Have the recent bizarre years extinguished your energy for passion and romance? You wouldn’t be the only one to have found yourself suffering from a bad case of “flat-mate syndrome”. Maybe you’re even struggling to make conversation with the person you fell head-over-heels with many moons ago or getting down and flirty together is a distant memory.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect cue to invigorate your relationship with these strategies for the whole year to get that head-over-heels feeling back in your relationship. Don't just leave it at one day.
1. Complete yourself first
Check that you are head-over-heels in love with yourself first. Are you relying on your partner to “complete you” with fancy displays of adoration? Whilst many of us can be a total sucker for flowers and any form of romance any day of the week, a healthy contribution to the relationship is founded on a healthy sense of self first.
Both partners need to be resilient and open to constructive “feedback” from each other in a non-blaming way to learn and grow together. Only then can you enjoy a flourishing and dynamic relationship featuring someone wonderfully matched to the best version of you!
2. A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles
Seeking a divine miracle to transform your relationship? It is so easy to fall prey to a mindset that focuses on criticism and even contempt. Experiment with the gift of gratitude either together or for your partner by writing a list of your 20 favourite things you have loved about the other, then read them out loud. Your praise can be about anything from their appearance and achievements to their personality, hobbies or quirks. Including "intrinsic" words of affirmation benefits couples far more than just "extrinsic" praise (appearance). Be honest and glow with admiration for each other.
3. Go soul-gazing
Forget the cheesy stargazing and go “soul-gazing”. Face each other in a seated position. Keep your knees close to touching and hold eye contact for 5 minutes. Avoid talking, burping, gas emissions and welcome the awkwardness. Background music is optional. Once you've perfected this, experiment with other seated positions or lying down. Extended eye contact (with someone that you have positive feelings toward) is scientifically proven to increase feelings of connection and intimacy.
4. Get out of the comfort of your discomfort
Neuroscience reveals that we stay captive to unhelpful routine behaviours purely because it is easier to keep doing them versus risk something new. Now is the time to throw comfort zones out the window! Plan something completely novel to reinvigorate your routine, not just this week but at least once every month. Here are some examples: acting classes, soap carving, interpretive dancing, geocaching, square-dancing, basket weaving, noodling (either the musical or fishing type), nude model painting or pottery to the Ghost movie soundtrack? Life is too short to stay in the comfort of the lacklustre discomfort.
5. Love Coupons
This is where you commit to performing self-sacrificing acts for your beloved you might not necessarily enjoy. You write, “This coupon entitles the holder to ……(your partner’s choice), or one-foot rub, one evening in with….., a meal cooked for you, a night out with the lads/gals, King/Queen of the remote control, breakfast in bed, vacuum your car. These little things mean so much. They’re redeemable for any time until next Valentine’s Day, or you can add fine print with a shorter expiry date for those you’re hoping to get out of.
6. Be selfless to allow a selfish session
Take turns granting each other an intimate selfish session! When it is your turn, dictate to your partner your desires. It is your time, moment to moment chosen by you to be pleasured by your partner. Respect each other's boundaries but make it your mission to relish in and please each other.
7. Pump someone else’s heart
It is a sobering thought to imagine how many cannot celebrate Valentine’s Day as they’re fighting for their lives. No one has been untouched by a sudden accident or cancer in some shape or form. Why not donate some of your healthy platelets to those fighting the battle or a patient who may need it for surgery. Importantly, your brain will light up with happiness by spreading the love beyond your relationship, creating a ripple effect from the gift of your health and well-being!
Joanne Wilson is the facilitator of the Relationship Rejuvenator online mini-courses and author of Renovate Your Relationship – All The DIY Tools For Your Most Important Project ($29.99). Find out more at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
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Ever bought into some Disney/Hollywood-inspired beliefs about relationships that have had you come crashing down? It is love month featuring Valentine’s Day. In partnership with my love feature in Woman’s Day this week, I step you through myths about relationships that need busting!
As a marriage therapist, I notice a lot of unhelpful idealisms. When these expectations aren't met, it can cause a lot of relationship distress resulting in way too many Tim Tams, wine or whatever the choice of quick fix.
Love is about finding someone who completes the missing half of you. As much as Tom Cruise declared his love with "You complete me” in Jerry Maguire, we need to get this sorted. Can we update this to “You complement me”?
Not as dramatic I know, however we need a healthy level of interdependence and dependence instead. This means you can enjoy your own pursuits, and maintain your own identity. This is the fabulous person you were when you first hooked in your spouse.
Interdependence is a healthy balance of enjoying each other's company and relying on each other. We need to be able to enjoy someone who compliments us when the chips are down. For example, when unwell, lost your job, or any of life “hits” that overwhelm us. That is the most beautiful part of a relationship where you can enjoy your partner to help support you…. not complete you.
It is my job to be the best version of me. It is my responsibility to stay healthy and be as close to, or even better than the person my partner met. I strongly encourage couples to make sure that they don't assume that their partner is going to be their self-esteem and continually tell them how amazing they are for the duration of the relationship. Whilst words of affirmation are a lovely form of love language, it is not your partner’s role to be your self-esteem booster. This is your responsibility.
Depending on when you read this you’ve got approximately three days to get your act together for Valentine’s Day.
If you were born without a romantic bone in your body, you’re usually in strife. If you’re single, it could all be, well be rather sucky. If you’re a florist, chocolatier, restaurateur or in retail, you’re likely looking forward to that well earnt boost!
As for me, meh! I could take it or leave this commercialised day of forced displays of love. I’d rather like to think it’s more of a spontaneous and consistent effort throughout the year.
Valentine’s Day intertwines beautifully with my current “Intimacy Inhibitors” series for those in a relationship. Before I drop the one main cause that inhibits intimacy and being ‘naked to the soul’ next week, today I’m addressing apathy.
Apathy is what allows your bike to get rusty, your gutters to overflow and your waistline to spill over your jeans. Apathy can also happen to your relationship if you’re not consistently attending to it. Life challenges will understandably get in the way sometimes, however you’re one true love should be at the forefront of your maintenance list on top of your car service, fuel refill, eyebrow waxing and lawns.
I mentioned last week, the importance of feeling safe and secure when we can count on turning to our loved ones for support, love and connection. It’s so easy however to snag that good-looking, hot hunk or babe you want to spend the rest of your life with, then allow work, your own interests, friends, family and habits to take precedence.
Apathy isn’t just a feeling, it’s an attitude that could be described as detachment, dispassion and indifference. If you’re stuck in this zone in life, seek an outside professional perspective for living life to the fullest. If your apathy is only toward your relationship, also time to get some strategies from the experts!
If you’re like me and prefer not to profess your undying love on just this one day, why not make this week a new chapter in your life to commit for on-going repair and maintenance. You can head to my website for free resources if you’re stuck for date ideas, ways to communicate and what to say. There’s even a list of romantic ideas for each day of the month and be gone with apathy!
Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, workshop facilitator and guest speaker. Don’t miss more on the Morning Wakeup on radio Salt 106.5 in every Friday from 6am and in her “Is This Love” Podcast, download your FREE relationship resources at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
Happy Valentine’s Day for Thursday – yawn. I’m not a fan of the commercialised celebration of love so I’m turning the page now. Oh, whoops, I’m the relationships therapist so I’ll write this first!
Before I start, a shout out in Beyonce’ style to all the single ladies, all the single ladies, all the single ladies…. Put your hands up. You too fellas. Please don’t wait for someone else to make you feel special this Valentine’s Day. Make yourself feel fabulous and enjoy Thursday with self-indulgence. Buy yourself a treat, wear something remarkable, express your personal style and do whatever makes you happy to celebrate you.
This is also a great reminder for all cosy couples to ensure you’re not relying on your partner to “complete you” and your insecurities with fancy displays of love. I’m a total sucker for flowers and any form romance any day of the week however a healthy contribution to the relationship is founded on a healthy sense of self first. Only then can you enjoy a flourishing and dynamic relationship featuring someone wonderfully matched to the best version of you!
If you’re over the cliché dinner and flowers concept for Valentine’s Day but you’re totally into the notion to profess your love to someone who rocks your world, enjoy my novel ideas to help make it different and memorable:
Brave dining: I’m talking intestines, devilled duck heart, brains and lamb’s heart skewers with chargrilled capsicum. I’m not sure where you’ll find such cuisine here on the coast so this might be a home cooked festival. Wash it all down with some oyster shots and you’ll enjoy the benefit of aphrodisiacs and be packed full of organ meat nutrients, including vitamin B12, folate, iron and protein.
Indoor garden: Who doesn’t like flowers and plants to enhance your love pad? Who allows time to manicure the perfect garden? Not me. Create your own miniature indoor garden. You can choose your design from a Japanese Zen garden to a prickly Cactus display. It is compact, super easy to maintain and it will be your very own love garden. You bring home all the bits, then both dig around in the pot and make it together to admire for years to come.
Classic theme: I’m thinking to ditch the idea of catching up on Married at First Sight this week and watch a classic old movie with my beloved. We could munch on a bowl of classic salty popcorn with a soft drink with all the sugar in it. This can be followed up by a classic magnum (minus all the new-age boysenberry flavours - just plain chocolate and vanilla). How about the Notebook, Breathless, Gone with the Wind, It Happened One Night or Pretty Woman?
A Treasure Hunt: This requires a bit of work but who knows what the investment of time will bring! You hide clues and they can lead to either gifts, treats or special places of meaning to both of you. Maybe it’s where you had a first kiss, first declaration of love, first meal or a picture representing it.
Hike: Got Thursday off? Conquer the Glasshouse Mountains, Mt Pomona or Mt Coolum together. There are so many more other trails you could explore even before you head to work or for an afterward wind-down.
Love Coupons: This is where you commit to performing self-sacrificing acts for your beloved you might not necessarily enjoy. You write, “This coupon entitles the holder to ……one foot rub, one evening in without….., a meal cooked for you…….night out with the lads…. Queen of the remote control……breakfast in bed…. vacuum your car. These little things mean so much. They’re redeemable for any time over the next year or you can add fine print and a shorter expiry date for those you’re hoping to get out of.
Surprise the singles: Send your single buddies a nice card or simply text them to let them know what a top bloke or chic they are and why.
Give blood together: It’s a sobering thought to imagine how many cannot celebrate Valentine’s Day as they’re fighting for their lives. No-one has been untouched by cancer in some shape or form so why not donate some of your healthy platelets to those fighting the battle or a patient who may need it for surgery. Importantly, you’re spreading the love beyond your relationship and there are limitless ideas for those.
Now I’m turning the page!
Joanne Wilson is the weekly columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily Weekend magazine, weekly radio guest, professional relationship counsellor and certified clinical neuropsychotherapy practitioner of TheConfidante Counselling. She is based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland - Australia. You can contact her at: www.theconfidantecounselling.com or email HERE.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised. Approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focussed Therapy and Emotionally Focussed Therapy may be incorporated.
Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples online around the world and servicing areas for face to face sessions including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.