HABIT #1 - GIVE EACH OTHER PLEASURE
Your goal in the relationship is to give each other pleasure, not to cause pain. Simple, isn't it? However... for just a single day, become consciously aware of everything you do, by asking yourself the question, "Is what I'm about to do or say going to cause my partner pain or pleasure?"
To help you, each of you should make two lists: one for all the things your partner does that hurt you, and another for all that you'd like your partner to do to give you pleasure. Swap lists, and now you know exactly what to do and what not to do. No more guessing!
HABIT #2 - CREATE LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP RITUALS
We fall in love through rituals of connection and intimacy such as romantic dinners, long conversations, riding bicycles or going for walks, exchanging gifts, talking every night on the telephone...
When we fall in love our relationship becomes the center point of our life, with anything else becoming secondary. Over time, when the relationship becomes more settled (particularly after we have children), this process reverses. The children, our work, our hobbies, our friends - take the center stage and the relationship being relegated to the background tending only to receive our attention in times of crisis.
The remedy to routine (the main cause of dull relationships) is connection and intimacy rituals. For example, every Saturday evening, as a changeover from the working week into the weekend, take two hours together when you put a "do not disturb" sign on your busy life. No phones, no answered doors, no e-mails, no TV, nothing... Just the two of you and your relationship. Do what you will with the time, however it must be an investment in your relationship.
HABIT #3 - CREATE A SAFE SPACE FOR OPEN AND HONEST SHARING
Create a sense of safety and acceptance that allows each of you to express your feelings, problems, expectations and disappointments. One of our connection rituals is a process called "Clearing" that creates this atmosphere of safety and acceptance.
EVERY NIGHT before we go to sleep, we ask each other "What DID NOT work for you today?" We give each other a chance to share about all the things that went "wrong" during the day (whether connected to the relationship or not). If there are any solutions that we can mutually agree upon to assist with improvements for the future, we raise the issue.
When both of us are complete, we initiate a second round, in which we ask each other "What DID work for you today?" This is our opportunity to share about all the goodness that we've experienced during the day, as well as acknowledge each other (and others) for the support and love we've received.
HABIT #4 - WORK TOGETHER TO RESOLVE CONFLICT AND CRISIS
The problem with the way most couples argue is that they attempt to find solutions before allowing each other the chance to say what they need to say. The "Council" process ensures that before you engage in solution talk, each one of you feels you have been fully heard. Here's how it can be made to work in the practice:
When speaking, you should focus on speaking from your heart (emotional, spontaneous, instinctive as opposed to mental).
When listening, you are encouraged to listen from your heart (i.e. from acceptance and compassion).
Only after each person has been fully "heard," (in case it is still necessary) continue through to the process of problem solving.
HABIT #5 - TURN TOWARD EACH OTHER, RATHER THAN AWAY
When you pass your lover during the course of a day, do you stop and rub their shoulder, give them a kiss on the cheek, and whisper something nice in their ear - or do you just walk on by?
This is the meaning of "turning toward" as opposed to "turning away." Turning toward each other means making each other your number one priority.
Make sure to find ways to be physically and emotionally close to each other, such as doing things together that you both enjoy. Take walks together, drink coffee together after dinner, listen to music together...
HABIT #6 - SCHEDULE TIME FOR LOVE
Want to improve your sex life? Here's one of the most profound pieces of advice I can give you: SCHEDULE IT! Doesn't sound very romantic, I know. But it works.
Waiting for that "magic moment" when you're both "in the mood" may be romantic, but it's not always practical. We all have had times when we were waiting and waiting and... waiting.
Plan in the morning to make love that night. Call each other all day long with reminders, ideas and seductive suggestions. By the time evening rolls around you'll both feel like you've engaged in foreplay all day long - and you'll be ready for an exciting night!
HABIT #7 - CREATE MEANING IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Think about it, besides having fun, what else would you like to do together in the coming 40 years?
We all need meaning in our lives. You will enrich your relationship by sharing meaningful experiences with each other. The ultimate in meaning is to share a common philosophy of life and life purpose. This is why couples who choose a path of personal-growth or spirituality together, have great source of meaning in their lives.
When you practice these seven habits intentionally and consistently, you'll re-create every day a loving, fulfilling and long-lasting relationship. It's easy - give it a try...