By Tina Tessina, Ph.D.
Identity’s very own relationship expert, Dr. Tina Tessina shares her knowledge with readers once again. Relationships can be difficult to navigate. By knowing how to create a successful, long term partnership through understanding what both people need and expect, you will be able to find a relationship that is right for you.
The skills couples need to keep intimacy alive in a long-term relationship differ from new relationship intimacy skills, and they are not obvious because people don’t talk about them. Most couples need to lower their expectations of romance and glamour and raise the level of fun they have together. Regular weekly talks (I call them ‘State of the Union’ discussions) keep the problems minor, the resentment level down, and the communication open, so that there is time and space for intimacy. In a successful, long term relationship, passion becomes a shared sense of humor and goodwill toward each other. I spend every day teaching couples how to do these things.
Generally speaking, men value competency and problem solving. Women value intimacy and emotional connection. The truth is that learning successful problem solving ends fighting and power struggles, and therefore leads to more intimacy. You may think he’s focused entirely on time, power or money, but what he’s really trying to do is create enough security that he can feel safe to let his guard down.
Intimacy is the art of making your partner feel understood and accepted. When this feeling is created, barriers fall. Gentle touch, eye contact a gentle sense of humor and the right words all create the atmosphere. Positive comments on your partner’s looks or the day’s activities positively will also help. Couples disconnect when they don’t feel interested in each other anymore. To reconnect, make an effort to listen and understand each other’s needs and wants.
The most powerful thing you can do to keep a marriage strong is form a partnership, a team, where both parties feel respected, cared about and needed. If you really want to restore the marriage, begin not by complaining, but by seeking to understand your partner. Once the connection is there, you can begin to work out the issues.
Dr. Tessina is a licensed marriage counselor in Southern California, with 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and is the author of 13 books.