The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk To Be Healed, The Heart’s Wisdom, Meant To Be, and A Mother’s Final Gift. Call 831-684-2299 for further information on counseling sessions by phone/video, online, or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their web site at SharedHeart.org for their free monthly e-heartletter, their updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart.