Valentine’s Day is upon us and it’s the perfect time for a relationship check-up. If you practice the yoga lifestyle, you understand the importance of self-awareness and realizing the vibes you’re reflecting on your partner and what you’re receiving from him or her. If your love life feels positive, then take a few moments to appreciate what you have. If your relationship could use a little boost, here are a few thoughts to help reclaim health and happiness.
A meaningful relationship is shaped like a triangle. One side is passion, a second side is intimacy and the third is commitment. Couples who are in love for the long haul are aware that each side supports the other two — if one side weakens, the whole relationship can collapse.
Passion is Attraction
Passion is the sense that you experience your partner in ways you may not feel with anyone else. Maybe it’s the rhythm of her voice, the piercing of his eyes, the cadence of her movement or his smell in your bed. Maybe your passion goes to your partner’s quirky side — the silly way he pauses when he gets serious or the way she laughs when she’s nervous. Ask 10 people what draws them to their partner and you will get ten different answers. I don’t know your answer, but I am sure you have one somewhere.
If you don’t have a ready answer, passion is usually what attracted you to him or her in the first place, in those early days of new relationship energy. If you’ve forgotten what turns you on about your partner (it’s easy to overlook the simple basics in the daily bustle), take time to remember. If you have a long history as a couple, maybe it’s time to discover new passions. Put a new frame on your partner, examine the corners of the picture, zero in on details and textures you haven’t before appreciated.
Intimacy is Sharing
Revealing your authentic self is the glue of meaningful bonding. In the age of the internet and social media, it’s hard to keep anything secret, but I hope you and your partner have a few secrets that only the two of you will ever know. Do you share your wildest dreams with one another? Your crippling fears? Your darkest hours? Your flaws, mistakes and disappointments? Does your partner know (and appreciate) the mountains you climb and share your joy when you reach the summit? (You will get there if you keep moving!) If not, maybe it’s time to cut the small talk and start sharing what really matters. Life is short; and too many couples end up regretting the honesty they didn’t share.
Honesty applies to communicating about your relationship, too. Hopefully, you talk to one another about your day. But there’s more. I hope your partner knows your body inside and out, what goes on in your mind during sex, what feels good and what hurts, what takes you to orgasm and that he or she wants to hear (or maybe even try out) your craziest sexual fantasies.
This is where I have to say genuine intimacy isn’t always neat and tidy, it can be frightening. It makes us vulnerable. It makes us perk up our ears and listen. It’s like walking on egg shells. It can lead to rejection and disappointment. But when honesty works, it is a great and mighty power, and any couple that has mastered this kind of intimacy will tell you it’s absolutely worth the risk it entails.
Commitment is Loyalty
Commitment comes in two different forms: commitment to the relationship and loyalty to your partner. Commitment to the relationship is easier to navigate because coupledom comes with a lot of perks. For example, you always know who you’ll be with on a Saturday night (no more dating apps!), two can live cheaper than one and it’s nice to get out of the third wheel position with all your coupled friends.
Being committed as a couple doesn’t necessarily make you loyal to the person you share your life with — a person who has feelings, dreams, needs and desires. In fact, commitment can lead to a lot of negatives like taking your partner for granted, letting yourself go, bringing out bad habits you kept under wrap before you got on the commitment wagon.
The question about loyalty is whether you are committed to your partner’s happiness, being careful with your words and considering their needs and desires in the way you live your life. Do you balance what you give with what you take? Are you aware of how your thoughts, feelings and behaviors impact your partner? Do you make the effort to love your partner in the ways he or she wants to be loved or do you take the easy route?
I’ve given you some ideas to reflect on your love life, and I hope you will pick them up and run with them. Like yoga, reflecting on your relationship isn’t a one-shot endeavor — it works best practiced on a regular basis. Over time, small changes make big differences in life and in love so stick with it and don’t give up.
, author of Cupid on Trial, has dedicated his career to counseling couples, researching relationships, and teaching about intimacy—currently serving as a Professor and the Director of Family Studies at Berry College. Dr. Jory is affiliated with the American Psychological Association, and is widely published in the field of relationship therapy with theories and research studies published in prestigious academic journals and featured in Self, USA Today, NPR and PBS Television.