You say love is a gut feeling, that it’s something that you just know? Then why doesn’t it always keep the intensity and relationship going? If it’s such a strong emotion, if who we are drawn too is so animalistic and uncontrollable then why doesn’t it always last?
Attraction is just the initial trigger that pushes you into a relationship with another person, unfortunately it is not the main component that will maintain a healthy and fulfilling lesbian relationship. There are four important skills of a healthy relationship that have been studied and found in long-term relationships that have increased love and intimacy in couples. Knowledge and practice of these skills have been found to sustain couples through their hard times together, as well as allow for growth in the individual and the family system. Learning these four skills and putting them into action on a daily basis will increase the success of your relationship as well as maintain healthy boundaries and love for each other. Let’s explore these skills further:
Vulnerability. I have seen people physically cringe when I have mentioned to them making themselves more vulnerable and open to the people in their life, especially their partners. We have this skewed understanding that we need to be perfect and do everything independently and be “okay” all the time. WOW, you must be exhausted attempting to do the impossible. Perfection is a big fat lie told to children and as adults we have had that tape recording in our heads on for so long we actually think we need to keep it rolling. Allowing your partner to be there and feel needed will bring you closer and support your love for each other.
Letting your guard down to someone you love is a wonderful feeling, it allows for trust to be built which in turn increasing intimacy. However, if you struggle with all of the above and being close is a double edge sword, meaning being close is something you want but feel pain when you have it, I would suggest therapy to work on those issues. Again, self-care and opening up to a therapist will allow you a chance to learn skills for a healthy relationship!
Communication Skills. We are born with the ability to speak but not the skill to communicate, that is something which is learned over time. If you want to be heard by your partner then you need to know how to convey the message you want received. Always use “I” statements when sharing how you feel, “you” makes people defensive but if you take responsibility for how you feel then it belongs to you, so you have the power to change it.
Another communication skill to learn is the WIN formula (When, I, Need), this is a very effective method of communicating with little conflict arising. It should go something like this, “When (the action that took place) you forgot to pay the bills the other day, I (feeling it gave you) felt scared, I need (how do you want it to change?) you to let me know if you need help with that or a reminder so we don’t fall behind.” It’s important you practice these skills daily so that when conflict arises you will be well prepared and it will come automatically. New skills can not be learned when angry or fighting!
Commitment. Not so much as a promise but as an agreement that needs to be followed through. Commitment allows trust and intimacy to develop and continue to grow. As I have mentioned in previous articles and to my clients, everyone should have personal rules, such as no violence will be tolerated towards me. We also need relationship rules, agreements that you and your partner have come up with together in order to foster love and respect. That is all commitment! Without commitment to those rules chaos is created as well as the opportunity for either you and/or your partner to get hurt. It’s important that you both sit down and discuss expectations and what you are able to provide to the relationship. For some it may be staying faithful to your partner, for others it may be having an open relationship but one where affairs are discussed and agreed upon. As long as you’re open and truthful you are committing to that person.
Accommodation. The definition of accommodation is voluntarily changing ones behavior to meet the other person’s needs. It can be preformed in endless ways, however many choose not to accommodate their partners due to pride, selfishness and anger. When someone can change certain aspects of their behavior for the better of the relationship not only the relationship flourishes but you grow as a person. This is different from saying “yes” to everything and being a doormat, I am not suggesting you get used but discern what would be healthy for both your relationship and yourself. For example, my ex-girlfriend who enjoyed heavy metal music would only play it when our two-year old was at day care or out with me as I had shared it was something I did not feel comfortable having my toddler listen too. As hard as this was for her she was able to change, and found time to listen to her music, and when we were together as a family she would play music we could all enjoy. I felt very loved and most of all we both could enjoy time together with music we loved to dance and sing to with our little girl.