Just like your brain thrives on walnuts, your blood thrives on beet juice, and your body thrives on vinyasas and Sunday sleep-ins, your relationship thrives on love. You have to feed your relationship the nourishing, energizing, heart-opening fuel if you want it to continue expanding into new layers of mind-blowing beauty, inspiration, and magic.
Several months ago, my fiancé and I hit a wave of unprecedented busyness. We were buzzing around working 12-hour days, getting home late, and talking about our work over dinner. At the end of the week, despite a deeply loving relationship and intense attraction, we’d look at each other thinking, "When’s the last time we really took the time to be fully present and connect?"
When we didn’t take the time to really connect, it became all too easy to miss each other, and as a result, feel that nebulous sense that something was “off.” We had each been giving the majority of our time, creative energy, and emotional resources to our work, and investing whatever was left over in the "us" department.
So we made the decision to renegotiate our daily routines and co-create a few short daily practices we could both stick to. These small adjustments have radically deepened the intimacy, juiciness, and heart-centered expansiveness of our connection—even when we're slammed with work.
If you’ve been feeling like life’s to-dos are getting in the way of your connection with your partner, give these a go. An adjustment as simple as bringing the intention of ritual to your relationship has the power to catalyze massive waves of love, connection, and intimacy.
1. Morning tune-ins
Having a morning ritual is a must for anyone who needs that little slice of zen before a busy day. Whether it’s a yoga practice, going for a run, journaling, or sipping warm water with lemon by your favorite big window, having a solo soul-time morning ritual is one of the best self-care practices for getting energized and staying centered through the day.
But in addition to having your personal morning (and that’s in addition to, not in replacement of, people) having a morning ritual with your partner is one of the best things you can do to build intimacy.
Before you start in on your emails and phone calls, and even before the coffee, take 60 seconds to stand, facing each other barefoot, and hold hands. Look into each other’s eyes. Feel that love, warmth, laughter, and overflowing gratitude erupt. It takes one minute spent intentionally to start your day with gratitude for your other half.
2. Conscious time apart (and communicating your needs)
The same way you've created time to consciously connect with your partner, knowing when you need to peace out and spend time alone is critical. Otherwise it’s all too easy to end up snappy, miserable, and giving him the side-eye because of the annoyingly loud way he sips his coffee. (I'm just guessing.)
Nine times out of 10, the insignificant gripes notorious for slowly destroying intimacy and spontaneous bursts of love are a result of at least one partner not getting their needs fulfilled. When we don't feel nourished, we can't be present in our relationship. The partnership is the easiest and closest thing to blame for our frazzled state.
On most of those occasions, we’re silently—unknowingly even—expecting our partners to make us feel good and to meet those needs. How unfair is that? This of course puts wildly unrealistic pressure on the partner, sparks misunderstanding on both sides, and is bound to backfire. But the worst part about this is that it takes away from the power we each have to proactively tune in and give ourselves what we need.
Letting each partner have his or her own sense of wildness, expansion, and free expression is key for both partners to come together feeling vibrant, vital, and fulfilled. The biggest gift you can give to your partner and yourself is to be an advocate for your solo time.
We often don’t ask for, or take, the time we need because we’re afraid of hurting the other person’s feelings or making them feel unloved. But if you communicate clearly that you’re operating from a place of love, there is literally no space for resistance. Your partner will appreciate you showing up for yourself.
3. Listening with your heart
Cheesy as it may sound, this one is huge. Deep, reflective listening from a heart-centered, agenda-free perspective makes all the difference. Deep and reflective listening unlocks feelings of profound understanding, safety, and intimacy. When we feel really seen, heard and held, it creates a positive feedback loop and makes us want to lean in. Practicing empathy builds trust and invites opening on every level.
To do this you need to first be connected with yourself. Be present in your own body. Next time your partner wants to talk about something, practice really tuning into what he or she is saying. Reflect it back in your own words, and go a step further by reflecting how that must feel for him or her. Not only will extending empathy make your partner feel seen and heard, it will create a feeling of generosity and spaciousness in your love.
Want more insight into your relationship? Find out the things you should always be selfish about in your partnerships and the questions that could keep your marriage from ending.