Romantic love can be increased or destroyed. Increasing what deepens love and removing what damages it will make your romantic love connection endearing and enduring.
A specialty of mine over 35 years of doing therapy is romantic love in heterosexual relationships. This includes dating, engagement, and marriage. I'm going to give you a quick tour of how to increase rather than destroy the love of your life. Follow these principles by using the Self Compass and your couples relationship will definitely improve and flourish!
First, here is what the Self Compass looks like. Notice that the complementary compass points are Love and Assertion, Weakness and Strength. These are the LAWS of personality and relationships. Each compass point exists in your personality. The healthy expression of each compass point is required to sustain a loving relationship. When one or more compass points are ignored or distorted, romantic love deteriorates into hurt, sadness, anxiety, and anger.
Let's move through the compass points one by one as I share principles drawn from each compass point that contribute to growing and staying in love:
- Clearly express your love, admiration, and awe for your partner into words, actions, and emotions. Many people fear giving their partner too many compliments or being too demonstrative. They starve the relationship of the emotional nutrition it needs. Get over your fear of going over the top, especially if you are a man. Show love without reservation.
- Find something every day that you can do to help your partner have a better day. Do an errand for them. Give a surprise gift. Take them on a spontaneous date. Even go with them to the grocery store so that you can enjoy each other's company.
- Encourage them to keep sharing their life story, drawing them out with interested questions. Express empathy for the pain they have known. Help them feel visible to you, that they really matter. This is one of the greatest gifts you'll ever give, and you can keep giving it throughout life.
- Don't let your sexual life become mechanical and routine. The whole body and the whole personality are part of one's sexual identity. Build your sensual pleasure bond through kisses when you meet. Hold hands in movies. Sometimes in bed, touch each other with no expectation of intercourse. Caress with the eyes to let your partner see how attractive they are to you, their soul included!
- Keep on developing your personality with the full use of your Self Compass. Assert yourself to challenge old habits that irritate your love-mate. Exert yourself to develop an interpersonal psychology that supports, rather than frustrates, romantic love.
- When you experience unfairness, bad treatment, or hurtful behavior from your partner, say so. But make sure you use diplomatic assertion, not explosive anger, pouting, and nagging. With diplomatic assertion you remain calm while describing what has hurt or offended you; then you wait patiently as your partner explains their perspective. This back and forth conversation is the heart pulse of keeping romantic love alive.
- Remember that your partner can never read your mind or guess your feelings correctly. Everything that you want your partner to know you must tell them, clearly and sincerely. Remove all traces of sarcasm (even sarcastic humor) or putdowns from your speech, so that your sincerity will always register as trustworthy and true.
- Do not on any account lapse into harsh language, name calling, cursing at your partner, or slamming them with verbal blows, as these rupture communication and sow seeds that can destroy intimacy.
- When you have purposefully or inadvertently hurt your partner, an apology is in order. Many people don't know how to apologize, but good lovers must learn to apologize often and well. Simply state where you overstepped your bounds or whatever you did wrong. Express regret. Say that you're going to work on this so that you can make improvements. "I'm sorry that I criticized your driving on the way to the movie. I'm sorry I used the word 'lunatic driver.' You are really a good driver and I had no right to make you self-conscious. I'm going to work on my criticalness so that I don't keep doing this." Now the incident can be forgiven.
- Take time to tell your partner about your life before them: your childhood, your family of origin dynamics, how you felt toward your mom and dad, how your family handled emotions and self-esteem for family members. All of this can be spread out over the years, but it provides vital information for your partner to understand you better, and even help to heal certain psychological wounds.
- Be careful about sharing too much about a past boyfriend or girlfriend, especially if it's positive. This can trigger jealousy in your partner, and understandably so. They want to feel they are number one in your heart with no existing rivals.
- Be transparent about current anxiety, depression, or anything else that can confuse your partner if they don't know about it. In a good romantic relationship, you both have freedom to express your real feelings, so that you can help each other understand and process them as part of healthy living.
- You want just the right amount of strength in a love relationship. Too much makes you an arrogant know-it-all who is emotionally aloof and even superior to your partner. Too little strength will trigger a helpless neediness where you overly rely on your partner to make you happy.
- Use your Strength Compass point to express confidence that the two of you can talk through any problem and overcome any obstacles. Show perseverance to keep conversations going on controversial topics, instead of insisting that you are always right.
- Use your personal power in the relationship to make sure your partner is treated fairly. Go out of your way to hear your partner's point of view and restate it to them to their satisfaction. That way they will trust that you aren't using your strength against them or to always get your way.
- Apply your strength to have spiritual faith in God to guide and bless your romantic love as opposed to thinking only you know what is best.