Every time you and your boyfriend start a fight it’s the same old thing. You get on his nerves. He gets on your nerves. You yell. He yells. And that’s when someone brings pasts events to the table. “You always do this to me! It was the same thing last year on your birthday?”, or “I feel the exactly same way when we first start seeing each other! I should have predict all this!” which only cause more suffering an disconnection between you two.
Your fights ignite your worst version. As a couple you start to express the opposite of love and intimacy, disrespect and disconnection. Believe me, I’ve been there. After three years dating my boyfriend and having serious conflicts that almost compromised our relationship, we decided to practice “mindful loving” in order to communicate and live better.
Here it’s what we do:
1. Use Nonviolent Communication
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) (aka Compassionate and Personal Communication) is a powerful methodology for communicating created by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. The technique leads us to express ourselves with honesty and clarity, while simultaneously paying attention to others in a respectful and emphatic way. Its foundation is based on four pillars: observation, feeling, needs and request.
Now, picture the follow situation and discover how I use NVC.
My boyfriend is watching TV while I’m talking to him and this drives me crazy. I think of telling him: “You never listen to me! You don’t care!”. But acting like this will only start a fight. Instead, I say: “When I see you watching TV while I’m talking to you (observation) I feel frustrated and hurt (feeling) because I have a need for appreciation and attention (need). Would you be willing to look me in the eye while I’m talking? And afterwards repeat back what you heard me say and give me a chance to correct it if it isn’t what I meant to say? (request).
The focus is to clarify your feelings and needs. We don’t know how the other person feels or what they need. That’s why it’s important to address your speech based on what you can really take responsibility for: yourself.
2. Make appreciation a routine
Every night before we go to sleep we ask each other: “What are the three things that made you happy today?”. This simple question revels a lot about yourself and your partner. It points out the values and qualities that they appreciate and helps you understand their perspective of life. It opens doors for example to discover a hobby, to plan a surprise or to engage in another conversation. It was on one of these nights for example that we discovered the pleasure of trying different kisses, by listening to an episode of Pillow Play, a playful app for busy couples to feel close.
3. Practice Orgasmic Meditation
There is nothing more pleasant than being touched by someone you love. Letting them explore your body with freedom and trust is a transcendental experience. But only if you have already passed the phase of exploring yourself first. It took me 25 years to buy my first vibrator and thank-God I did! I learned how to delve into my own body investigating my erogenous areas and getting in touch (literally) with the “real” me. Recently, I took this experience to a completely different level with the app OMGYes, a software that shows a variety of techniques about the specifics of women’s pleasure.
But if you already know your body and preferences. Relax and enjoy: Orgasmic Meditation (OM). OM is a 15-minute partnered consciousness practice where your partner strokes your clitoris for 15 minutes with no goal other than to feel and be present. Whenever we practice it I feel appreciated and loved by my boyfriend. It’s great!
4. Ban “fair” from your vocabulary
Relationship is a win-win game only when both parties are playing together. When competition gets on the way and the urgency for revenge appears and that’s when its time to blow the whistle. “You did this, now it’s my turn to that”. Every person has their values and standards. It’s unreasonable to expect the other to act in the way you would. Being honest and open about your emotion and feelings is way more effective to connect your need for understanding than blaming the other or acting based on retaliation.
5. Detached reality from expectations
When sharing your feelings using NVC you’ll notice how hard it is to find your own needs and emotions to express yourself without blaming on the other. The challenge of practicing NVC leads you to get in touch with your one self.
“I wish we would hug me in public as a gesture of how much he loves me”, that’s your expectation talking for you. Before your mind goes far deep into the idea that “he might be embarrassed of me” or “He might not even loves me”, remember that each person has their own love language. How about you hugging him in public ans showing some love?
This process will help you to drawn the line that separates you from your partner. Once you can see this space clearly you’ll finally be able to detached reality from your expectations and projections.
6. Be patient and stay in the moment
A 47 year-married couple once told me that the secret for a good marriage is: “Whenever one is mad, the other is calm”. The same concept is shared in the book The Truth — An Uncomfortable Book about Relationships, by Neil Strauss. All of us have traumas and wounds and they build three egos states in our life: wounded child (sentiment of worthless, needy or out of control); the adapted adolescent (arrogant, needless and hyper-controlling); and, finally, the functional adult. The one that can communicate needs, who is honest and self-aware and who is esteemed from within.
Accordingly to Strauss, when one person shuts down or throws a fit the other needs to stay in the adult ego state. If both people descend to the wounded child or adapted adolescent, that’s when all the forces of relationships drama and destruction are unleashed.
7. Let the body talk
How many times you watched a scene of a couple fighting and solving their problems having sex and you thought to yourself: “I wish we could do that!”. Well, a lot of times finding the best way to communicate is so hard that the best option is to shut up and feel the intention for connection. Oftentimes, the best way to access that is letting your body talk, whether if is dancing, massaging, practicing Orgasmic Meditation or a simple and honest hug (my favorite!). There are many ways to access love, some are so obscure that almost sound like a secret, a mystery to be solve, but the common denominator is always the desire to be connected. That’s why is important for you to explore yourself and find out what works or not for you and your partner. Mindful Loving is about communication, acceptance and being present. It’s also an every-day practice. So, hands on! Go get your happy life!