Saturday, February 5, 2011

Keeping It Fresh With Your Partner

Everything gets stale if it just sits there:bread, cookies, love relationships. Almost every month, I have a patient tell me they are not sure if they are still in love with their partner. It doesn't surprise me a bit. In successful long-term marriages, it is normal for couples to fall in and out of love many times. The question is, what do you do about it?

During the courtship phase of a relationship, everyone is on their best behavior, and trying hard to be an interesting partner. It's relatively easy for an individual to appear positively during courtship. You see each other a limited amount of time, do fun things together, and are apart when you are doing some of the mundane tasks of everyday life.I often wonder if I catch a show like the Bachelor, currently on ABC,who wouldn't have a great time on some of those dates? Exotic vacations, fine dining and outdoor adventures could make any date seem terrific, but it's no surprise that a lot of those matches don't last long after the show taping. Falling in love is a temporary,endorphin-filled state of mind which never lasts. The challenge comes after that first glow wears off, and you figure out whether you have the capacity to grow, mature, accept, nurure,and love the person you picked.Even if they are not completely what you expected, which noone ever is.

You could use the feelings of falling out of love to justify having an affair, emotional or physical, because you are not getting those good feelings from your current partner. This is an emotionally immature choice, because you go chasing the endorphin surge that will pass again, and you prevent your own soul growth as a person, and your partner becomes collateral damage to your self-absorbtion.

I encourage individuals and couples to understand the normal ebb and flow nature of commited relationships. There are a number of life cycle events---having a new baby,having teenagers, launching children and moving on, the death of a parent, and others, which normally pull couples further away from each other.

Your part is to understand and take responsibility for keeping your most important relationship fresh. How good a partner are you? Noone is allowed to say I gave before, so now it is up to my partner. Relationships are like an energy feedback loop. If you are contributing at a high level(say 100%), it is amazing how that may bring your partner around to be more engaged with you. What sweet things have you done for your parner this week?

Here are some interesting ideas for you to implement this week:

1.Use touch.Massage your partners' neck or back gently. Hold hands. Sit near them.
2.Kiss and hug hello and goodbye when one of you leaves or arrives.
3.Send sweet or flirty text, voice messages,or e-mails.
4.Have some high energy fun together.
5.Do some things without the children.
6.Plan weekly date nights.
7.Plan a getaway weekend.
8.Surprise your partner with a little gift for no reason.
9.Take good care of yourself so that you are still attractive to your partner.
10.Find interesting things to talk about together.I generally forbid couples I counsel to discuss the children or household tasks on dates with each other.
11.Meet up someplace new. Drive separately, or meet after work.
12.Learn something new together.
13.Ask your partner for feedback about how you are doing at meeting their needs.
14.Share responsibility for initiating intimacy. EVERYONE likes to have their partner pursue them. Men included here.
15.Listen more to your partner. Paraprase what they are saying so that they know you understand.

I encourage you to take ownership of not letting your relationship go stale.You picked this person,remember.You can intentionally up the energy and focus you put into the relationship, and see what occurs.

There is no reason to wait until Valentine's Day on February 14.Truly magical things happen when each person takes responsibility for being a loving, attentive,fun, and alive partner and person. Let the magic begin!

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