How to fall in love all over again with your marriage partner

Sophia and Ian struggled for 11 years trying to make their marriage work. Despite their unhappiness and not feeling in love, they were committed to stay together, if nothing else for the sake of their children. 

They managed to survive their lack of intimacy by finding feelings of aliveness in things outside their relationship.

For Ian, it was his work building a business which was now thriving, and regular involvement in their kids’ sports programs.

For Sophia, it was managing her job in a high tech company, involvement with the kids, and regular nights out with her girlfriends. To the world outside they had a pretty normal relationship.

Then the unimaginable happened. One day Sophia announced she wanted a divorce. 

Turn your crisis into your opportunity to fall in love again

Often the increasing pain of feeling disconnected causes one partner to eventually hit a wall and want out. To make things even more complicated, over the past six months Sophia had become emotionally involved with one of her coworkers.

Ian was in shock. He knew their marriage was not great, but this?! He never saw it coming.

He was devastated.

But this crisis became a wake up call, and for the first time Ian began asking what part he had played in the relationship’s failure.

Fortunately Ian saw this crisis as his opportunity to begin a new relationship with Sophia.

Reluctantly Sophia agreed to come with him to counseling. 

Deal with the root cause of your relationship failure

During our first session Sophia made a commitment to end her emotional relationship at work for six weeks in order to work on their marriage.

Ian and Sophia began using the Imago Couples Dialogue to uncover the root cause of their disconnection.

They learned how Ian’s unconscious fear of intimacy continually drove him to withdraw emotionally from Sophia whenever they had a conflict. When Sophia would overreact and complain and criticize Ian, it caused him to withdraw even further. 

Ian learned how his avoidance of conflict had left Sophia feeling lonely for many years. He also discovered how his actions triggered deeper feelings of abandonment that Sophia felt from her childhood.

They both began to understand how this repeated pattern of unconscious reaction to each other was at the root of all their relationship problems.

As they slowly removed these unconscious barriers to intimacy, hope for their relationship began to grow.

Have faith that you will fall in love all over again

It’s a proven fact that if you remove all negativity from the space between you and start doing loving acts toward each other, you will fall in love again. It’s what we now know as basic brain science.

Ian and Sophia could not believe this at first. Their feelings for each other were so dead they were certain they would never love each other again.

But in time they became believers.

Your feelings always follow your thinking and your actions.

And sometimes you have to take that by faith. Do the right things and you will fall in love again!

It does take time and effort. Brain pathways of fear and anger must be replaced by new pathways of love and joy. 

Also, how could Sophia instantly turn off her feelings for someone she had been emotionally involved with for six months?

And how could Ian overcome the feelings of betrayal and learn to trust Sophia again?

Despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Ian and Sophia exercised faith in the process, and hope continued to grow.

Create a culture that ensures you fall in love and stay in love

It wasn’t just doing loving acts toward each other that helped them fall in love all over again. It was their work to create a culture of love that did the trick.

The tool that helped Sophia and Ian fall in love all over again is called the Caring Behaviors Exercise

This exercise revealed things like…

Sophia felt loved and cared about when Ian spent time in the evenings talking with her, and when he called her at work just to see how she was.

Ian felt loved and cared about when Sophia sat with him on the sofa and held hands or gave him a back-rub.

It was when they started doing these things for each other every day without fail that their feelings began to change.

Sometimes couples try this exercise and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because there is a difference between an act of love and a culture of love. 

When Ian spent quality time with Sophia in the evening, that was an act but it was not yet a culture.

Creating a culture of love means doing loving acts repeatedly until they become your natural reaction to your partner’s need.

As Sophia and Ian worked to create a new culture, a culture of love, new brain pathways were created. They began to unconsciously see each other as a source of pleasure rather than conflict. And in time a breakthrough occurred.

Ian was eager to grow in his ability to be present for Sophia. Sophia was excited about learning to express her desires in a positive way rather than with criticism. 

In time trust was rebuilt and Ian and Sophia fell in love all over again!

What about you? Will you dare to believe that you and your partner can fall in love all over again? Take these four steps and see what happens!

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4 hacks to reignite passion, love, and happiness in your marriage

Have you lost the feelings of love you once had? Are you longing for more passion in your marriage? Are you ready to call it quits because you’re not happy and don’t love your partner any more?

Well hold on a moment!

Don’t get rid of your partner and keep your problems. Get rid of your problems and keep your partner!

Here are four brain chemistry hacks that will help you recover lost romantic feelings and reignite your passion for each other! And, I’ve put it all together for you in three simple tools that will help you build a happy marriage!

1. Touch

Science reveals that we are wired for connection with another human being. Therefore, touching your partner is not only nice, it’s necessary. 

We actually live to touch. If we’re denied touch, we don’t do too well. Our health deteriorates emotionally and physically.

Multiple studies show that human touch triggers the release of oxytocin into our bloodstream. Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, is a neurotransmitter that increases feelings of trust, generosity, and compassion.

And it also decreases feelings of fear and anxiety that block our communication.

Remember back when you first thought about holding hands with your partner? For many couples that was an unforgettable pleasurable experience!

Read on to learn how to begin feeling those feelings again.

The case for the “one-minute full-body hug”

While all kinds of touch is good, holding hands, back rubs, etc., I’m going to ask you to give each other a one-minute full-body hug. We used to prescribe a 20-second hug because that’s how long it takes for a wave of oxytocin to be released into your system. But now we’ve learned that by extending the hug to a full 60 seconds additional waves of this wonderful “love” hormone are released.

So whether you feel like it or not, do it. Make the science work for you!

There’s an second powerful hack…

2. Appreciation

Recent discoveries in neuroscience tell us that not only does gratitude create a more positive and happy mental state but it also literally transforms your brain.

Each time you share an appreciation with your partner, it changes the molecular structure of your brain, keeps grey matter functioning, and makes you healthier and happier. Not to mention the positive effect it has on your partner.

Plus, it makes you more peaceful and less reactive in your interactions.

When you’re feeling emotional pain in your relationship, negative feelings tend to grow and expand until negative is all you can see. 

And at the same time, everything good about your partner tends to shrink until there’s nothing positive you can see. 

When that happens, we tend to get stuck in our own pain and self-absorption. We start reacting, and criticizing, and labeling our partner.

That’s when romantic feelings are replaced by anxiety and negative reactions.

When you share an appreciation, it reverses this dynamic. 

Sharing an appreciation creates new neural pathways actually rewiring your brain.

It transforms the space between you filling it with positivity that pushes out negativity. And, needless to say, it feels really good, not only to your partner, but to you too.

When you share regular appreciations with each other, you change your brain chemistry, waking up those powerful romantic feelings, and creating entirely new ones.

What if we were to combine the power of sharing appreciations with the power of touch?

Here’s a simple tool that will help you access all the benefits of both TOUCHING and APPRECIATION.

Four Powerful Appreciations

Just click on the link above, print out the tool, and follow the instructions. 

This exercise instructs you as a couple to do a one-minute full-body hug while taking turns sharing a 30-second appreciation with each other four times a day, during four critical moments. 

What you do during these “critical moments” each day has five times the impact on your relationship: (1) when you are both first awake in the morning, (2) saying “Goodbye” for the day, (3) when you first come home in the evening, and (4) when you say “Goodnight”.

Jack and Anna are a couple who were constantly fighting.

Doing this exercise for 40 days helped them begin to bypass their conflict and access the parts of themselves that really loved each other. 

As the cascades of romantic feelings continued to flood their souls each day, negative feelings about each other began to be flushed out of their relationship.

Needless to say their passion for each other was ignited and today they are much better at handling their conflicts.

A third hack is what we call…

3. Caring Behaviors

When you do specific acts that hit the bull’s-eye of what makes your partner feel loved and cared about, it awakens all kinds of romantic feelings! 

For example, if your wife says, “I feel loved and cared about when you initiate getting things done around the house”, and you get up Saturday morning and start washing the windows. Wow! Nothing could be more of a turn on! Right?

Doing “caring behaviors” has two powerful effects. 

First, it reignites your partner’s love for you.

And, second, it also causes your own dead feelings of love and passion to be resurrected.

There is a scientific reason this happens, and with this next tool we’re going to tap into that and use it to our advantage.

Keep in mind, it’s science, so you don’t have to feel it to do it. Just do it and it will be effective.

Here’s why.

When you do something for someone else, your lower, unconscious brain thinks you’re doing that act for yourself. 

That’s why it feels so good when you do something good for someone else. That’s why you feel loved when you do loving acts for others.

Doing these caring behaviors replaces the cortisol that produces anxiety and depression with oxytocin, dopamine, and other pleasure chemicals that cause you to feel joyful aliveness. 

As a result you’ll see depression literally be replaced by joy!

The Caring Behaviors exercise can help you identify precisely what makes your partner feel loved and cared about.

The fourth hack is…

4. Safe Conversations

The Imago Couple’s Dialogue is a powerful tool that helps make every conversation safe, enabling you to…

  • Talk without criticism
  • Listen without judgment, and
  • Connect beyond your differences

It’s the most powerful way I know to keep your conversations safe, enabling you to be fully open, present, and empathetic with your partner.

Putting it all together!

Here’s a how to use these 4 brain chemistry hacks with the 3 powerful tools to reignite passion in your marriage (click on the links to print out the tools).

1. Safe Conversations (every time you talk)

Use the Couple’s Dialogue as your core skill to keep every conversation safe and productive in a way that always leads you to connection with each other.

Flank this core skill with…

2. Four Powerful Appreciations (each day)

and… 

3. Three Caring Behaviors (each day)

Using the Safe Conversation model with these two types of affirmations on a daily basis will change your brain chemistry and create new neural pathways that create new feelings for each other.

It’s so powerful that I cannot overstate the importance of using these three tools together!

But nothing happens until you act on it!

So grab the tools and let’s reignite passion in our relationship!

Want to go further? Join my online course!

Six week online course: Building the marriage of your dreams

And if you haven’t done so already…

Subscribe below to receive my weekly post that will come to your email inbox every Saturday morning! 

My goal is to provide free relationship tools and resources delivered to your inbox every week! 

Romantic love fades away but romance never has to end!

Romance is a choice we can make every day!

As a couple you can influence the way you feel about each other by reconstructing the conditions of romantic love.

When you treat each other the way you did in happier times, you will begin to identify each other as a source of pleasure once again.

What could be more powerful than doing the very things your partner has identified that make her or him feel loved??

Here’s a tool that will help you reconstruct those conditions of romantic love. It’s a very practical way to choose romance every day, and keep the fires of romantic love burning.

It’s called…

The Caring Behaviors exercise

Click on the link above and print out two copies (one for you and one for your partner). Then follow the instructions below.

In this exercise, you and your partner give each other the keys to your heart – specific “caring behaviors” that make you feel loved.

After you go through it, there’s a link below where you can read the story of Wendy and Tom – how their relationship died, and then how it went from “flatlined” to “fully-alive” using this tool.

1. Make a list as you think about three areas:

(1) what your partner is already doing that pleases you.
(2) what your partner used to do that pleased you.
(3) what have always wanted but never asked for.

These may be very private fantasies, but should not be a present source of conflict.

With each item complete the sentence, “I feel loved and cared about when you…”

Fill in your answers on the spaces provided on the printout.

(Examples: make me coffee in the morning, call me from work just to check in, tell me I’m doing a good job, help me with my chores around the house, spend quality time talking with me, take a shower with me, compliment me on how I look, give me a back rub, want to have sex with me, bring me an unexpected gift, cuddle without having to have sex)

2. Indicate the importance of each item with an A, B or C, with A being most important.

3. Now exchange lists.

4. On your partner’s list put an X by any items you are not willing to do at this time, making the rest of the list conflict-free.

5. Then beginning tomorrow, do at least two of these behaviors each day for two months.

Start with the easier ones first and then move to the more difficult ones.

These acts are to be GIFTS, NOT OBLIGATIONS. However, do them whether you feel like it or not.

The act of doing these things will begin to reignite your desire for each other.

Keep going and you will rekindle the feelings of romance, and create a safety zone that will allow deeper connection and bonding.

If either of you experience some resistance with this exercise, keep on doing these caring behaviors until the resistance is overcome. Do it even if you don’t feel it. Your feelings will follow.

But remember, the process won’t work unless you work the process.

Someone told me, “My partner and I tried this and it didn’t work.”

I can relate!

Sandy’s list included things like surprise outings and weekend adventures. Those kinds of things really make her feel loved and cared about.

So I planned one. And it hit the mark! She LOVED it and we felt close. 🙂

But then I did nothing like that again for several months. 🙁

Her efforts to do things on my list were about like mine. One here and one there.

To be honest, this exercise didn’t do for us what I was telling others it would do for them!

So I asked Sandy, “Why do you think it’s not working for us?”

She thought for a moment and then said, “It’s kind of like the California drought.”

What?

Then I got where she was going with that.

A few years ago California went through about six years of serious drought where reservoirs dried up and a statewide proclamation of emergency was issued.

During that time there would be a day or two, here and there, when it would rain cats and dogs all day long. And it felt so good every time all that rain poured down.

But those few times of rain had no effect whatsoever on our reservoirs or on the drought.

Sandy went on explaining…

“The few times we did these ‘Caring Behaviors’ could not make up for the drought we have experienced day in and day out over the years.”

Wow. I get that. That really makes sense.

Lesson learned.

We realize we have to do these caring behaviors REGULARLY and NOT STOP!

The exercise you printed out says “three a day for the next two months”! If three is too much start with one a day and work up from there.

The key is consistency!

Then it’s something hopefully you get addicted to – in a good way.

Sandy and I are rebooting our efforts. And it’s paying off.

What about you?

Print out the Caring Behaviors exercise and let’s get started!

Click here to read how Wendy and Tom used this tool and saw their dead marriage resurrected!


romantic-love

Let everyone know how it’s working in the comment section below. Also, please share this blog with your friends and on social media!

Let’s continue to be part of a relationship revolution!

Subscribe below to receive my weekly post that will come to you email inbox every Saturday morning! 

My goal is to provide free relationship tools and resources delivered to your inbox every week! 

Need a marriage resurrection? How to go from “flatlined” to “fully-alive”

Wendy and Tom’s relationship was as passionate as it gets.

At least it started out that way.

When they were dating, they were crazy in love. At work, the hours dragged on for an eternity until they could finally be together in the evening.

Then, when they were finally together, they honestly didn’t know where the time went.

It didn’t matter what they did, just being together was enough.

They would often stay up till the wee hours talking, never running out of things to say.

Can you relate? Most of us started out very much like this.

But then came the Power Struggle Stage.

After they were married, and after the chemical rush faded, Wendy and Tom felt “the love hangover”.

In the Power Struggle Stage you wake up to the reality that you’ve married someone “different” from you.

That sounds trite, but during the Romantic Stage, you unwittingly gave yourself up for a time, because you were intoxicated and fused with this person who made you feel whole.

They could do no wrong. And it was easy to see things “his way” or “her way”.

When you’re in love, you are enmeshed and under the illusion that “we’re so alike” and “we both like the same things”.

This is called SYMBIOSIS and it’s pleasurable during the Romantic Stage, but becomes painful in the Power Struggle Stage.

SYMBIOSIS is where couples get stuck, wound each other, and end up SELF-ABSORBED on both sides.

Thus the Power Struggle.

SYMBIOSIS says,

“You and I are one, and I am the one.”

For a couple to really connect and move from the Power Struggle to Mature Love there must be what experts call DIFFERENTIATION.  

DIFFERENTIATION is what dissolves SYMBIOSIS and enables a couple to connect.

DIFFERENTIATION happens when couples allow space for each partner to be who they are and to be fully embraced in their differences.

Soooo much easier said than done!

Tom was shocked the first time Wendy said she didn’t want to ride with him on his motorcycle one Saturday morning.

Deeply disappointed, he sped off on a long ride by himself. Wendy felt abandoned.

Wendy didn’t know how to respond when Tom wanted to watch sports in the evening instead of talking with her.

Now it felt like he was bored with her. This made her angry, because she did not see herself as a boring person. “Why is he doing this?!”

Wow! What happened?

The SYMBIOSIS that was so PLEASURABLE during the Romantic Stage is now terribly PAINFUL during the Power Struggle Stage.

Can you relate?

This is when many couples either break up or seek help.

Tom and Wendy held out, hoping things would change, but secretly they both wanted out of the relationship.

For months they fought about everything. Things went on and on, unresolved.

Until one day the fighting stopped.

What?

Yes, everything settled down. Emphasis on “settled”.

Like a lot couples Windy and Tom settled.  They came to what you might call a truce. A truce involves a cease fire.

A cease fire is not the end of the war. It only means you’re not shooting at each other right now.

But hey, we’re not fighting so much now. That’s good. Right?

Well…

What was really going on?

Wendy and Tom were now stuck in symbiosis, locked in a parallel marriage.  They’re still together, but most of their needs are now being met outside the relationship.

They’ve settled.

Deep inside the unresolved anger still smoldered, slowly smothering whatever feelings of love were left.

Tom and Wendy began looking elsewhere to find those feelings of full-aliveness that were lost and missing in their relationship.

Human beings are hungry for connection, and all of us long for the feeling of being fully-alive that comes through connection with our intimate partner.

When you are in a relationship that’s not close, the pain of feeling that disconnection will drive you to seek feelings of full-aliveness elsewhere.

You’ll begin looking for that chemical rush in countless “exits” from the relationship. Anything to dull the pain and feel alive again.

Some legit. Some not-so.

Think hobbies, work, friends, extreme sports, gaming, a bit too much wine in the evening, Netflix binging, pornography, an affair.

Tom began spending more time playing sports and hanging out with his motorcycle friends, and Wendy started going on vacations with her girlfriends.

Things were more peaceful outwardly, but underneath this apathy, was a growing, silent contempt for each other.

Contempt of course is the biggest predictor of relationship failure.

In Wendy and Tom’s case, their feelings flatlined.

“I can’t deny my feelings. I don’t love him any more.”

“She’s done everything she can to kill my love. Now I just don’t feel anything for her.”

“I’m not mad any more. I just want out.”

Honestly, I’d rather see couples at each others’ throats than in this place.

Anger is just the “other side” of passionate love.

So, when two angry partners reconnect…bam!!

That anger is transformed into passionate love.

It’s a process that happens through Dialogue and when it happens, it can happen in a flash.

It’s like a combination lock. You keep dialing the right numbers until one finally opens everything up. Breakthrough!

Anger is a sign that someone still wants the relationship. And conflict can be a good indication that you’re with the best person that can help you grow and heal.

Anger is an emotion that occurs when something we value is being violated or lost.

The key word here is “value”.

Both Tom and Wendy were no longer angry, and in their case that meant they no longer valued the relationship.

They were done. Flatlined.

When there’s zero emotion, the relationship may seem more peaceful, but in reality it’s six-feet under.

What if the feelings of love have ceased to exist? Passion has breathed its last? Romance has given up the ghost?

What if the love heartbeat has flatlined and the marriage is six-feet under? Can it be resurrected?

Absolutely!

Through Imago Dialogue, Wendy and Tom began to find the safety needed to reconnect on a deeper level.

Through the process, they began to move from symbiosis and self-absorption to differentiation and connection.

I love the Imago process, because it ALWAYS WORKS. If it doesn’t work, it’s because somewhere we failed to work the process.

Through the Dialogue, Wendy and Tom began to re-image each other as different, as someone in pain, defensive because of wounds from childhood, rather than “an insensitive person trying to hurt me”.

I’ve written in more detail about the Dialogue process here, and here.

Along with the Dialogue, Wendy and Tom also did what Harville Hendrix calls the Caring Behaviors exercise.

And it’s all about…

Hacking your brain chemistry to rekindle your feelings for each other and create a safety zone for a deeper connection.

And here’s how it goes:

1. Both of you, make a list using the phrase, “I feel loved and cared about when you…”

OBJECTIVE: To share with each other specifics about what you want, what pleases you, what your partner could do that will make you feel loved and valued.

Make this list under three categories.

(1) What your partner used to do that pleased you.
(2) What your partner does now that pleases you.
(3) What you’ve always wanted but never asked for.

These may be very private fantasies but should not be a present source of conflict.

Here are some examples:

make me coffee in the morning…call me from work just to check in…tell me I’m doing a good job…help me with my chores around the house…spend quality time talking with me…take a shower with me…compliment me on how I look, give me a back rub…want to have sex with me…bring me an unexpected gift…cuddle without having to have sex.

2. Indicate the importance of each item with an A, B or C, with A being most important.

3. Exchange lists. Put an X by items you are not willing to do right now, making the list conflict free.

4. Commit to do these things for each other randomly at least three times a day over the next two months.

When these “caring behaviors” are done regularly, your lower brain (brain stem and limbic system) gets reprogrammed and begins to see your partner as a source of pleasure rather than a source of pain.

That’s when the chemistry gets rebooted and the romantic feelings revive!

Even when your feelings are COMPLETELY DEAD?

YES! That’s what happened to Tom and Wendy!

They moved from the Power Struggle to the Mature Love Stage.

It was hard but they did it. Because they kept on doing these caring acts.

Tom said, it felt “fake” at first. Because he felt nothing for Wendy.

But as he went against what he felt, and did these caring acts day after day, the flame in his heart for Wendy reignited. Before long the feelings of love he had for her returned.

For Wendy it took longer because she had a hard time trusting, not really believing that Tom would keep it up.

When Tom was asked what motivated him to keep it up, he said,

“The more I did these things for Wendy, the better I felt. The better I felt, the more I wanted to even outdo what I had done before. It was like a snowball effect growing stronger each week.”

Why is this?

Modern brain science tells us this amazing fact:

Whenever you do a kind act for someone else, your lower brain thinks you’re doing it for YOU!

What?! That’s right.

And that’s why it feels so good!

Tom is living proof of this!

Doing these caring acts for your partner will change you own brain chemistry, helping you to rise up out of the dumps and experience new hope for your relationship.

It will do the same for your partner, resurrecting feelings of love and creating a safety zone in the relationship where you can connect like never before.

That’s what happened to Tom and Wendy.

What about you? Are you in a relationship that has flatlined? In need of a resurrection?

Get to a place where you can have Safe Dialogue and implement this Rekindling Exercise.

And, like Tom and Wendy, watch your relationship be resurrected – from “flatlined to fully-alive”.

Subscribe below to receive my weekly post that will come to your email inbox every Saturday morning! 

My goal is to provide free relationship tools and resources delivered to your inbox every week! 
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