For some people, the words yielding and surrender might evoke romance novels—lovers swept away by passion, tearing each other’s clothes off, transported to an idyll of true-love-forever. Or yielding and surrender can raise the specter of submissive women who are ceaselessly compliant, handmaidens in the backgrounds of men’s lives.
But there’s another perspective. Surrendering to a partner, yielding to his or her needs and desires, is an opportunity to give love, in large and small ways. I define yielding as flexibility with grace. And for couples, yielding is an art form that can enhance a relationship. All it takes is a bit of yin and yang.
According to Chinese philosophy, there is a natural order in the universe that works like a beautiful piece of harmonious music—yin and yang. We all have it. And in our interactions with the world, we use both energies.
Yin is feminine energy: soft, dark, cool, hidden, subtle, and complex. Yin is much more fluid, more nurturing, than yang. Yin’s strength is to preserve life, to keep major support systems in line. Yin knows when to stop, to yield.
Yang is masculine energy: strength, action, and relentless assertiveness. It is a protective energy. Surrender is not an option. The power of yang is that it can lock onto a goal and be undistractible. And, of course, that’s its greatest weakness. Although male energy may seem like a powerful force, it is also fragile. Men spend a lot of energy being male: trying to protect, provide for, and please their families. For men, yielding can feel as if they’re not doing their job.
This energetic interplay of yin and yang is always present in relationships, none of which stay perfectly balanced for long. Like anything else that is a work in progress, the mini-dynamics of a relationship—who is cranky, feeling unheard, going through a work crisis; who has more energy…or less—can change on a daily basis.
Although women are more yin and men are more yang, nobody could survive without both energies. One of the strongest characteristics of yin is its receptivity. When someone listens, really listens to you, that person is being yin. He or she is literally receiving your words, your import; yielding to you, allowing you to speak and be heard.
Yielding is as much a part of survival as standing firm. There will be many times in a relationship when this means that you rise above your own mind-state and remain generous and loving to your partner. You drop any facade of yang, you get quiet, and you listen for cues. Your partner will notice and begin to feel some measure of ease or relief—your yin.
When yielding is mutual, it is the balm that eases the friction of whatever unhappy situation we find ourselves in. Everyone has heard the statement, “This has brought us closer together.” It is because each person leaned toward and yielded to the other’s needs. They both feel loved, cared about, and supported. This is a perfect interplay of yin and yang. Each partner is using yang energy to protect and yin to nurture.
Yielding can also be a great way to end arguments. A smile and a “You know what? You’re right,” given graciously, can completely defuse a relationship hot spot. It’s like bringing delicious sandwiches to a knife fight. Of course, you’ll want to pick the battles you end this way. You will have to do some soul searching and determine whether you are only trying to win—never a good thing by itself in a relationship—or whether the issue really matters to you. Often, if we are completely honest, there are things we don’t care that much about. Yielding to your partner’s needs or wants wouldn’t take as much as it would give. Being yin, giving in, instead of putting up a yang front, is immeasurably better for both of you.
And yielding is never as immediate and direct as it is in the context of touch. The interplay of yin and yang—yin receptive, gentle, loving; and yang overarching, insistent, hungry—in each partner melds into a complex and lovely dance of give and receive.
Surrendering, yielding to your partner, is a gift, given and accepted with the knowledge that it has come from the heart of someone who cares deeply about you.