by Todd Creager
Marriage and long term intimate relationships can be passionate, juicy and alive. If you don’t believe that, you are not alone. About 15 months ago, when I told my brother the title of my book, The Long, Hot Marriage, he asked if the book started with the words, Once upon a time!
Funny, yes, but also it is an example of how the majority of people have come to believe about marriage and sex. One person was actually somewhat offended by the title of my book saying that I was perpetuating a lie on a vulnerable public!
The problem is we are all copy cats. We do what we have seen and heard throughout our lives. If we have not witnessed our parents having a juicy relationship, unless we consciously make new choices, we will create the same thing. What else are we going to do? And then, we believe that our self- created reality is the only reality. It’s not.
If you think, do and say new thoughts, behaviors and/or words, anything is possible. The problem is that if we live life on automatic , we will think similar thoughts, do similar actions and say similar words as our ancestors when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
How many of us have seen one parent look lovingly into the other parent s eyes and maintain’the gaze for a period of time- and do it consistently, not just at their silver anniversary party? How many of us have seen one parent say to the other- I am angry at you and the other maintain an emotional presence and without defensiveness, retreat or hostility say- Oh- Tell me more about what you feel?
How many of us men have been taught that it is more important to listen then to fix our wives? My questions can go on and on and the answer is the same. Hardly any of us have witnessed these kinds of interpersonal scenarios.
What that means is that it is your turn (and mine) to do it differently so that the next generation does not have be so totally in the dark as to what makes relationships thrive as we have been. I have realized that making a relationship thrive has a lot to do with creating an emotional intensity between’two people. For many people, when they first started dating the intensity was already there – in other words, the intensity just happened. As we get on in our relationships, we have to create it.
It requires courage, vision (to see what is possible in the future) and most of all the desire to grow and be more of who you are. You have to be willing to resist slipping into that comfort zone that ultimately gives you less as opposed to more of what you want from your partner.
Be willing to tolerate some anxiety because in all probability you have spent more time trying to automatically reduce your tension than to open up to more of your own and your partner’s emotional experience. Yes, as funny as it sounds, there is a certain amount of anxiety that has to be experienced and mastered as you get closer to your mate.
Mastering anxiety does not mean getting rid of it because if you stop feeling any anxiety you are probably slipping into another comfort zone. When I say mastering anxiety I mean that you don’t let anxiety limit your behavior or choices. This leads to more aliveness in you and ultimately in your relationship. So take a deep breath, exhale and experiment with as many of the following items on my list as possible.
Ways to Increase Emotional Intensity With Your Partner
(I am speaking more to males but this applies to females almost as much)
1) Look deeply into your partner’s eyes and perceive her (or him) as someone who can truly benefit from receiving your love.
2) Ask your partner to express some difficult-to-express pain with the intention of relaxing your own body so that you just receive her pain without closing up. (Tough one especially for men but a necessary step to increase intensity to revive a marriage)
3) After she expresses herself, keep looking into her eyes as compassionately as possible and let her know you are taking in what she is expressing to you.
4) Take time daily to slow down with your partner and share meaningful feelings and thoughts with each other.
5) In the bedroom, touch her, but do it slowly, as if she will absolutely know how much you cherish her through your caressing.
6) Hug her a little longer then usual; kiss her a little longer than usual. Go past the point that is comfortable for you.
7) Whether your partner expresses her wildness through pain or pleasure, look at is as an opportunity to stay in rapport with her. DON’T TELL HER TO CALM DOWN. Stay with her. Her energy will not destroy you.
With your eyes, words and touch, you can have a major positive impact on your partner. It is difficult for us because we unconsciously underestimate our own power to love our partner. The other reason is we are usually stuck in our own need to feel loved and approved by her and react when we feel as if we are not measuring up in her eyes.
Love your partner fully, create some emotional intensity and let her respond to you. Never wait for your partner to make something happen. Do it yourself. It is a much more satisfying way to live. Experiment with these ideas and behaviors and see if your relationship gets better or worse. I m guessing it gets better!
From Sarah: Todd Creager is fantastic – an accomplished Speaker, Therapist, Consultant and Author. His advice is both insightful and practical. You can find much more at his Center for Successful Relationships