At least that’s what we’re told. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the statement, “just wait.” Just wait until you live together. Just wait until you’re married. Just wait until the honeymoon period is over. Just wait until you buy a house together. Just wait until you have kids. What these people are saying is that it all changed for them, and, unfortunately, it changed in a way they didn’t fully enjoy.
For my wife and I, it’s been different. We’ve always thought of it differently. We’ve vowed to not only maintain the initial fire that connected us, but to grow it in our relationship. We never want to lose the magnetism that pulled us together originally. But, how do you sustain the energy, the excitement, and the allure after honeymoon period? Or how do you get it back if it’s gone?
Both creating and maintaining a loving relationship takes work. Marriages that stand the test of time are not by accident; they have been built on the foundation of one thing. Deep Connection. Both partners continued to communicate and open up at deeper and deeper levels. They made a choice to continue to learn about themselves, their partner and to value one another’s voice.
My wife and I have learned to keep each other’s best interests in mind and work towards win-win outcomes. This type of support, respect and trust has provided us the confidence to be more vulnerable, as well as to share more intimate needs and desires. The following four truths have created a superhighway for my wife and I to connect on much deeper levels.
1. Know and love yourself.
We fall in love with the authentic, confident and passionate parts of each other. We see in each other a person we can grow with because they know how they love themselves. It’s the times when we’ve felt fat, ugly, or insecure that we’ve distanced ourselves from each other. These, at different times, have become barriers to our growth and our intimacy.
Even worse, is when we’ve pushed these behaviors further; wanting them to coddle and enable us as we drown in our misery. We purposefully pull the, “if you can’t love me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best” card. Be honest, how often have you had a bad day and tried to pull your spouse down into it with you just because? The problem with this mentality is that we rarely show others our best because we’re too busy trying to get them to pay attention to us while we wallow in negativity.
There’s a magnetic energy about a person who confidently loves themselves. When we see our spouse radiating these characteristics, we are drawn to them more passionately. Avoid looking towards your spouse for self-worth. They can never fulfill it for you. It will only create increased tension in the relationship, pushing you apart rather than pulling you closer.
You ultimately hold the final decision between building yourself up or beating yourself up. Dump the negative self-talk, be humble, caring and proud about who you are. Always work to be a better you and any perceived flaw you believe you have will begin to be overshadowed. You will build an aura of bold confidence; an intense self-love and experience expanded dimensions of love together.
2. Always listen.
I love listening to my wife’s stories. With deep intent, I listen because I want to remember the finer details that put a smile on her face. I want to pinpoint the perfect time to surprise, impress or pamper her. I’m always looking for and learning the key moments that keep her believing I’m “The One.”
Listen (not only with your ears) for stories of things they love, long for and yearn to work towards and you’ll have all their attention when you have something to share. Pay attention to the special way they like holding hands or the perfect time they yearn for a gentle hug.
Imagine what it would be like if you know the exact oils they like and draw a warm evening bath when they have a bad day. Or maybe you surprise them for a honeymoon getaway to the place they’ve always wanted to travel to. Whatever it is, listening with intent to their every word will not just earn you brownie points, it will help you to connect with their most intimate needs and desires.
Be warned, we all have bad days, complain and get overwhelmed with negativity. This is the perfect time to listen (definitely avoid the “selective hearing” at this point) to your spouse. Keep your ear and be attentively listening for ways you can take their bad moments and make them better. The more you listen, the more they’ll open up about their deepest needs and desires.
3. Share your ambitions.
You don’t have to wait to share your dreams. I’m a dreamer and easily fascinated by possibilities. However, in previous relationships, my dreams were always shot down. I yearned to find a woman who fully supported my ambitions. These initial rejections created a hesitation to be upfront about my vision in later relationships. This approach only ended up creating different conflicts.
I found it works best to it all out on the table first. Be comfortable with sharing your dreams. Willingly unleash any suppressed aspirations confidently. From there you can decide on a plan…stick together and support each other, make tweaks and sacrifices and stay in it—or end it while knowing it’s probably best.
Each one of these decisions can be extremely tough for different reasons, however by defining your ambitions, sharing them and then working together to align them with future family goals will very rewarding in the long run. It’s helped us provide a clear vision of what’s possible for us individually (both personal and professional) and as a family.
Share your biggest passions, perspectives and opinions. Learn to integrate your dreams with your spouse’s aspirations and you’ll have someone who will stand and grow by your side through all the ups and downs.
4. Communicate your past.
We all have past demons. Some demons we have already killed. Others we continue to stave off daily and others still haunt us through setbacks, outbursts, and breakdowns. Allow yourself to be vulnerable by opening up about your past, how it haunts you and how you struggle with specific aspects of it. This creates open and clear lines of communication and minimizes misunderstandings.
More importantly, communicating builds strong ties of trust as you share your adversity with your spouse. They will be honored that you shared it, and they’ll be humbled with you entrusting them with such sensitive information. This type of communication has been a powerful pillar of our deeply connected relationship.
Searching for deeper connection has taught me a lot about myself. Being vulnerable, trusting my wife with my “secrets” has been the most rewarding. In return, she’s gifted me with righteous love, endless support, and ironclad trust.
Photo: Flickr/ Susan Sermoneta