It’s February: Let’s Talk Luv

In committed long-term relationships there are often two realities occurring simultaneously: in one, there exists negativity between partners and this negativity contains irritations, disappointments, hurt feelings, etc.; in the other, there exists love, care and positive regard between partners, and things that are said/done for each other that are kind and thoughtful.

I believe that when a relationship reaches the point where it feels largely negative, there is the likelihood that good still exists; we have simply lost sight of it because the bad has overshadowed the good, but it’s still there! When you work on improving a relationship, it is important to work on both realities, to fix what’s not working and to focus on what is.

On behalf of Love Month, this set of exercises is offered to help you work on the love part, to help you focus on and increase the positives that likely exist between you, at least at a minimum. If you work to make these a natural and more regular part of your relationship, you will see an improvement in your connection without ever setting foot in a therapist/coach’s office. Simply focusing on the positive will make a difference in your relationship. The negativity still needs to be addressed and often with the help of a coach or therapist, but having fortified your relationship by addressing the positives, what’s working, makes that work easier.

 “I Love You”

Did you hear the joke about the mid-Western farmer who loved his wife so much he almost told her? You might laugh, but it’s amazing how often I hear someone say something like, “She knows I love her, I don’t need to say it (for goodness sake)!” Or, “He knows I love him…look at all I do around here”.

While actions do speak louder than words, we still need to hear the words. If you haven’t said these three words in awhile, maybe you’d feel more comfortable saying them in writing, in a text, or over the phone when you’re apart. Work your way up to saying it often, face-to-face, with eye-contact and a depth of feeling.

 Loving Eye Contact

Most of us don’t get the power that we have over our partner in just the way we look at them with our eyes. We don’t often make eye contact, or when we do it’s quick and unintentional. In either case, we miss a golden opportunity to have a non-verbal connection, which can be more powerful than a physical or verbal connection.

Make a point to make eye contact with your partner when having a meal together, when talking, or when saying goodnight just before falling asleep.

Look into your partner’s eyes, soften the muscles around your eyes, and send a nonverbal message that says, “I love you.” Try holding a gaze for longer periods of time and notice the waves of thought and emotion that flow through you. This is a very powerful yet simple way to deepen the connection with your partner.

The 5:1 Principle

Relationship researcher, John Gottman says that successful couples live by the 5:1 Principle: there are five positive interactions to every one negative interaction between them. If they say or do something hurtful towards their partner, to re-create a balance of harmony, successful couples seem to know that the negative action needs to be met with five positive actions.  Start noticing the balance of negative to positive interactions in your relationship and strive to re-create a healthier balance.  Oh, and unsuccessful partners also have the 5:1 Principle…just the opposite of those successful couples: 5 negatives to 1 positive.


Bonnie Brinkman is an Imago Relationship Coach

Her next workshop for couples is February 10-12

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