This past year brought on countless unexpected changes and put a strain on many relationships. According to the National Law Review, 2020 saw at least a 20% increase in divorce rates from the previous year.
My wife Christine Hassler and I have seen firsthand what it really takes to have a thriving and passionate relationship. As a married couple, plus 30 years of combined experience as Relationship Coaches, we know that what makes a relationship last is relatively simple: healthy communication, fast and effective repair of conflict, emotional intimacy, and connected sex.
Here are four key ways to get your relationship out of lockdown this Valentine’s Day.
Heat Up Your Sex Life
Sex usually takes a backseat to the bills, kids, responsibilities, family dynamics, stress, and balancing work with life. We’ve seen it happen with countless couples. So what’s the secret to better sex? The two key things to heating up your sex life is to never stop “dating” your partner and never stop “learning” about sex. Dating your partner means staying curious about your partner and who they are becoming, rather than holding them in the past and who they have been. Learning about sex means not being stuck in a rut! Continue to explore, research, and try new techniques so sex doesn’t become boring and routine. Remember sex education in high school? Then all of a sudden, sex education just sort of stopped. Be the perpetual student. Share your fantasies openly and safely, learn new techniques, incorporate breath practices, and get comfortably uncomfortable with exploring unknown dimensions of your and your partner’s sexuality. Sex becomes stagnant through monotony and that equates to a rupture in intimacy and connection.
Communicate Like A “Love Boss”
Expressing yourself and communicating effectively aren’t always the same thing. No matter how long you and your partner have been together, you most likely have fallen into some communication patterns that are keeping you from actually seeing and loving each other the way you could be. One way to optimize your relationship is by communicating like a Love Boss. That means asking for what you need with compassion, respect and confidence. (Pro tip: this means doing your inner work, moving beyond old fears and learning to love yourself – more on that later). Communicating in extremes, such as suffocating your voice in order to make others feel better, or being aggressive in order to get your way, are both not healthy. When we don’t speak our needs into the container of the relationship we build resentment (stale anger) and that leaks out into how you treat each other. How you express matters!
Create Argument Agreements
Arguing is not really a thing to avoid in a relationship. The problem actually resides in couples building distance and resentment in the relationship by attempting to avoid conflict in hopes that it will be “swept under the rug”. The difference between happy, healthy couples and unhappy couples is not found in the amount they argue, but rather how quickly they can recover from arguments. Healthy couples are able to quickly recover from arguments and navigate conflict because they’ve formed agreements in a calm state about how they are going to argue (when they are not in an argument). For example: agree to not storm out of the room, agree to not name call, agree to take space to calm down, agree not to argue in front of others, agree to talk about what was learned from the argument, agree to let go of being right and seek to understand the other’s POV, etc. By talking (not yelling), and forming “fighting rules,” couples will be able to navigate conflict more smoothly.
Upgrade your Coping Strategies
When we are young, we form coping strategies or mechanisms to deal with difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, these become the habitual way we respond and are usually unhealthy. As adults, these “habits” or strategies continue to play out, irrespective of whether they are applicable to the present moment or your current partner. Especially during challenging times! Some common habits observed in couples are things like: shutting down, getting angry, or even pleasing people, which leads to resentment and creates distance. What a couple can do to get their relationship out of lockdown is create a “pattern break action”. This is an action that will shift the pattern of how things normally go. Couples have chosen a dance move, a song verse to sing, or anything that interrupts the bad habit when it begins to emerge.
About Stefanos Sifandos and Christine Hassler
Stefanos is a trained educator and relationship expert with a background in behavioral science. He is passionate about leading people closer to their highest potential and to each other. Stefanos has worked with thousands of men and women from all walks of life, including special forces soldiers, Olympic gold medalists, elite fighters, and everyday people. As a Love and Relationship Coach, both individuals and couples have relied on him to restructure and reframe their relationships with themselves and their loved ones. Stefanos has appeared on: Lori Harder – Earn Your Happy, Amanda Bucci – Bucci Radio, Chris Harder – For The Love Of Money, Natalie Jill, Mantalks, Angie Lee, Christine Hassler – Over it and on with it,
Wellness Force Radio with Josh Trent, Sahara Rose – The Highest Self Podcast, The Ben Greenfield podcast, The Aubrey Marcus Podcast, and The Lifestylist podcast, and many others.
Christine Hassler is a Master coach, facilitator and speaker with over 16 years of experience. She is the best-selling author of three books, most recently Expectation Hangover: Free Yourself From Your Past, Change your Present and Get What you Really Want and is the host of top-rated podcast “Over it and On With It” where she coaches people live on the show. Christine is known globally for her ability to identify what is holding someone back and compassionately guide them to clarity. She also works with companies and organizations to increase the productivity and decrease the stress of their employees. Christine has a Masters degree in Spiritual Psychology and implements elements of NLP, psychology, spirituality, science and her own diverse life experience into her work. She’s appeared on: The Today Show, CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, E!, Style, and The New York Times.