The sovereign land of his body shelters her, as if she is holy. They are two lovers entwined in one another and captured by their emotions. He covers her, holds her and guides her, lifting her above himself and carries her far. He is the passionate lover and the supportive husband; he is both the king and the willing servant. With devoted eyes, he gathers noble protection around her.
He envelops and engages; she resists and surrenders. They are as one with equal passion, and with passion equally as one. Completed by the arms that hold her, the world is in balance and all is one. As she feels safe and content, she falls deeper into trust, deeper into love, surrendered wholebodily and wholeheartedly. And in her, he feels a fullness, a wholeness, a holiness.
She is in his care and cared for she will be always, every day. All that he has, he shares with her because she is a part of his being. She balances his head in her arms; she supports him and nurtures his soul. He gazes up to her receiving eyes and his heart is filled with peace. In the church of skin, they stay.
Hold close, hold strong, hold together.
Presence is one of the most powerful aspects of the masculine energy; the ability to provide a safe space for his beloved to grow and thrive in her true essence, expression and being. In today’s society, we are somehow often forced to live in contradiction to our natural selves; women are made to live like men, and men are suppressed in their own energy. As much as we are equal in many ways, our energy and our physical needs are actually quite different – and this is a truth we must accept and integrate because it is a part of our biology and physical body. The polarity shift that has happened between the masculine and the feminine is, I believe, one of the reasons why so many people have unfulfilled intimate relationships.
Presence is about paying attention. Presence is about holding the space. To hold is to contain. In this sense, containment is not a limitation; it is the safe space needed for a woman to be her true self. Even when we kiss, we share a breath and each one of us contains the breath of life of the other. When a woman feels the sense of safety, protection and full presence from a man – she will be able to surrender fully, fall into trust, into his arms, nurture him, give to him, and offer herself to him in her full pleasure and beingness. The masculine is fueled by the feminine; the feminine is freed by the masculine. This intertwining and interdependence is what creates life itself; and healthy dependence is what creates true independence, of spirit.
It is important for a man to provide a space of containment for a woman where he will actively care for her wellbeing through building a strong foundation, safety, protection and nourishing. A woman needs this contained space to feel fulfilled in a relationship, so she can thrive in her true essence, surrender in trust and open fully in real intimacy. As many other words, the word “containment” too has been associated with some negativity, so let’s first examine its meaning, with an open-mind. To contain something implies to hold it, as if it’s a part of us. When something is a part of us, we take care of it, which also implies accountability. When we integrate it within us, this implies we’ve accepted it, we’ve taken positive ownership of it, and we love it. Love is about acceptance and love is integration.
Often times, we miss the mark when we use words without understanding the intention of them as they were spoken and their true essence. For example, sin. Sin comes from the ancient Greek word ἁμαρτία literally meaning “to miss the mark” as in aiming or having an intention for something and falling short. Let’s think about this. If someone is aiming to provide protection for another, yet they start controlling them or dominating them – that’s missing the mark. If someone is trying to keep a safe space for another, yet they start suppressing them or oppressing them – that’s missing the mark. Maybe it all happened because our vision was unclear, or it wavered somehow, but our initial intention didn’t meet our actions and final result. We can peel back all the layers and get back to the root idea of the word and its essence, whether it’s sin, missing the mark, positive ownership, containment – and we will understand that there is something for us to learn more deeply. It is that all is contained within it, good and bad, pleasure and pain, yet it is only we who are the channel for its physical expression and manifestation. What makes the difference is our heart. This also means: we can redeem it and cleanse it through our clear vision, conscious awareness and effort, and the pure intention of our heart. This also means: that the only mystery is always found in our ability to surrender, to sacrifice and to give our best with open-hearted attention. To sacrifice means to make sacred – and this is why true love is sacred because there cannot be true love without sacrifice. This implies that any time we want to not miss the mark – we must act out of pure intention and heart, and always with integrity and responsibility.
Women actually do want to be claimed by their beloved – yet this only means she desires to be clear about the devoted intentions of her man. This feeling of knowing that she is his, as in “in a committed reliable relationship”, gives her emotional stability and a sense of safety where she can unveil her love and true beingness freely. The famous line from Song of Songs, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved’s mine” symbolizes such a deep bond, where divisions have dissolved and two people are now one; one body, one heart. When something or someone are a part of us, and we have the capacity to love, there is personal accountability, tenderness, care, nourishing, empathy, sensitivity attunement and integrity. And there is trust.
Trust is the ability to rely on someone who will act in your best interest. Trust implies that we will put our beloved’s needs before our own – it’s about sacrifice and true love demands sacrifice. Trust is what allows us to fall into someone’s arms and open ourselves completely in our vulnerability. Vulnerability and trust are what allow us to build true intimacy and thereby, build deep love.
For a woman to feel emotionally open and sexually aroused, she needs to have the safe environment where she can lean into her feminine self, and be vulnerable enough to express herself wholly. We all need a space or a person in our life with whom we can truly surrender ourself for a moment, let go of all burdens, and just be at peace with complete trust. Also – when a man is not emotionally available for his partner, this not only makes him untrustworthy, but it also causes the woman to feel alone and unsafe.
The safe space will allow the woman to unfold in her true self. If she doesn’t have that in her life, she starts to feel unsafe having to do everything for herself and carrying many burdens on her back. She feels unsupported, alone, stressed and unprotected. This starving of her basic needs, leads her to become more controlling, aggressive, critical, anxious, emotionally cold or numb, masculine, bitter, angry and resentful. This closes off her heart and shrinks her entire energetic field, thereby causing her mental, emotional and physical wellbeing to diminish also.
To conceptualize healthy containment or holding – imagine a shell as the masculine and a pearl as the feminine. This masculine holding creates a safe space where he nourishes the woman to be herself; to open in her soft, tender, nurturing, pleasurable self and grow and thrive as she needs to be. If we remove the shell, the feminine will immediately contract, go rigid and go into a state of defense. This is a form of coping rather than a natural state of being. No woman feels good in this defensive state for too long. This doesn’t imply that women cannot tend to their needs and protect themselves and be independent – of course we can; this only refers to the fact that as interdependent species, to have a man by our side that can meet us on our level and provide for our basic needs, is crucial, otherwise, eventually, we will lose respect for him, harden ourselves for him, find him repulsive and unattractive, stop giving to him emotionally and sexually, and distance ourselves from him. A woman will begin to over-compensate for the lack of his healthy shield around her by becoming masculine herself in an imbalanced way. As everything is part of oneness, imbalanced feminine energy equals imbalanced masculine energy, and we all know how toxic masculinity has become in recent years.
This flip in polarity between the energies is what causes relationship problems. Many women may seem like they don’t need this shell and it is usually because they had to compensate for it, adjust to its absence and normalize its absence for too long. Some have grown up in this lack dynamic since they were little girls and when we live with something for too long, it ultimately becomes a part of our version of reality, and we don’t even notice this lack of our true needs within us. In these situations, it is actually common for women to get quite defensive towards a man who wants to provide this for them – because they associate it with powerlessness and with a possibly deep wound within them about powerlessness. And some women will strongly resist it because they have had controlling male figures, or have been made to feel weak by a man, or have grown up in a suppressed environment which was limiting their freedom in one way or another.
Healthy dependence creates real independence.
Women don’t want to be saved – but they need to feel safe. A real woman needs a real man by her side; a king with whom she can build a kingdom; a king who is emotionally mature and stands strong in the foundations; a king who will build a roof to protect her while she builds the walls that nourish their love, inside their beautiful world.
Safety also refers to emotional safety. Creating emotional safety between the partners is absolutely crucial for long-lasting healthy relationships. A woman needs to feel that her partner is emotionally stable and mature; that he is able to be emotionally open and expressive, while allowing her to be her true self also. Deep love is based on authenticity and heart-soul connection. Intimacy itself means into-me-see and we can’t truly be intimate with someone without opening up to one another in a safe space. Vulnerability is the key to intimacy and we need to feel that we can trust the other person. All of us feel a range of emotions and we’ll be each other’s rock throughout life; but what emotional intelligence means is that despite the “bad” times we will find a way to deal with it rather than suppress, oppress it and slip it under the rug, just so that we look “strong, courageous men”. Emotional safety requires empathy, trust, validation and acknowledgment of our partner’s feelings, thoughtful body language, selflessness, and deep listening. Women need partners who give them a sense of emotional stability in that they know how their partner feels about them, rather than being indecisive, absent and emotionally closed-off.
Creating and holding a safe space are the basis of intimacy and deep long-lasting love.
Creating a safe space allows us to be vulnerable with each other, which is the first step to intimacy. The more we accept ourselves and integrate our own aspects and shadows, the more accepting we’ll be of another. And only then we’ll be able to hold space for another; only then we’ll have the capacity to hold space for someone’s feelings and true self. This is what a deep loving relationship is based on.
We need to provide the nurturing environment for an experience to happen. Imagine a rose. She doesn’t just fall from the sky. We need soil, seeds, sun, and water for life — all of which look and feel nothing like a rose. And yet, they are all needed to cultivate and nurture the environment in which the rose may bloom. A rose is a rose is a rose. Yet every rose in this entire world is unique in herself. And it is because of the environment in which she had grown.
Like growing a rose, we need to create the nurturing supportive environment for intimacy and vulnerability. We need to be compassionate, empathetic, kind, non-judgmental, non-critical, tender, attentive, responsive and trustworthy. All we are doing is just providing a safe space for an experience; allowing someone the freedom to open up to us and to be themselves truly.
Whether they do or not — it is their choice. Love is just holding that space for someone and allowing them into it. And there’s absolutely nothing more beautiful than a woman who can fall into trust, and fall into her beloved’s arms, surrendering to love wholebodily and wholeheartedly. This is how all that is meaningful in this life is born.
So what does healthy holding by a man looks like; where a woman can safely fall into his arms?
- He takes responsibility for her wellbeing, with accountability, honour, integrity and consistency
- He actively creates a safe, protective, supportive environment for her to thrive and grow in her true self expression
- He energetically wraps a shelter around her, no matter how far apart they are
- He makes sure that he pays attention every day to her, and gives her what she needs right now, rather than what he thinks or wants for her; he does this through deep listening with empathy and respect
- He creates a feeling of security on all levels for her, emotionally, mentally and physically; for example, he is clear about his intentions, feelings and makes sure that she is provided for
- He takes the initiative to provide the right stable environment for her needs without being asked to so
- He takes charge of situations by taking a lead; he is both the captain and the willing crew in life’s voyages
- He is emotionally expressive, open, reachable, and responsive to her
- He protects and defends her emotionally and physically; he defends her honour, stands up for her and doesn’t allow others to cross the boundary of their relationship as well as never disrespects her and never allows others to speak or act negatively towards her
- He protects her privacy and the privacy of their relationship
- He does masculine things for her, such as buying her flowers for no reason, opening the door, walking on the outer side of sidewalk, holding her hand on the stairways, and making sure she arrives safely home
- He reassures her of his love, feelings and intentions
- He makes sure she is comfortable and makes sure he can make her feel more comfortable in whatever she needs
- He is empathetic, and sensitively attuned to her needs, emotions, feelings, body language, which means that he spends time and effort in deep listening and understanding
- He does things to take the pressure off of her
- He initiates repair with open kind conversations when troubles arise
- He supports her unconditionally and doesn’t place her in situations that may suppress her, harm her or be “lose-lose”
- He appreciates her every day and takes time to re-explore her
- He is emotionally expressive as well as deeply listening
- He is loyal, committed, devoted, respectful and intentional in building a solid long-lasting bond that will withstand the twists and turns
- He is trustworthy and acts with integrity
- He doesn’t leave room for doubt about how he feels about her and what his true intentions and future plans are
- He does things that cause her pleasure and joy; he makes it comfortable for her to express her sexual desires
- He makes decisions while considering her insight, needs and feelings
- He makes sure that she never feels “less than” and that the power dynamics are not disfunctional
- He builds stability in the relationships which means his actions are based on loyalty, trust, safety and consistency; in hard times he continues to be by her side and his character is consistent and emotionally intelligent
- He romances her and courts her no matter how many years have passed by; he appreciates her and doesn’t take her for granted
- He takes responsibility and accountability for himself, and takes the initiative for facing and resolving problems rather than projecting onto her
- He provides a safe space for her and the children they have
- He is in his healthy masculine energy and power
- He doesn’t make her do things that she is not comfortable with or doesn’t want, and he realizes that he is in control only about his own life and emotions, and that whatever she chooses is something he must respect
- He accepts her true self, as she is, as she needs to be
- He helps her and guides her along the way in her resistances, rather than stopping his attention and providing
- He keeps his promises and his word is his bond; he proves his reliability, devotion and trustworthiness throughout the years
- He provides the needed space allowing her to grow, expand and be curious, and he is flexible to grow, expand and be curious with her
Providing a safe space for a woman doesn’t mean to oppress her, dominate her, control her, possess her or limit her in any shape or form. This is missing the mark, big time. Containment, holding space, and “claiming” – have nothing to do with possessing, controlling, suppressing, oppressing, limiting, and dominating. If a man does any of these, or any other variations of these no matter how subtle – he is not providing a safe space for you, because this is not acting in your best interest – and you need to leave him immediately the moment you don’t feel safe, whether it is emotionally, mentally or physically. Don’t think you’ll change him – you will not. For a man to be able to do this for a woman, he must first learn to do this for himself – and that’s something he needs to learn on his own. He must know how to contain space within himself where he can integrate all of his aspects and shadows, and only then he would be able to have the capacity within himself to provide a woman a safe space, also. This can be learned when a man can step into the healthy balanced manifestation of his masculinity, which unfortunately has become toxic in our modern society. When both partners are in their healthy expressions, such contained space of love and privacy provides the truly beautiful needed soil for love to grow and thrive. Women feel pleasure in their true selves, able to give and offer their whole selves to men; and men come into their energy of generosity and providing, which makes them feel purposeful, valued, needed and more confident.
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Art Paintings by Irina Karkabi.