Thinking Outside of the Chocolate Box this Valentine’s Day

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By ADINA LAKSER

Valentine’s Day. The annual festival of romance.
I hate to pop the romance bubble, but to keep a relationship alive and kicking it takes way more than once-a-year chocolate, roses, and dinner ritual. Relationships, although a great source of pleasure, also require a lot of work. Despite the Valentine’s Day message that making an effort on one day can recharge a love affair, if we want to develop our relationships and nurture authentic intimacy, we should be much more creative and diligent.
We may already know about the importance of scheduling ongoing date nights, especially if a couple is busy with life, work, children, and other familial responsibilities. But sometimes date nights fall short—especially if you’re both sitting across from each other, talking about the kids while slurping your soup.
In the face of the ongoing challenges to supporting intimacy, here are some ideas to feed connection:

1)    Deep listening.

A quote I see often roaming around on Facebook, by writer Stephen Covey, is “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Deep listening is about listening to hear your partner, without judging, or fixing, or sharing your opinion. Particularly in long-term relationships, where you may feel you already know everything about your partner, we can stop listening with curiosity and openness. And although it may seem easy, deep listening actually quite difficult. We need to silence the ongoing storytelling and distraction in our own heads and stay present with another person. Deep listening is a beautiful gift we can share with another. It’s truly amazing what can happen, for ourselves, for our partners, and for our relationship when we give the gift of attention.

2)    Being vulnerable.

“I’m scared that if we get too close, I’ll lose myself.” “I don’t feel like I’m a very good mother.” “It’s so hard for me to see you in pain.” “When your mother speaks to me, I feel like she judges me.” How many of us would actually say these words? Probably most of us would hide them in anger, ultimatums, distancing or keeping busy. But when we dare to be brave enough to share our fears, anxieties, and concerns with our partner, without blame or defensiveness, we open the door to real, authentic and deep communication.

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Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3)    Make art together.

I’m not talking about art with a capital A here. No need to paint the Sistine Chapel or compose an orchestral symphony. I’m talking playful, creative, stupid, silly, or experimental art. Collage together, play with the stones in your front yard and make some structures, skip stones on the waterfront, or make a fake movie trailer with the iMovie app. Creativity and sexuality are made of the same stuff—the power of connection. Playing with each other through art and creativity is a great way to shake things up, escape the “same old” conversation, and discover new things about each other.

4)    Scheduling sex.

Nothing may sound more unsexy than scheduling sex, but it’s an essential component of long-term relationships. Especially when life is busy (and when isn’t it?). Instead of wondering when and how you can get it on, you can talk about it, make a plan and sex no longer has to be squeezed in. Our society idolizes spontaneous sex as the ultimate in hot, but there is a lot to be said for a plan. As well, in anticipation of the “sex date,” you and your partner can send each other juicy texts, leave post-it notes on the coffee maker, or even give each other suggestive winks and nudges. You can make it all part of the foreplay ritual.

5)    Spend time in nature.

Every relationship needs a web of support. Relationships, like people, cannot thrive in a vacuum. We, as individuals, need to feel a part of something greater and the same applies to couples. Spending time in nature (it can be a city park, time by the river, or more rugged hiking or canoeing adventures) is a relatively simple way to immerse yourself in the web of Life. Soaking in nature has been proven to reduce depression and anxiety and increases energy. What relationship couldn’t benefit from that?

Chocolates are delicious and flowers are beautiful, but they aren’t nearly the only ways to express your love. Being present, honest and creative as individuals and together as a couple are transformative measures to enhance a relationship. And, best of all, they cost no money (such a Winnipegger!).

I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at adinacoach@gmail.com with comments or questions or if you’d like to learn how working with me can help you to increase the romance in your relationship.

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Adina Lakser is a Winnipeg-based sex coach, writer and mother. Visit her at nakedparts.wordpress.com or her Aquarian column Pillow Talk at www.aquarianonline.com under the Columns tab. 

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