November 20, 2017

Making Your Love Warm

Making love warm is an activity. It is something successful couples continue to cultivate. With a warmth of affection, partners can withstand some chills and survive the winte

rs of an emotional storm. I am continually impressed by how some individuals and couples literally make their relationship the center of their world, while others simply do not.

I have felt the love that people express for their partners in therapy as if their emotions were brightly colored, distinct and visible. Unfortunately, there have been other sessions where clients express that the hard grind of working, children, finances and other expectations have taken the warmth o

ut of the relationship and even out of themselves. As a younger adult, I was struck by the wisdom of Elliott D. Landau, PhD and therapist. He said that every conflict in a marriage can be traced to selfishness. Sometimes, selfishness exists because incoming kindness has been cut off.

Think about the last time that you asked your spouse/partner a question about their needs, wants or preferences. When we engage our partner’s thought processes and emotions, we create a safe space for them to be available and vulnerable. As we explore their dreams and desires for specific experiences together or as an individual we recreate what brought us affectionately toward them when the relationship first started. Regularly, I ask couples experiencing conflict about how they met, what their experience included and how they remember the days surrounding that first encounter together. I am pleased to often hear incredibly loving details about what one or the other said, wore, expressed, the way they laughed or talked, sipped their drink or described their travels.

As adults, we tend to invest our time in things which give us a result. The hours we spend at work, the gym and at play monopolize most of the time available to us. Where we spend the most time we often get fixated on how well that effort is recognized by ourselves and others. Think

 about the number of conversations you have been a part of where the experience of being underpaid or unappreciated at work is the centerpiece of the discussion. Consider the frequency that we experience concerns about our health and the results we don’t seem to achieve like others do. Whether at the gym, at home or at work, we regularly compare what we are putting in to what we are experiencing in return.

Imagine how much warmer your love relationship could be if you started the change in your dynamic that you desperately seek from your partner. It is amazing to me that some people can rattle off their favorite team members on their favorite sports teams, reciting facts about these players into their college statistics. Sometimes these same folks cannot remember their anniversary date. It’s not about memory at this point, it’s about caring and cultivating. Imagine knowing your spouse’s unmet hopes as a child and becoming their connection with a new version of happiness surrounding old disappointments. People thrive when their partners care deeply for them and they reciprocate. There is a concept we can borrow from the military: Never leave a spouse behind.

It takes effort to address immediate needs in a relationship and consistent efforts within the relationship to weather the storms certain to come. When we travel to the mountains in winter, we can expect very cold weather. We will engage in efforts for immediate and future needs while we are there. If we enter the family cabin, we are going to look for an immediate source of heat to get comfortable. Sometimes, that will mean going out to the woodpile (effort) gathering sufficient supplies to light the first fire (immediate) and for continuous heat into the night (planning).

Make the time to make your love warm. You cannot speak to or hold your SUV, boat, career, truck, home or financial assets. But you can replenish the fuel in your relationship with love.

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