Recognizing that our relationships are our most gentle teachers in life is a great way to approach the work involved in staying with them. We too often don’t value and trust the huge amounts of resources that we have invested into them and are too willing to dispose of them before really digging into the work before us. While some relationships were a bad idea from the day they started, the majority are actually perfectly designed to help us grow into the best people we can be. I have been sharing these love tips for years and consistently hear back from our friends and customers that doing the work of love rewards them in ways they couldn’t have imagined. Remember that often the feeling of hitting the wall in love lives in us only moments before a breakthrough that gives meaning to our promises. Make this New Year full of love.
1. The truth is that intimacy begets intimacy. Studies support the strong correlation between a happy relationship and the frequency of sex. Sexual intimacy acts as the glue in long-term relationships, like pouring cement into a foundation inspiring a deep union that paves the way for more emotional closeness and richer communication.
2. Communication issues are often at the heart of a relationship impasse. This is because we all mistakenly believe that we can tell someone how things are. Truly successful communication actually takes place in listening. Listening is such a powerful form of communication that most people cannot tell it apart from feeling loved.
3. It is easy for couples to confuse co-existing with truly showing up for each other. They appear the same when we grow accustomed to not allowing ourselves to need and be needed. Co-existing doesn’t have any of the stickiness factors that showing up does because it happens out of habit, not choice. Truly showing up translates into the safety that you bring to every other part of your relationship.
4. You are what you love, not what loves you back. This is a profoundly freeing recognition that allows you to experience the depth and breadth of your capacity for love. It is a literal revolution for your heart to open up to the most instructive emotional experience we are capable of. Emotional intelligence develops in us with our capacity to love. No one can take that from any of us and love teaches without the need for reciprocity.
5. Relationships can only move forward when both people have two feet in. You don’t ever really get to see what your relationship can become if you or your partner keep one foot out the door. It is an entirely different relationship when both partners are engaged and really committed to making their promises work, one that you can’t even imagine when you are holding the door ajar with one foot.
6. Take responsibility for your erotic self. No one else can heal it or make it work. Begin with getting to know your pleasure anatomy. Freud once famously commented, “The only thing about masturbation to be ashamed of is doing it badly.” Learning about your own pleasure response and charting a map to your own orgasm is empowering and will open you to couples pleasure like nothing else.
7. Your feelings should not be allowed to define your story. Feelings are like weather systems that provide fertile information for your life, but they are too changeable and impermanent to trust as a compass for what you are doing in your relationships. Sometimes the most challenging work in a relationship is the very thing needed to strengthen the resolve in your capacity to love.
8. Your attention is the most powerful change agent you can bring to your relationships. Consider how you attend to the details of your financial life, or your career path- your intimate relationships deserve at least that much of your daily attention. They will not thrive without the consistency and patience that all growth requires.
9. Introduce the required physical conversation into your relationship. Stop talking about it and let your body’s wisdom lead you into a language of touch that often has the power to communicate what is behind the words. A physical, but not necessarily sexual conversation is the open door to a more emotionally connected relationship.
10. Your thoughts are the blueprint for your relationship. Your partner knows what you are thinking, even when you don’t say it. We often take ourselves and our relationships too seriously or worse still, hold them hostage to our unspoken doubts. Try for a little levity and lean more heavily on our innate capacity for kindness. Cultivate thoughts that bring you closer to the relationship you envision and vigilantly weed out the ones that don’t.