In many languages including English, the word for love is a verb not a noun which means love is an action not a thing to have or receive. To feel loving feelings for someone or something, you must engage in actions that will engender those feelings. When we first start a romantic relationship, we easily and often unconsciously provide the relationship with the necessary nutrients for it to develop, grow, and take root. However, once we enter into a committed space with a partner and the relationship roots are deep, we can benignly forget to provide the relationship with all of the necessary nutrients to keep it alive and growing.
We sometimes settle for a so-so, good enough relationship, where we sporadically provide the ingredients to keep our connection alive but not thriving. We look around at the high divorce rates and the disgruntled married people we know, and think "well at least we are doing better than most people we know." And yet, deep down we sense our relationship can be something more. We sense our vitality and our partner’s vitality and wonder why our relationship together feels so stagnate? We yearn for a relationship full of adventure with great physical and emotional intimacy, friendship, and joy- a relationship where we feel fully alive!
A relationship that is fully alive and continuing to grow requires our awareness of what it needs and our follow through to meet those needs. We also must be able to identify what is working and what is not in our relationship. Please consider the following questions:
Does your relationship have a clearly outlined and communicated shared vision? Are you able to regularly reflect and refine that vision together?
Is each partner able to constructively communicate their relationship wants and needs and feel heard?
Are you both able to listen to and respond generously to the other person? Do you seek first to understand then be understood?
Do each of you do your best to HELP the other person give you what you want in the relationship? Do you empower each other to be your best selves in your relationship?
Is cherishing each other a regular practice in your relationship?
Are you partners in health? Do you consistently have fun together?
Now that you have identified some of your relationship's strengths and areas of growth, you and your partner have a better understanding of how to maximize your time in couples therapy. You can successfully sit down with your relationship coach and come up with a game plan to take your relationship to the next level in strength, intimacy, and awesomeness. If you are keen to have your relationship go from good to GREAT, please contact Cambium Counseling.
+ A Relationship Coaching Story
The story that follows is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The story is intended to be informative about the types of issues people bring to counseling and how those issues are effectively addressed. This story reflects real themes and treatment processes used by the counselor in her work with real clients.
Alex (27) and Sean (31) have been married since Sean graduated law school six years ago. They met while attending the same university. A couple friends introduced them because of their common interests, values, and warm hearted nature. Alex received a Social Work degree with a minor in African American Studies. Sean initially earned a degree in Environmental Science before transitioning to law school at the same university. During their courtship they enjoyed watching documentaries, trail running, volunteering for environmental justice organizations, and staying up late in the night sharing their dreams and hopes for the future. They married after Sean graduated and became an environmental lawyer. They report that their first few years of marriage were very adventurous and fun. They moved to Denver, bought a home, began establishing their careers, made new friends, and spent the weekends finding new running trails.
Alex and Sean shared with their relationship coach that they enjoyed Denver, although at times they missed the hustle and bustle of the East coast. As far as their relationship went, they felt like they have been in a relationship rut the last few years. The newness of everything had worn off and while they believed they had a good relationship, Alex stated “it feels very vanilla”. When the relationship coach followed up with Sean, he nodded his head in agreement and advised that it definitely felt so-so between them. Sean missed the excitement of their earlier years. Before attending their first session, the relationship coach had the couple complete a relationship health inventory looking at fives areas of relationship health including, physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, and spiritual. Based on their responses, the relationship coach advised them of their strengths and the potential areas of growth that they would likely focus on in coaching.
Alex and Sean excelled in the areas of physical and psychological health. They supported each other’s physical care, shared household responsibilities, and respectfully listened to each other’s thoughts on various topics. When they wanted something in their relationship, they made direct and specific requests to the other person. In the areas of emotional and sexual health the couple was doing alright according to both of them. Sometimes they were able to openly express their emotions and feel well received by the other and sometimes their emotional interactions did not go so well. Sexually, they both expressed a desire to deepen their sexual intimacy and connection. Finally, while they felt like they had a clear vision of their relationship prior to moving to Denver currently they felt they were lacking direction and focus, and therefore their spiritual health was low.
Collaborating with the couple, the relationship coach devised a plan to address the different the areas the couple wanted to enhance, strengthen, and build up. The couple reported they planned to work on the areas of relational health outside of session and agreed to meet with the relationship coach for six 90 minute sessions for 60 days. Utilizing experiential interventions that included movement, nature, and expressive arts therapies the couple was able to creatively brainstorm and develop an exciting mission and vision for their relationship. Because of their shared love for the environment and community service, the couple began volunteering for the Colorado Trail Association which helped them reconnect with the fun and adventurous components of their relationship. They took the skills and tools they learned in couples coaching, tried them out in session with the relationship coach, and then ventured outside of session to try them out in their new projects together. After completing their six sessions, the couple reported feeling more empowered and energized by their relationship. They believed they were exiting coaching with a foundation built on shared passions, love, and adventure!
Having an amazing, adventurous life with your partner is possible. Please contact Cambium Counseling to elevate your relationship today.