Love and Marriage: How To Build Healthy Romantic Relationships

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Free Unedited Blog Audio File Many people are familiar with the book, The Five Love Languages, which is a great framework for understanding how to show people affection and love. We have this idea that we should “do onto others as we would have them do onto us” known as The Golden Rule, but there is one rule that is more powerful in my mind and that is The Platinum Rule. The Platinum Rule says “do onto others as they would have you do onto them.” The Five Love Languages is a great book to understand how people actually identify and feel love based on how you treat them. I love frameworks like this that teach us about powerful concepts and help us hold those concepts in our frame of reference, making it very useable. In the realm of romance and relationships, there is another framework I have used through my career: the concept of “The Four Loves.” The Four Loves is different than The Five Love Languages because it provides a framework for what makes a strong, balanced, lasting relationship. It defines four components of such a relationship. This awareness of the four different aspects of love and relationships allows us to identify and then strengthen and bolster the weak areas of our relationships. The power of a framework such as this is that you are able to identify very clearly areas that may not be serving you: your strengths and your weaknesses and how to improve them. What are the 5 love languages and the 4 loves. Briefly, if you haven’t read the book, The Five Love Languages, you should. The 5 love languages are the following: Physical Affection, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts and Acts of Service. “The Four Loves” which are different and make up a strong relationship, go by a 4 “L” acronym: Love, Lust, Laughter, Life Love – compassionate love – is how you see your partner in the world. When you look out and see them interacting in the world, do you adore them, respect them, trust them, or hold them in high esteem? Compassionate love comes from this place of loving and respecting who your partner is in the world. Lust – passionate love – is about romantic and physical craving. Do you desire your partner physically when you see them, do they give you butterflies in your stomach and make you want them at a visceral, animalistic level? Laughter – does your partner bring you joy, do they bring you happiness, do they bring you fun do they lighten and elevate your life in a way where you can enjoy and have a heightened sense of enjoyment and excitement about life? Do they bring joy to your world? Life – is your partner someone who you match up with in the mundane activities of life? Do you make good partners in terms of how you handle finances, in terms of your core beliefs and values, in terms of the way you run a household, in terms of the way you raise your children? Are you good partners in business, in life? So there is Love-compassionate love, Lust-passionate love, Laughter-joy, excitement and levity and there is Life-partnership, day-to-day activity, finances and these kinds of things. Phones-in-Bed-000044230128_Medium

Once you understand these 4 areas you can easily see where things can go wrong in a romantic partnership. These areas all need to have a degree of strength. You cannot have a true romantic relationship and be truly happy, in my way of thinking, if you have great scores in the life and compassionate love department but have no laughter and no lust. That would be very much like dating your brother or sister. You have compassionate love for them and maybe you guys make a good team, but you don’t love them from the perspective of romance. Of course there are many different types of partnerships, and not everyone chooses to have this level-10 romantic sort of partnership and friendship with their significant other, but I would say that most people I’ve worked with in the life-coaching world crave and want this type of relationship When we talk about a level-10 relationship, these are the four levels that need to be cultivated and understood. To start this discussion, what I like to have people do is rank on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being very high and satisfied and 1 being very low and not satisfied with “The Four Loves.” You want to rank each: Love, Lust, Laughter, and Life on a scale of 1-10. Immediately you will be able to see where the weaknesses lie. Is your passion or Lust at a 2 but your Love (compassionate love) at an 8? Is your Laughter at a 9 but your Life at a 1? This is important because any one of these areas, if they are too weak, can destroy a relationship no matter how good the other areas are. So really what you are shooting for is balance. You’re trying to get each of these in balance. Will they ever all be the same, no, probably not. Each relationship is going to have their strengths and weaknesses, but I would argue that all of them need to be relatively strong for a level-10 relationship. The good news is that we can cultivate, learn to bolster and improve the scores in each of the four Loves. Let’s do that for each of these: First let’s talk about Love-compassionate love: it is really about understanding both yourself and the person you are involved with. It comes from understanding and appreciating. These come from good communication and understanding where your partner is coming from, their life goals and life ambitions. Communicating to them what it is you need in a partner in order to feel that compassionate love is part of this process. Often times we start out loving who a person is, in life, because they have ambition, goals, and/or aspirations around doing something with their life that is inspiring to us when we first meet them. We fall in love with those aspects of them. We see their kindness, generosity, ambition, and who they are in the world, then as we get to know them on a more intimate level, we begin to see their weaknesses and some of their blind spots, and their struggles. What relationship is really about in its highest form is helping us see our blind spots and elevate to a place that we may not be able to get to or see on our own. Romantic relationships in their highest form are really about elevating us to this point. There is no getting around good communication skills, saying how you feel and taking responsibility for your own emotions and for your own life to some degree. This all goes into compassionate love. The other thing about this is, often times with compassionate love, we are mirrors in the world. In other words, we reflect back to ourselves what we are putting out in the world. If we are not kind, we start to see people show up as not kind even if they are. If we are not generous, we start to see other people show up as not generous and so we have to also look very clearly when we’re talking about compassionate love is our own self improvement, so it’s about honest communication with ourselves, the very open ability to hear from our romantic partners how they see us in the world and being on a path of compassion, self-respect and self-growth together. That can all be taught. Good communication can be learned and this is where things like counseling, self-help, self-development books and those kind of things can be very helpful in relationships helping us understand and “get” each other Lust is very interesting because to a very real degree, compassionate love is about intimacy and knowing and “getting” each other at a very deep level, but passionate love is very much about novelty, excitement, newness and desire. We all know that the more mundane, normal and routine something gets, the more desire, novelty and passion can fade. So, to a very large degree there’s an incompatibility between intimacy and passion, which means there’s an incompatibility sometimes between compassionate love and passionate love. Sometimes the more intimate you get can kill the passion to some degree. How do you keep compassionate love, this communication, everything you know about somebody and sharing all this stuff; but also keep the passion alive in a relationship? One of the things you need to do is construct novelty inside of the relationship and realize, that while compassionate love benefits from quality time together, passionate love benefits from quality time apart. In a sense, when we talk about compassionate love and the idea of cultivating yourself, having self-understanding and then communicating that to your partner, while understanding your partner as well, this goes for Lust too. These habits also benefit you on the passion side as well. You need quality time apart and quality time with your partner especially if you’re going to keep the passion alive. This is very important because, to some degree, cohabitating can be something that crushes passion. Just ask any married couple and you’ll begin to quickly get insight into this, and if you’re a married couple yourself you already have some insight into this as well. Another thing that happens around compassionate love, when kids are involved, you begin to see how the “Life” component comes into the mix and how you manage it also has an impact on compassionate love. These four loves do impact one another. You can almost think of them as a single bank account that has several different elements to it. Maybe one element is the credit card, one the checking account, one the savings account and one the investment account, but all have to do with your financial strength and management. Compassionate love is certainly important in terms of intimacy while passionate love is going to benefit from novelty and quality time apart. Quality time apart could mean getting away for a long weekend – if you’re a guy, going and playing golf with your buddies or if you are a woman, taking a long weekend with your girlfriends. It could also mean making sure you have time for yourself at your house, maybe the notorious man-cave type of situation, or making sure you’re doing things for yourself like having time to work-out or having plenty of time alone. Often times couples that work at home together and stay at home together have a more difficult time than couples who have separate lives from 9 to 5 and then reconnect. You want to manufacture time apart. I’ve had clients who every 3 months will take vacations apart as well as take them together. Vacations apart can be things like going to career conferences, getting away from the house by going away with girl or guy friends, and this is important. Then novelty is where the people get confused with passionate love, I don’t mean in the bedroom, but novelty in life. Doing new things together that are exciting. The way the brain works is that anything that releases dopamine becomes a surrogate or spark for passion. This means things like, going parasailing or hiking together, taking a cooking class or a wine tasting together; learning new and novel things together. Many times, people get this wrong because they say, “we have our art that we do together” or “we work-out together.” Anything you do over and over becomes the opposite of novelty, doesn’t it? For passionate love, you want to create a relationship that is somewhat adventurous and has new things built into it. Not only do you want to have quality time together and apart, where you build that in for both passionate and compassionate love, but you want to construct a lifestyle that is one of adventure, learning, and novelty that you can share together. These experiences often times transfer into the bedroom and your passion and desire for one another. This is a very important concept and also, certainly spicing things up in the bedroom can be of benefit as well based on comfort level. Hopefully this is all making sense. passionate-couple-000048240050_Small

Now, what about laughter and joy? Well, you can see how this goes hand-in-hand with passionate love, where the novelty can come in and where sense of humor matters. This can be a more difficult aspect of a relationship because sometimes people don’t share the same sense of humor. It can be difficult for people to find this laughter in their lives. It is really about finding hobbies and passions that you do together: if you like boating, lakes, the outdoors, alternative and natural medicine, or traveling. This goes hand in hand with passion. You can see how passionate love or Lust and Laughter or joy in life sort of goes together. They’re somewhat more compatible and likewise, compassionate Love and Life are a little bit more compatible. Often times you have these relationships that match up with Life partnership and compassionate Love, but have very little Laughter and Lust in them and vice versa: there’s a lot of Laughter and Lust, but not a whole lot of compassionate respect or Life matching up. You want do a lot of the same things you would do to bolster passion or the things that you would be doing to bolster joy and Laughter like: doing novel things together, sharing hobbies together, watching funny movies together. When you don’t have strength in one of these areas then you may want to consider finding that from other avenues, like other friends, and make sure that you have enough joy in your life from other sources so that you don’t go out and look for another romantic partner who provides it. Because with each new romantic partner, you’re going to find a unique mismatch – each new romantic partnership is going to have its own challenges, and what is new soon becomes old again. Mastering these aspects and understanding how to keep things fresh is super-important in relationships. It is not a good idea just to substitute new romantic partners all the time; it’s better to have the skill of creating a level-10 relationship with the person that you actually love and adore so that you can you keep the passion and the joy in your life. When it comes to Life, partnership, we go back to compassionate love and communication comes in along with the discussion of The Five Love Languages and the Platinum Rule. When it comes to managing life, considerations and appreciations, this can kill a relationship when things like finances, cleanliness, core values, child rearing and the like don’t match up. This is where clear communication comes in and also understanding that the Platinum Rule is one of the best rules for keeping things balanced in a relationship. Remember the Golden Rule is “ do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and many people get stuck with that because we want to know why this person is not loving us the way we want to be loved. We tend to treat others in the way that we want to be loved instead of essentially saying to ourselves, “if I want them to love me how I want to be loved, then I should love them the way they want to be loved.” We should put aside and try to strengthen some of our inabilities to see situations like taking out the trash. We need to understand that this is not about pettiness on the side of our romantic partners. It’s not that they have this petty need for you to take out the trash, but it’s what taking out the trash represents to them. Taking out the trash, to them, represents that you are thinking about them and actually care about, consider, and have compassionate love for them. It shows you care about making their life a little easier. We get caught up in this very thing, where we believe it’s petty: “who cares about whether the counter is clean or if I left my socks on the floor?” This is petty stuff, but we have to understand that it’s actually not about those particular things. It’s about what those things represent. “If someone loves me, why don’t they love me according to the Platinum Rule and treat me with consideration and why don’t I do that for them?” This means talking to and understanding your partner. What are the things that they really need? Maybe they need a clean environment and you might be messy, consideration means working on it and showing your partner that they mean enough to you that even though it’s a pain in the ass, you know it’s how you can show your partner love. That is how they feel loved even though you might be showing love in other ways, but they feel loved by you keeping the place clean. So why would you not want to work on this. This is where the Life aspect of the Four Loves comes in. Love- compassionate love, Lust-passionate love, Laughter and Life are four areas that need to be cultivated. They are the four areas that need to have balance and reflect relative strength to create and have a good, lasting, strong, level-10 relationship. Would You rather listen? Get the unedited blog audio instead? Click the link below:

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