This month we are bombarded with ideals of romance. Grand gestures, extravagant displays of affection and expensive dinners seem to be the way to share your love. But is that what really fuels LOVE in our relationships for the rest of the year?
Over our 30 years of working with couples, we have a different perspective for the Month of LOVE.
We ask the question, “If your relationship was ‘just right,’ what words would you use to describe it?” The answer we’ve received time and time again: safety, connection, and joy. These are the behaviors we want to celebrate this month.
This is what SAFETY, CONNECTION, and JOY look like to us….
Being emotionally and physically safe and being able to count on it. “I can let my defenses down, take my armor off and relax without having to be on guard.” Safety is the confidence that whenever you are in your partner’s presence you can trust, without a doubt, that your partner will be emotionally available, listen accurately and deeply and withhold judgment.
According to new brain studies, when anyone feels this sort of safety their glandular system secretes a chemical into the bloodstream called endorphins which produce a sense of well-being and strengthen the immune system. Safety appears to be an emotional state experienced in the body. Consistent and reliable safety is a way to open yourself up to receive LOVE.
Connection is described as “We feel like we belong together,” “We experience a sort of oneness as well as separateness.” Connection can be confused with “relating.” Relating refers to “being together and doing things but not feeling safe.” We call these “transactional” behaviors.
Transactional behaviors can be when couples have a special dinner together, take a vacation, or engage in sex but don’t experience happiness and joy. This is because there isn’t a connection or safety in the relationship. They worry their partner may respond with a putdown or intense escalation. Not being able to trust completely, their brains constantly secrete cortisol (the fear chemical) into their bloodstream.
On the other hand, when couples engage in connectional behaviors with safety in their relationship the fear center in their brains (called the amygdala) goes to sleep in an endorphin glow!
We think of joy as a general sense of pleasure, a plateau of relaxation or the pleasure that comes after an orgasm. Joy is the primary emotion felt when we are not anxious. Feeling one with each other while playing and laughing together can be as passionate as sex. In fact, some couples say they “make love all the time and sometimes have sex!”
This month don’t buy into the romantic LOVE that the dozen roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are selling. We encourage you to explore Safety, Connection, and Joy in your relationship and experience our kind of LOVE.