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Copyright 2009 by Relationship Coaching Institute All rights reserved.
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Ask Our Coaches:
Can you fall in love again?
"We want to know how to recapture or
rekindle our love for one another."
This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your
questions to Tara@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com
who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each
issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.
I'm 47 and am married to my wonderful wife of 24 years. It's been a time I would never trade for anything. There's just one thing missing—feeling the love that we used to have. We get along, we're great companions, and we love our children who are now moved out of the house (fortunately, they visit regularly).
We have a great life by any measure except that we just don't feel the spark or have a strong love for each other. We feel comfortable—and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. It's probably because we just know each other very well—not hard to do after so many years of sharing life's ups and downs.
We've talked about this and decided to take some steps to find out how we might ignite a new passion between us. We want to know how to recapture or rekindle our love for one another. We want a life together that is great—not just good.
How can we resurface the loving and exciting feelings we once had for one another? What specific things can we do to unearth the passion we once had? And, how do we sustain it for the rest of our lives? We think it's possible to make our relationship even better—we're just not sure how to go about it. Any thoughts?
Darren from Des Moines
Judith responds …
I acknowledge you for wanting to have a great relationship in your years after the children have moved on. This type of enthusiasm is why I enjoy mid-life coaching so much. It can be the best time in your life.
You spoke about wanting to find the passion again in your relationship and it sounds like from what you shared that it is bubbling just below the surface. With a conscious intention, you can not only access it, but also you can maintain it.
Here are a couple of things that might turn your spark into a flame. Tony Robbins says, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." What could you do a little different each day that would give you different results?
For some people, that might include going to a new restaurant, biking, or dancing for the first time in years. Remember you don't have to go out to dance. Put on your favorite song and dance in the kitchen while the dog weaves between your legs. Dancing is not about how well your feet move, but about how much you connect with your partner.
Touching remains a very important part of nurturing a mid-life relationship. You might simply try holding hands, rub her back as you walk by and give a compliment. This is all about connection with the intent to make your partner feel good. Feeling good sparks the flame. May passion and happiness surround you both as you journey together.
Judith Geiger | www.flyingchangecoaching.com | 315.497.3059
Nicole responds …
Re-establishing passion and desire is definitely possible if you take the time to break free of routine and really listen to what your partner needs to feel ignited. So often we forget or are frightened to just ask what is missing.
Take the time to assess your relationship, either with a coach or honestly with each other, to ascertain where each others' needs are not getting met. Set to work on meeting each other needs. Change ignites passion. Make a break from your regular routine. Go to a new restaurant, a place you have never been to before, or do an activity you have never done together.
Address your wardrobes and personal hygiene. Are you in need of an overhaul? Investigate role playing and explore your deepest fantasies. Create anticipation by sending love notes, booking a sex date together, or even better, planning a surprise.
Make sure you are happy in yourself and are bringing new energy -- exciting energy -- into your relationship. Take a night course or become a volunteer, learn something new and share it with your love. Finally, focus on the reasons you have stayed together all these years and cherish what you have together!
Nicole Chelsea Baikie | www.megamorphosis.com.au | +02 66 808 262
Rick and Jo respond …
This is a common scenario for longstanding marriages and we commend you both for your commitment to re-ignite the spark. The first thing we suggest is that you bring closure to what has been. We do not mean for you to end the relationship, but rather to complete the old relationship so that you have a clean canvas on which to create your new relationship.
This would involve a process of identifying lingering regrets, resentments or complaints, and resolving them or letting them go. Then, create a vision and purpose for your new relationship –- something bigger than both of you -- that inspires you both and gives you a sense of fulfillment.
Beware of assuming you know your partner 100% or that you understand their needs and wants. Be curious and ask them. Don't assume your partner is tuned into your every need! Be responsible and request what you want or need from your partner. Share your dreams, your victories, failures and fears.
Sharing your heart with another breathes life into their soul and creates that experience of love. Find ways to play and have fun together. Think of how you can surprise your partner with romantic gifts or deeds. Re-connect sensuously.
Re-discover what delights your partner -- how they like to be touched. Take your time. Practice cuddling and playing together rather than rushing into the pursuit of the orgasm. Try taking orgasm off the agenda just for one night and see what happens! Remember that love is not a thing. It has not gone anywhere. Love is a conversation that you generate from within. And, above all, have fun and laugh.
Rick and Jo Harrison | www.SecretsToSoulmateSuccess.com | +61.3.5420.7366
Michelle responds …
Darren, the fact that you and your wife think it's possible to make your relationship better means that you absolutely can. My first thought is that novelty creates excitement. Anything new sparks curiosity. One book in my waiting area that couples are drawn to is "1001 Ways to Be Romantic" by Gregory J. P. Godek. It's one of those "open to any page and get ideas" books.
Another idea is to reminisce about your early days. What was it like when you met? How did you know you had found the love of your life? What was your courtship like? Talk about your wedding day. What are the special memories you treasure about each other? Reminiscing can remind you of that passion that brought you together in the first place.
A second component to reminiscing is reintroducing the things you did back then into your life now. What did you do in the past that brought out the passion? Can you do this now? Modify it if you need to; sometimes your answer is closer than you realize. Planning a romantic dinner out as a surprise for your wife can go a long way in rekindling the passion, especially if it's a place that's new to both of you.
I like my couples to express appreciation to each other for the small things. It's great to receive a handwritten note from your spouse expressing gratitude and appreciation. The small, positive details we notice about each other create closeness. I wish you the best of success with this.
Michelle E. Vásquez, MS, LPC | www.trueloveafter40.com | 714.717.5744
Dr. Dar responds …
Congratulations on being married 24 years. It is absolutely possible to rekindle love and passion in your relationship after taking the detour to raise a family. This is a common experience for empty nesters.
First, identify what you both, individually, enjoy doing or would like to do. Second, share your lists with each other and see what is on your lists that you would like to do together. Next, add things to the list that may be daring for you, like taking a sky diving class or learning how to paint. Add some variety to your activities that include learning new things.
The next step would be to take a walk down memory lane and recall what created love and excitement in your relationship early on. Chances are that those same actions will work now. Finally, unearthing passion is more about reconnecting with your spouse. Pretend as though you are meeting each other at a new stage in your life, which you are, but act as if you are just now meeting.
Instead of being parents and spouses, get to know each other in your new found freedom. Have conversations about what you want to create in your life -- now that you are both together again. If you are looking for that spark that once was to be there consistently, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. The spark comes and goes, whereas the connection that's created by having provocative conversations, just like you did when you met, will keep the excitement and energy alive.
Dr. Dar | www.RelationshipSuccessSource.com/Blog | 704-651-8568
Hazel responds …
Perhaps it's not so much that you're missing "the love you used to have" but the excitement of the chemistry! Often this happens to couples in long-term marriages.
There are many things you can do to bring back the feelings and sustain them. There's a wonderful book called "101 Nights of Great Romance" by Laura Corn filled with great ideas and fun for both partners. In the meantime, here are a few things you might want to use immediately:
• Set a date night each week with one or the other of you planning it as a surprise -- make it really special
• Light candles and take a bubble bath together
• Women love flowers -- buy them for her regularly
• Take her somewhere romantic, take hold of her hands, look into her eyes and tell her three things you really love about her -- then let her do the same for you
• Be daring and buy some sex toys together
• Take a class in yoga or tantric sensuality
• Send each other little love notes when you're least expecting it
I congratulate you both on being willing to step out and try new things and I'm sure you will spend many happy and exciting years together.
Hazel Palache | www.sayyestoyoucoaching.com
Trust and Intimacy
by Carol Baxter
Trust is the basis of intimacy
Sharon and Harry came into their first couples coaching session down-faced. All the passion, joy and enthusiasm they felt for each other seemed to have seeped out of their relationship over the last 5 years. He said he missed the closeness they once shared; she wanted more intimacy.
What is intimacy in relationship?
The sense of happiness we feel in a secure relationship is what most of us want from our most important and intimate relationship. No matter what other qualities we have discovered in our mate, without this, our relationship may falter; with intimacy, our love blooms.
The desire for this connection is the underlying reason we mate -- to achieve closeness, or what we now call "intimacy." This closeness develops over time as we learn to trust one another. Whether socially, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually or physically, we yearn for intimacy with another. Without it, we have friendship -- not partnership
What is trust?
Trust is the bedrock of our most intimate relationships. It is a quality that can and must develop over time, and in stages, for a relationship to be successful. Initially we develop confidence in our partner's honesty and reliability as we witness their ability to keep their word. We learn to rely on them based on past experiences. Our belief in their ability to follow through on their good intentions allows us to take the next step and begin to share our more personal thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
How does trust affect our intimate relationship?
In order to achieve that deep emotional bond, first we must have trust. We must be able to be our complete and authentic selves with one another. We need to know that the other will guard our most precious secrets, be each other's confidants, and be the most ardent protector of each other's well-being. When we have trust, we feel safe. We know that the other would never lie or intentionally harm us. This frees us to turn towards each other, and reveal ourselves to one another. People need trust in order to experience intimacy.
5 Degrees of Intimacy
There are different degrees of intimacy. Are you and your spouse intimate in the following ways?
It doesn't take an advanced degree to discuss ideas. What is important is discussing your thoughts. Whether it's about work, politics, art, food, health or family life, these words reveal what is going on in your mind throughout the day and the one-of-a-kind perspective you bring to the relationship.
So much of our lives involve doing -- being active and engaged in the little and big rituals of living. In addition to fostering teamwork and the sense of partnership, we get to see and understand each other in broader ways during these events or in the telling and sharing of the experiences we have apart from each other. When seen and experienced together, events become more meaningful. Together we step out into life in ways we may have dared not risk alone.
This is the fulcrum around which the rest of our shared experiences revolve and the foundation upon which the relationship rests. Feelings are spontaneous and fueled by what we sense happening outside of us. In relationship, we often give meaning to current situations based upon what has already happened in our past. Sharing our feelings in healthy and productive ways allows us to feel empathy and leads to greater closeness.
Our spiritual beliefs are so often a core determiner of our choices and perceptions, yet we often give little thought to how they may determine the quality of our relationship. Delving into our inner workings serves us because talking about our deepest ideologies brings about understanding.
This type of intimacy rests on the building blocks of intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual intimacy. While physical passion can lead us to ecstasy and a feeling of completeness, it is often short lived without the other four intimacies. When they do exist, our physical closeness serves to enhance the others and to create a deeper bond.
Ways to develop and deepen trust
Trust develops over time, creates closeness, and dissolves the barriers to our intimate connection as we take the following steps:
1. Maintain an open and curious mind so that you can understand and empathize with your partner's point of view.
2. Learn an emotional vocabulary to identify your own feelings and take responsibility for them. An, "I feel…, I think…, I need…," sentence is more digestible to your loved one than, "You always…, you never…."
3. Stay open to exploring emotions and memories in a way that invites tolerance and acceptance.
4. Maintaining our trustworthiness in the small daily endeavors allows larger challenges to be undertaken. These challenges shift us into greater degrees of self-awareness and relational competencies.
5. Be willing to identify your own perceptual and emotional filters so that you can be clearly present to experiences in ways that promote each other's self-esteem and expand your view.
Remember that in intimacy we try to grow closer together, not to eliminate our partner's uniqueness, but to enjoy it.
Copyright © 2009 by Carol Baxter. All rights reserved in all media.
Carol Baxter, founder of The Inspired Living Center, is an Interfaith Minister and Spiritual Counselor. She is a member of the International Association of Counselors and Therapists as well as The Relationship Coaching Institute. Her work involves helping people discover the essence of who they are and coaching them through the changes necessary to become who they are meant to be. www.revcarolbaxter.com 772.785.7862
Choice Theory & Seven Caring Habits:
The Mentally Healthy Alternative
by Michelle E. Vásquez, MS, LPC
Every day you make choices about how you live your life with the ones you love. Too often, you believe you have no choice about how you interact. You may say, "I can't help it," or "that's just the way I am." Like most of us, you may tend to act on impulse based on how you feel at the moment.
Choice Theory can help you understand how you can monitor your thoughts and behaviors, so that you can modify your feelings. Understanding Choice Theory can help you improve your relationships with the ones you love.
There are 10 Tenets of Choice Theory. I will tell you about the first two. The first tenet is. "the only person whose behavior you can control is your own." Of course, you may think that's common sense, and it is, but what you may not realize is the many ways people try to control their loved ones.
The second tenet of Choice Theory makes this clear: "when we try to control others using the Seven Deadly Habits of External Control, we destroy our relationships." These deadly habits are criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and bribing or rewarding to control.
Notice that these habits are action verbs. They are behaviors that we engage in. I'm sure you can see why they are called the Seven Deadly Habits. They will eventually destroy your relationships. Anyone with a pulse has used these habits at some time or other. Becoming aware of these habits is the first step toward changing these behaviors and increasing your use of the Seven Caring Habits, which is the focus of this article.
What are the Seven Caring Habits and how can you practice them to improve your intimate relationship? They are supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences.
1. Supporting: holding each other up in good times and bad, being loyal in word and deed, believing in each other's dreams
If you want to be supportive of your husband, be loyal to him. When you talk with your friends, do you notice how often the conversation turns to complaints about their husbands? Do you join in? Maybe you see this as harmless venting of your frustration, but consider that this is disloyal to your husband. Show your support by refraining from adding your two cents. Be even more supportive by saying something positive about your husband when others are criticizing theirs.
2. Encouraging: inspiring with hope, courage, and confidence
This is especially important in the current economy. If your wife has been laid off and is seeking employment, this is a great opportunity to encourage her, assuring her the two of you will be together, working as a team to make your life better.
3. Listening: making an effort to hear something; paying attention
You may be tired and have very little energy to listen to your husband. It's all right to let him know you need some "wind down" time before you devote your full attention to him. Come back to him when you said you would and give him the gift of active listening. Strive to listen with the intention of understanding him. Pay attention, mirror back what you've heard, and ask questions to clarify.
4. Accepting: believing in each other; willingly deciding that your loved one is good enough as s/he is
Everyone craves acceptance and your wife is no exception. If she knows that you believe she is good enough just as she is, you will reap great rewards in your relationship. She may be obsessed about her weight and feel bad about herself, but when she knows you accept her, regardless of those few extra pounds, she can relax.
5. Trusting: relying and depending on each other; having confidence and believing in each other
Honor what you say you will do. If you've told your husband you will pick up his clothes from the dry cleaner, make sure you do. Keeping your word allows the trust to deepen in your relationship. When he trusts you, he can relax in the knowledge that you have his best interests at heart.
6. Respecting: holding each other in high regard or high esteem; showing appreciation and consideration
Have you ever noticed that when you express appreciation, the recipient gives you a big smile? You leave that experience feeling good about yourself, too. If your wife takes on the responsibility of most of the childcare, tell her how much you appreciate her dedication to your children. A heart-felt "thank you" goes a long way in promoting goodwill in a relationship. Remember these magic words and repeat them often. Respecting each other's privacy and boundaries is also important.
7. Negotiating Differences: conferring with each other to come to terms or reach an agreement
This is not the same as compromising, where neither of you get what you want. Negotiating involves coming to an agreement where you are able to find a win-win solution.
Ask yourself how you can incorporate these Seven Caring Habits into your daily interactions with your loved ones. You may say that you already do them, but if you're honest with yourself you will admit there's always room for improvement.
Acknowledge the Caring Habit you do best and give yourself a pat on the back. Ask yourself which Caring Habit you need to work on. Take time to focus on improving that habit. Notice what happens. What we give to our loved ones comes back to us. What are you going to give today that will create a more satisfying, successful relationship with the ones you love?
Copyright © 2009 by Michelle E. Vásquez. All rights reserved in all media.
Michelle E. Vásquez, MS, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Relationship Coach who has been working in private practice with singles and couples since 2001. She specializes in helping Singles in their 40's attract and keep the love of their lives. She can be reached at 714-717-5744 or www.trueloveafter40.com
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