Didn’t have the Valentine’s Day you hoped for? Here’s 3 Rules for not making it worse.
Post Valentine’s Day can sometimes be a rocky relational transition. When we don’t feel seen or appreciated in the ways we hoped for, it is easy to slip into behaviors that silently undermine all the heartfelt efforts that we have worked at for so long. So here are a few practices that have helped me time and again to not make things worse when I was dealing with disappointment.
- Evolve your thinking
Your thoughts are the blue print for your life and control your relationship in many ways we don’t recognize. Be confident that your partner knows what you are thinking, even when you don’t say it. We often take ourselves and our relationships for granted, or conversely, take it all too seriously. Our negative thoughts unwittingly hold our relationships hostage giving a lot of power to our unspoken doubts. Become mindful of your thinking and aspire towards a little levity with your partner. A shared laugh, is the quickest way back to each other’s side, but note, this does not include sarcasm, which is humor that often cuts down the connection. Be deliberate about not making things worse in your own mind and lean heavily towards your own innate capacity for kindness. The most critical commitment we can make to love, is to cultivate thoughts that bring us closer to the relationship we want and vigilantly weed out the ones that don’t.
- Think of love as a container
One thing that really helped me get out of the seemingly endless tug of war between how I perceived my needs vs my partners and who was getting more of them, was when I learned about the idea of considering our relationship almost like a third person. When you begin to imagine your relationship as a living and breathing container of love that has needs of its own, there is this weird magic that takes over. By taking care of the relationship needs, both your own and your partner’s needs are held and balanced. Both partners need to take up the practice of focusing on what the container that holds you both needs to be sustained, but it is remarkable how this refocusing takes the conflict out of most every decision. When you start choosing for love instead of either person, the best choice also becomes the clearest.
- Keep two feet in
I have vivid memories of the years I spent before I started thinking of the needs of my relationship and constantly mired in the feelings of despair over not having my own needs met. My doubts were the leader and in some kind of weird solace way, I kept one foot out of an invisible door. What I didn’t understand at the time is that loving relationships can only move forward when both people have two feet in. When we give half or more of our attention to an imaginary exit strategy, we don’t ever really get to see what our relationship can become. In fact, it is an entirely different relationship that grows when both partners are fully engaged and really committed to making their promises work. The sad thing is that you can’t even really imagine the relationship you are missing when you are holding an invisible door ajar with one foot.
It takes a long time and a lot of practice to get good at loving someone. Whether you practice these mindful intentions with your loved one or a close friend whom you are experiencing disappointment with, attention to not making it worse goes a long way. But the happy truth is that each step leads you to the next one. If you find yourself in conflict with your intimate partner, intimate moments begets more intimate moments. Dozens of studies support the strong correlation between relationships that work and increased frequency of sex. There is nothing like sexual intimacy to act as a glue to get you through all of the messes that inevitably emerge when you love someone over time. Healthy sex is like pouring cement into a foundation—it makes everything more sustainable.