The Butterfly Mating Ritual
At my recent Mindfulness Meditation retreat with @mbsr_mindfulness (Emma Reynolds), I was taking a mindful walk along a country path, surrounded by the beauty of the French pre-Pyrenees, with the lush green vegetation, the trickling river and the tree-covered mountains that were so close you could almost touch them.
As you do when you are being mindful, I was paying attention to all the things around me and noticed two butterflies in the air in front of me. They appeared to be dancing - one would fly ahead, then suddenly the one behind would rise up over the top of the other and take the lead. It was beautiful to watch – graceful and almost as if they were following ‘dance steps’ that only they knew.
I don’t know much about butterflies, so when I got home, I looked up their mating habits and sure enough, dancing is part of their love ritual. The male butterfly flies above the female and sprays her with his ‘love-dust’ pheromones. This enables her to determine how healthy and virile he is, before deciding whether he is the appropriate father of her children. She then flies on ahead of him and he repeats his efforts. It goes on and on until she decides whether he is the one for her.
There are obviously many metaphors in this mating dance of the butterflies! But it made me think of the mating rituals we do as humans when we first meet. When you first met your partner, you showered each other with attention, danced around each other playfully, making each other feel special, you did fun things, shared special moments, were passionate and excited about seeing each other, made plans for the future, made each other feel important and as if no one else was more so.
Fast forward a few years and life has crept in. Work becomes busier, you have children who take up your energy and time, you have family crises to deal with, loss, financial challenges, aging parents, illness/poor health, fatigue, COVID19…
And in those challenging times, you lose connection. You argue over the children, and household decisions. You don’t spend any time with each other because there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Now your partner becomes the person who is getting in the way of you having what you want. Those things that were once loveable and charming become annoying and difficult, there is no fun anymore and you stop sharing things with each other. The children take all your time and energy and you can’t agree on anything anymore. Repetitive arguments occur because you both need to be right. Sex and intimacy starts to die and you now wonder whether you should stay or go – there has to be something better – or whether to just suffer it out until the children grow up and leave home. What happened????
You forgot your butterfly dance! Those wonderful things you did for each other, the little things you said that made your partner smile or laugh, the special moments you shared, the time you set aside for each other, the surprises you gave each other. You forget to look at your partner through the eyes that made you fall for them in the first place!
“Take care of the cents and the pounds will take care of themselves’ the old saying goes. What if it was the small things that would make a difference – the little things you notice about your partner, a slightly longer hug, a different kind of kiss, the compliment you add in every day, showing gratitude for the smallest things, being kind to each other, listening just a little deeper, communicating with them at a time that is best for you both rather than expecting them to listen when they have just walked in the door or just woken up, putting aside even 15 minutes a week to spend with each other doing something you both enjoy, learning to share in your partner’s successes. Rocks do not wear away with one drop of water but with small drops of water consistently, over time, rocks become transformed. In the same way, with small drops of love and kindness that you add into your relationship, the rock of mistrust, fear, lack of connection, lack of intimacy can be worn away and replaced by the beautiful butterfly dance you once had.
What could you commit to, every day, to begin to dance with yourself and your partner again? Remember, consistency and patience is key. Just like that male butterfly, who continues to shower his chosen love with love-dust until she falls for him, you can transform your relationship with small acts that bring back love, trust, intimacy and connection.
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