Here are five things couples should focus on to continue growing in their love.
1. Be wrong and be happy about it
If you’ve developed the habit of needing to be right, you’ve probably experienced the unfortunate side effect of being lonely or misunderstood. When couples think in terms of “I’m right, you’re wrong,” the relationship is divided and there can be no growth. When couples focus not on being right, but on being connected and growing together, then everybody wins.
Some of the greatest relationship connections you’ll ever make occur when you apologize and commit to doing better after making a mistake. Rather than rubbing your partner’s nose in his or her wrongness, empathy will allow you to see the feelings and needs behind the actions in order to connect, share understanding, and heal. Open communication will ensure that wounds are healed with empathy and emotional connection.
It is impossible to be open and vulnerable with someone you do not trust. If someone has hurt your trust, you have the option to protect against future pain for the rest of your relationship which often involves attacking one another and distancing yourself or sharing your feelings and needs in a state of vulnerability.
When you choose the latter option, you send out powerful “grow with me” signals that give your spouse the opportunity to step up and fill your needs. They could reject you, but if you have faith and frame the conversation around your feelings and needs, there will be no attack for your partner to guard against.
And when you do make that emotional connection, the wounds will heal. Healing emotional wounds is a form of growth that, when practiced, will dramatically impact a couple’s level of intimacy and commitment.
3. Do new things together
After you establish trust in your partner, then you can begin to add to the foundation of your relationship. This is when the flower of your relationship starts to bloom again as the water of your love is supplied regularly.
Once you establish a deep trust that is founded on empathy and experience, rather than blind ignorance, you can begin to transform that flower into a rose garden. Then you become free to experience new things together again, to learn together, and to make your love dynamic again.
Take dancing lessons, go rock climbing or sky diving, learn a new language, and grow together in playful ways. Plan new hobbies and activities that satisfy the fundamental need for growth in a relationship. Novel experiences are important to a flourishing love, and your willingness to try new things with your partner will be based on your level of trust.
When you both experience vulnerability together, you will be able to empathize with your partner and appreciate their humanness. You’ll begin to see the inner child in your significant other; excitement, earnestness, and love will grow along with your intimacy.
4. Have sex
Having sex in a relationship is much more than a simple, physical act. It is sharing intimacy, vulnerability, spirituality, emotional connection, and love in the most sublime way. When you are in a protective mode, having sex is not enjoyable or desirable because sex is a growth activity.
Humans are one of the few animals that are exposed completely during sex, so it is the most vulnerable activity we engage in. As you shift your relationship to a “grow with me” mode, your desire for sex will be rekindled. There is no limit to sexual satisfaction in a monogamous relationship, and couples commonly report increased satisfaction even into their golden years. View sex as the privilege for the responsibility you show to all of your emotions and needs. Have it frequently, and make time for it if your schedules are busy.
When sex is used outside of the context of intimacy, appreciation, and vulnerability, it becomes nothing more than a common drug, which acts as an impediment to growth and connection. When sex becomes a physical symbol of these words “I have such faith, respect, and trust in you that I could bring new life with you” it becomes a sacred thing. But things are only as sacred as what is sacrificed for them, so if you want a healthy sex life, make sacrifices to grow together.
5. Express gratitude and appreciation routinely
Gratitude speaks “grow with me” just as loud as any action. It says so many things in such a compact way. “I care for you, I appreciate you, I value you, I think you’re amazing.” The more gratitude is expressed in your relationship, the more room you’ll have to grow. Remember, you are the co-manager of your relationship, so you get to exercise effective leadership and management techniques if you want to succeed.