Love is more than a box of chocolates: True romance depends on creating flow in a couple’s physical and emotional life. For tips on how to get unstuck and thrive in a relationship, we consulted with Orinda’s Michele Duffy, a master of feng shui who created sessions in the Chinese practice of harmonizing for the world-famous Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.
Q: How did you learn about feng shui?
A: I was living in New York City, working in software, executive development, and sales, and I felt like there was more to life than making six figures. When two of my sisters became sick with cancer, I became interested in Tibetan Buddhism, which led me to feng shui.
Q: How does feng shui help relationships?
A: Feng shui is based on the philosophy of the Tao that everything is connected. In practicing feng shui, we feel more aligned with the natural world. Everything has chi, or energy, and feng shui is all about creating, maintaining, and keeping the positive chi moving—not getting stuck on things that aren’t serving you. The art of feng shui brings people back home to themselves and to each other, literally and figuratively.
Q: What’s the best way to keep a relationship dynamic and fresh?
A: It’s all about flow, creating opportunities for intimacy. Even if you have kids, your partner has to have priority. Reconnect and walk out in nature, and remember and reflect on what it was exactly that brought you to that person. Never lose sight of that no matter what.
Q: How would you breathe new life into a relationship?
A: When helping couples to reenergize the romance and bonds of love, I provide ceremonial work (such as a citrus water space blessing) to clear old energies and to offer universal blessings of harmony, unconditional love, patience, fidelity, wellness, and longevity.
Q: What about the design and decor of the home?
A: Feng shui is about recognizing the subliminal messages in your environment. What we surround ourselves with is very influential. For relationships, the goal is to create a sanctuary for rest and romance. For instance, go to the master bedroom, and analyze the physical environment. Create a sensual retreat with a layering of soft wall colors, proper window coverings, candles, and low lighting, and add design elements that reinforce sensuality, romance, and love. Hang a romantic portrait of the couple or symbolic paintings, such as pairs of lovebirds.
Q: What about the bed and its placement?
A: Try to have a solid wall behind the headboard in a commanding position; it’s like having a mountain at your back. Add a plush throw rug so when stepping out of bed, you enter into cozy surroundings. Decorate in twos; for instance, there should be a pair of bedside tables. But for good flow, there shouldn’t be too much furniture.
Q: Are there things to avoid placing in the bedroom?
A: TVs are very yang. We don’t like fireplaces—too active. They create conflict. Never paint the walls red—too yang. You would begin to "see red" and cultivate anger. We generally want soft romantic wall colors. We encourage couples to not have pictures of their kids or images of solitary figures.
Q: What about the rest of the house?
A: The feng shui bagua map locates relationship energy in the far right corner of the house, as well as in any given room or space. It could be your dining room, your kitchen, your office or cube at work, your garage, and even your car. Just go to the main entrance, point your arm to the far right corner, and get to work!
Q: Are there any items that should definitely not be in the right-hand corner of a room?
A: Remove anything symbolic of an old relationship. Don’t store games (you don’t want to "play games" in your relationship space) or luggage (aka "baggage"). No garbage cans, recycling, or anything broken or needing repair. No dust or dirt. It should always be clean and sparkling. mandalafengshui.com.
Your home is filled with subliminal messages, so why not make some of them romantic? Duffy says one of the most powerful ways to "juice up" a relationship is with artwork. Try the following:
Lotuses: The oldest flowers on Earth symbolize that relationships are blooming, resilient, and pure.
Lovebirds: Doves, ducks, and swans mate for life and symbolize committed, harmonious relationships.
Pairs: Choose paintings depicting plants, objects, or animals in twos to reinforce harmony.
Peonies: These are the feng shui flowers of love and romance.
Pomegranates: The fruits represent passionate relationships.
Colors: Whites, pinks, and reds are inherently romantic.