Take it all in as Will and Edrina Sinclair, co-authers of Dirty Socks and Banana Bread – Real Life Relationship Advice That Actually Works share 7 rituals in this guest post that will help you grow your love relationship stronger.
You can listen to our entire June 28, 2013 CJOB radio interview here as a podcast: http://www.cjob.com/Shows/Episodes.aspx?PID=2553
Every couple’s love relationship has its quirks, a life of its own that sets it apart from every other relationship. No matter how similar it may seem to another couple, it’s unique, just like you.
That uniqueness means there’s no standard, one-size-fits-all, advice to keep your love relationship strong, upbeat, in-tune, and life-long. As a couple, your job is to discover all those little points that make your relationship unique and in the process taylor any advice you get to your situation. Some of those points will be about your actual relationship. Some of them will be about yourselves as individuals.
To help you along that exciting journey of discovery we have put together 7 rituals that have helped us enjoy twenty-six years together.
Eating, bathing, sleeping, reading and the like, are all physical rituals you have incorporated into your daily routine toward a balanced life. The rituals we are sharing with you are born from the mind, so you can practice them anywhere at almost any time.
We literally failed our way to success and learned valuable lessons along the way.
We have brought our relationship to the point where the things we enjoy doing the most are the things we do together.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a hetro-sexual, bi-sexual, trans-sexual, or homo-sexual. A relationship is a relationship. A heart is a heart. All we ask is that you’re both fully committed to making your relationship work.
So, here they are.
1. Be Real Be Honest
As a guy, I used to hide from Edrina the fact that I had what I class as a perverted and twisted sexual past. I used to tour as a musician in bands and lived the life that rock music on the road supplied. She was a virgin (yes, I know, unheard of these days) when we got married. I definitely wasn’t. Holding back the truth from Edrina caused us to almost live a lie for the first intimate year of our life together.
I tried to make Edrina more like I was, sexually, rather than allowing her to be herself and it stopped us from learning the true beauty of sex. I thought I would find rejection if I admitted my past to her. Instead, I found love and acceptance and a partner who was willing to listen. Which leads us to our second ritual…
2. Make Your Relationship A Safe Place
It is vital to the survival of your relationship that you create a safe place for both you and your partner to share. At the beginning of our relationship, Will expressed his anger in ways that didn’t make me feel comfortable to share some of the most intimate things about myself or our relationship.
The result was that I stuffed everything except the good stuff. Will wanted me to share but didn’t create the environment that made it easy for me to do so. So, I stuffed, and our relationship got worse.
When he finally got counselling for his anger and was willing to deal with the childhood abuse from his mother that caused the anger, he began to realize that just as his counsellor provided a safe environment for him to be himself and share, it was also needed in our relationship. Having a safe place with no lash backs or resentments fosters great communication when you know issues will be worked on.
At one point, because we were beginning to foster safe, intimate sharing in our relationship, I was able to admit to Will that because of his anger I was losing love for him and “fell in love” with someone else, even though I hadn’t approached that other person and never would. He told me to write a letter to that person that I would never send. I did and then I burned it. We moved on.
3. It’s All About Me
Discovering who you are as an individual, your personality, what makes you tick, why you do what you do, is probably the foundation for building a healthy and fulfilling love relationship.
Edrina and I spent time doing a personality test about ten years into our relationship. There are some you can do online but we actually took a weekend Myers-Briggs program. It was worth it.
For me, it was an eyeopener. My father-in-law always said, “Why can’t you stick to one thing?” Edrina used to wonder, “Why can’t he stick to one job, one career, be the nine to five with three weeks holiday, just like me?”
I used to ask the same question, “Why can’t Edrina be more like me?”
Discovering our personalities and realizing that we are both wired differently helped us to work together on our strengths and stop fighting over our differences.
4. It’s Not About Me
When you commit to your love partner for life, you don’t give up who you are. You still breath your own air, enjoy your own movies, like certain foods and a host of other things your life partner might not.
Yet, here’s a concept that seems to be tough and counter culture today. When you commit to your love partner for life, you need to practice unconditional love. Life is no longer just about you. The love you have for your partner must be selfless and giving, expecting nothing in return. It’s like a total giving of yourself. You would die for your partner if you had to.
The world tells you, especially through media, that love is something that should be self-fulfilling. It tells you that relationships are temporary and that if you are no longer receiving fulfillment to move on and find someone else who will please you.
Committing to your partner for life, with no exit door, barring physical abuse, will create an environment that will develop the attitude that you are both going to make your relationship work. When you both give yourselves to each other unconditionally, you will have a relationship to cherish.
5. Start Over
We all get into arguments. It’s part of being in relationship. It’s how we deal with those arguments that makes or breaks your relationship.
Here’s a tool we use when we get “overheated” in our relationship to the point of name calling. We agree to stop – to just stop the argument midstream. There’s nothing productive happening anyway. We reluctantly agree to go cool down and set a time, whether it’s that day or next, to come back to the discussion in a civilized manner.
Sometimes, when an argument is over nothing and we’re just snapping at each other, we will agree to “Start Over”. It’s almost like a ‘get out of jail free’ card and it really works. Because we weren’t arguing about anything worth arguing over we are able to rewind and start, continue as if we never argued. This only works though because we truly work on our major issues when they come up.
6. Love Is A Decision Not An Emotion
If love was purely an emotion, Edrina would have left me a long time ago.
There were so many times, because of my issues with anger, that Edrina had to make a decision to love me and continue loving me. It’s the same for any relationship. If love was based only on how you feel about your partner at any given time, then you would have a difficult time resolving issues or even looking at your relationship as anything but temporary.
Every time you decide to work on an issue, to talk things out, to do something for your partner, you are making the decision to love. You definitely get that feeling of emotional love for your partner, and without it you would have nothing more than a casual friendship.
When Edrina began losing that feeling of love for me, her decision to love me was in coming and talking about it and, even more so, wanting to work together to heal our relationship.
Forgiveness works the same way. Forgiving your partner is not based on emotion. You can decide to forgive even when you don’t feel like it. Take it from us. It’s something we put into practice early in our relationship. Just remember, even though you have chosen to forgive,there may still be hurts to be healed after.
7. Keep Going. It’s Worth It.
We can’t emphasize enough to keep going, barring physical abuse, because it’s worth it.
However. if you want to have a relationship that’s totally fulfilling, you need to both work at your relationship. My mother always said, “It takes two hands to clap.”
As we have said before, we literally failed our way to success. As you work toward building or rebuilding your relationship, barring physical abuse, allow yourselves to get back up, look at what tripped you up, work on it and keep going.
Be encouraged. There’s nothing like a fulfilled relationship to complete your life.
Remember if you have children, modelling a strong a loving relationship is one of the best gifts you can give your family. If you are looking for more insight in this area visit the Sinclairs website, http://aliveinlove.com.
Best, Steph 🙂
Stephanie Staples, CSP* is the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success and an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker. She empowers audiences & clients across North America to bring their ‘A’ game to work and to life. Stephanie has a special interest in working with and empowering nurses and healthcare providers. She happily calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home. You can get loads of complimentary resources to help with issues such as work/life balance, wellness, stress management and happiness in general, as well as find out more information about her coaching and speaking services at http://www.YourLifeUnlimited.ca.
* Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), conferred by the National Speakers Association is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform competence. Only the top 10 percent of speakers earn this credential and are recognized as some of the best in their fields.