10 Ways To Improve Your Relationship

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10 Ways To Improve Your Relationship
Here are some ways to open more fully to your partner and revitalize your relationship.

This follows from the proceeding suggestion. If you know what expressions of love are most meaningful to your partner, offer him or her more of that. If you find you're resistant to doing so, ask yourself what that's about. For example, are you resentful that your partner isn't more loving to you? Do expressions of intimacy make you uncomfortable? Do you feel just too busy or lazy? If you're willing to explore these questions in yourself, it will help your relationship as well. And then, I encourage you to take action even if it's a little uncomfortable. Stretching ourselves is how we grow, and there's no better place to do this than in a relationship. So even if you experience your partner as withholding, you may be surprised at what you get back by offering more expressions of love. The bottom line is this, the way to feel love is to be loving, so let your partner know they're special.

4. Eye Gazing

The eyes are said to be a window into the soul, and looking deeply into the eyes of your partner can be a profoundly moving experience. Sit close to each other in a comfortable position and set a timer for seven minutes--that's long enough to let yourself adjust to the experience settle more deeply into it. It's not uncommon for people to giggle or laugh out of discomfort with the intimacy that this can evoke, or the uncomfortableness that some of us have with allowing ourselves to be fully seen. Just allow whatever experience is evoked to occur, and stay present to your own breathing even as you continue to look into your partner's eyes—this person whom you sometimes fight with and are annoyed by, but who also has had their own hardships and wants to experience health and love, just like you. When you're done you can share your experiences.

5. Sex

Almost any change in what you're doing, including how you talk about sex, can be a turn-on. There are innumerable articles and books about how to have better sex, with many useful suggestions. I mention one, making sex dates, because many people think that takes the spontaneity out of sex. In fact, it's a way of prioritizing your sexual life; what you do with that time can be as spontaneous and varied as you like. If you're not satisfied with your sex life, however, then it's first worth considering why. Baring a physical cause (including, for example, sleep apnea), ask if you're simply bored, or perhaps holding resentments that aren't allowing you to open up to your partner in bed. Don't expect your sex life to improve until those are addressed, though for longstanding issues the help of a therapist may be useful and necessary.

Otherwise, try going back to some basics, like telling your partner exactly what you like. Start with each person taking about five minutes and describing your preferences or things you'd like to try. If you want to demonstrate a way of touching or kissing, do this on the inside of your partner's wrist. The listening partner should just affirm what is said—you can talk after about your comfort level with your partner's desires. This can be a vulnerable exercise, but you are responsible for your own sexual fulfillment, so communicating what you like is important, and is itself a way of fostering intimacy.

Next week I'll publish the rest of the list, including two helpful communication practices.
 

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