Coupling: Ocean and sand reflect give and take in our coupling

Join me as we draw some parallels between the seashore and our coupling.

The ocean and the shore live in a restless harmony, daily fashioning a truce of compromise. The sea rolls forward for high tide, the beach accepting the change initiated by the moon and encouraged by the winds. Then the tide rolls out, exposing sand where water was.

The basic components of earth, wind, fire and water find expression here. When you see a thunderstorm blowing in, or lightning in the sky, you are a witness to the elemental forces of life.

Many travel to the coast for vacation. Maybe you do, too. But even if you don’t, white sand and blue water make a beautiful tableau. You may eat out, shop, play golf or drink too much, but it’s that intersection of land and sea -- beach and tumbling waves -- that you want to be near.

If you go to the beach often, you will notice the landscape shifting and changing daily. The sand may be soft and powdery or firm, the waves may laugh or roar. New dunes may form; tide pools linger and then are erased; and sand bars reveal shallow water, then deep, then new land.

If you are adventurous, you may claim your new island -- but only while the tide wanes because things will change even as they stay the same.

The beautiful struggle of “two becoming one” came to my mind as I reflected on the beach. Two are never fully one in the material world. But, in a poetic way, we are -- just as the surf and the sand are. One without the other is a desert or a featureless expanse of ocean. Both are beautiful in their own right but not so dynamic as the beach.

I am one of those people who can really enjoy the beach. I love to sit and read, walk or body surf in the waves, build sand castles or play bocce ball. I could go on and on. This energy and enjoyment comes from this simple tension that arises from the proximity of the water and the land -- ever changing, ever competing, ever accepting.

Coupling is like this. We are always struggling, accepting and changing in the dynamism of the relationship. Hopefully we know our own elemental self and offer that to our mate. We don’t need for them to be like us. Complimentary yet fundamentally different, we exist in mutual appreciation.

The sand mixes in the water; the water permeates the sand. Though they are distinct, there is also constant give and take. The surf never demands the sand to get out of the way and the sand never complains of the daily push and tug.

The storm may come that churns the water and tears at the sand, but time will allow harmony to return -- if one is patient. Things may change, but they will return to balance if we are not too demanding.

Bruce Conn is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and works with individuals and couples. Contact him at or call 478-742-1464.