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We've all been in relationships at some level. Some started out as friendships, while others started out romantic. Some were intense and others boring. Some began as an immediate connection and others felt awkward. I can go on and on, but the point is that we tend to continue trying to find someone who will be our vision of what we want in a relationship, a long term loving, fulfilling relationship that will last.
After a "good divorce," meaning a divorce that ended up being respectful to both of us without game playing, I learned not only what I really wanted in relationship, but also what I didn’t want. We accepted that we just didn’t have the soulful connection that I longed for in a relationship.
I have heard so many couples justify why they stay in a relationship, like “He’s really a good person,” or “she’s a great mother,” but they often neglect what they truly desire in a lasting relationship. Just because a person is good doesn’t mean that person is a good fit for you.
Often, we don’t give ourselves permission to end a relationship that is not healthy and we begin to suffocate emotionally. When we can’t give fully in a relationship, the other person suffers as well.
Here are some things that you can do to make love last and have that soulful connection you may be longing for:
1. Give 100%.
If each of you gives 100%, it is so much easier to reciprocate than if one person is doing most of the giving. My husband and I enjoy giving and doing for each other because we know that the other person does the same and it feels good to give back. If we aren’t at our 100%, then we express our feeling about it at that moment.
So, if I am tired or just don’t want to leave my comfy couch, I may ask Mike to do something for me. I tell him that I know I could do it, but I just want to be taken care of at that moment. He knows that I will do the same for him also, so he doesn’t feel used or resentful.
2. Compliment each other frequently.
This is an important one, especially for those whose love language is "positive affirmations" (for more on this, refer to my article on Love Languages). Not only does the compliment make the other person feel good, but it also makes you feel good.
Compliments are also reminders of why you fell in love with each other, and they validate that you notice something nice about the other person. It’s also important to compliment your partner in front of others. This helps create boundaries and allows others to see that you are really connected and very much in love with your partner.
3. Apologize. And don’t just stop at "I’m sorry."
When you know that you started and argument because of your "stuff’ (meaning, unresolved issues that can make us more sensitive about an issue, and create some irrational thoughts about it), let your partner know that you are sorry and acknowledge it was your "stuff" that got in the way.
We all make mistakes in relationships, so when you do something that was hurtful to your partner, it is important to apologize but not just stop at “I’m sorry.” It needs to go further, like “I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt you. I will try really hard not to do that again. What can I do now to make you feel better?” Apologizing lets your partner know that you acknowledged the hurt, and you’re acknowledging that you made a mistake and want to move forward.
4. Keep communication open. (This means and physical and verbal communication!)
When you hold hands or put your arms around each other, or even engage in long periods of eye contact, you are letting your partner know that you are completely connected and you have nothing to hide. You want to show the world that you are proud to be with your lover. This is a great opportunity to please your partner’s ‘physical touch’ needs if that is your lover’s love language.
Keeping verbal communication open is a must in any healthy relationship. Communicating keeps the lines open and can avoid a lot of expectations and assumptions. Misunderstandings are often the root of stress and disconnect in relationships. When you openly communicate and keep honesty and trust as a main priority in a relationship, then you can focus on having shared ideas and agreements instead of expectations and assumptions.
For example, if you get home one night after a difficult day and don’t feel like cooking, you can express your feelings to your partner by saying something like “I had a really hard day today and would love it if we could go out to eat tonight instead of me cooking.”
Your partner will then know exactly what your needs are. If you weren’t being open with your needs and said something like “I sure am exhausted today”, then your partner may interpret that as you may want to go to bed early or you may not want to talk with him, both of which are assumptions and not correct. So, you are not getting your need met by wanting to eat out and your partner may be feeling slighted.
5. Expand your horizons.
For relationships to blossom, it’s important to nurture your partner and also yourself. Continuing to learn and grow together makes for a healthy and confident relationship. New ideas and growth promote a relationship full of liveliness and can avoid a stagnant feeling. When you are doing something positive for yourself, it shows in your level of happiness and can enhance your relationship.
6. Do something “just because."
If your partner’s love language is 'acts of service' or 'receiving gifts,' this is a must! An easy way to liven up your relationship and passion is by unexpectedly buying or doing something for your partner. It could be as simple as cooking dinner or washing the car. You could even write a simple love letter and put in under the pillow. It’s the thought that counts and is invaluable when things can seem mundane.
7. Consider couples or individual coaching/counseling.
I always recommend life management coaching or counseling for any relationship. I have seen so many relationships heal and grow healthier when each person is able to safely discuss issues that may be getting in the way of fully experiencing a deep bond. Not only are you doing it for your partner, but more importantly, you are doing it for yourself, so that you can prosper and enhance your well-being, feeling better emotionally and being a much more present partner, keeping yourself more attractive and engaging to your lover.
Making love last is essential for your emotional health and those around you. Remember that this an ongoing journey, that we all will make mistakes along the way, but what is important is acknowledging those times and using those moments as learning opportunities for a more loving and trusting relationship.