Today we’re talking about how to keep the attraction mojo going on in your relationship.
Have you ever been in a heated argument with your spouse and you just can’t understand why the argument leads to the same place, same frustrating feelings, the same thoughts that you’d “be better off not exposing yourself to this level of aggrevation, upset, or discord”, and “maybe it would be better to get out of the relationship because this is just too painful to keep repeating”? You probably really love this person, or have in the past, but you didn’t expect to have these kinds of arguments, experience this level of misunderstanding, and feel this alone in this relationship.
So you both turn away from each other.
You’re not alone. This is a common reaction.
What can you do to avoid the repetition of this cycle, and magnetize your spouse instead of repelling and being repelled?
First, don’t wait longer to seek professional help. Often couples wait until they are “out the door” figuratively, or have started having eyes for someone else before they consider getting help for the relationship. The right professional can teach you how to restore closeness and keep your relationship strong.
At home, though, you can work on your emotional expression.
Emotional expression in our present culture has been tamped down, or pushed back, and at times shamed. We, as a culture, the emotionally un-intelligent, have never been taught about emotional expression.
We, on average, have never been taught how to feel feelings, what different feelings feel like, what various feelings make us DO, and think. We haven’t known how do deal with our feelings, much less our spouses feelings, or how to put them into context; which is why large numbers of people are conflict avoiders. (Conflict avoidance can lead to turning toward someone else outside the marital relationship for affection).
Yes, most people can remember a time they shared feelings and were shamed by being told they shouldn’t feel that way, or received covert messages through body language from someone we love that feelings weren’t to be expressed.
Shared positive emotion is the velcro, or glue in relationships.
The more we express how important our spouse is to us, and speak to our spouses emotions, the more magnetic and attractive we become to him or her. Say often to your spouse what you appreciate about him or her. Add heartfelt, feeling words to your communication.
How does one do this?
One way to start is to listen for the underlying feelings of your beloved couched in a complaint.
Practice listening with your heart with the intention to be in a state of generosity of spirit and curiosity while you’re learning how to be different with each other. While you’re learning to express love in a different way…patiently. (After all, relationships are an evolution. It takes time to perfect the art of loving the individual you married with all their unique qualities and needs–not that we can fulfill all the needs of another person, nor should we try.)
Heartfelt longings are often couched in complaints.
Listen to understand, and not to merely get the next thing ready to convince your spouse of your point of view. You’re listening for feelings behind the words, and observing facial expression without judging it good or bad.
Example: Complaint: “We never go on walks together anymore!”
Easy to get defensive with this remark because it feels like the energy of it is directed at what YOU are or are not doing. However, and this is important—your spouse may not have the intention to make you feel guilty. The intention may be to get more time with you for reasons of wanting to feel closer.
Work to be non-reactive. Don’t take it personally. Work to stay calm. The underlying need or longing might be …“I miss sharing a walk with you because it’s time we have for just us”, or “I want to feel close to you more”, or “I want to share recreational time with you”.
Your spouse may not be trying to criticize, but instead just doesn’t know that for whatever reason, he/she can simply say from the heart…”I miss you, please, let’s find a time to take a walk together…can we?”
Give it a shot at expressing to your spouse what you guess is the longing:
“You’re missing me! You want my company!” and ask “Did I get it?”
This attention to the inner world is like a dusting of magic on your relationship. The intention to understand the inner world of your beloved is like glue. You become more attractive because you have touched on his or her emotions, and this is important– without judgement. That is how you touch what is of import to him or her—emotions and the acknowledging of them which makes you like a magnet.
What difference will it make?
He or she will feel more special, more important, and like they are a priority to you. Like you really get them.
In “Ten Lessons To Transform Your Marriage”, foremost couples researcher, John Gottman, gives some examples of underlying longings in common complaints.
Complaint: Why do you always let the garbage pile up like this?
Longing: I wish that we could feel more like teammates taking care of our house.
Complaint: You never call me during the day.
Longing: I wish we could feel close to each other, even when we’re apart.
Complaint: We haven’t had sex in weeks. What’s wrong with you?
Longing: I miss the intimacy, play, and closeness we share.
Now, see if you can imagine the positive desire behind the following complaints. Perhaps you and your spouse can do this exercise together. Read the complaint out loud and you two imagine together what could be the underlying longing.
Complaint: It seems like so long since we’ve had any fun.
Complaint: I never seem to get personal presents for my birthday.
Complaint:I hate it when your mother drops by without calling first.
***Now, together, you may want to list some common complaints you hear from your partner and share what you may imagine your spouse is really longing for and see if you are getting it. **Warning: Don’t do this exercise when you are hungry, angry, feeling lonely, or tired. Find a refreshed, quiet time to do it together.
Now some homework for you:
Go to the comments below and share with me the take away from this that may help your marriage.
Tell me also about any topics you would like me to address in the future.
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Thank you for reading my post, and have a great day!
Karen Pierce, LCSW
Helping people who are dedicated to personal and spiritual development live into a deep sense of authenticity, and create connected and fulfilling relationships.