In our last video, Briana and I discussed the question: “How do I communicate my needs in a relationship?”
Today, we address a special question in honor of Valentine’s Day: “How can I spice up the romance in my relationship?”
Lasting romance is about acknowledgement and authenticity, and knowing how to cherish your partner. It’s also more about the experiential than the material.
In this video, Briana and I discuss our thoughts and experiences on these topics.
1. Acknowledgement and Respect.
What would make your partner feel acknowledged and respected? How can you demonstrate acknowledgement and respect towards them in a way that makes them feel cherished as well as feel sexy and desirable?
Often, this is not as difficult as people tend to make it. Simply asking your partner: “Is there anything that you would like me to acknowledge about you or our relationship?” can lead to a helpful answer, typically because get a well it’s likely been rolling around in your partner’s head for a while! Simply asking this question may even feel like acknowledgement to your partner.
The second part is following up with the question, “What can I do or say to make you feel more acknowledged and respected?” This is the real gold, because your partner is giving you the secret recipe to their heart. If your partner answers this question, its like they are giving you those glasses at the movie theater, that will help you to see them in their full 3-dimensionality.
If you ask this question (or even the previous question) and you get a “everything’s fine” or “you’re perfect, don’t worry about it” …its possible that your partner experiences a lack of emotional safety in the relationship. This may be due to the emotional culture they were raised and it may have nothing to do with what you do or do not bring to the table.
Or they may have never been asked that question before and so they don’t know what it is to be acknowledged and respected. Sometimes your partner might not want you to have such powerful knowledge, because then they will feel more vulnerable to you in the relationship.
Asking this question more than once, and checking in on a regular basis, will build the foundation for establishing emotional safety in the relationship, and eventually, your partner may come to realize what makes them feel respected and be willing to share it with you.
Remember – another great way to cultivate emotional safety in your relationship is to continuously understand one another’s emotions. You can do this checking out my free workbook “Emotion Mapping for Couples.”
2. Support and Nurturance.
Once a partner feels as if they are acknowledged and respected in a relationship, they are much more likely to be willing to ask for and RECEIVE support and nurturance from a partner. A willingness to receive support and nurturance is often a difficult thing for many people, because it requires a sense of emotional surrender and reliance on someone else.
A lot of us walk around with this “I can do it myself” or “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” type of attitude because we don’t trust others to show up consistently for us when we need them. If you have a partner that doesn’t seem to know how to let you in emotionally, or who feels distant because they don’t seem to need or want your support, realize that them opening up to receive support is opening up to deepening intimacy on an emotional level, because its a form of vulnerability and need expression. And past experiences may have created the belief that doing so will only get them hurt.
On the other hand, a partner who is always leaning on you, has a fundamental distrust of themselves. Showing support to this type of partner involves demonstrating a faith that they CAN do it for themselves, even if they don’t think they can. It might look like listening to and empathizing with their feelings about a problem, rather than trying to “fix” it for them. And it might even mean tolerating their bratty temper tantrum when you won’t do it for them.
How does your partner receive support? Do they ever ask you for help? Would you feel comfortable asking them, “How can I support you right now?”
3. Sexiness and Desirability.
Take Valentine’s day, for example. Rather than planning a simple dinner with flowers, why be romantic for the next seven days?
For a sexually intimate evening, I would start by amping up the non-verbal, physical affection days in advance, and even taking a sexy fantasy inventory. People vary in what turns them on, and are rarely directly asked what they have imagined in their most private moments.
If this is something that feels foreign or contrived, turn it into a game, or exploration process.
Have you ever played that game, would you rather? Ideally, each partner could separately and privately create a series of 10-20 sexy “would you rather” scenarios. I recommend asking questions along the following categories:
Sensuality: what tastes, textures, smells, colors and sounds turn you on?
Affection: What types of physical contact and affection (other than sex) make you feel safe, loved, and desirable?
Words: What kinds of words or phrases make you melt?
Gestures: What kinds of gestures, gifts, or actions would make you feel deep appreciation?
Sexual Fantasy: What kinds of sexual fantasies would you want to explore? Role play? Toys? Lingerie and/or costumes? Locations? Positions?
Soft Limits: What would you be willing to try, but are not altogether sure about?
Hard Limits: What would utterly turn you off and potentially offend you?
Then perhaps you introduce this game over text messaging throughout the week, but you’re not allowed to talk about it at home (at least not until the big day). This sense of mystery and play can really spark sexuality.
It clues you into the fact that no matter how long you have been with someone, there are always new layers to uncover. It’s just a matter of creating safe enough boundaries to explore them without judgement, so your partner can share them without the fear of losing you, your regard, or the relationship.
Affectionate rewards could be a head or foot massage. Verbal rewards could be dirty talk, poetry or simply “express something you love about your partner.” Gestures could be coupons for completing household chores, or full responsibility for planning your next vacation.
Keep the mood accepting, light, humorous, and playful. This is intended to be fun, and will turn up the heat as each partner begins to anticipate what the other will bring to the table. There will also be a cathartic release when you both can finally talk about it!
If our video brings up questions, as it should, feel free to ask them in the comments located here. Briana and I will be addressing these questions on a livestream early next month.
And if you want to learn more about how I assists couples with fostering intimacy, check out my Intimacy 5 Challenge.
If you are interested in learning more about what attachment style you have, and how knowing your attachment style might offer simpler solutions to your relationship problems, I invite you to take Briana’s quiz.