The first thing I do with every couple that walks through my practice is I challenge them to imagine and envision a higher standard for what is possible in their relationship.
Most of us believe that we are capable or deserve a great and fulfilling relationship. And before you go for couples counselling, yet if you take a good hard look around, you will find a lot of examples of bored, conflicted and mediocre relationships.
Of course there are exceptions. But that is not what I have seen.
Creating a higher standard and model for our relationships is only a recent idea in our history.
The residue left over from the days when relationships were operating more out of roles, convenience and old matriarchal beliefs still influences our relationships today.
These patterns have been handed down from one generation to the next and now more than ever we need a new blue print to heal and reinvent our relationships.
We need a new vision. And we need to actualize it.
Competition and self-interest dominate our media channels, most of us grew up in family models that were less than motivating and now we are in age where marriages have been a coin flip for literally 35 years.
Know that our relationships are constantly being influenced and shaped by our belief systems and if we are not intentionally choosing our views or perception, they will be chosen for us.
The invitation for greater intimacy and for sustained relational joy needs to be our highest relationship value. How we get there and stay there is the hard part.
Intimacy is a practice. I cannot stress this enough. Everything in life is a practice.
I have experimented with different strategies to help couples achieve a state of relational joy and here are my top five mantra's to help shift your relationship.
Leading your way out of conflict is the only way you get out of it. One person needs to stay steadfast and committed to no longer being drawn into the old patterns. Ideally you need to have two partners who take turns leading their way out. Actively leading is about not getting emotional or triggered but staying in a position of empathy, compassion and curiosity.
I call this the act of moving out of victimization and into empowerment.
Often in relationships we find ourselves in a state of resentment or we become emotionally deadened to our partners. I see this a lot with the couples I work with, they have lost touch with their internal freedom within their relationship. Moving to a state of mind that you feel connected to your partner and centered on the choice that you choose your partner is a powerful technique of inviting freedom back into your relationship.
This is an act of intentional remembering.
When I work with couples I purposely slow our conversations down to help both partners learn to engage with one another with more connection. Part of developing that connection is really teaching each partner how to see the other person. The art of suspending yourself and being able to see clearly the needs, pain and feelings of your partner will help you dramatically evolve to being a more reassuring, supportive and loving partner.
Being able to truly see your partner in their entirety is one of the greatest relationship gifts.
There is power in creating a culture of appreciation and gratefulness in your relationship. We are an appreciative deficient society as it is, I say take greater risks in how you love and create greater relational connection through acts of appreciation.
This is an act of creating a sacred space and connection with one another.
I always say a good relationship starts with the foundation of having an abundance of healthy self-esteem. Not in a narcissistic or self-loathing way but with a genuine self-caring way. If I am a good place with who I am then I will have a much better chance at doing four mantras above with greater ease.
Couples who have high self-esteem have much greater intimacy.