I was laying in bed with my partner, Rod Gordon, spooning me recently, and I asked him, “Do I inspire you?”
He immediately said, “Yes, by sharing with me how you feel. By expressing yourself.”

This might sound like a simple thing, but it’s really only fully landed in the last year for me. I spent most of my life being very independent, taking care of my own feelings and problems.  That’s what men want isn’t it?! A woman who is calm and can take care of herself and doesn’t bother him with her problems. That is what I had conditioned myself to believe.

(Martina edit: I have since found out that’s not true).

Earlier in our relationship Rod had said to me a few times, “It feels like you don’t need a man.”  When he said it, something hit me hard; I had heard it in a prior relationship also. I knew there was something in it for me that I needed to shift.

I realised I was separating myself, being self-contained and working out my own problems. There was no space for the man in my life to contribute to me, or our relationship. My independence was prioritised above the deepening of the relationship.

(Rod edit: If a man cannot contribute to the relationship there is no value in it for him. A man needs to be able to offer something.)

The definition of inspire is to “animate someone with a feeling, or to fill someone with the urge to do something”.

For women who have a feminine essence, inspiration is a natural outcome of being true to our nature. The more connected I have become to the feminine part of me the more radiance and magnetism I experience. These are inspirational qualities to a man.  When a man with a masculine essence feels inspired by a woman, it calls him to be the best version of himself. It inspires him to act in a way that serves, supports and protects her. This feels natural to a man; the relationship becomes a higher priority and more valuable to a man when he can contribute his gifts.

Inspiration is a feminine gift that women can offer to the men in our lives.

When I was withholding my feelings and going away to work out my own stuff, I was basically inspiring him to switch off to me, to leave me alone.  Everything we do can inspire a man to open to more love or to close and withdraw. Men love to problem solve and it’s an inherent part of their nature, but when we put them down for that, or don’t allow them to contribute their insights to our lives, they feel shut down, left out and not needed. Everything we do plays a part.  I started in small ways at the beginning of our relationship, for example, if we were in the car, I would say “I am cold” and Rod would adjust the heater. Or if we were out, I would say, “I am hungry” or “I am thirsty”. Giving him the opportunity to protect, cherish and support me in what I needed.

Whilst these might sound like small things, they were the beginning of building trust. I could see and feel that when I expressed my feelings he wanted to respond and support me.

(Martina edit: this is not manipulation, as I once thought. It’s giving a man the opportunity to serve, and when he does, being truly grateful, appreciative and letting him know that his gestures have hit the spot.)

It took a lot more surrender and opening for me to share some of the bigger challenges in my life with Rod. I was okay with sharing when it felt complete in me, but I had to lean into sharing with Rod when things felt messy. It required being a LOT more vulnerable than I was initially comfortable with, after all, part of me was still holding onto the underlying belief “that I don’t need a man, I can do all this on my own.” Whilst that is true, it’s also much harder doing it all alone and it doesn’t support growth and connection in my relationship. It’s a beautiful GIFT to have someone holding my hand through the tough moments.

To share my confusion, my uncertainty, to share the challenges when they were current was difficult but so worth it. And he enjoyed supporting me to navigate my way through. This included sharing with him some of my messy and confusing feelings about our relationship. And giving him space to be with me in that. Sharing my vulnerability opened a door and became an invitation that deepened the intimacy and connection between us. The level of love and intimacy between us now is more than what I dared to hope for a few years back.

As simple as the examples I gave above are, the impact on our intimacy, communication and sexual connection has been profound… More on this in Part 2.