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Fanning the Flames

Something you may not know about me is that I have been to over 600 weddings. Often during the reception, there is an elimination dance that reveals who’s been married the longest. At the end of the dance, the DJ asks the winning couple, “What’s the secret to longevity?” Any guesses as to what they have to say?

To illustrate, let me tell you a story about the perfect couple. Bill and Heather couldn’t keep their hands off each other while dating. The first few years after the wedding, their relationship was fiery hot. Friday date night was sacred. Every Saturday, they found an adventure to experience together. Sunday mornings, they’d spend an extra hour snuggling in bed before starting their day. On their 6th anniversary, Heather was still nursing their third child while Bill picked up extra hours to pay the bills. Date nights, day trips and Sunday morning snuggles were few and far between. Their fiery hot relationship has dwindled to dying embers.

As a Life Coach, I hear stories like this all the time. Without realizing it, couples fall into habits or patterns learned from family members and peers. These habits, over time have formed new beliefs, which caused an Identity Shift from lovers to parents. This begs the question, why not have both? Why not be a parent AND keep the flame from dying out?

Going back to the DJ and the couple married the longest, the most common answer boils down to, “We listen to each other.” Sounds too easy, right? That’s because listening is only the 2nd step out of many. One of the biggest breakdowns in communication is not what is said, but what is NOT said.

Brene Brown, author of “Atlas of the Heart” talks about the stories we tell ourselves in our head. Heather worries about Bill staying late at the office, “Is something going on?” Bill on the other hand wonders if Heather loves him anymore because there is little to no intimacy. What Bill doesn’t see is that Heather’s Eros energy has been exhausted with the kids. When she rejects his advances, he takes it personally. In the movie Avatar, the line used most often is, “I see you.” This requires empathy. Empathy creates understanding.

This year for your anniversary, to fan the flame in your relationship, perhaps the best gift you can bring to your partner is empathy. The first step is getting out of your head and stay curious about your partner. Speak the question, “Tell me about your day”. Allowing someone to be heard, can be the greatest gift of all. Be vulnerable and start the conversation. This is where true intimacy begins.

If you've found yourself stuck in an unhealthy habit loop and need help breaking the cycle, consider finding a life coach that understands your issue, and is skilled at helping you move from where you are, to a place that you've been craving and desiring.

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