When partners relate automatically rather than mindfully, they will eventually get stuck in a pattern that makes real intimacy impossible. That pattern can take a variety of forms–avoiding certain topics, feeling bored with your partner, walking on eggshells, frequent fights or misunderstandings, or all of the above.
When things get tense, stuck, volatile, stale, or boring, try these simple practices to deepen your love:
- Remember what first attracted you. Have a conversation where you share about what drew you to each other in the beginning. When couples come to me for coaching, I often ask them to tell me the story of how they met and what first attracted them to one another.
The word intimacy is given various meanings. For many, it refers to the physical act of sex. For others, it has far more to do with emotional transparency and knowing each other on the deepest levels. For many of the thousands of couples we have worked with, it is has everything to do with how these two meanings interact — where blocks to emotional intimacy ultimately lead to struggles with physical intimacy.
Here is a stereotypical dilemma couples fall into. He complains that she never wants to have sex (the genders may be reversed, of course). But she complains back that he never is available to emotionally connect. She tries in vain to explain to him that if he could approach her and talk about feelings – or even just touch her without it seeming to suggest sex is his real goal – that could actually turn her on. But the very ways she tries to communicate this useful information only seems to trigger him and deepen their mutual reactive cycle. So both sexual and emotional intimacy deteriorate. Continue reading
We hear a lot these days about letting go of fears and conditioned patterns that get in the way of intimacy and lasting happiness in love. In our book Five-Minute Relationship Repair, we show how to work with such fears and unconscious patterns as a portal to better self-awareness, mutual healing, and deeper intimacy.
We find that if you can be mindful of the fact that at times fears do get triggered in you, you’re in a much better position to heal the parts of yourself that are afraid. This, in turn, helps you express your wants and needs to your partner in a healthier, more effective way. When you know how to embrace your vulnerable feelings, and offer yourself some tender attention around any fears and pains you find, you have what you need to heal these. This offers a way to overcome reactive cycles and keep love and intimacy thriving.
Which of the following fears have you felt in your intimate relationships? What reactive behaviors (blow up, shut down, judge, avoid, complain, etc.) do you fall into when a fear in you gets triggered?
- Fear of being abandoned: You fear your partner might leave. You feel that your partner doesn’t need you as much as you need him or her.
- Fear of being unimportant or invisible: You fear you are not as important to your partner as other things or people, or that you don’t really matter.
- Fear of being rejected: You have trouble feeling accepted or valued just the way you are. You fear that you, or your needs, will be rejected.
- Fear of being inadequate or a failure: Complaints or criticism triggers fears that you are not good enough, that you are inadequate or unlovable.
- Fear of being blamed: You fear being seen as wrong or as the cause of relationship upsets, so you either defend yourself or shut down in the face of negative feedback.
- Fear of being controlled: You fear feeling weak or vulnerable. You instinctively try to be in charge or control of any situation.
- Fear of being trapped or suffocated: You fear intrusion, losing yourself, or being consumed. You’re uncomfortable with others’ expectations or too much closeness.
Any of these core fears promote an unconscious stance that braces you to survive the feared occurrence. Thus braced, you become hypersensitive to cues that this feared event may be about to happen. Continue reading