Remember a time when you couldn’t keep your hands off your partner?
One look, one touch, and you’d spend all day glowing in what felt like an all-consuming passion. You seemed to have endless energy and time for romance and lovemaking.
But, now that you’ve been together a while, things have changed.
Your days are now filled with to-do lists and social obligations rather than steamy all-nighters and poetic love notes. When your partner caresses you, you might get sleepy rather than turned on. A nap, posting on Facebook or watching TV might sound better than sex.
You love your partner, but maybe you’re just not “feeling it” anymore.
When we first fall in love, the romantic thrill happens effortlessly because pleasure-boosting hormones create a neuro-chemical cocktail that drive us toward greater intimacy. Nothing is more important than being with that one person who makes you feel like you’re on fire. It certainly didn’t take planning or feel like work to keep the flames of lust burning and your interest in one another growing.
Unfortunately, this euphoria rarely last forever especially when the demands and responsibilities of real life take over.
Suddenly, there’s precious little time or energy left over in your day for an affectionate caress, an intimate conversation, or a night of romance. It isn’t long before your partner seems more like a roommate than a lover. You lay down each night next to a person who feels miles away from you. You begin to wonder if you even know each other anymore. When this emotional disconnect starts to happen, you’re treading into the danger zone.
For monogamous couples, is it just a matter of time before the romance is dead and the relationship begins to drift apart?
Not necessarily. It depends on the little things you do on a daily basis that can mean the difference between a passionate, thriving relationship and one that’s on a slow death walk towards infidelity or divorce.
Is it really possible to keep the passion and romance alive after 5, 10, 20 years together?
Giving each other a daily dose of what I call the 3 A’s—ATTENTION, APPRECIATION and AFFECTION—are the critical factors in keeping any relationship alive with interest, desire and love.
If a nap,(watching tv, being on Facebook, working overtime, chatting with friends) sounds better than making love to you… APPLY these 6 strategies to get the enthusiasm and closeness back PRONTO!
Try this. Leave a love note on their pillow, stuck in their purse, briefcase or book they’re reading. Bring home a special treat you know your partner will love. Text, call or email them to say, “I’m thinking of you.” Write a list of all the reasons you love and appreciate them and whisper each one into their ear. Sometimes it’s the little gestures that make the biggest impression.
2. Shake things up.
Break through the ho-hum “I’m so bored” barrier that often plagues long-term relationships by learning something or doing something new together. Sharing activities of mutual interest is the glue that makes relationship work and create happiness. Go ice skating, take a salsa lesson, rent rollerblades, go for a full moon hike, rent a bicycle built for two, or celebrate a milestone other than your anniversary—like the anniversary of the first day you made love. It’s amazing what getting out of your normal routine and pushing your comfort boundaries will do for your love life.
What you focus your attention on, grows. Say “thank you,” offer a hug, pay your partner a compliment—anything that communicates you acknowledge and value how important they are to you and that you appreciate them. Accentuating the positive and what is good in each other and in the relationship is a win/win for both partners. When you feel grateful for the good things in your life, you attract more of those good things to you.
4. Touch and embrace often.
So many couples hold back kissing, touching, or holding each other until they have time or the desire to have sex. Researchers have found that holding hands relieves stress and affectionate touch boosts the body’s feel good hormones. Let’s face it, touch is a fundamental part of our existence since we were born. So even a simple hug each day is actually good for your health and wellbeing. Hold hands. Stroke your partner’s arm or shoulder softly as you walk by. Give your partner a 20 second kiss when they walk in the door or are leaving for the day. Affection is the way to make love all day outside of the bedroom.
5. Create intimate time.
Nothing says “I love you” like spending quality alone time together. Before rushing out the door in a frenzy in the morning, get up one hour earlier and share breakfast in bed, read an inspirational passage aloud, or go for an early morning walk. At the end of the day, instead of plunking down in front of the TV or computer, give each other a massage, take a shower together or do something novel like reading erotic literature out loud or telling each other steamy stories before turning in for the night. Carving out time during the day to be intimate and present to your partner strengthens your bond and builds the desire for affection, setting the stage for great lovemaking.
Talking to each other is one the main tools we use to connect with each other. When we extend ourselves and let our partner know who we are, what we need and how we feel, we open the doors to greater intimacy. Take at least 30 minutes and put out your ‘do not disturb sign’ to the world. Turn off the phone, close the door, and tell the kids, unless there is an emergency, not to even think about knocking. Then, sit down and take a few minutes to breathe and settle in with each other. Ask your partner what he or she needs from you. Take turns. Openness and honesty are essential. The goal is to show more and see more of each other, rather than defend the status quo. It takes time and patience but is worth it.
You get out of your relationship what you invest into it.
When you make daily love “deposits” of attention, appreciation and affection into your relationship account, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy and sexy love “balance”. By following these six simple strategies and making love a priority in your life, everything else in your life will feel a whole lot sweeter.
POWER STRUGGLES = NO surrender. NO LOVE. I’d rather be RIGHT!
“Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on talking till I can’t go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone”.
~John Lennon, Paul McCartney “We Can Work It Out”
What is a Power Struggle?
A power struggle occurs when being right is more important than being connected and in love. Basically it’s when union and communion is subverted for righteous triumph.
A good rule of thumb is that if you and your partner both feel that yours is the only correct solution, then chances are, you are in a power struggle.
Usually Power Struggles have little to do with what you are actually talking about, and everything to do with how each feels about their place and position in the relationship. An argument could begin over something innocuous— where to eat, what movie to see, who was supposed to pick up what, when this or that was supposed to occur… but ends up being a referendum on the relationship as a whole.
If you or your partner become stuck in righteous, blaming, unbending, know it all, “my-way-or-the- highway,” ” I’m right, you’re wrong” thinking, and/or you stop listening, become defensive, arm up, and feel righteous about your position, it’s a pretty good indicator that you are in a power struggle.
A power struggle drains the blood and life force out of shared love and instead, creates separation and a lose/lose situation. Winning and being right becomes more important than being in love. And once the dust settles, we are left with the painful result of our behavioral choices….. ‘Where did my beloved go?’
Power struggles are poison to maintaining a healthy, happy, open relationship.
How do I avoid being in a power struggle with my partner?
The best way to avoid being in a power struggle is to realize that even if you win the battle, you lose the war. If one of you has a problem, it’s a WE problem, not a ME problem. If one partner is stuck and polarized in opposition, then there is a WE problem.
You can meet and match fear with fear, or you can hold the heart of the relationship in your arms and calm your partner. Treat your partner as your best friend. Listen, find that place of mutual agreement, because the truth is neither one of you is 100% right and neither one of you is 100% wrong.
The task at hand is finding a way to move away from the energy of competition (me vs. you) to cooperation (we are a team). Change your focus from looking for what’s wrong, to searching for what’s right- a place you agree with what your partner is saying. Start there.
“Seeing others as basically compassionate instead of hostile and selfish helps us relax, trust, live at ease. It makes us happier.” ~The 14th Dalai Lama
The Chatting or Cheating Power Struggle ANTIDOTE
“A power struggle collapses when you withdraw your energy from it. Power struggles become uninteresting to you when you change your intention from winning to learning about yourself.”
Gary Zukav & Linda Francis
- Why do I NEED to be right?
- Would I rather be RIGHT OR HAPPY?
- Is STICKING to my position that important?
- If this was my BEST FRIEND how would I behave?
- Is there room to LIGHTEN UP and relax about this?
- What would it be like if I chose to BE THE GENEROUS ONE?
Remember this mantra: What divides US, weakens US. Whenever a problem or issue arises, stop and ask yourself… “How would love respond?”
…from Dr. Sheri’s Prescriptions for Partners-
Blueprint for Successful Conversations
The message sent IS the message being received!
“The single biggest problem in communication
is the illusion that it has taken place.”
~George Bernard Shaw
We spend far more time communicating with each other than we do having sex. Communication is the process of exchanging information with one another. Everything we do and say, as well as, what we don’t do nor say, transmits information. What and how we communicate is the way we know and are known by each other. Few experiences are more gratifying than expressing yourself, saying something that is deep and personal and having it heard, received, and understood by your partner. Learning the necessary skills for effective communication is the basic foundation of true intimacy and vital to a healthy relationship.
What is effective communication in a relationship?
It’s very simple. Your message sent is the message received.
What you say to your partner is actually heard by your partner.
Is the message you’re sending being received?
Take this Quick Communication Quiz to find out.
When I express myself, I know I am heard.
I feel comfortable sharing with my partner.
When issues arise, we face them as a team.
We both actively seek to understand each other.
We are open to each other’s thoughts and feelings.
-If you answered no to any of these questions, you and your partner can communicate more effectively.
Get Heard! Easy Communication Tips
“Behind the need to communicate is the need to share.
Behind the need to share is the need to be understood.”
A common question that I’m frequently asked: “How can I get my partner to listen to me?” My simple answer often is: it’s all in your delivery and your presentation. It’s not ONLY what you say, it’s also how you say it. HOW you express your needs, desires, and requests for change can mean the difference between finding resolution or starting a fight. Here are some quick tips for how to have your say and have what you say, heard.
Dr.Sheri’s 4 Tips for Peaceful, Cooperative, Skillful Conversing
“I”-Speak: Use I statements such as “I need, I feel, I want, I desire.” Avoid blame filled “You’s” such as “You need to… Your problem is… You’re just…” The key is to make your partner aware, not wrong. “This issue is important to me. I would like to talk to you about it. I promise not to yell or get upset.” Practice using “I” statements and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in your dialogue.
Tone: If you’re talking calmly and lovingly, you have a far better chance of keeping your partner’s attention on what you are saying. When someone starts talking really loudly or aggressively, the receiver instinctively goes on the defensive and puts protective walls up. You can’t expect anyone to listen fully when they feel they are being laid into.
When you hold an attitude of cooperation vs. competition, ‘we’re in this together’ ‘we’re a team’ your tone automatically becomes kinder, gentler, and calmer.
Ask for Feedback/Invite Discussion: One surefire way of knowing you are being heard is asking for feedback. What do you think of this? Do you understand where I’m coming from? Feedback also allows you to reaffirm (or resend) any important messages that may have been overlooked or missed.
Each Partner has a Turn saying their say and being heard, feeling openly received without interruption.
Here’s a simple exercise that will help you improve your ability to stay focused, say what you mean, and get what you feel and want expressed in a constructive and caring way. It eliminates the blame filled, character assassination that usually pushes the other away and gets us into trouble.
Remember to use I language.
State your positive intention (i.e. I feel like this issue is coming between us and getting in the way. I hope that by sharing this information with you that we can work together in resolving it. I want to feel closer to you again.
Describe the situation and the behavior that upsets you: Be as specific and objective as possible. “When you come home, walk right past me, and go to our room to without speaking, saying hello or giving me a kiss…” This specifically describes the behavior which is bothering you vs. “when you come home and ignore me” which would usually create an immediate defensive reaction.
Express your feelings and thoughts: (I feel…) (I think, believe, expect…)
Most feelings we experience are a combination of the following: anger, sadness, guilt, happiness, excitement, tenderness. It is important to own your feelings and acknowledge the fact that your partner did not make you feel a certain way.
I feel ___________________ because I think/believe/expect _______________
(e.g. I feel hurt because I think you don’t love me anymore).
Our thoughts about a situation are what creates and stimulates the feelings we are having. In other words, our feelings are a direct result of how we see and interpret the meaning of our partner’s behavior. (e.g. When our partner doesn’t greet us at the door when we come home, the reality might be he or she is busy, but our thoughts and expectations may say that their action is unloving, and then our feelings and responses are off and running!) When you can make the association between what you think and what you feel, everything begins to change for the better.
Specify your wants and what you’d like to change (I would like…) (Are you willing?)
Ask very specifically for an observable change. (e.g. When you come home I’d like it if, before going upstairs, you’d come and find me, give me a hug, and say hi. Are you willing to do that?)
Successful conversations do not necessarily mean getting your way. It means that you have expressed your thoughts, feelings, and/or concerns in a way that is heard and understood. It also means consciously listening and seeking to understand what is being said to you. This kind of communicating can take a little practice but you’ll find the results are well worth it!
Want to know more? Click here.
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