Here are 10 ways to deepen your intimate relationship and you know what they all have in common? They’re all actions you can take! Things you can do. Yes, this is good news. I hear from so many of you that your partner won’t change or that you’re frustrated because the same issues keep coming up in your relationships. This post is for you! While there are two people in a relationship, the beauty of a relationship is when one person changes, the whole dynamic can change. Think of you and your partner as dancing partners. If one of you changes the dance, the whole dance changes. Same is true with your interactions.
So here goes, here are ten ways that we can grow closer to our partner wherever you are on your romantic journey. Whether you’ve been together for decades or months, I promise you that one of these areas could use some attention. I’m a pretty conscious lover yet know there are areas within all of these ways where I can shine some attention to get even closer to my mate. Remember, it’s all about progress. Not perfection.
1) Love Your Partner Unconditionally :
Yep, you’re probably thinking, okay Susie, that’s easy. Of course I unconditionally love my mate. I’d like you to pause and question that. Most of us, have very conditional love for our partners. We do what I call “We love them if…” Meaning: “We love them if they parent the way we want them to” or, “We love them if they show us love the way we want them to”, or “We love them if they return our texts in a timely manner”, etc….
Sorry, that’s not what I’m talking about. Think about it: that’s conditional love. You’re putting conditions on your love.
Unconditional love is choosing to love your spouse no matter what. You actually love them no matter what. You love him whether they bring the garbage out or not. You love them whether they help you with the kids the way you want or not. You love him whether he remembers your birthday or not.
Your spouse is in your life to love. He or she is there as a companion on your journey together. I used to put a lot of conditions on my love. No fun. When I choose to love my partner for exactly who he is, how he’s showing up that day, I feel free. My mate’s only job in our marriage is to live his life exactly the way he’s living it and to be there for me to love. This makes our relationship so much easier.
2) Brainstorm Love:
This is exactly what it sounds like: Take time to brainstorm all the ways you love your spouse. What do you adore about him? At least once a month I get out a pen and paper and write down 50 things I adore about Paul. His hair, his laugh, his hands, his support, his thoroughness, …Now, you may think…easy for Susie, her husband sounds like a dream. That’s because I’m directing my brain to look for the amazingness in Paul. You can do this with your spouse too. I could direct my brain to look for the things that bug me about Paul but what’s the point? Truly, what is the point?
Ask yourself: what case are you making for your spouse? Do you spend more time looking for the amazingness in your spouse or the annoyances? How does that leave you feeling most days?
3) Stop Trying To Change Your Mate:
Consider this a Public Service Announcement: Trying to change your partner does not work. I tried to change my first husband. For years. Then I tried to change my parents. I even tried to change my siblings. Here’s what I’ve learned: I am not good at changing other people. Further, you want to know what else I noticed? People really don’t like it when you try and change them. Have you guys noticed that like when you try and change other people, they’re not like, “Yay, this will be fun. I can’t wait for you to try and change me.” Nope. People don’t want you to try to change them.
Do you know what people do want you to do? LOVE THEM! They want to be accepted for who they are. Ask yourself why you’re wanting to change the other people in your life? Your partner, your kids, your relatives? I’ll bet you’re trying to change them because you think that if they were different, you would be happier. You might even be telling yourself that if they changed and did it “your way”, they’d be happier. BS. You know what? They’ll be happier when you back off. When you love them for who they are.
I used to think things like “if they only did this, they’d be happier” or “this would be so much easier if they…” but you know what? It doesn’t work that way. People have to learn for themselves. Back off and stop pretending you’re the universe. The other people in your life are on a path and just because it’s not the one you want them to be on, it doesn’t mean it’s not the path they’re supposed to be on. Back out mama. You miss out on the loveliness and amazingness of who you’re in relationship with is when you’re trying to change them.
4) You Do You.
This is often a hard one. You are responsible to meet your own needs. You are not your spouse’s responsibility. Hello Adulting 101. This is a hard truth for us to grasp because the current society has us believe differently. We are taught that external things create our happiness: get the new car to be happy; eat the cupcake to be happy, buy this pair of jeans to be happy; get your spouse to buy you roses to be happy. Nope. You are responsible for how you feel. Go back to earlier episodes on the thought model if you want proof that your thoughts dictate how you feel. Your spouse is not able to control your thoughts. You are the only one that can. You are responsible for you.
I know we’ve all been to therapists or heard of therapy sessions where the therapist tells the spouses to share their needs so the other partner can meet them. Uh no. This is called codependency and we give away our emotional freedom when we do that. It’s like the therapists and TV shows are encouraging us to say: “Hey hon, I’m having a hard time meeting my own needs, could you take over?” Uh no. How about you take responsibility for your emotional state and let your spouse take care of his. Paul and I have an expression: 1+1=3 which means that when he takes ownership of his needs (1) and I take care of my needs (1) we come together greater than the two pieces (3). Power on Warriors!
5) Clog or Clear?
Picture a drain. Does what you’re about to say to your spouse clear the drain or clog the drain? Paul and I will often stop mid-discussion and call ourselves out by saying: “Clog”. When I say this, what I’m telling Paul is “Yes, the conversation might have stopped abruptly but what I was about to say would’ve clogged the drain of our relationship. There’s no need to give voice to it.” I look forward to the day when I don’t even have to say clog but for now, it’s a great safety measure for my ego to stand down and focus on connection. Let. It. Go.
6) Drop Expectations:
This may be the most important rule. This requires you to get quite clear about your beliefs about what a relationship should be like and what a mate should or should not do. If you haven’t already heard of manuals, listen to that episode after this one as the more aware we are of the manual we have for our spouse the better.
In my past relationships I had a lot of expectations. Things like: “He should be more thoughtful.”, “He should want to hold my hand”, “He should be more romantic”. Then I’d tell myself that if he acted in those ways then I’d feel a certain way. Uh no. It doesn’t work that way. Other people’s actions are never responsible for our emotions. When we tell ourselves they are, we tend to get a bit manipulative, and try to control the other person (which remember rule #3, doesn’t work)
Plus, if you’re anything like me, even when they would do what I’d manipulate them into doing (bring me flowers perhaps), I’d honest to God question him “Did you bring me flowers because you wanted to bring me flowers or because I told you to bring me flowers?” Talk about a no-win situation.
Let’s set our partners up to always win. When we drop all expectations of how our partner should show up in our relationship and choose to love him or her as is, peace and freedom result. This is the golden ticket to magnificent relationships.
7) Stop Blaming:
Did you ever notice when you’re pointing your finger at someone else how many fingers are pointing back towards you? Instead of directing your brain to look at what someone else did wrong, ask yourself what role you played? How might you have done things differently? Notice where you’re trying to justify your actions or your feelings. What sort of stories are you making up? We usually want to justify things that hurt us yet, what’s the point. Listen in to yourself: Where are you justifying a mean thing you said? Or a complaint you have? Why? Blaming solves nothing; no problem was ever solved by blaming the other person. For what do you blame your partner? Bring attention there and choose to just stop. Blame has no place in compassionate, connected relationships. Let it go.
8) Stop Complaining:
Just stop. Complaining gets you nowhere. It is passive. It doesn’t solve any problem. It adds negativity to negativity. The next time you are about to complain about your spouse to someone other than a coach, Stop. It gets you nowhere. Usually when we complain to someone else, we are looking for them to agree with us which doesn’t change the situation. Rather, we usually let off enough steam so we don’t change anything about our actual situation. You’re responsible for how you feel in your relationship. If you’re complaining, you’re in a passive place. If you are blaming your spouse for how you’re feeling, you’ve given up all of your power, your emotional adulthood. Just stop. Which brings me to the 9th way to deepen your relationship:
9) Death Happens:
Your partner is going to die. I know, so uplifting. Thank you life coach Susie! Hang with me. When I was in my late 30s, I watched a dear friend and fellow-mom die. I stood by her side as she finished her life, listening to her regrets and seeing the finiteness of life. Her death led me reexamine every aspect of my life.
I no longer take my days for granted. I am not in relationships that aren’t soul-filling. I don’t take those relationships for granted. I do the work I do and create this podcast so that we can live a life we love, every single day. Not tomorrow, not next year, not when our kids leave for college or when we retire, right frigging now.
How are you living? How are you loving? What if your mate died tomorrow? How would you act differently today? What would you wish you had said? What would you miss? What really matters right here, right now, dear warrior?
Believe in the greatest possible version of a marriage for yourself. Ask yourself: What would the most amazing relationship feel like?
The story I tell myself about my husband and my marriage is a love story on purpose. I direct my brain to see his kindness; to see how loving he is to our sons; to see how patient he is with me. I notice his romantic gestures, I see how he supports me, encourages me, loves me. When I choose to believe “I have a marriage unlike anything I’ve dreamed of” I look for ways that this is true. What would the couple do on weekends? On weeknights? How would they protect their intimacy? What would she say about her husband to her friends? How would she talk to her husband? Put your energies into believing you are building the relationship of your dreams and watch what happens.
Okay warriors, that’s them. 10 ways to add magic and magnificence to your relationship. You have so much power. If you’re feeling disillusioned or in a constant state of annoyance in your relationship, the great news is your actions make a difference. Choose one of these ways and you will notice a difference next week, if not today. You really are that powerful. Let’s go warrior. No-one else makes us feel a certain way. You get to decide the exact relationship you want. You get to think about it as you want. You get to show up how you want. No more blaming. No more complaining. No more drama. Live a life you love with relationships that LIGHTS. YOU. UP.
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