How to Improve Your Current Relationship

By Joe Bavonese, PhD.
This article is presented in its entirety by Soul Support Counseling, West Hartford, CT. Used with permission from the Relationship Institute www.relationship-institute.com Call 860-223-2232 for information about relationship counseling.

Here is a great exercise for couples to try, which can greatly help enhance the intimacy in your relationship. Begin by reflecting on your current relationship. As you think about your relationship notice what thoughts, feelings and sensations arise within. Allow them to be there, without judging their nature in any way. Then put some attention on your current perceptions of your partner: good, bad or indifferent. Notice any blaming or limiting thoughts you may have about your partner, or what you perceive to be their shortcomings or character defects.

Now let us give you a splendid gift for your relationship. The gift starts with a recognition that unless we have chosen an abusive or chemically dependent partner, our perception of our partner is but a reflection of our own efforts at creating love. Our partner is the perfect mirror who gives us back what we give. When we find ourselves taking an inventory of our partner's defects, it is a sure sign that we are avoiding responsibility for what we have created and brought out in our partner. "But you don't understand! He really IS..." Alas, we cannot change our partner's character. But we can change the present and future quality of our relationship.

A powerful question to ask yourself is this: how would YOU act toward your partner if you thought they were the best partner for you in the whole world? That is, imagine that right now (whether you believe it or not!) the person you are dating or living with or married to is the complete and total embodiment of what you perceive of as the perfect mate for you: the perfect personality, the perfect body, the perfect spiritual practice, whatever would be absolutely perfect for you. Next, think about how you would act toward this perfect partner. Would you be attentive? Aloof? Thoughtful? Distant? Affectionate? Sarcastic? Romantic? Crabby? Seductive? Would you rush home and turn on the TV or the computer? What events would you plan? What cards would you write? Make a list of all the things you would do, and how often you would do them.

In this little exercise lies one of the secrets to an everlasting love. The qualities that sustain an alive, loving, healthy intimate relationship over time are not the big gifts or splashy anniversary or holiday presents. Rather, love is enlivened and sustained by the small, repeated kindnesses that cost little in money or time but a great deal in terms of effort and thoughtfulness. So you want to unleash the highest loving potential of your partner? It's simple: for thirty days, do with your current partner everything that you would do for your imaginary perfect partner. Do everything on your list, and do it as often as you would with your perfect partner. Don't tell your partner what you are doing until a month has passed. By doing this exercise, you will give your partner, as well as your relationship, the best gift they could receive. In most cases, your partner will spontaneously begin to be more loving and thoughtful in return.

Why does this work? On a metaphysical level, it works because love begets love, and the energy of your unselfish acts resonates in the loving space of your partner. Service is a great spiritual practice, and serving the world begins at home. It also works on a more mundane level: because many of us practice ego-centered love, we withhold and will not give any more until we feel we have received enough to compensate us for our efforts in advance. Consciously or not, we keep score. But when we visualize that we are with the perfect partner who treats us in as ideal a manner as we could imagine, who intuitively understands our every need, we spontaneously feel like giving, like being loving and thoughtful, simply because we feel grateful and even lucky to be with this person. This exactly mirrors how we feel when we first fall in love: our heart opens wide and being loving and thoughtful happens effortlessly. This gives us a wonderful vision of what is possible with this person we barely know.

The good news is that we can recover and revisit that vision by making a mindful, conscious effort to be loving and thoughtful. And that is why the visualization is actually a manifestation of the truth: the person who has chosen to be with us today, out of everyone else they could be with, is the best partner for us right now. We can honor and respect the fact that we have been brought together for a profound reason: this is the best partner for us to learn what we have to learn, as we are for them. Too often in intimate relationships we wait passively for our partner to act lovingly towards us, to give us a reason to act in a loving manner; or we wait for the presence of romantic feelings to give us a reason or permission to act in a loving manner. We remember in the beginning how we acted so lovingly when we felt such strong, intense feelings, and we wait for them to return. And if they don't, we assume we're incompatible, or that this is just not the right person for us. The truth, however, is that when the infatuation ends, the real relationship begins. And in the real relationship, true loving feelings are created by effortful loving acts, not the other way around. And when both people experience true loving feelings on a consistent basis, by consistently acting in a loving manner, there is no end to the spiral of love that can be created. So choose now to give your relationship a gift that truly keeps on giving every day of the year.




Used with permission from the Relationship Institute Joe Bavonese, PhD info@relationship-institute.com• www.relationship-institute.com


 
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