Love

Becoming A We: 4 Ways To Shift Your Thinking To Thrive In Your Relationship

One of the challenges adults experience early on in an intimate partnership is establishing the ‘we’ in their relationship. When two single individuals have spent a great deal of time living and working independently, otherwise operating as a ‘me’, the path to discovering the ‘we’ can feel complicated. Even mundane decisions like household cleaning or figuring out whose family to visit for holidays require compromise. Especially if you’re someone who identifies as self-reliant or self-sufficient, it can sometimes feel like a major shift to depend on someone in an intimate way. Whether it be grieving a loss or sharing your fears, we know that the degree to which partners are able to be vulnerable with one another and hold a space for one another significantly influences the depth of intimacy they feel in their relationship. Keep these tips in mind as you reflect on developing the ‘we’ in your own relationship.

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Opening up is hard to do…but so worth it.

What opportunities do you have to let your partner in? Take the chance to let your partner care for you when you aren’t feeling your best either physically or emotionally. Yes, you could probably take care of yourself (that’s the ‘me’ talking) and self care is important. However, letting your partner in by allowing them to care for you will help you deepen the intimacy you already have.

Discuss your visions for your future.

How do you envision your life moving forward with your significant other? What goals do you have as a couple? Developing shared dreams together can be a really intimate experience and is also a way for you each to stay connected to your passions.

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Strive for balance.

When it comes to a daily-routine and your social life, which activities will you stay involved independently and in which ones will you include your partner? Maintaining friendships and hobbies that are important to you outside of your relationship is healthy, as is making time to spend together and grow as a couple. Exploring your expectations for how each of you want to spend your free time is one of the best ways to stay on target.

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Create positive vibes at home.

Merging homes within a relationship can be a big step for many couples. Each of you likely have preferences about the way in which you keep your home, so creating space for each of your needs and hearing new ideas is an important process. When thinking about your home, consider, what do each of you need to feel relaxed and at peace?

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Becoming a ‘we’ is an adjustment, especially if you’ve been a ‘me’ for quite some time. It’s also something that more than likely no one has ever taught you how to do before. Be patient with yourself and remember, therapy is always an option if you find yourself feeling stuck.

Texting, Sexting and All Thing Tech: How to Use Our Devices With Love In Mind

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We've all done it and we're all guilty of it. Enjoying and utilizing our devices. It's impossible not to these days. Whether we are expected to be on-call for our employer or we are having a rapid fire texting conversation with a friend, it's hard to distance ourselves from our ever-so-smart phones, tablets and laptops.

Honestly, it's very hard to make a case as to why we should distance ourselves from our devices. Especially when we are often rewarded for being technologically savvy; knowing how to use our devices to share or acquire information via the internet is a skill. There are millions of jobs that have been created in technology, social media and marketing because of the fast-paced internet driven world we live in. So I'm not going to tell you to put your devices down. Rather, my hope is to share with you a few ways we can use our devices to turn up the heat in our relationships!

Turn up the heat with a thoughtful message. Randomly sending your partner a quick message or leaving a voicemail lets them know that you're thinking about them. Be sure to include a specific reason..."I just heard about this awesome new exhibit and I know how much you love contemporary art. I couldn't help but think of you. Hope you're having a great day!"

Snap a photo to spark the warm and fuzzies. See a cute puppy or mural on your way to work that you know your partner would adore? Take a quick photo and send it to them to let them know they're in your thoughts. Just be careful to hold off while driving!

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Speak their language. Is your partner an avid baseball fan? Find out when his or her team is playing and check the score midway through the game. Shoot your partner a text letting them know you're glad their team is up by 4 or you're sorry their boys are getting slammed, will certainly catch their attention.

Reminisce about the early days. One of the greatest features about our devices is that they are capable of backing up and storing our messages (if we want them to). If possible, upload your message history and revisit a time when you and your partner did not know each other as well. Print out a segment of your messages and read through them together. It will be a nice surprise and you can share your reactions about what you were like back then. **If you don't have a history of messages or emails, simply share a memory of how you experienced one another during courtship.

Anticipate their company. Let your partner know you are looking forward to seeing them later (or whenever you expect to see them next). This builds anticipation for you and them, which will make reuniting feel that much more exciting.

There are plenty of ways to use our devices to spark excitement and rev up the romance in our relationships. A little bit of mindfulness can go a long way when it comes to the way we text/call/beep/or snap. Having a tough time remembering to message your sweetie? Try setting a reminder on your device or marking your calendar to use one of these tips!

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The Beginner's Guide to Energetic Love

Energetic Love has the capability to transform our relationships. This stems from understanding that love is not simply a noun - a product of something we create, but also a verb. Love is an ongoing and evolving process. Energetic love is the act of loving (with energy).

We energize our love by increasing our awareness of ourselves and our partners and through this insight, we are able to love more intentionally and authentically. Energetic love also implies that loving itself requires energy, which is true. Love is an active process and one that does require our body, mind and spirit. If we love without energy, it may not be as sustainable or meaningful.

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So, how does one practice Energetic Love?

Balancing individual and interpersonal awareness with proactivity. Examine what is going on internally and externally in your relationship:

  • Consider your own understandings of love; think about this as your love template. How do you feel loved? If you have a partner, how do they make you feel loved? How do you express love to others or a partner? What ways does your partner feel love and express love? Gary Chapman's book, Love Languages is an excellent resource for understanding how we "love" one another and receive love ourselves.

  • Fill in the blank. When we understand that our partner feels loved by _____ we can use this information as an opportunity to speak their language in the way that we act (using energy).

  • Embrace imperfection. We are human and cannot possibly do everything right all of the time, no matter how nice that would be. When we make mistakes such as forgetting an important date or to unload the dishwasher, it is important to acknowledge these moments and use them as learning opportunities. Consider saying to yourself or your partner, "I am not perfect, but I will try to ________ in the future".

  • Forgiveness. We do not always show up in our relationship the way that we hope to and our partners do not always show up for us the way we hope they will. When these moments occur, embrace the disappointment, sadness or uncertainty that follows and direct your energy into a conversation on how to be more on target next time.

There is great wisdom that can come from our interpersonal awareness of how we love and experience love. When we are not getting something from our partners that we need in order to feel loved, we ought to communicate that in a benevolent way. When we are not loving our partner in the way that they need, we can use this information to channel our energy into more productive and meaningful loving.

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How do you practice Energetic Love? Feel free to share your ideas below!

Dare To Be Direct.

Are you and your partner swimming in circles when it comes to making decisions? No need to let indecisiveness ruin your relationship. Consider trying direct communication.

Sharing what you want directly will likely help your partner understand exactly what you are looking for and how they can play a role in making that happen. Here are some pro-tips for delivering a direct request:

1. Identify what you are seeking from your partner/lover. Is it quality time, problem solving, listening, some perspective, a fun adventure, etc.?

Figuring out what it is that you want first is key. If you are clear on what you want, this will boost your confidence when it comes to the next step.

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2. Spell it out for them (with words). After all, we are human, not telepathic. We will be more successful if we let our partners know exactly what we are looking for from them as opposed to expecting them to guess what it is that we want.

This is the difference between saying:

"Hey babe, I'd really love to take a walk and get some mint-chocolate chip ice cream after dinner"

& "Hey babe, what would you like to do after dinner?" (while secretly hoping our partner suggests ice cream).

When we wait for our partner to catch up with us (a.k.a. read our minds), it can take awhile or worse, we become upset that they don't understand. Stating exactly what you want will keep them in the know and prevent misunderstandings.

3. If you catch what you're seeking, what will that bring you? Sometimes it can be helpful to share with your lover the significance behind your request.

Consider these examples:

"I'd really like if we could spend the afternoon just the two of us because quality time would make me feel appreciated and relaxed"

"I'd prefer if we could go to the grocery store and run errands in the morning so that I am not worrying about it later on when we are at the show"

Sharing the why behind your request may actually help your partner attune to it better, especially if they know that the impact will lift you into a brighter mood.

4. Practice.

The best way to become skillful at these requests is to deliver them often and check in to see how they are working. When you share your request, what feedback are you noticing from your partner?

Paying attention to how your partner responds when you are communicating directly will be essential to your future success. Are they understanding you? Do they have your undivided attention or distracted with other things?

What tone of voice works best? Maybe  your partner hears you better when you speak with them in a calmer voice or maybe it is when you use a more vibrant tone. These are clues to pay attention to and practice.

Dare to be direct (in communicating). You'll be thankful you did!

If you're still feeling stuck, consider consulting a couples therapist for some relational skill building on the topic of interpersonal communication.

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