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.
Each person takes a turn reminiscing about how things felt when they were first discovering one another and falling in love. This brings back those loving feelings.
- Clearing the air so you’re really present. When couples have been together a while, little conflicts tend to get swept under the proverbial carpet—where they can’t be seen. The only trouble is, these unseen, un-aired issues can be held in your mind and make it hard for you to be present.
Invite your partner to do a clearing session where both of you get an uninterrupted time of about 5 minutes to speak about “anything you have been reluctant to bring up” or “have put off bringing up because you were waiting for the right time.” This practice is described fully in our new book, Five Minute Relationship Repair. You can order the book here.
- Gaze, Touch, Speak Softly. Many of us did not bond very well with our parents or early caregivers—so we tend to easily become defensive or walk around with our guard up. But did you know that as adults, you can help one another heal insecure attachment and develop that secure, “I am loved” feeling that is usually associated with healthy early bonding? Research in adult attachment has shown that the things that help infants feel safe and secure—soft, loving gazes, nurturing touch, and soothing voice tones—are the same things that help partners become “securely attached.” So, whenever you sense that your partner is stressed or upset, offer calm reassuring touch, words of support in a soothing tone of voice, or gaze at your partner with love in your eyes.
As you practice the Five Minute Relationship Repair tools, you will be helping one another heal old wounds from childhood. You will become a more secure functioning person and a more secure functioning couple.