Personal Relationship Values

In relationships, just as in every other aspect of life, the spirit and attitude with which you do things is at least as important as your actual actions. Embrace and incorporate these powerful values, and you will start living with more integrity, honesty, compassion and enthusiasm. This will, in turn, breathe new life into your relationship.

Own your own relationship. You are fully accountable for your relationship. You can never again believe you’re a martyr suffering in your relationship because of an unworthy partner. Only when you stop seeing yourself as a victim will you start to see yourself as a fully competent and potent force in your relationship.

Accept the risk of vulnerability. Do not let fear paralyze your life. Wanting, reaching out and letting yourself hope makes you vulnerable. At least by putting yourself on the line, you have the chance of getting what you want, as opposed to hurting with no chance of getting what you want. Not to venture is to lose yourself.

Accept your partner. If your partner experiences in you, the spirit of acceptance, then it is most likely that he/she will find you approachable. Two partners who are moving toward each other, rather than both trying to seek safety from pain, have a dramatically-improved chance of reconciliation.

Focus on friendship. You have to take a step back from the problems and pain of your intimate interactions, and focus on your partner’s positive qualities. Turn back the clock and recall what it was that started the friendship that matured into an intimate relationship.

Promote your partner’s self-esteem. You must bring the spirit of acceptance into affirmative, interactive action. Find the courage and creativity to promote and protect your partner’s self-esteem, even when you feel compelled to be critical. By using the value of self-esteem, you provide a much more nurturing atmosphere, one your partner will not want to abandon.

Aim your frustrations in the right direction. Work at sorting out the causes of your frustration, and resist the impulsive temptation to pick at your partner. Once you start seeing that the negative things you perceive in your partner are often things you see in yourself, you will literally alter the nature of your interactions with your partner.

Be up front and forthright. Nothing can be more frustrating than what is referred to as an incongruent communication, where an individual says one thing yet indicates something dramatically different with his or her nonverbal conduct. Strive to express your feelings in a mature and responsible way. By being honest about your emotions, you base your relationship upon integrity rather than lies and deception.

Make yourself happy instead of right. Start evaluating the things you do in your relationship based on whether those thoughts, feelings and actions are working. For example, you don’t have to prove over and over that you know what you’re talking about more than your partner. Instead, choose a different emotion such as tolerance, understanding or compassion that does not escalate hostility in your relationship. By deciding to be happy rather than right, you will be receptive to your partner’s attempts to de-escalate hostility and return to civil interactions.

Allow your relationship to transcend turmoil. Rough times and arguments happen, and one way or another, they are going to impact the relationship. You must vow to no longer use threats as a lever to manipulate and control your partner. By doing so, you are setting a clear limit on the places a spirited discussion with your partner will not go.

Put motion into your emotion. You must turn the concept of love into a proactive behavior. Don’t be so consumed with negative messages that your expectations are low. You must require yourself and your relationship to truly be better.

How Do I Get the Spark Back into My Marriage?

First of all, what you are experiencing is totally normal. Every couple experiences a decline in the “spark” as time goes on. It’s a fact of life as you move from the initial infatuation and early days of your relationship to the attachment phase. Often, as a couple becomes more comfortable with each other, it can start to feel as if the passion has gone out of the relationship. This can seem like a warning sign that something is wrong — that the attraction has faded or that you are falling out of love. However, it’s a biochemical process that has little to do with your relationship or either of you personally. When you first met, your brains and bodies were producing a cluster of neurotransmitters and hormones that made you feel obsessed with each other. Those chemical fireworks drive the crazy, frequent sex of new love, but it would be exhausting if it stayed that way forever!  Eventually, the biochemistry of love has to settle down —- and when it does, the “excitement” calms down a bit, too.

That being said, you can recapture some of the early fireworks — both inside and outside the bedroom. Novelty is the key. You and your husband should try taking up some new activities together. And if they’re risky, all the better — the endorphin rush will mimic early feelings of love and lust!  Approach your husband with some ideas, or brainstorm together. Anything from learning a new language to exercising together to skydiving will work. Your sex life and your relationship will benefit as you engage in new things as a team.

In the bedroom, consider changing your sexual routine. Try some new manual and oral techniques for spicing up foreplay. Banish the same old sexual positions. There are many excellent books and videos to inspire and guide you.

It’s also important to make sure that you are making room for sexual connection in your daily life. Not only does this mean getting a babysitter and having regular date nights, but it also means making sure that technology such as smartphones and Facebook aren’t taking over your life. Think about your nightly routine when you come home from work. When you eat dinner, is your smartphone sitting on the table next to you? When you crawl into bed with your partner, do you find a warm body next to you or a warm laptop? If technology is gaining the upper hand, you need to step back and set some boundaries within your relationship. If your work situation won’t allow you to completely power down for the night, you can compromise by agreeing to one hour of technology-free time or at least putting your phone away during dinner!

By focusing on recreating the spark and decreasing the amount of time you spend apart (emotionally and technologically), you can re-establish your bond and have fun together as a couple again.

Four Questions to Reboot Your Relationship 

1.  Can you really expect your partner to treat you better than you treat him/her? Is it fair to ask your partner to do something that you are not willing to do yourself? If you are pressuring your partner for sex and then pulling away in an angry huff when you don’t get what you want, can you really expect your partner to WANT to be intimate with you?

2.  Can you really expect your partner to treat you better than you treat yourself? If you are critical of yourself, you could be opening the door for your partner (and others) to do the same to you. If you are not willing to learn how to be patient with yourself, forgiving of yourself, and kind to yourself, than why do you expect your partner to do that for you?

3.  If you want your partner to change, do you think about what you could do to make it easier for him or her? Many people come into therapy and will happily delineate all of the many ways that their partner sucks at this or that. This keeps you in the problem cycle and it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to get out of this cycle if you keep supporting what doesn’t work. Instead, honestly look at what you can do to make it easier for your partner to change. Consider being on your partner’s team rather than putting yourself on the opposite side.

4.  How do you create an environment for your partner to be his/her best self? What do you do everyday to help your partner be the best version of him/herself? How do you create a supportive and loving environment for him/her to flourish and grow? If you find that there are places where you feel resentful and don’t want to do this (“because she’s not doing this for me!”) then it is easy to see where you can get stuck in an unproductive cycle. If you are ready to improve your marriage or relationship, start here. Start with yourself.

If you feel the need for help or support, feel free to contact me to see how I can help you.

Red Flags to Look for in a Relationship

If you notice any of the following signs in a partner, be seriously concerned that the relationship may become violent:

• Quick involvement

• Jealousy

• Isolation

• Controlling behavior

• Verbal abuse

• Emotional abuse

• Hypersensitivity

• Victim of abuse as a child

• Jekyll-Hyde behavior

• Blaming others for his problems

• Blaming others for his feelings

• Using force during an argument

• Threats of violence

• Rigid sex roles

• Sexual abuse (including forced sex in marriage)

• Breaking or striking objects

• Cruelty to animals or children

• Past battering

If your partner exhibits three or more of these characteristics, he or she may be abusive!!!