Let’s talk about love! Even the best intimate relationships can benefit from a reboot every now and again. Within my marriage, comfort, confidence, and joy happen most easily when I visualize my husband and myself from an “ever-evolving” perspective. Together, I frequently remind myself, we are in the process of cultivating an even more delicious, heart-expansive, empowered partnership.
The key here is the concept of in the process, for when we are in the process of something we are always growing. There’s plenty of room for imperfections because it’s a process. Being in a process is about being in the state of possibility — keeping infinite possibilities open!
Seeing our relationship as an ongoing work-in-progress serves to keep us pleasurably in the game. We’re more able to stay dedicated to our growth as a couple. We consistently and deliberately put forth effort for the good of the relationship. A marriage — or any relationship, actually — is built and maintained simply by stringing moment after moment together. How’s that for keeping it simple?
My husband and I are a perfectly imperfect duo, enjoying a great (although sometimes bumpy) ride through our days together. Below, I’ll share a few ingredients that compose our secret success sauce. Perhaps you can add our recipe to what you and your favorite person are already doing. When those embers cool, fresh air, new ideas, and creative juices help make sparks of passion and pleasure fly again.
Of course, do remember that the tools and strategies I’m about to outline can be beautifully applied to all relationships — your relationship with yourself, a friend, a child, or other family members. Reboots are valuable across the spectrum and can powerfully enhance any and all connections.
Trust Fuels the Treasures
For me, the number one ingredient for a rich, intimate connection is trust. Cultivating trust is key; it’s a conduit through which love can flourish and flow. First and foremost is the healthy development of one’s personal trust muscle. It’s an inside job. This trust is fueled by respect — self-respect, and then respect of the other.
Do you, for instance, respect yourself enough to keep your word with yourself? Do you do what you tell yourself you’re going to do? Are you a safe haven for yourself? In times of distress, can you gently soothe yourself by thinking, “Sweetheart, you’ve got this!” Only after you’re able to consistently honor and trust yourself will you be able to show up in a similar fashion for a beloved. Trustworthiness grows from sustained self-mastery.
Just as it’s been said that we can only love another to the degree we love ourselves, so I believe we can only trust another to the degree we can trust ourselves. Next comes a sort of tranquility. Both parties can trust that the other is tuned in and consciously motivated in the direction of what’s best for the relationship. Deep trust in each other is, to me, at the heart of what we so crave in partnership (and in all our relationships, really). Experiencing trust allows us to feel like we’ve come safely home.
Consider Core Needs
Many factors bring people together — physical proximity, chemistry, a desire for comfort, or a wish for deep commitment. Connection is also fostered by the desire to have basic human needs met. We have a need to feel safe or certain, a need for variety, a need to feel significant, and a need for love. Additionally, we have needs around developing our spirit, namely the need for growth and the need to feel we can contribute to the world at large.
A quick way to reboot or super-charge any intimate relationship is to contemplate what need your beloved is expressing. The expression of needs, however, often happens undercover. Mindful, compassionate detective work is frequently necessary to bring your partner’s longings into the light of day.
Sadly, people more often then not hide (even from themselves) the expression of a basic need under layers of disguised conversational or behavioral wrappings. For instance, one might long to be recognized as significant in having the ability to masterfully juggle multiple household tasks. Yet what this individual might actually communicate to their partner is a long list of complaints about all they had to do on a given day. A compassionate partner, listening for the hidden need in the conversation, will lovingly “unwrap” the confusing packaging, recognizing and celebrating their beloved’s significance. Rather than being put off by the complaints, strengths are seen and appreciated. Conflicts, compassionately handled, can actually deepen intimacy.
And voila! Relationship tensions melt away when the focus is on listening for the need behind what’s being expressed. My husband and I have spared ourselves countless arguments and misunderstandings by zeroing in on the longings hidden behind the gobbledegook! Magic happens when you can experience yourself as a partner (or friend or colleague) capable of drawing deeper desires or unexpressed needs into the light.
Create Space for Love
It seems like the act of creating time and space for love should go without saying. Not true! As a life and relationship coach, I witness numerous examples of individuals and couples running themselves into the ground with busyness and non-gratifying preoccupations. Little space is left for what they deem most important in their lives.
Creating time and space for love takes committed, deliberate intention and action. It’s about being deeply appreciative of each other’s presence, and verbally communicating such. It’s about watching, mindfully, for opportunities to meaningfully honor and celebrate the other’s existence!
This kind of care-infused noticing happens, and can feel extremely nourishing to both parties, when one can really slow down. The pressures of life and scheduling crunches that naturally occur in any given day can rob you of time with each other. Yet never forget, dear friends, how love’s passion can also transform time. When we can slow down and create an opening for love, for being with our “person,” we free ourselves from the tyranny of time. Simply being present heightens the present of presence!
So gift yourself the pleasure of meaningfully attending to your beloved, and request the same from them in return. Waste not another second. Experience them with all your senses; look lovingly, listen carefully, touch gently, savor scents, and taste the deliciousness of their true presence before you. Feel the compassion rise in your heart.
Experience the joy of sacred communion and connection. Keep showing up. Show up with courage, care, humility, energy, compassion, playfulness, and pleasure-filled time. Experience the freedom and pleasure of loving without restraints. Now that’s quite a reboot, hm?
This article was also published in The Brick Magazine.