Ten Tips for a Strong Vibrant Relationship

So love is illogical, random and mysterious, yes? Not any more. We have
cracked the code. In the last few years social scientists and
therapists who practice emotionally focused therapy (or EFT) have made
a breakthrough. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, we have a
map to this passion, this fever that has baffled poets and lovers all
through human history.

Here is some of what we know:
   
1. We are born to need each other. The human brain is wired for close
connection with a few irreplaceable others. Accepting your need for
this special kind of emotional connection is not a sign of weakness,
but maturity and strength.

So don’t feel ashamed of this need for a safe loving bond.

2. In love relationships emotional hurt is a mixture of anger, sadness
but most of all, fear. Fear of being abandoned, and rejected. This hurt
registers in the same part of our brain as physical hurt. It is too
hard to push these feelings aside or ignore them. The first step to
dealing with injuries in love is to pinpoint the feeling and then to
send clear messages about this hurt to the one you love

So don’t just “ignore hurts” with the idea that they will up and go away.

3. The strongest among us are those who can reach for others. Love is
the best survival strategy of all. We all long for a safe haven love
relationship. Self-sufficiency is just another word for loneliness.

So risk reaching out and fighting for this safe haven. It is the best investment you’ll ever make.

4. Relationships can survive partners being very different. Even if you
think you are from different planets it’s okay. The one thing love
can’t survive is constant emotional disconnection. Conflict is
often less dangerous for your love than distance.

So after a fight, put it right. Repair it, heal the rift between you.

5.  There is no perfect lover. That is only in the movies. We shut
down when we think we have failed as lovers, when we have disappointed.
But our lover doesn’t want perfect performance. In the end he or she
needs our emotional presence.

So it’s okay to say “I don’t know what to do or say.” Just stay open and present.

6.  The fights that matter are never about sex, money or the kids.
That is just the ripple on the surface of the sea. They are about
someone protesting, often in an indirect way that is hard to
understand, the loss of safe emotional connection. The most terrible
trap in a love relationship is when one person really wants to say,
“Where are you? Do I matter to you?” but instead becomes critical and
demanding and the other person feels hopeless and inadequate and moves
away. The lovers then get caught in emotional starvation, stalemate and
more and more disconnection.

So do try to tell each other when you feel lonely and like you are
failing at being the perfect partner, especially if you are having lots
of fights about tasks. Look beneath the surface.   

7. We only have two ways to deal with the vulnerability of love when we
can’t connect. Get mad and move in fast to break down the other’s walls
or try not to care so much, and build a wall to protect yourself. Which
one do you do? You probably learned it very young.

So do try to listen to your longings and risk reaching to connect.
These other two options are traps that drive your lover away from you.

8. A loving relationship is the best recipe for a long and happy life
that exists. Holding your lover tight is the ultimate antidote to
stress. Cuddle hormones turn off stress hormones! 

So do take time to hold and canoodle. It’s better than taking your vitamins.

9. Lasting passion is entirely possible in love. Infatuation is just
the prelude. An attuned loving bond is the symphony. This kind of bond
creates what I call synchrony sex. Sex becomes a safe adventure.

So don’t give up when sex goes into a temporary slump. Talk about
it. Making love without candid conversation is like landing a 747
without help from the control tower!

10. The key moments in love are when partners open up and ask for what
they need and the other partner responds. This demands courage but this
is the moment of magic and transformation.

So take a deep breath and listen into your emotions. Let them tell you
what you need. Then tell your partner that they are so special to you
that you want to take a risk and tell them what you need from them
most. Keep it simple and honest.

When you have a blueprint for love you can build it. In EFT studies
seven out of ten couples repair their relationship. Love doesn’t have
to be a mystery anymore.  

Dr. Sue Johnson Written by Dr. Sue Johnson

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