1. Romantic Love
• Hope “Unconscious couple-hood/reactivity”
• May last 2 hours or 2 years
2. Power Struggle
• Conflict “Conflict is growth and healing trying to happen”
• A new decision to see couple-hood as a growth and healing journey
• There seems to be a demand to “grow up”
4. Doing the work
• Effective communication
• Active listening “Consciousness starting to happen”
• Openness and honesty
• Validate each other
• Empathy with each other
• Awareness of self and your partner
• The journey itself is very exciting
“Consciousness happening” “Being” “Intentional”
6. Real Love
• Joyful relaxation
• Full Aliveness
• Accepted for who you are
A love relationship with these stages can spiral around repeating the stages of love and the experience of rupture, repair and connection. You enter through the doorway of romantic love, hit the power struggle, make the choice to re-commit, do the work, awaken to yourself and each other, and experience real love which throws you back into romantic love.
Adapted from Imago Relationship Therapy
At Love Life Matters we can support you through the difficult stages with unique dialogue processes.
2. WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL LOVED BY YOUR PARTNER?
• Words of Affirmation:
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.
• Quality Time:
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.
• Receiving Gifts:
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.
• Acts of Service:
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.
• Physical Touch:
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.
Understand your love language
Remember – this description just scratches the surface of each love language. There’s much more to help you really understand the love languages of you and your partner in Dr. Chapman’s book. Also you can do an online quiz to determine your primary Love Language
Knowing how you prefer to be loved is important for your relationship. It’s romantic to think your partner should just know how to love you—but it’s also a bit unrealistic, and can even be unfair to expect something from your partner if you’re not willing to tell him/her how you prefer to be loved and appreciated in your relationship.
Share your love language with your partner
Wouldn’t it be great to know your partner’s love language, too? Do you think he or she would be willing to take the survey soon and share their results with you? If yes – hurray! Go do that soon. If no – that’s not a problem. Your relationship can still benefit if you share your new love language insights with your partner in the right way.
Most of the time our partners want what’s best for you…and for your relationship. It’s important to let your partner know your love language in a way that doesn’t belittle them or make them run for the hills because they’re afraid of another fight. Consider communicating this way:
“Honey, I just learned some really neat things about myself and how I feel loved. I love it so much when you love me by [a specific, real way your partner loves you in your love language]. I’d love to return the favour and love you in a way that you really appreciate. Would you be willing to take the same survey I did? I think we’d both learn something that would benefit our relationship…” And then drop it. Do nothing that he or she would consider forcing their hand or backing them into a corner. You did your part to share; that’s your responsibility. Now, figure out how you can love your partner in a way they understand, whether or not they take the survey.
Love your partner so he/she understands
If your partner took the survey and shared their results with you, this next part is easy. Intentionally find ways to speak this love language consistently for the next five weeks. Your relationship is worth it!
If your partner didn’t take the survey, ask yourself a few questions to get your best guess at what love language he/she speaks best:
• How does your partner normally try to love you? The love shown to you is probably how your partner wants to be loved…
• What does your partner ask of you most often? Help around the house? More physical intimacy? Time together? The love they’re asking for most often is probably how they want to be loved…
• What aggravates/frustrates/saddens your partner the most in your relationship when it’s missing? The love he or she is missing probably indicates how he or she wants to be loved…
When you think you have a handle on your partner’s love language, start speaking it! And do it whether or not your partner reciprocates love back to you or understands what you’re doing. Change can take time, so give them a chance to get used to the “new” you.
At Love Life Matters we can help both of you to understand your love Language and share it with your partner.
3. PREVENTING YOUR MARRIAGE/RELATIONSHIP FROM BREAKUP?
Why is marriage so tough at times? Why do some lifelong relationships click, while others just tick away like a time bomb? And how can you prevent a marriage from going bad—or rescue one that already has?
After years of research, we can answer these questions. In fact, we are now able to predict whether a couple will stay happily together after listening for as little as three hours to a conflict conversation and other interactions in our Love Lab. Our accuracy rate averages 91 percent. Gay and lesbian relationships operate on essentially the same principles as heterosexual relationships, according to our research.
But the most rewarding findings are the seven principles that prevent a marriage from breaking up, even for those couples we tested in the lab who seemed headed for divorce.
1. Enhance your love map
Emotionally intelligent couples are intimately familiar with each other’s world. They have a richly detailed love map—they know the major events in each other’s history, and they keep updating their information as their spouse’s world changes. He could tell you how she’s feeling about her boss. She knows that he fears being too much like his father and considers himself a “free spirit.” They know each other’s goals, worries, and hopes.
2. Nurture fondness and admiration
Fondness and admiration are two of the most crucial elements in a long-lasting romance. Without the belief that your spouse is worthy of honour and respect, where is the basis for a rewarding relationship? By reminding yourself of your spouse’s positive qualities¬—even as you grapple with each other’s flaws—and expressing out loud your fondness and admiration, you can prevent a happy marriage from deteriorating.
3. Turn toward each other
In marriage people periodically make “bids” for their partner’s attention, affection, humour, or support. People either turn toward one another after these bids or they turn away. Turning toward is the basis of emotional connection, romance, passion, and a good sex life.
4. Let your partner influence you
The happiest, most stable marriages are those in which the husband treats his wife with respect and does not resist power sharing and decision making with her. When the couple disagrees, these husbands actively search for common ground rather than insisting on getting their way. It’s just as important for wives to treat their husbands with honour and respect. But our data indicate that the vast majority of wives—even in unstable marriages—already do that. Too often men do not return the favour.
5. Solve your solvable problems
Start with good manners when tackling your solvable problems:
• Step 1.
Use a softened start-up: Complain but don’t criticize or attack your spouse. State your feelings without blame, and express a positive need (what you want, not what you don’t want). Make statements that start with “I” instead of “you.” Describe what is happening; don’t evaluate or judge. Be clear. Be polite. Be appreciative. Don’t store things up.
• Step 2.
Learn to make and receive repair attempts: De-escalate the tension and pull out of a downward cycle of negativity by asking for a break, sharing what you are feeling, apologizing, or expressing appreciation.
• Step 3.
Soothe yourself and each other: Conflict discussions can lead to “flooding.” When this occurs, you feel overwhelmed both emotionally and physically, and you are too agitated to really hear what your spouse is saying. Take a break to soothe and distract yourself, and learn techniques to soothe your spouse.
• Step 4.
Compromise: Here’s an exercise to try. Decide together on a solvable problem to tackle. Then separately draw two circles—a smaller one inside a larger one. In the inner circle list aspects of the problem you can’t give in on. In the outer circle, list the aspects you can compromise about. Try to make the outer circle as large as possible and your inner circle as small as possible. Then come back and look for common bases for agreement.
6. Overcome gridlock
Many perpetual conflicts that are gridlocked have an existential base of unexpressed dreams behind each person’s stubborn position. In happy marriages, partners incorporate each other’s goals into their concept of what their marriage is about. These goals can be as concrete as wanting to live in a certain kind of house or intangible, such as wanting to view life as a grand adventure. The bottom line in getting past gridlock is not necessarily to become a part of each other’s dreams but to honour these dreams.
7. Create shared meaning
Marriage can have an intentional sense of shared purpose, meaning, family values, and cultural legacy that forms a shared inner life. Each couple and each family creates its own micro-culture with customs (like Sunday dinner out), rituals (like a champagne toast after the birth of a baby), and myths—the stories the couple tells themselves that explain their marriage. This culture incorporates both of their dreams, and it is flexible enough to change as husband and wife grow and develop. When a marriage has this shared sense of meaning, conflict is less intense and perpetual problems are unlikely to lead to gridlock.
At Love Life Matters we can help you to release the blockages that stop both of you from following the 7 Principles.
From “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman and Nan Silver
4. DEEPENING YOUR RELATIONAL INTIMACY
• Make your connection the priority.
• Cultivate intimacy with all that you are.
• Allow everything to serve your healing, awakening and relational deepening.
• Do not allow your conditioning to make your choices.
• Don’t confuse accepting your partner with accepting what he or she does.
• Don’t let what is working in your relationship obscure what isn’t.
• Share what is most difficult to communicate.
• Do not call the whole relationship into question when you are fighting or upset with your partner.
• Remember that there is no such thing as negative emotion.
• Trust your partner with your mistrust.
• Do not confuse fusion with intimacy.
• Do whatever it takes to de-numb.
• Choose to see from where in yourself a particular choice is emerging.
• Gaze at your partner with fresh eyes.
• Don’t tolerate disrespect.
• When your mind is overactive, shift your attention from thinking to feeling.
• Give generously but don’t over-give.
• Treat your relationship as a sacred adventure.
• Don’t confuse your inner critic with your conscience.
• Relate to your reactivity rather than from it.
• Neither force nor avoid commitment.
• Remember that anger and love can coexist.
• Be vulnerable, finding a source of strength in your vulnerability.
• Don’t delay saying you’re sorry.
• Remember that healthy challenge is not an attack, even when it is fiery.
• Deepen your emotional literacy.
• Don’t let your strengths camouflage your weaknesses.
• Take conflict as an opportunity to grow, including when you don’t want to.
• Remember that emotion and rationality work best when they work together.
• Remember that the more intimate we are with our pain, the less we suffer.
• Do not take your partner for granted.
• Breathe integrity into all that you do.
• Don’t let your desire for harmony obstruct the stands you need to take.
• Embrace and protect the child in you without identifying with him or her.
• Doubt your doubt.
• Remember that without attachment, there would be no compassion.
• Instead of collapsing your boundaries to include your partner, expand them to include her or him.
• Cease identifying with your inner critic.
• If you’re on eggshells with your partner, get off them.
• Practice with the little blows, so that when the big blows come, they don’t blow you away.
• Don’t keep your shadow in the dark.
• Remember that in a truly intimate relationship, there is no Plan B, no bypassing of feeling, no indulgence in disconnection.
• Allow love and awareness to function as one.
• Communicate with your partner with respect, even when you are angry at him or her.
• Soften without losing your spine or dignity.
• Listen until there is no self-conscious centre of hearing, but only listening.
• Don’t let your shame mutate into aggression(whether aimed at your partner or at yourself)
• Turn toward your pain and difficulty, step by conscious step.
• Instead of using sex to generate connection, let sex be an expression of already-present, already-established connection.
• Do not get negative about your negativity.
• When you fight, do so cleanly and wit heart, until you are fighting for the relationship.
• Remember that compassion that obstructs our capacity to confront is not really compassion, but only neurotic tolerance.
• Do not shame your partner.
• Stop eroticising your wounds and distress.
• Remember that our past remains present until we bring our awakened presence and compassion into it.
• Keep working on yourself.
• Allow your relationship with your partner to deepen your relationship with all that is.
• Do not allow your anger to turn into aggression or depression.
• Look with compassion upon whatever is unhealed in you and your partner.
• Take charge of your charge.
• Do not allow your spirituality to distance you from your humanity.
• When you lose touch with your partner, re-establish it as soon as possible.
• Do not let resentment and guilt to take root.
• Give yourself without giving yourself away.
• Remember that the deeper you dive, the less you will mind upsetting waves.
• Release sex-and everything else-from the obligation to make you feel better.
• Let your mortality be a reminder to truly cherish your partner, remembering that avoiding death deadens us.
• Practice being grateful when you least feel like doing so.
• Open even when it hurts to open. Keep making your connection the priority.
• Put no limit on how deep your relationship can go.
At Love Life Matters we understand that deepening your relational intimacy can be challenging and also very rewarding. We can support you to face your fears and go deeper.
From “Transformation through Intimacy”- The Journey towards Awakened Monogamy” by Robert Augustus Masters, PHD