Is A Spouse your “inner child’s” “step-parent”?

Steven Barnes
4 min readNov 14, 2023

I have seven days to break the “Star Wars” novel. That means creating a full rough draft, however rough, where I can feel all the story and character arcs. The rest is just “chop wood, carry water.” And I can do it, too.

We are 44 days to deliver the Star Wars book. And 44 days in the LOVE FEAST. I hadn’t seen that clearly, but now I do…and want to look at how they dovetail.

The origin of the Love Feast is to place your partner higher than yourself for 90 days. Go “all out” to celebrate, protect, love, cherish and relish your partner.

This worked GREAT for the first 90 days, and set our family up to be able to function at a higher level, with less stress. Tananarive is off being a star, and I’m holding it down, writing, training, and serving Jason as he begins to SERIOUSLY look at his steps into adulthood.

Let’s focus down. When we decided to renew our 90-day vows (we actually renew our vows daily with the BLESSING DANCE) I decided to find a way to serve people who are NOT in relationships, whether by choice, chance, or tragedy. Whether seeking or fleeing or changing lanes.

And the choice was to transform it to a 90-Day “Love Feast” loving YOURSELF. And the most powerful version of this would be the ANCIENT CHILD. This means seeing yourself as divided into three “aspects”: Child, Adult, and Elder.

Drill down further: the Child. The “child” part of you has the energy, enthusiasm, creativity. AH, CREATIVITY.

What do I need to complete the Star Wars book? These three traits. To have access to this, the “child” needs to feel SAFE. Look at this and connect to what the Dalai Lama said about the meaning of life: to be Joyful, and of Service. OK…to feel Joyful, you need to feel safe. 99% of the time, Safety trumps joy, or even “personal growth.”

So the first step has to be SECURITY, feeling SAFE. That means triggering the survival drive. THAT’S what protects you. Survival drive is instinct. We can look at this as a cluster of things we have to do to create the space for my “child” to feel totally safe: the “adult” part of me has to be protective and handle “executive function”: timing, planning, strategy, and execution of critical actions ON TIME. Yes, the “child” wants to play, and if you were abused or neglected, it is very easy to get this out of balance: the “child” rages and leaps at imagined enemies and threats, the IMPERATIVE things. Putting out buckets to catch water before it ruins the sofa, rather than fixing the roof.

The ADULT has to think of the future, be the “ant” not the “grasshopper.” The child says “why work when I can play?” and the adult says “work a little today so that we have MORE time to play tomorrow.”

Discipline creates security, which allows the “child” to feel safe and loved, which opens the door to creativity. The great thing about this is that “intelligence is problem solving” and the process of problem solving is CREATIVITY. Brain storming. Studying the situation, getting VERY clear on your desired results, using the MAGIC formula to understand how to get into the game, and then generating ideas, long-term notions that can be tested in the short-term, today. Test. Evaluate the results. Get the right results? Repeat. Wrong results? Try something else.

Let me repeat that: FIRST seek safety. This is the “Warrior” aspect, the “Survival” instincts. BELLY BRAIN. The first step would be working the breathing, sixty seconds per hour, at least five times a day.

Then the “Morning Ritual” where you are vocalizing and visualizing the steps of the MAGIC formula (Model, Actions, Gratitude, Intention, Confidence). With the full and powerful intent to create a sense of safety and power, to PROTECT YOUR CHILD.

Put your leverage there, your focus THERE. And all it takes is to make `100% commitment that you will DIE before you sell yourself out again, EVER. And once you’ve done that, you have started your engine. Every day reinforce this until your “child” begins to talk to you about what she wants you to do, and at that point the child sort of climbs up from the belly brain into your heart.

And THAT is what I need to to the Star Wars novel. I have to have my adult discipline and my child-like curiosity and creativity working TOGETHER.

And the last step would be connecting these to your “elder” self. But that is another step, and we’ll deal with that later.

For now, COMMIT to your internal “child” self. Now…if you are in a relationship, there is a sense that the two adult partners “parent’ each others’ “child” selves. Tananarive is “Mommy” for my little boy. It just hit me that that’s more like “step mommy” because I am the primary protector and nurturer for my own “child” self. But I “step parent” her little girl and she “step parents” my little boy. Each of us taking responsibility for ourselve, but also letting the other in.

Wow. That just hit me. And I want to stop there and think about it. That’s…really interesting. You protect and nurture your own “child” which demands that you awaken BOTH your male and female energies. Then, you find another adult to share your life with, and allow them to “step-parent” that child. Yeah. I’m stopping there. Fascinating idea.

More tomorrow.

Steve

www.stevenbarneslist.com

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Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts. www.lifewritingpodcast.com.