The question ("how can I?") itself is actually the first step to improving your relationship(s). Most of us try to make the other person change. This strategy inevitably fails. But when we take responsibility for our own part in the problem then things almost always begin to improve! Why? Because when we are responsible for ourselves (responsible = response + able) then the other person begins to feel safer (not attacked, blamed or shamed). When we feel safer we tend to open up more. The more open we become the richer the relationship usually becomes. (See the video below.)
The second most important step is being able to open ourselves safely to the other. When we can share our hopes, fears, disappointments, sorrows, joys, etc. in ways that the other person can hear (without judging, defending, placating, freaking) then the emotional intimacy increases and people feel closer. Both parties become open and honest, and more positive toward/interested in each other. With emotional intimacy, communication, sexual intimacy, meaning, and more all succeed. (Romance begins with such openness, plus a willingness to look each other in the eyes, but this dynamic applies to anyone. See this article about how to increase intimacy.)
In order to open ourselves we need to trust. This is the largest barrier to intimacy. But we cannot expect to trust others in a healthy way if we do not believe we are worthy of receiving trust. To do that we need to trust ourselves! Watch this awesome short video of the famed Brené Brown talking about what trust truly is, and how to gain it, or read more about trust in this page about trust.
Nearly half the adult population did not learn how to securely "attach" (emotionally connect or bond) to their parents or caregivers, leading many to fail at accomplishing this second step a lot of the time. These folk usually need to learn this vital component before they can engage in more satisfying, long-term, relationships. It's not their fault! Read more about this here.
The third step is to understand what our individual triggers are, take responsibility for them, and then begin to heal them through the relationship! No one "makes" me feel anything! How I emotionally respond is my decision -consciously or otherwise! My triggers are wounds from my past (childhood, early adulthood, family of origin, or elsewhere). When I am triggered I am being given the (painful!) opportunity to do something to heal that wound.
The fourth step is accomplished when together, in the safety of our relationship, we work out ways of intervening in our negative feedback loop/pattern so that it begins to fade and our triggers begin to heal. This step goes beyond step three, as here both consciously work together to end old feed-back patterns. When two or more people make this happen together amazing energy is released, children (of any age) of that couple do so much better, work prospects improve, friendships improve, and far more!
Once the couple are being emotionally intimate (in a mutual, safe, way) then sex naturally follows, especially as we are excited and drawn to the uniqueness of my lover.
Not only does it feel great to love and be loved, it turns out it benefits us in other ways as well! Loving, committed, relationships improve physical health, extend life by reducing stress and increasing the release of cell-enhancing hormones. Healthy cells make exuberant people -who glow! Oh, and most improve their incomes, too.
Want to know the secrets of those who create lasting, loving, relationships? An excellent article can be read here.
What about addictions? Trying to treat addictions outside of one's important relationship(s) usually doesn't work. Shame and trauma are the roots of addictions, and these are best healed through healthy relationships. Check out Dr. Gabor Mate's insightful talk into this and other subjects (such as the roots to disease).
Check out this TED talk on the paradox of love and eroticism (of safety and adventure). Yes, you can have both with your partner if you both want it!
Here are some additional ideas you may wish to consider from sex therapists: CNN Health.
Men: here's a great little article just for you. Well researched, too. www.feelguide.com
You are wise to pick a therapist who is fully trained in relationship therapy. Don't put your relationship into the hands of someone unfamiliar with the above steps.
To see a short video clip of Ian describing the initial process of disentangling a couple so that they can truly love and connect with each other go to this link and scroll down a quarter of a page.
An exceptionally helpful program is offered throughout North America, called the Pursuit of Excellence. It's 'excellent' for individuals and for couples, team members, families; indeed, everyone! People who take the program often report improved relationships with spouses, family members, work mates and bosses, and others.
Why? In large part because the program helps participants better understand and appreciate themselves. Feeling more secure in oneself often leads to improved relationships, in part because we are no longer dependent on others to feel secure, loveable, etc.
Do check out their website: www.excellenceseminars.com.
Video below: Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon discuss here the stages of love, from a spiritual perspective, and what gets in our way of deeper intimacy. If it does not play then click here.
If you really want a better, richer, life, do call Ian! 250-754-0698.
For high quality relationships and a life truly worth living.
Don't put it off any longer.
Link to Ian's profile on the B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors website