Safety = Pleasure seems like a fairly obvious equation but there is a part of our culture that distrusts if things are too good. We have sayings like, it is too good to be true, or wait for the next shoe to drop, or knock on wood. NO, the more you pleasure your partner, the safer it becomes.
Two Crucial Exercises
When working with couples, when the time feels right I have couples complete two crucial exercises. I tell them, for me, this is the most important part of the program we have embarked on. Why? Well generally, when couples come into the office, they are there because things are not going well. And yes, they have to learn to deal with that. But where I want them to live the rest of their lives is when they feel safe and that is where I introduce the safety = pleasure equation.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. It is a day that “has become a significant cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world” according to Wikipedia. Why not make every day a valentine’s day for your partner?
Saying Nice Things: Flood Your Partner with Positives
In the office, I have couples flood each other with positives. They begin with the physical, the psychological and the behaviours that one partner appreciates about the other and end with positive global statements like “you are the best person in the whole world” and “I love you.” The point being to SAY nice things to each other, because the more nice things I hear from my partner the safer it becomes. My old brain can relax; this is not the enemy over there, it is my friend, my ally. We are on the same team. I encourage couples to give their partner at least three appreciations or affirmations daily.
Doing Nice Things for Each Other
For homework I ask them to complete another exercise which is about DOING nice things to each other. Typically when couples come into the office they might not feel very close. If they have been married for 10 years, I don’t want to have to wait 10 years to get those positive feelings back. Is there a way to jump start that process? Yes there is.
I have them draw up three lists: on the first list they write down the things their partner is doing right now that make them feel loved and cared for. The second list goes back to the romantic love stage of the relationship. They write down things their partner did for them then, but perhaps are not doing now. The third list, and they might or might not have anything for this list, is a list of Secret Desires. These are things they have always wanted but never asked for. If they have asked for them and not received them it goes on a separate list – of frustrations.
In any case, they draw up the three lists and then exchange their lists. Their partner can scratch out anything he or she might not want to do at the present moment, but hopefully each partner will be left with a list of 5, 10 or more things, any one of which they do, will make their partner feel loved and cared for, as they gave them the list. They really can’t go wrong.
The caveat is, I need them to do one or two of the items on the list daily whether they feel like it or not. Here is where I often get push back, but I counter with: “Do you always feel like going to work?” Often the answer is no, and I ask, “Do you go?” and usually the answer is yes. Even though they don’t feel like going to work, they go because they know they will get fired, or they have a mortgage to pay or whatever. But often, if partners don’t feel close, they won’t act lovingly. I need them to act differently towards each other.
Valentine’s Day is just one day out of the year. Know that the more nice things you do and say to your partner on a daily basis, the safer it becomes and safety is a key element in a conscious relationship. I am not speaking of physical safety which has to be a given, but rather psychological and emotional safety where each partner is free to be his or her unique self. SAYING nice things to each other and DOING nice things for each other on a daily basis is a great start on the safety = pleasure equation.