What stops us from experiencing full satisfaction, joy, and happiness in relationships? Why do we sometimes pull back, avoid things, or become less available, yet at other times become far too needy or demanding? Why might we behave in ways that drain the aliveness out of being together – trying not to rock the boat, holding back how we really feel, not asking for what we need? What are the barriers that block us from sharing the utmost fulfillment with each other?

The holy temples of the east provide a clue. Most of them have frightening monsters sitting at their gates, on guard. If you followed the local beliefs, you might come to fear these stone statues and their legendary destructive powers. But if you want to enter the sacred temple, you must first face each of these monsters – and deal with your fears.

It is like that in a relationship. To enter the temple of joy and happiness, you must first face the monsters blocking your way and deal with your fears. But in this case, the “monsters” are from your own past, sitting deep within your unconscious. They are built not of stone but from all the upsets, wounds, and traumatic events in your personal history.

Each hurt and pain was stored in memory. Anything even remotely similar to an earlier event can now unconsciously evoke fear or upset. Not recalling the actual memory, you will mistakenly think your partner is the sole cause of whatever you feel. You’ll react, trying to protect yourself – often acting in an inappropriate or unproductive way.

The card BARRIERS asks you, how are monsters from the past affecting your relationship today? What is standing in the way of your complete fulfillment? Which of the following fears do you recognize in yourself? The fear of rejection or abandonment? Of being trapped or controlled? Of losing your identity in the relationship? Of being invalidated or belittled? Of not being accepted? Of being hurt again? Of inadequacy? Of boredom? Of anger? Of upsetting others?

Consider each fear as it may affect you. Ask yourself the question, “What if things are not really as I fear them to be?” Then, instead of letting the monster chase you, turn around and chase it! Chase it down, and begin to sense its origins in your childhood or early relationships. Finally face it – whether you understand it or not. Face any monster that presents itself, breathe deeply, and fully feel your feelings. Simply feel the fear – or any other emotion that arises. Feel the emotion in its entirety – finally, fully – without running anywhere. Discover that you can survive! In this way, you diminish the power a fear holds over you. But respect the real work that is required and be easy on yourself. It may take several encounters with a monster before you completely pass through its gates.

In passing through the gates of fear, you discover who you really are – tapping into strength you didn’t think you had and experiencing joy you didn’t believe you could. Vital energy is released in moving through a barrier, energy once caught up in being on guard. By facing and dealing with “monsters,” you can enter the temple of your relationship with increased energy, aliveness, and joy. You open the doors wide to all the happiness and fulfillment you truly deserve.