NOTE: This article is 2,828 words. I’ve created a simple checklist that will give you 10 ways to connect with your partner, boost happiness, and deepen your relationship. Get it right here as a PDF download. It’s free.
As a follow up to my Why Women Need Twice As Much Sex As Men article, I have received thousands of comments and questions — one of the most common ones being — how can I improve my relationship?
Well, the truth is, you can have a relationship where everything gets better:
- The connection
- The closeness
- The excitement
- The respect
- And yes… even the sex.
We have all observed or even experienced relationships where the exact opposite was true — the relationship got worse with time.
Initially, the excitement, the lust, the crazy sexual energy was off the charts in but as time went on, the things that you loved most about the person became mild annoyances.
Then, with a little more time, the very thing you thought was cute or endearing was the same thing that would aggravate you endlessly.
So often in relationships, even though we may think we are being conscious, we bring old baggage, old pain, old patterning, and old assumptions from past relationships forward.
We bring our patterns into the present, never fully leaving them behind us.
Mostly because we have not taken the time to understand our role in past events, so we continue to repeat old patterns of engagement.
This is why the divorce rate of first marriages is 50%, but in second marriages, it climbs to 67% (it continues to get worse the more marriages the person has had).
However, there are frameworks in which you and your partner can co-create a loving foundation upon which to grow an epic, legendary relationship.
The strategies I am going to outline here will help you keep your relationship exciting, grow together (vs growing apart) with deeper and deeper connection, satisfaction, and intimacy with time.
This article is about creating your best love relationship.
1. Get In Alignment
“If you align expectations with reality, you will never be disappointed” — Terrell Owens
One of the best things you can do, whether you are in a relationship for a minute or a decade, is define what you want for & love most about yourself.
Followed immediately by what you want for & love most in a partner.
You will quickly find that when you go through these exercise chronologically, first writing all the things you love most about yourself, and then in your partner, you will find these lists will be much closer than you may have thought.
In fact, they are one and the same.
I always liken it to defining the blue person on the red planet. Once you define who you are — in this case a blue person — it will be far easier for you to spot another blue person in a sea of red people.
Here is the list my partner, Giovanni, wrote about his future wife. He first completed the exercise about himself, and then about his future partner. He did not know me at the time of this exercise, and, either eerily or exactly, this description of his ideal partner is precisely who I am.
When he met me, he knew instantly I was his blue person.
2. Work ON The Relationship (Vs. Being IN The Relationship)
“I think for any relationship to be successful, there needs to be loving communication, appreciation, and understanding.” — Miranda Kerr
Entrepreneurs hear this all the time: Work ON the business, not IN the business:
- Define the mission of the business
- What is you the vision for the business?
- What is the purpose of your business?
- What is the catalyzing statement of your business
All amazing questions, and all world class businesses can answer these questions.
…you could also answer these questions about your relationship?
Imagine the clarity, and purpose you and your partner would have about each other!
Now I know these are not easy questions to answer.
But, like any partnership, knowing the WHY behind the WHAT will give you the HOW.
3. Courageous Conversations
“Being deeply love by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage” — Lao Tzu
The one exercise I have found most useful in deepening our relationship is to have weekly meetings about how the relationship is doing.
Just like you would do in your business —it is the relationship equivalent to the weekly staff meetings.
Like in any staff meeting, we discuss wins and challenges. We discuss pain points, and we resolve to fix them, as a team.
This is not a date.
This is a ‘relationship staff meeting” wherein we sit down and we talk about how we have shown up for the other in the past week.
You will need to put on your adult pants here. If this is done well, it fosters connection, a forum for an open dialogue, trust and intimacy.
Which, if you are wanting an epic, legendary love relationship, this is what you want, right?
The first rule for this courageous conversation is to expect that you may hear from your partner that you have not been the best Queen or King this week.
We are all human, and as much as we try, cannot knock out home runs all the time.
You’re going to suck sometimes at being a partner. The point is not pretend like it didn’t happen, or worse, deflect your behaiour onto your partner.
It is all too easy to get defensive with the “What do you mean??” or to deny responsibility “Well what about when you did….?”.
No pointing fingers, and no ego, please.
As the saying goes, when you point one finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you.
The point of this discussion is NOT to be accusatory. It is to allow an open forum for you and your partner to be and feel heard.
As such, you need to have safe guards in place before you begin.
- Avoid using absolutes. You “always” or you “never” are destructive and contrarian.
- No one is always or never doing anything. If only things were so black and white! There are always shades of grey…and usually it is way more than 50.
- Reframe the experience to how it made YOU feel. It is ok feel slighted, unheard, unloved, or unsupported. It is the art of expressing these feelings are important here. It is more constructive to describe the incident and discuss how it made you feel. [“When X happened it made me feel …” instead of “You did X and that was wrong because …” ]
In the end it is the emotional imprint it left on you that matters. The what or why behind why it triggered you. Let your partner know how you have processed this event, and your perception of it.
Otherwise, you both will make assumptions about the other person and their intentions which may unintentionally lay the foundation for resentment and bitterness in the long run.
One final point here — this conversation is not about solving every itty bitty minuscule issue. Don’t make stuff up if you had a good week just to have something to say! Use your discretion and this time for a meaningful discussion.
So here is the order of how our meetings go:
- There is a song we have chosen to start each meeting. It is the only time we play the song, so as to neurologically prime us for the conversation.
- We each will start off by talking about the wins for the relationship in the last week.
- Followed by what we love about the person and how they showed up for us in the last week.
These process is intentionally in this order.
It is so much easier to slip into the pattern of finding things we do not like, or how we have been wronged.
But this is your life partner.
They are special enough to be in your life, and it is important to be coming from a place of love and gratitude for this meeting.
This meeting is not about pointing fingers.
It is about building together, fixing cracks together. Not delegating your role or responsibility as a partner. Get honest with yourself around your intentions of this meeting.
Then we take turns answering the following questions:
- On a scale from 1–10, how did I do as your partner today?
- What are the 2 or 3 things that I can do for you in the next few days to move that number up to a 10? (If, of course, the original answer was less than a 10!)
This is where the honest conversations happen. Have an open heart and create space for your partner to discuss his or her thoughts. Discuss your feelings, together. And if it is available, come up with a game plan, together on how you both can improve.
- We wrap this meeting up with what we love most about each other.
This meeting takes no more than 20 minutes on an average week.
It has of course been longer, but once you have been doing this for a while, it becomes a powerful tool for fostering connection and trust.
Congrats for getting this far along in my nerd safari. You’re about 1/2 way through. If you want the simple supplementary checklist to building a better relationship as a PDF download, get it right here. It’s free.
4. Sacred Rituals — Carve Out Time For Sex
“Sex is as important as eating or drinking and we ought to allow the one appetite to be satisfied with as little restraint or false modesty as the other.” — Marquis de Sade
Oh how unromantic! Scheduled sex? Ugh. I want it to be free flowing and spontaneous, passionate, and romantic!
Be a free spirit and sex all over the place.
*AND* schedule in time for sex as well.
The more you are scheduled, the more freedom it creates.
Life is busy. Work demands, home life demands, if you have children you are usually shuttling them to classes, friends, family members.
It is easy to wind up tired, exhausted, and without a roadmap to regularly connect with your partner.
I have written about why sex is important for brain health, improving parasympathetics, and things like blood pressure, and heart rate here.
There is nothing that will do more for your health (and your partner) than a healthy, regular, juicy sex life.
Scheduling it in ensures it happens.
Sex is the greatest medium for intimate connection.
It is where you are your most vulnerable, your most primal, your most exposed. This is a wonderful opportunity to for bonding, trust, intimacy, and epic love to flourish.
You cannot have an enduring passionate love relationship without sex.
Data suggests the best frequency for a healthy sex life is around 2–3x week .
There is also evidence that happiness is also amplified with the “once a week” boost
Being a brain geek, I must also mention the amazing effects sex has on the brain.
First, it lights up your entire cortex, it engages feelings of joy and happiness (which are found in the prefrontal cortex — the area of the brain most affected by chronic, low grade stress of every day life), and all your vital signs improve — blood pressure lowers, heart rate lowers, oxygenation of the body goes up (from all that heavy panting), so you can properly relax.
Its a positive healthy loop : your frontal lobe gets stronger, your stress response goes down, which helps your frontal lobe get stronger…etc
Arianna Huffington, in her book Sleep, talks about the value of an orgasm in the evening right before bed. You are in a relaxed, euphoric state, and can drift off into dream land.
Schedule sex into your week.
5. Date Your Spouse
“We try to live by the secret of sevens. A friend, who has been married for over 40 years, told us about this magic. Make and keep a date every seven days, take a night away alone, for yourself, every seven weeks, and schedule an adult-only vacation every seven months.” — Summer Sanders
There is nothing more important in your kingdom than the King and Queen (that’s you two).
This includes the children living in it.
Yes children are important, and need nurturing, love and attention. No argument there.
And, they will best thrive in an environment where dad and mom are completely in love with each other.
It will teach them about love, how to treat a partner, and they will likely model your relationship when they are adults.
So date your partner.
Take turns planning out an evening together. It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money to date your partner.
Get creative and find fun ways to spend time with each other.
6. Daily Gratitude
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” — Melody Beattie
One of the ways my partner and I remind ourselves of how we uniquely contribute to the relationship is a shared daily gratitude journal.
We have adapted the 5 Minute Journal, The Productivity Planner, and our personal 90 day, 1 year, and 3 year goals and dreams for the relationship, that we fill out daily.
This is an essential part of our morning routine to set us up for love, and forward momentum in our relationship.
There have been many a time when I have woken up in a bad mood, and the negative thoughts can be fast and furious.
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is that your state dictates your story.
In other words, if you are in a good mood, with high vibrational frequency, you’re in your happy place, the story of who you are is most reflective of the person you truly are.
The story about yourself if positive.
When you are in a bad mood, or a bad state, the story changes. You tend to focus more on how you are not good enough, not worthy enough or capable enough in some way.
A conscious effort at daily gratitude allows you to be mindful of the things you already have. The things and people in your life appreciate in value, as you actively appreciate them.
Change your state. Change your story.
7. Be The Beauty Or Be The Beast
“Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful.” — Zoe Kravitz
You have 2 very important relationships you need to work on in this life:
- The relationship you have with yourself
- The relationship you have with your partner.
You owe it to your partner, but more importantly YOU to show up as your best possible self every day.
I had recently interviewed Gillian Mandich, a happiness expert, and her philosophy for her own life is to show up as the best possible person everyday for herself.
I could not agree more.
You owe it yourself to be the best possible person you can be.
The application of this is simple, really.
- Consume foods that honour you, and do not make you feel terrible afterwards.
- Get rid of processed carbohydrates that wreck havoc on your mood and energy levels
- Eat more fat
- Eat moderate to low levels of good quality protein.
- Regularly fast
- Drink more water
Move your body in a way that feels good.
- Pole dancing
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Stop taking the elevator
- Park at the back of the lot
- Take 12K steps a day
- Play at the park
Honour your body.
The changes do not need to be drastic, they just need to be consistent.
In my house, I integrate the movement with my kids. Let your children see you working out, or better, workout with them.
(Also — I have never sweated as much, or had as intense of a workout as I do trying to play soccer with my boys.)
The practice of movement matters because it builds self trust.
It builds self confidence. As you consistently love yourself with good food and good movement, you begin to trust yourself more and more.
Do you need to measure your foods and work out for hours? Of course not.
This is YOUR LIFE. You owe it to yourself to give yourself the tools to show up to it in the way you want.
When you build self trust, this is a small, but meangingful way to build self love.
The more you love and honour yourself, the more you can love, honour, and show up for your partner.
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