Written by: Gabriella DeLorenze, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
“We were together. I forget the rest.” Walt Whitman speaks of a connection so deep only his lover in front of him was present. Connection is a two-way street: understanding the days to take the lead and the days to follow. A great relationship knows the communication to determine which role to play at each moment and makes sure that the “pants” in your relationship fit both parties.
In a study by eHarmony, they state that only 64% of people are in “happy” relationships. I’m here to help you change that. We all deserve to feel loved and seen, especially by ourselves and our significant others. These next 6-9 tangible tips are promised to help you reach a deeper, fuller connection.
First, THE RULES:
You can only control yourself
You can ask, you can never expect
Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Always tell the truth
** For all my singles out there! Take these questions to your journal! They can help you identify what you’re looking for in a partner or simply find a deeper connection to yourself. Date yourself first!
1. Set the Rules First
Rules = Boundaries. Have them. Nurture them. As you shift, they can shift too.
There are times in your life that you just need to walk away, leave, scream, stop, etc…whether it’s a safe word or a gesture, with your partner, establish something that signifies this moment in time. We often forget that we can only control ourselves. Which also reads as: You have to ask for what you need. Each of us, based on our past, our traumas, the stories we have in our heads, approach situations and difficulties differently. Honor those times.
A friend of mine uses colors like a stoplight when moments begin to escalate in her relationship: Yellow means they’re on the verge, red means stop. Literally, everyone stop. No, you can’t finish what you’re saying, no you can’t touch me. STOP.
Trust each other enough to honor your rules. They will be the foundation of your relationship.
2. Know your Partner’s Love Language
Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages. Simply put, if you’re not speaking each other’s love language, you are speaking a different language to them entirely and they are not feeling loved.
Think of your love language as the language in which you receive love. How you communicate love needs to be based on your partner’s language! Simply put, this means that perhaps it’s going to feel like work to love your partner because it’s not something that resonates with you. Sometimes love requires a little bit of work! Don’t worry, like all things, it gets easier (and more consistent!) with practice.
The 5 Love Languages:
Physical Touch – “Hold my hand”
Words of Affirmation – “I love you”
Quality Time – “Put your phone down and come sit with me”
Acts of Service – “Unloading the dishwasher”
Gifts – “Roses on the way home”
Typically, everyone will have a top 2. You can find a quiz to identify your love language here!
Before going to the quiz and even if you know your love languages, I’d challenge you to sit down with your partner and discuss it with each other! Share what you think each other resonates with and reflect with each other what you see them doing and perhaps what would make it feel even a little bit better!
3. Step into your Partner’s World
If you don’t already know, you’re not going to love everything your partner is into. Be that hobbies, games, movies, podcasts, etc. It’s not to say do something you’re not comfortable doing; it’s asking you to occasionally, and when you feel fully supported, can you step into your partner’s world? The 3 yoga classes my fiancé came to with me made me feel 100% connected in such a different way. Reluctantly, I put on rollerblades, twice! And my fiancé told me that was one of his favorite memories of us together this past year. Will it feel scary? Yes. I believe part of any relationship is learning how to feel supported and support one another. Then, to learn the dance of when to switch roles.
Make a list of each of your favorite things, hobbies, games, movies, sports, etc. Nothing is too small and keep in mind, you’re going to be doing this together.
First, go through and scratch of anything you would never do (for me, it’s scary movies!)
Look at the remainder of your list, not that you need to plan it in (please plan if that feels supportive!) simply keep them in mind. Perhaps you don’t always say no to Rocky III, video games, horseback riding, EDM concerts…knowing they’re your partner’s favorite.
4. Intentionally, do Something Together
Intention is everything here – it’s making a choice to be with your partner. Our worlds have become filled with instant gratification, i.e. Our phones and social media. We have a hard time active listening, looking people in the eyes, and truly being fully present. This is your time to practice! Options to pick something you both like to do, make dinner together, read a book aloud, listen to a podcast with the intention of pausing and discussing, go for a hike or a walk…bonus if it doesn’t involve electronics and extra bonuses for eye contact!
Just like all electronics, the best thing you can do sometimes is hit the power button! This includes turning your phones off and being present with each other as well as shutting off the tv, the music, the excess noise every now and then. This can look like a vacation, an air BnB in the middle of nowhere, a staycation at a new hotel…this can also look like changing your sheets and getting takeout. Find time to relax and rest with each other WITH NO ELECTRONICS! Offer each other back rubs, light candles, hold hands…turn everything off except each other!
Set a date night. The frequency is up to you. Perhaps you plan quarterly check-ins with your partner. A time to relax, unwind and enjoy each other. A safe space to talk about love languages, your needs and wants, how your boundaries have/need to be shifted.
My fiancé and I have date night every Tuesday. We may go out to eat, however, we usually simply turn our phones off, eat a homemade meal together and play taboo (no timer, so much less stressful!) Regardless of what the activities are, do your best to remain present for the entire duration.
It doesn’t matter the activity nor the duration! Simply be like the Captain and be together and forget the rest.
5. The 5 Scale
My mother taught me about an arbitrary scale, specifically, the 5 scale. Everything in your life has an important level to you:
0-1 = I don’t really care/have a strong preference
2 = Oh, ah, just a little bit
3 = Oh, ah, a little bit more!
4 = I care a lot
5 = I am not budging on this
As you go about your days in any partnership, there are going to be times when you want to do something together or have things a certain way and your partner has a different agenda. Take a moment to talk about it either before it happens or in the moment. Whether it’s a movie or where to go first on your road trip – if you don’t tell your partner something is important to you, how would you expect them to know?
Put the 5 Scale in practice!
Close your eyes and bring to mind a few things that are important to you. Dietary preferences, activities, vacations, movies, house décor, etc. If your partner is a 5 and you’re a 2, let your partner have it (or “win” if that resonates.) Why put up a fuss or cause an argument when it’s not even that important to you, anyways?
6. Feel your Energy
Notice how you feel when you’re around each other. Notice your energy while you’re making love, while you’re changing in front of each other, arguing with a friend, crying, dancing, laughing, eating…notice how you feel when you’re with your partner. Are you shy? Ashamed? Open? Cold? Elsewhere? Present? Notice if you find yourself hiding, placing your hands over *here* or *there*, never turning *this way*(especially while naked…) In the show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel she has a full face of makeup back on before her husband even wakes up! Are you able to show up as yourself? Or do you find yourself hiding?
The next time you get into an argument or a tiff, notice your body and your mind energy (or reflect afterward):
Are you looking at each other in the eyes?
Are you closing off your heart space with folded arms or even sending black/dark feeling energy to your partner?
Creating stories/lies/responses in your head, or are you listening to what they’re saying?
Try, for as long as it feels only a little uncomfortable, to stay. Notice if you jump to defensive, critiquing, blaming, etc.
Creating consciousness around your energy is the first step to any healthy relationship, especially with yourself. This is how self-trust is built. Create the awareness first, the next step is learning how to create the pause, and finally, orchestrating your response.
7. Tap into Your Baseline Knowledge
When you fight/disagree/argue with your partner, remember your baseline knowledge: THEY LOVE YOU! And if they don’t love you (or you don’t want them to love you or anything in between), why are you arguing with them?
If you can constantly remember that the person in front of you loves you, I can bet your defensiveness, critiquing, blaming, etc., of your partner, will subside. If you can remember that you love them, that will help even more! The key is to never use your love against them. For example, “If you love me, you’ll do….”
Rather, use your love as a reminder to be gentle with one another. Use it as a reminder, in moments of defense, to help you feel supported. Yes, your partner will test you and push you and know all of the best buttons to push to drive you insane…and yet, you love them for exactly that!
Usually, what we love most about someone drives us the craziest. Identify what this is! Is your partner very emotional? Do they love to have 100’s of projects going on all the time? Are they over-thinkers? Identify what the biggest trait is and then, talk about it! Identify when it’s showing up and reframe it in your mind! Then, I promise, it won’t drive you so crazy!
8. Eye Contact
Eye contact is hot, no one can dispute that.
Take turns looking into each other’s eyes and saying what you love about your partner aloud. Try adding this practice into a weekly or daily routine! Take turns with who goes first and bonus if what you love about them stems from the present moment AKA what do you love about your partner right now, in this moment as you look at them?
9. Set the Expectations FIRST
Remember that one time you were out at a party having the time of your life and then, suddenly, out of the blue, your partner comes up to you and wants to leave…umm… “I’m in the middle of the best night of my life!” you think to yourself, “Can’t you see I’m in the middle of sharing that kayaking story for the 100th time…”
Next time, before you do anything, go anywhere or make any decisions, check-in with your partner. Setting expectations is like setting boundaries, sometimes they’re going to feel selfish and that’s okay! Sometimes they’re not going to line up with your partner’s expectations and neither of you are going to want to budge (it’s a “5” for both of us!) And that’s okay too! Talk about your expectations prior to going or doing anything so neither of you are shocked (which then usually causes us to get protective, which looks like getting defensive, angry, sad, and into your trauma conditioning…)
Talk to your partner TODAY about what your expectations for Valentine’s Day are.
Do you want to go out? Then check back in with #5. Is it a “5” for you to go out if your partner doesn’t want to?
Do you want to make dinner? Expect gifts? Chocolates? A movie?
Identify what would make this Valentine’s Day feel the most special for you! Voicing your expectations will help you feel loved and have your needs met when the time actually comes! It will also give you the opportunity to listen to your partner and find out what would make them feel special and loved so you can stop guessing and start doing!
Happy Valentine’s Day, Love Birds! Cheers to an equal partnership!
Gabriella DeLorenze, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Gabby is an intuitive embodiment coach for coaches. She is an athletic trainer with a MED in Biomechanics, a life coach and an E-RYT/YACEP. Gabby has over a decade of experience healing 500+ souls and 1000’s of hours teaching the mind-body connection through coaching, anatomy and movement/yoga rehabilitation. Through mindset coaching and facilitating healing your emotional and physical bodies, Gabby will teach you to melt your stress and anxieties so you can start living your healthiest and happiest life. Together, we will find tangible tools to heal old relationships, cultivate self-love and create the space for an abundant life.