Maybe it’s the summer heat. Maybe it’s the financial crisis. I don’t know, but the relationship questions have been flooding in lately. Everyone wants to get it on, keep it on, take it off, put it back on or trade it in. I’ve already written about how to find the perfect girl or boyfriend, how to get them to commit and how to stop attracting the psychos. It was only a matter of time before I tackled the subject of how to keep things all lovey dovey once you’ve actually managed to hogtie that special someone. Figuratively, of course. Probably.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that your relationship isn’t in major trouble. Perhaps things are great and you want to know how to keep them that way. Or, things have petered out a bit and you need to know how to rekindle the flame. If you’re spitefully setting fire to each other’s underwear, this blog post isn’t going to help you.
Also, I should warn you: I’m assigning homework this time. This isn’t just theory anymore boys and girls. If you want the fire back in the bedroom, you’re going to have to work for it. I can see no better opportunity to get you to actually follow through and prove to yourself that this stuff works. I figure, if the promise of carnal bliss doesn’t do it, nothing will. Now that we’ve set the ground rules, let’s get to it. Ready?
Focus on the good stuff
Do you remember how when you first got together you thought your partner was the greatest thing that ever walked the earth? There was a reason for that. You were each focused intensely on what you liked about each other. You literally looked for stuff to rave about to your friends. And if anything not-so-great came up, you pushed it away and refused to look at it. So what if he wore tighty-whiteys? You found them adorable! So what if she uses text speak? She’s sassy! They could do nothing wrong. Sure, at the time, you probably didn’t consciously choose to have this mindset. Your brain was flooded with massive amounts of love chemicals, which helped you to focus in such a positive way. But, my point is, you have the ability to MAKE that decision consciously.
Exercise: Sit down and make a list of all the things you like, love or adore about your honey. Hopefully, you’ll be able to think of at least a few things. Spend a few minutes every day pondering this list and adding to it. These can be qualities they have, or something they did that day that made you smile. Spend at least 10 minutes each day going through the list and remembering why you placed each item there. Do this for at least a week, and watch that sexy babe you originally fell for come back into your life.
What’s that you say? How will they change if they’re not also doing the exercises? The key here is for you to change your own vibration and manifest a different version of them. Now, while it’s absolutely not necessary for them to do these homework assignments with you for this to work, there’s no denying that if you can share this experience, it will multiply the results exponentially.
Stop looking for crap to criticize
When you begin to focus on your partner’s positive aspects, your vibration regarding said partner rises. That means, you begin to feel better and better about them. And there’s nothing that will put the brakes on that process and slam it into reverse faster than looking for crap to bitch about or criticizing each other. And that includes face to face and behind the back criticism, by the way. Stop running to your mom and complaining that he doesn’t put the cap on the freakin’ toothpaste. Who really cares? Try to get a little perspective. I’m not asking you to ignore all the things they do that irritate you, I’m advising you to see the big picture. Does it really matter that she doesn’t know how to program the VCR? Make those little petty things unimportant and keep focusing on what you do like about them.
Exercise: Pay attention to how you talk to and about your partner. Every time you catch yourself criticizing them, punch yourself in the face. I’m kidding – I just wanted to make sure you were still paying attention. When you do catch yourself bitching about them, stop, get some perspective (big picture, is this really important?), and refocus on something positive.
Give each other the benefit of the doubt
When disagreements come up that aren’t just about toothpaste or dirty underwear, when the subject matters, even from a big picture point of view, take a moment and breathe before reacting from your gut. Keep this in mind: You love this person (or at least like them a lot). There’s a reason you love them. Do you really think that they’re choosing to take their point of view to annoy you? I ask this only because a great many arguments start and/or escalate because one or both parties seem to assume that the other person is either a.) an idiot, b.) being a dick on purpose or c.) both.
Whatever your partner’s opinion, they have a good reason for thinking the way that they do, just as you do. Before you go into defensive mode (“they’re trying to take something from me, I have to defend myself”), why not give them the benefit of the doubt and just talk to each other. Calmly ask them why they’re reacting the way they are, why they feel the way they do, etc. There’s a story there. Be honest. How many of your fights from the past (in this relationship or another) turned out to be mostly huge misunderstandings that just got out of hand?
Exercise: Choose a fight from your past that turned out to be a misunderstanding and visualize what it would’ve been like if you’d kept your cool and used the technique above. How does it feel to give your partner the benefit of the doubt? How does it feel to stay calm and really listen to the other person? How does it feel to not immediately take everything they do and say so freakin’ personally?
Say hello and good bye with a proper kiss
I know life gets busy, especially if you have kids. You barely see each other and you’re like two ships passing in the night. One or both of you can barely stuff breakfast in your mouths before rushing out the door. And when you get home at night, you’re exhausted and there’s still so much to do.
Well, I don’t care. Yeah, you heard me. What I’m asking you to do takes seconds, but makes such a huge difference. Just before you part ways and when you see each other again, take a teensy bit of time and give each other a proper kiss. The way people in love kiss. Not a peck on the cheek. Not a peck on the lips. A proper smooch – the kind that makes your kids yell “Ew! Gross!” Make it last at least 5 seconds. When was the last time you kissed liked that outside of the bedroom? This is the person you love! Perhaps the person you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with. Don’t be afraid to plant one on them the way you did when you first got together.
Exercise: Go find your partner and make out like teenagers. Best. Homework. Ever.
Make time for great sex
If I was targeting only those of you who’ve been married for several years, I might have titled this step: “Make time for sex. Period.” But alas, even the young ‘uns are complaining about relationship fizzle these days… Again, I know you’re busy, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with the occasional quickie, but if your sex life has gotten routine, boring (or God forbid non-existent), you’re not putting any effort into it. Unless you’re new parents; then you get a pass. But since new parents aren’t going to have the time or the stamina to be reading blogs on the internet, I think I’m safely within my demographic here. And no, I’m not just talking to the ladies here. Just being ready isn’t enough to make it great. Yep, I’m really cracking the whip today. Perhaps you should, too, if that’s our thing.
Seriously, pick a night and call it date night. Make each other feel special. You don’t have to go and rent costumes or swing from the chandelier (although… why not?), but what about sharing an uninterrupted dinner, or perhaps a bath with sparkling wine? Put on some Barry White and really spend some time connecting with each other again. If you’re bored or if you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’, it’s because you haven’t given each other the attention you both deserve.
Exercise: Do what you’ve gotta do. It’s all good, baby.
Make your relationship a priority
Essentially, what all of these steps come down to is making your relationship a priority. When you first got together, you could barely stand to be apart. You couldn’t think of anything else but how great they were. But over time, life got in the way. You stopped focusing on each other. You stopped taking the time to tell each other your secrets, your thoughts, your feelings. You stopped spending actual time with each other.
There are some couples with children that actually take two vacations a year – one with the kids and one without. While that may sound crazy to you, think about this: What kind of parent do you think you’d be after spending a romantic week connecting with your honey? If a week isn’t doable, how about a weekend? A night in a hotel? And if you don’t have children, how about spending that next vacation at the beach instead of fixing up the house? Go do plan something special now.
It’s the little things that make a relationship work. Smile when they walk in the room. Let them know you’re happy to see them. Touch when you’re in public. Hold hands and hug. Be kind to each other. Don’t let work and kids and in-laws and TV get in the way. Make your relationship a priority and watch the sparks come back.
Disclaimer: I will not be responsible for any fires caused by genitals exploding in the heat of passion.
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Image Credit: icanhascheezburger.com (caption is mine)