How to create and cultivate your love garden
By Dr. Matt Eschler, PhD, LMFT – Centers for Couples and Families
I am pretty certain that we all hope for a juicy fun, passionate, loving relationship with our lovers! The relationships that maintain a spark and continue to bloom and blossom over decades of being together are created and maintained carefully, like a garden. They most definitely are not accidents! You don’t connect with a “soul mate” and settle into mandatory bliss. If you are hoping, longing, reaching for a juicy, fun, passionate relationship, then you will want to read the rest if this article!
If you keep a few rules, you can be certain your marriage is all you ever fantasized about! Keep these three incredibly simple rules of engagement to ensure your relationship is in full bloom:
- Get to know each other every day.
By constantly developing connection and strengthening your relationship bond you breath new life into your marriage every chance you get. Sometimes you will be giving rescue breathes during crisis and struggle while other times you are giving extra oxygen creating a sense of peace and relaxation.
Know your lover’s top five or six needs to be happy. Many couples think they know each other and know what drives happiness, only to find they have lost touch with change, growth, and each other. To keep on the front line of a good relationship, you have to meet together and talk. I suggest three meetings a week as a minimum. These three meetings each come with a distinct purpose:
First, have a date night. This is where couples flirt, tease, kiss, and talk about hopes and dreams with each other.
Second meeting is couples council. In this meeting, you discover the struggles you each face. You empathize with each other, grow through strife and strain while talking about hard topics, trusting you will stand by each other for better or worse.
Third meeting is family night. This is a time to organize your family, share family activities, dreams, and structure the household as a unified front. All three of these meetings are really mandatory and refreshing if you engage weekly, on purpose.
Second of the three “must” for juicy, fun, passionate relationships is all about transparency. Share your whole self, holding nothing back. If you only share what your lover approves of, you’re holding them hostage. Allow your lover to see all of you and realize your love for each other grows with knowledge of what makes us tick.
Sharing a deep sense of fondness and adoration for each other (number one cause of divorce is contempt) is a major part of the intimacy you will experience. Have you ever caught yourself thinking fond thoughts about your lover and not expressing these thoughts out loud because it feels too vulnerable? My challenge to you is be vulnerable every day! Dare to share all your fondness and admiration out loud and often!
Pray with each other and express gratitude to the God of your understanding for each other. Imagine the power you will have as a couple joining in prayer to begin each day unified!
Celebrating victories, supporting each other’s interests, and helping achieve each other’s dreams are all ways of generating juicy, fun, passionate marriages. I think you get the idea.
Positive Sentiment Override (Gottman Term)
Finally the third principle followed by juicy, passionate, fun couples is a constant positive sentiment override. You always have two choices in how you see your lover. You can think negative or you can see the good. You can interpret what is said through a filter of offense. Seeking to be offended will generally lead to you finding a way to actually be offended.
The thousands of interactions will be filled with minor slights and errors that can be exploited and used to feel sad, hurt and bugged at each other. On the other hand, you have every right to filter all those same interactions through a sieve that separates out all the warm, passionate sentiments and feel love and joy. It’s really up to you! No, you’re not burying your head in the sand, you’re simply seeking the good gifts offered.
Think about all of this, and implement these ideas to see how your relationship can blossom and flourish this spring!