Tips for Creating a Successful, Passionate Relationship
Victoria Lorient–Faibish has recently released a new book entitled: Connecting: Rewire Your Relationship-Culture. To introduce you to some of the concepts in her book, Victoria has agreed to let us publish an excerpt:
My Top Four Tips for Creating a Passionate Marriage/Partnership
1. Get in the Present Moment
I understand that people get bored in long-term relationships. But if both people in the relationship get fully into the present moment, treasuring the here and now and the magnificence therein, they will find the sure-fire answer to boredom.
Remember, being an adult means not giving into impulsiveness to relieve boredom. Being an adult means staying in the moment and valuing the moment you are in, and the person who is in the moment with you needs to be valued as important and special as well. For passionate relationships to occur, an effort needs to be made to make sure that each and every moment is seen and treasured.
“Get present!” Start seeing the present moment as the most precious thing you could possibly have. When you do this, you will see one of two things: (1) You will start to profoundly value what is in front of you; or (2) You will start to see what is actually there but have been ignoring. If what is in front of you is not working, your deeply present self will make you aware of what you need to do to change your situation. Honoring and living profoundly in the moment is the antidote to all boredom and all denial.
I invite all people who are in committed, long-term relationships to start today to notice how often they are in the present, and how often they are not. Listen to your inner voice. Listen to your partner. Pay attention to the small things. I invite you to get into the present moment every single day; wake up, be present and notice this partner, this moment, this experience and this life that is yours!
2. Reveal Your Vulnerable Side
In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown, a favourite author of mine, writes: “Rather than … hurling judgement and advice, we must dare to show and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability”; and “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive”; and “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the centre, of meaningful human experiences.” Vulnerability can augment intimacy, safety, and emotional healing between two people. It is a fundamental way to bridge communication, reduce shame and enrich a partnership. Many people are not in touch with their vulnerability because they are too accustomed to building protective walls that mask it. They probably learned this in their family-culture, where to survive they needed to build walls instead of allow their vulnerable side to come forth.
In reality, when a person is triggered, they may react with anger, irritability, annoyance, and frustration – when peeled back, we discover that what is lying underneath is hurt, sadness, pain, abandonment, and/or feelings of rejection. When people can come to the table, after peeling away their armour – their protective outer shield – with a truth that is authentically vulnerable, they are much more likely to be well received by their partner. When revealing the more vulnerable side of yourself, you are saying, “I am not perfect and neither are you, and that’s okay; we can work on this together.” When this energy is present within a couples’ therapy session, we have something to work with that can promote healing and transformation in a couple. When a person starts to communicate with their partner on the level of vulnerability, a powerful alchemy of change occurs.
If you are in a discussion with your partner and find yourself defensive, irritable or annoyed, know that if you choose to sit with yourself quietly and pay attention to your inner thoughts, you will allow your real feelings to surface, which inevitably will be more vulnerable feelings that will be less damaging to the dynamic. Once you are in touch with those feelings, I encourage you to come to the discussion with that instead. Pay attention to your vulnerable truth that is underneath a big layer of armour – seeming like truth that isn’t actual truth but rather a protective coating that just creates separation and breaks the bridge of intimacy and communication.
3. Emotional Self-Sufficiency
Taking responsibility for one’s own happiness is a key component and an ideal environment to nurture a healthy, stable, and passionate relationship-culture. Couples who are emotionally overly enmeshed become codependent, which leads to toxic dysfunction. Being in one’s adult aspect means that everyone is taking personal responsibility for what is happening emotionally to themselves. An example of a completely unhealthy and destructive interaction is when one person who may be feeling emotionally empty then projects all of that emptiness onto the other person, essentially demanding that the other person fill their emptiness. I find that couples are much more interested and attracted to each other when both people are willing to take responsibility for their bouts of emotional emptiness as well as their flaws and foibles. This kind of adult action goes a long way toward creating a fantastic matrix of healthy connection for the couple.
A study that examined the effects of humor on relationships in pleasant versus conflict situations found that individuals who were more satisfied with their romantic relationships reported using higher levels of positive humor and lower levels of negative humor than those individuals who were less satisfied in their romantic relationships. The study also found that individuals who were not satisfied with their romantic relationships did not reduce their use of negative humor, which suggests that they did not use strategies to de-escalate a conflict.
Couples who were in happy relationships tended to use less negative humor as a way to de-escalate a conflict situation. The authors of this study interpreted this shift in the use of humor as part of a strategy that is used by those with high relationship satisfaction to avoid further escalation of conflict with their romantic partners. Basic-ally, the less you value your relationship, the less you will preserve it by being unmindful about what would make something worse or better. Using negative humour is associated with lower levels of relationship satisfaction, whereas greater conflict resolution is associated with higher levels of satisfaction.
In a positive relationship-culture, people are responsible for how they use humor. Sarcasm, passive aggressiveness, and digs are all part of negative humor and work to tear down a relationship. Using positive humour to uplift your partner and to lighten and encourage the energy of the couple is a good strategy to maintain relationship-culture satisfaction.