Marie-Elizabeth Mali has been a relationship expert for decades, and now she’s speaking on and coaching people on how to alchemize their relationship so that she can support as many people as possible to learn to love without limits in order to create a world where connection is not sacrificed in the name of success. Being able to support speakers in sharing their powerful expertise is a privilege, and I caught up with Marie Elizabeth to talk about what it means to be The Relationship Alchemist during a time where isolation is so prevalent.  
What do you see as the biggest challenge women have around relationships? With themselves and others?
Marie-Elizabeth: The biggest challenge we have around our relationship with ourselves is how harshly self-critical we tend to be, so we look outside ourselves for validation and approval. This sets up all sorts of problematic dynamics in our relationships with others.
The biggest challenge I see in how women show up in their relationships is that they tend to prioritize others’ needs and happiness above their own. 
Part of it is biology — babies need to nurse when they need to nurse — so that’s natural, but part of it comes from having been conditioned by our families, cultures, religions, and education to be selfless good girls.
When women start putting their needs and their pleasure on the same playing field as those they love and serve, everybody benefits, not only because there’s less resentment and exhaustion in the air, but also because a woman’s radiant joy lights up everyone around her.
Here’s the secret we tend to miss: the joy and love that spills over when we’re giving from a full cup is a greater gift to others than our self-sacrifice.
Here’s the secret we tend to miss: the joy and love that spills over when we’re giving from a full cup is a greater gift to others than our self-sacrifice.
How do you help women have a voice inside of a relationship? And do you see this being a challenge globally?
Marie-Elizabeth:  I help women discern and ask for what they really want in a clear and complaint-free way and how to stick around to negotiate. What I mean by that is to stay open and spacious in the conversation and look for a win-win solution, instead of getting angry or punishing their partner if there isn’t a ready yes.
When women understand that their needs matter and their relationship and family work better when they take care of themselves alongside everyone else, they learn to set better boundaries and ask more directly for what they need.
Usually, their partners respond with relief and willingness to their newfound voice because it’s a gift to know what someone you love wants so you can give that to them. 
Sometimes the partner doesn’t respond well, or at all, and that’s usually a sign that the relationship is over or they’re not the right person.
Globally, women need to have a greater voice to create a more just world that works for everyone. It’s well-known that when the women in a community are given resources, like money, machines, or food, they use those resources to uplift the community as a whole. 
It’s the same with voice. When a woman finds her voice in a family or community where she hasn’t historically had access to that kind of power, everybody benefits.
When do you know it’s time to leave or time to roll up your sleeves, and how do you know?
Marie-Elizabeth:  It’s hard to know whether it’s time to leave until you’ve looked within to see if there are ways you could be showing up differently in the relationship to invite the responses you want from your partner.
This is the alchemy part of Relationship Alchemy: learning to be with, and work with, all of yourself in a loving way so that you can show up in your relationship in a transparent and generous way that invites more love and connection to flourish.
In other words, a great relationship starts with you.
If you start showing up differently, inviting more love and connection, and your partner doesn’t warm and open to your more vulnerable and loving way of being, then there’s your answer. They may not be able to join you as you keep growing. The relationship may have run its course.
Among my clients, I’ve seen both happen: the partner responds and they grow closer and happier, or the partner stays closed and cut off and the relationship ends.
As I see it, either way, it’s a win because you’ve become more yourself in the process of learning how to relate more skillfully and honestly, so whether or not you still have that particular person in your life, you now have YOU, which transforms your life for the better.
How do you mourn the loss of a relationship in order to fully grow? 
Marie-Elizabeth:  First, allow the grief. We tend not to allow enough time and space for grief in our culture. This has us not fully process our losses and impedes our growth.
So, weep, play sad songs, curl yourself around a pillow and cry, journal about your feelings...let the riptide of grief carry you until it ebbs and naturally shifts.
Then, assess. Celebrate what worked well in the relationship and what you wish had gone differently.
Get clear on what you could have done differently had you known better at the time. Love and forgive yourself because you didn’t know better at the time.
Doing the work to get clear and understand the deeper dynamics that had the relationship not work out helps you release the loss and open yourself to partner with someone better suited for who you’ve evolved into through that work.
Marie Elizabeth Mali - Relationship Alchemist, Speaker, and Coach
How do you stay open to your partner’s growth cycle if yours is rapid? Do you wait, do you move on with or without?
Marie-Elizabeth: It’s natural to have varying growth cycles. And the more that you’re letting one another in on what’s happening inside of you, the more you can stay current with each other’s experience and support one another’s growth, regardless of how fast it’s happening.
If you’re truly growing and your partner is not, then that’s something to talk about with one another. Do you have a shared vision for the purpose of your relationship to which you’ve both agreed?
If so, put that vision on the table in front of you and sit next to one another facing it. Ask how you are each showing up to make that vision a reality and if it’s still resonant for both of you.
Maybe the vision needs to be revised so that both of you can recommit to engaging with one another in a way that supports it.
Maybe you no longer want the same thing. If so, that’s a conversation worth having, too.
Ultimately you have to decide what’s most important for you. We need to interrogate the idea that we’re supposed to be with the same person for a lifetime and that to end a relationship that has run its course means that it failed.
We need to interrogate the idea that we’re supposed to be with the same person for a lifetime and that to end a relationship that has run its course means that it failed.
Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist, said that we have three marriages in our lifetime: one for love, one for parenting, and one for companionship because different partners suit us at different developmental stages in our lives. 
If we’re extremely lucky, we can create those three marriages with the same person. But it’s not a given.
What is a lesson you’ve learned, and how can it help others?
Marie-Elizabeth: To listen to myself at a deeper level than my mind and be open to hearing inner wisdom that doesn’t square with my ideas about the situation.
For example, when I was married and getting more and more drained and physically ill, I thought I was broken and incapable of happiness in a long-term committed relationship. I kept trying to fix myself in therapy.
And one day, the insight came: It wasn’t that I was broken, it’s that I was unhappy. And this unhappiness was worth listening to. From that moment, I started listening more deeply to myself. 
Six months later, we split up. I recovered my health. My ex is married to a wonderful woman and has two beautiful kids, and I’ve been with the love of my life since 2015, in a relationship that nourishes and grows us both in the ways that we want.
Listening to myself and to my unhappiness, instead of trying to ignore and fix it because I think something’s wrong with me for feeling the way I feel, enabled me and my ex to have the wonderful relationships we have now.
You recently posted about your partner being in meditation and a text you sent him. Tell us about this and what that meant for you in terms of connection.
Marie-Elizabeth: The other morning I popped my head into the bedroom and saw my partner, Patrick, meditating. 
So I texted him that I’d be busy for the next 90 minutes but wanted to pick up breakfast together from Bluestone Lane before running our errand.
As we headed out together to get breakfast, he casually said, “Bluestone Lane popped up in my meditation. I wondered if we’d have time to go before our errand.”
In other words, he received my text through the ethers without even knowing I’d sent it. This kind of thing happens often between us, where one of us will say what the other is thinking.
What it meant for me in terms of connection is that we are both present and listening to what’s arising for our Union. The Union is what we call the relationship that’s created by the two of us coming together. The more we have our attention on the Union, and not only our individual selves, the more in sync and on the same team we tend to be.
What would you tell women out there who really want to find love and relationship and are struggling?
Marie-Elizabeth: There are wonderful partners out there. They may not show up in the package you expect, so they can be easy to miss when you’re being driven by chemistry and your preferences.
Focus more on how you want the relationship to feel and cultivate that feeling in your own life.
Focus more on how you want the relationship to feel and cultivate that feeling in your own life.
Right here, right now. Why wait for another person to have your life feel the way you want it to feel?
You moving through life happy and fulfilled is deeply attractive to the right partner. It’s like having a powerful beacon that cuts through the crowd and spotlights you as someone they want to know. 
When you learn to tune into yourself at a deeper level and practice stretching yourself beyond what your core wounding and the beliefs you inherited from your family, culture, religion (if you have one), and education would have you believe you deserve, you’ll start to open up to connecting with someone who can join you in creating the depth of love and relationship you want.
Having a relationship that lights you up so bright that you change the world with your radiance is your birthright. 
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Tricia Brouk