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The 3 keys to passion
Extraordinary couples are just like you – except they make love intentional
It’s so easy to fall in love. Remember the excitement, the romance, and the lust? Sure, there were some challenges, but you were so happy as you explored whether you wanted to let this fascinating person into your bed, your heart, and your bank account. You planned dates, you dressed to impress, and you opened up your vulnerabilities. You made that person your top priority, and they made you feel like the most important person on the planet. And the sex? It was hot, it was fun, and it was frequent. Yes indeed, you were really, really good at falling in love. Because novelty and biochemistry were on your side.
How’s that working out for you these days? If you are like most long-term couples, the thrill has waned. Well, it’s not your fault – biology isn’t doing you any favors. When you were pursuing your mate, there was a cocktail of lust hormones and pleasurable neurochemistry boogying though your body. And it made you crazy – the brain of someone falling in love mimics obsessive-compulsive disorder. So you literally couldn’t stop thinking about your beloved.
But in a hilarious plot twist, once you achieved your goal – essentially, you made a commitment – your system shifted from pursuit to contentment. Novelty faded, the prize was won, and cuddling and complacency replaced sizzle and surprise. Fast forward a few years and you may find yourself in what I call Marriage Incorporated. Together, you do a great job of running your family – the mortgage is paid, kids get to dance class on time, and you even squeeze in a week of vacation here and there. But it’s nothing like when you fell in love, is it? You may find you are friends more than lovers – roommates running a business – instead of that passionate duo you were when you started.
So, this Valentine’s season, I want you to ask yourself – is it possible to reignite passion and excitement? The answer is yes.
Extraordinary couples – that are deeply connected, playfully adventurous, wildly affectionate and sizzlingly sexy – are just like you. Except they make their love intentional.
Recently I spoke about intentional love and sex at one of Tony’s Platinum Partner events. One of the attendees stood up and asked the audience “how many of us have read at least 5 business books this year?” Almost every hand went up. “Okay,” he said. “How many of us have read at least five relationship and sex books this year?” About seven people put their hands up. He then issued a challenge: “Who is going to join me in committing to put the same energy into our love relationship that we do into our businesses?”
In business, in fitness, and even in your hobby, you don’t just sit around and wait for things to get better. So why do that in love? Research indicates that a strong romantic relationship is the biggest predictor of happiness, good health, and a long life. So stop taking your relationship, and your partner, for granted. Take action. Instead of waiting around for passion, become passion.
I teach couples that if they want an extraordinary relationship, they need to master what I call the three keys to passion. What are those?
- Intimacy: Emotional closeness, communication, conflict management – the feeling that no one knows you better, or has your back more strongly, than your mate
- Thrill: Excitement, attraction, adventure – the butterflies in the stomach, so glad to see you at the end of the day, “in love” feeling
- Sensuality: Eroticism, cuddling, sex – the entire spectrum from kissing goodnight to holding hands, from making tender love to raw lustful passion
Now, I want you to rate your relationship. Great couples are strong in all three keys to passion – in other words, they have a balanced Passion Triangle. Currently, where are you strong and where are you weak? Perhaps you have lots of intimacy – closeness and communication – but the thrill is almost non-existent, and your sensual life is… well, not what it used to be. Or maybe you have lots of lust and adventure, but very little depth or real relationship skills – high sensuality and thrill, low intimacy. Sexy but superficial is unlikely to sustain you over the long term – without the relational glue of intimacy, you may burn out and start looking for someone new to light your fire.
But take heart. Passion is a teachable skill. It takes intention, effort, and action – but starting today, you can choose to make love a verb. You can choose to improve the weak areas of your passion triangle, one step at a time. Here is a tool I like to use to get you started.
Exercise: Set daily relationship intentions
Most mornings, my beloved and I snuggle on the couch – he with his Ethiopian just-ground coffee, me with my first flush Darjeeling tea – and set a relationship intention for the day. For example – I might say, “Today my intention is to be careful with my tone of voice when I feel impatient. I aspire to speak in a warm, calm tone instead of a snappy, unpleasant one.” He might say, “Today my intention is to create a romantic moment for us this evening.” Then we sip our beverages, smile, and eventually seal the deal with a hug.
So here is your challenge: Most mornings, commit to spending five minutes with your partner. Silently think of a small or large relationship intention. Then share it. “I intend to read that article you sent me on how to apologize like a champion” or “I intend to take you on a spontaneous date tonight – be ready at 7 o’clock,” or “I intend to kiss you hello when you get home from work.”
Then, commit to spending two minutes at the end of the day reviewing your progress. How did you do? Did you turn your intentions into actions? Did you forget? Can you tweak your intentions to make them even more actionable?
Because falling in love is easy. But staying in love takes mindfulness. Luckily, tomorrow is a new day, and we can choose, once again, to make love intentional.
If you would like to see where your relationship status is at, you can take the Passion Quiz here.
ABOUT DR. CHERYL FRASER
Cheryl Fraser, PhD, is a Buddhist psychologist, sex therapist, author and speaker who has helped thousands of couples jumpstart their love life and create passion that lasts a lifetime. An awarded Fulbright scholar, she has conducted extensive research on sexual behavior and what causes love relationships to to succeed or fail. Her new book, Buddha’s Bedroom, Dr. Fraser presents enlivening mindfulness exercises, techniques from couples and sex therapy, and the wisdom of Buddhist teachings to help couples break free from the monotony of familiar routines, and reignite the passion they once had.