Warning: This post and the associated podcast are controversial... which is exactly why I like them so much.
Ladies, does your relationship suck? Has it grown stale and boring? Do you feel hopeless, and yearn to feel connected and adored?
What if I told you it's all your fault?
Wait, wait, wait! Don't close your browser!
I get it. It sounds ridiculously chauvinistic and immature. Of course it's easy for me to absolve myself of blame and say that a lack of intimacy in a relationship is not a man's fault, but a woman's... but what if I told you this idea isn't something me and my guy friends cooked up during some late-night video game and pizza binge? What if I told you it came from a relationship expert who is also conveniently (for me) a woman?
Laura Doyle believes that women are the gatekeepers to intimacy in a relationship. She has focused her entire career on empowering women (she refuses to work with men, or even couples) with skills, tactics, and tools to radically transform their average, mundane, or even horrible relationships. If a lack of intimacy exists, and abuse is not present in the relationship, she believes women have the power to change it.
6 Intimacy Skills to Transform Your Relationship
Self Care - In any relationship, you are responsible for your own happiness. If you rely on others to fill your self-worth tank, you'll inevitably end up stranded on the side of the highway of life, broken down, frustrated, and alone. Rather than relying on others to fill up that love tank, take initiative and fill it up yourself. This means you must love yourself, not just with words, but with actions.Make a list of things that fill you with joy, energy, and happiness then do those things every day. Make them a priority. Whether it's sitting down to enjoy a cup of coffee, calling an old friend, writing in your journal, meditation or yoga, reading out of a good book, or some intense exercise, make a commitment to do the stuff you love religiously... make it as big of a priority as brushing your teeth - which you do regularly (I hope).
Relinquish Inappropriate Control - Did you know that something as simple as telling a man he's doing something wrong - even when well-intentioned - can be incredibly emasculating? As a man, I feel a sense of pride when I can provide, protect, or otherwise take care of those that I love. Often times, correcting things (especially small things), make us feel like we can't do anything right. It's easy to feel defeated, incompetent, and worthless when you can't even dress yourself, or clean a mirror properly.Sure, many of you may say that I'm being over-sensitive. We men just need to "pony up" and "be a man" when it comes to taking criticism. Well, as a man, I'm telling you from the bottom of my heart: If you want more intimacy in your relationship, think before you speak. Your words can fill us up with courage, open us up to vulnerability, and give us the courage to slay dragons... or they can strip us of our confidence. The ball is in your court.
Receive Graciously - When a man gives you something, whether it's a gift, a compliment, or some form of help, he's reaching out in an attempt to connect. It's a display of his love and care. A rejection or dismissal of his effort to bond with you are not only a rejection of the offer itself, but a rejection of his attempt to connect, and subsequently a rejection of him.Rather than play the "not good enough" card, thank him and tell him how much you appreciate him... because he thinks you're good enough, and sometimes that's all that matters.
Respect - For this skill, I quote Mrs. Doyle herself. Her words are just too perfect: "Lack of respect causes more divorces than cheating does because for men, respect is like oxygen. They need it more than sex. Respect means that you don't dismiss, criticize, contradict or try to teach him anything. Of course he won't do things the same way you do; for that, you could have just married yourself. But with your respect, he will once again do the things that amazed and delighted you to begin with -- so much so that you married him."
Gratitude - Good men don't do kind things with the expectation of thanks, but honestly, nothing is sexier than a woman who regularly expresses gratitude... especially for the things that you don't expect them to be grateful for. When a woman expresses appreciation for something I did for them, it makes me feel like $1 million. It makes me want to do more nice things more often.Cultivating a habit of expressing gratitude every day will also put you in a mindset of looking for the very best things. When you see and recognize the best in a man, he will rise to the occasion, and become the best version of himself. Your gratitude has the ability to unlock hidden reserves of potential, intimacy, and overwhelming love.
Vulnerability - A truly intimate and trusting relationship requires vulnerability at its very core. Getting naked emotionally with someone often requires a lot more of that trust than getting naked physically with them. Being vulnerable requires honesty and assertiveness, and responsibility. Merely expressing how we feel is now vulnerability. Rather than nagging or criticizing, state your desires. "I feel lonely," is far more vulnerable than "You never come home on time." "I miss you so much," is far more vulnerable than, "When was the last time you took me on a date?"Striving to come to the table palms-open to express your feelings and your needs is courageous... and this approach not only avoids putting men on the defensive, but encourages them to do what they love doing most: step up to the plate and make their women happy.
Most of us do not realize how much individual power we possess to influence, change, and improve our relationships. We get stuck in the tedium of the day-to-day. We forget that little things can make an enormous difference. I hope you have the courage to give these 6 tips a try in your relationship... especially if you see it suffering.
And don't forget to listen to today's podcast at the top of the page. It is full of amazing stuff that blew my mind. I'm sure it will rock yours as well.
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Check out Laura Doyle's website The Surrendered Wife. And here are some links to her books: