Keep the romance, build communication, navigate conflict (and have better sex too!)
For men who are in a relationship they are committed to, being in a stable loving partnership is probably one of the most important things in their life.
Most men would do almost anything for their partner and for their relationship, sometimes to even unhealthy levels. Which is why it can be really disheartening when your partner doesn’t see all the ways you are trying to say ‘I love you’ in your relationship.
I believe that when we are in relationship with someone we love deeply, we take every effort to communicate to them (through our words and actions) that we love them. However problems arise when they can’t interpret or hear the ways in which we are expressing that love to them or we don’t hear the ways that they are saying ‘I love you’ back to us.
This has been true in my own relationship with my wife and through my experience and expertise there are a number of ways I’ve found that you can use to making your relationship better in the reciprocal act of loving one another.
1. Don’t avoid getting into conflict
I think this is one of the biggest things men can learn. Many men think that the lack of conflict means the relationship is in good shape.
That’s not entirely true and sometimes getting into conflict will allow you to bring issues to the table so that you both can then deal with them. Avoiding fights also can have us avoid connection, communication and resolution and so at times arguments and disagreements are actual huge stepping stones towards deeper intimacy and love (since it allows both parties to feel understood and heard and share their feelings).
The trick is not to avoid fighting, but to learn how to fight right.
2. Communicate your feelings during conflict and nothing else
Once you stop being afraid of conflict and welcome it, the next step is to learn how to navigate through it. The best way to do that is to speak about your feelings – don’t focus on what happened but instead on how it made you feel.
When you are talking about your feelings don’t talk about them as if they are your partner’s problem (all that will do is have your partner feel defensive and attacked and suck you right back into the conflict), instead speak personally about them using “I” rather than ‘you” without explanations.
This way you not only allow yourself to share openly but also vulnerably and no one can debate your feelings or experience.
3. Give romance to the one you love
It’s always a bit of a surprise to me when men fail to see the benefit of this. Just because they committed themselves to you doesn’t mean that they stopped liking all the romantic gestures you did when you first started dating.
Furthermore, this is what helps keep the spice of sexual energy alive in your relationship (for deeper info on how to have reignite that sexual spark click HERE).
When you can be and do the things that make them feel loved, excited and most importantly desired from you your relationship will soar to new heights. Romance does not have to be some complicated 5 course meal at some fancy restaurant or a huge flash mob that takes months of planning.
Incorporating romance can look like a date that you surprise them with, a kiss that is a bit longer and more passionate than usual or even lighting a candle as you sit drinking wine. Sometimes romance is pausing a movie right in the middle to stop and make out with them (this last one is a great one to use to sweep them off their feet).
4. Praise your partner
My wife instilled in me early on that acknowledgement was the keys to the kingdom with her. If your partner does something great, how often are you praising them for it?
Furthermore, even when they don’t do something great or are down on themselves about something, how reliable are you to help them see a different perspective?
Maybe it’s the way they hug you in a way that feels soulful or the way they express an idea to you that has you really understand it or get it. Being able to acknowledge your partner and praise them for all the awesome shit they do for you is a big deal to having them feel like you are noticing them and the difference they makes in your life.
Ideally you want to look for specifics rather than vague generalizations. Saying ‘the party was great’ or ‘dinner was yummy’ pales in comparison to “I loved watching you take care of our guests” or “the flavor of that new dish was out of this world”.
Women use almost 3x as many words than men do (see more info on that HERE) so speak their language in the way they deserve and watch the impact that it will have on you both.
5. Spend time dealing with your relationship
Your relationship is like a car. It can take you any place you want it go. However, just like your vehicle, you need to attend to it regularly so that it can still sustain all the journeys ahead. Spend time checking in with your partner and finding out how they are feeling about the relationship. My wife and I have a once a month meeting that’s designed for us to talk about our resentments and wins with each other. Doing this allows us to attend to the issues we need to attend to in our relationship so that our relationship empowers us, not drag us down. Just like a car needs an oil change every month or so, so to is your relationship going to need tune-ups and check-ins as well.
6. Don’t hold back and show them all of you
It’s so easy for men to fall into the belief that they always need to appear to have their shit together, even if they don’t. For any relationship to thrive you have to be willing to be vulnerable.
That means showing them all the parts of you that you’ve probably never shown anyone else – it’s the only way to get to deeper levels of intimacy together and also it gives you an opportunity to work on and overcome your shadows.
Furthermore, they’ll be able to trust you more fully because they won’t sense that you are holding yourself back and thus it’ll give them permission to open themselves up more (which is ultimately what they want).
The truth is your partner is sharp and smart and can feel and sense when you are holding back, hiding or withholding.
Allowing yourself to open up not only has them hear what is really going on but allows them to show and have compassion and deeper understanding on why you may be so tired, or irritable or distant. This sharing of yourself actually helps them understand you and love you better.
7. Date them
Similar to creating romance this one needs it own entire point. It’s so easy for men to fall into a trap of stopping the practice of courtship especially after a few years of habit, comfort and laziness.
We all have other responsibilities, like kids, work or house chores – the list of ‘To Do’s’ could be endless if you wanted it to be.
However, I think it’s critical that you make ‘together’ time important. If money is an issue you don’t have to take them out and spend a bunch of cash. You can do dates at home – maybe just by cooking a great meal together and sharing a bottle of wine with some stimulating conversation afterwards.
Either way, it’s important to keep dating because it helps keep a spark of romance alive in your relationship and will avoid you falling into a trap of living with a roommate vs. living with a partner.
8. Be present
This is probably one of the most important and easily overlooked ones on this list. Attention is the greatest currency and gift you can offer someone, especially your partner.
Giving them your complete and undivided attention tells them, more than any card or words, that they are important to you.
More so than any gift you can buy, bill you can pay, dinner you take them to – none of it comes even close to how much presence makes a difference in your relationship. (If you are interested in learning more about presence – check this out)
Learn how to be with them without distraction, put down your phone (or even better turn it off), and just sit with them, doing anything – it could be eating, or talking, maybe even watching a movie together. It might even look like being fully there with them when making love and looking into their eyes – the point is have them see and feel that you are with them and nowhere else.
9. Grow with them
Learning together is part of what makes a relationship great.
Recognizing and moving past shadows, barriers, limiting beliefs and anything else that holds you back both professionally and personally is a key to a healthy relationship.
The more you evolve and grow, the more your relationship will as well. The truth is, no matter what, as times passes you both will change but the key is to actively make sure you are growing in the same direction and not apart. To be sure to make the change that will inevitably occur happen in tandem with each other and not in opposite directions.
10. Let your lover be your greatest teacher
This one is very difficult to accomplish but the most rewarding. I believe that we pick our partners in life based on the shadows and wounds we most need to heal and integrate into ourselves.
In other words, our partners are going to do the best job in regards to showing us all the places where we are amazing and all the places where our shadows show up, that we weren’t able to notice ourselves.
Most times our partner’s view of who we are will be much greater than our own – they will see our greatness much easier than we will, so surrendering yourself to their view of you (as long as it’s empowering) is something that can make a tremendous difference in how you relate with each other and more importantly how you relate with yourself.
It’s all counterintuitive
These are some of the most counterintuitive and at times difficult things that I’ve taken on in my marriage and though it has not been easy, it has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve found it to not only be deeply fulfilling for me on a personal level but also hugely beneficial business wise as what goes on at home does and will impact us in the office.
Having my wife be supportive of my dreams and my growth is one of the most important reasons that I’ve invested the time and energy into my relationship to make it extraordinary.
So if you are struggling in any way with your relationship, I invite you take on at least one of these practices and watch how it shifts things for you.
Also, if you feel like you need greater help, you can grab a copy of my Passionate Partnerships Program – it’ll help you navigate everything from sex to conflict in a powerful way that doesn’t feel like you are compromising on your values.
Here’s to you having a deeply passionate and intimate relationship
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