So, I have been out of a typical nine to five/corporate job for almost four years now and I still have quite a few amazing friends from the previous organisations I worked for.
In the last few days, I have been catching up with some of my old colleagues—primarily men—who are passionate about their work and find that they are very much aligned with their purpose.
With a purpose lead life, it is sometimes hard to manage the work-life balance.
Besides, there are many many ways to get trained on all aspects of your work life, but how many of us really got any education/training on how to be in a relationship? It is almost a rhetorical question, because I have not met even a single person so far who has said they got that education.
As for me, I went on a six year period of personal growth, living a monastic life based on practices and connection.
I have learned a few things from that period that I want to share.
Being a men’s coach, these are primarily focused on men!
Women want attention, men want approval.
Not just any kind of attention, but quality attention.
Men, when was the last time you noticed something different on her where she put attention. Maybe she changed her nail varnish, or she got her hair done? Did you express that? What has her reaction? How frequently did you notice things on her when you first met her? How often do you do that now? If the frequency has changed, what has lead to that change?
Be careful, though, if this starts to become a chore. It is not about having a formula, but getting curious about her and learning to feel where she is at.
Women appreciate quality attention. Believe me, your quality of connection will change dramatically if you learn how to do this.
Ladies, if you are reading this, then here's a tip for you! When men hear a complaint, they are hardwired to try and fix it for you. We don’t necessarily understand that you either just want us to pay attention or you have a desire behind the complaint that you want us to hear. We are not very good with indirect communication. We are learning, but it is a process! :)
Men, when you hear a complaint, learn to navigate complaints to draw intimacy, that is, increase attention and slow down to draw what she really wants to say, what the complain hides. Again, this is about feeling over formula.
Does your woman feel cherished?
This is a litmus test. Ask yourself this question, “Does my partner feel cherished?”
Deep down you will know the answer.
Women want to feel cherished, and if they do, you are looking at a happy and deeply fulfilling relationship.
You can do this by doing very simple things.
My partner, when she wakes up in the morning, likes drinking hot water with half a lemon squeezed in it. I started doing that for her every morning when she woke up. The amount of happiness it brought to her, and in turn the warmth and happiness to our relationship, was unbelievable.
Ask your partner, “What would you like me to know?”
If you don’t know how to put quality attention on your partner or how to have your partner feel cherished, or for that matter if you want to really find out where your relationship is at, then get into a habit of asking your partner this question, “What would you like me to know?”
Set up a timed container, say two minutes, before you start. A set time helps with the part of the brain that goes into panic that this experience may never come to an end. If you set a fixed time for it, then you know that it is going to end at some point. :)
Also, set up a safe word—maybe something like, "banana!" You use this word if you get to a point where you are getting so defensive or angry that you can not hear anymore.
Once the timer starts, just shut up and listen! Do not get defensive. Do not try and explain why you think your way is the best way. Just shut up and listen and get curious about what she is saying—unless you need to use the safe word.
Now, when you start this process, it can be a bit like that faucet that has been turned off for a long time and when you open it, it take a little while for the clean water to get flowing. So, be patient. Shut up and listen, get curious, and set it up as a practice.
Set up a ten minute timer and tell each other the truth.
If you are in any kind of relationship, it is imperative you learn how to be truthful with each other. Most long term relationships get more like functional relationships with no passion or electricity, because they are based on a “I want you to like me” foundation.
This is where we meet someone and we only show them our “best traits” in order for them to like us. Once the novelty wears out and the rest of us appears from the basement, it is often too late and then the only option we see is to compromise.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The way to change this is to get into a practice of telling each other the truth—without worrying about the backlash you might receive or the hurt you might cause. One of the ways to do this is to set aside 20 minutes a few hours before going to bed. Each person gets to go for ten minutes and says whatever their truth is about the relationship.
The more vulnerable you can get, the better. The person who is hearing the truth does not say anything back. At the end of the 20 minutes, there is no processing of what was said. This is one of the ways to create a safe space for the truth in the relationship to emerge.
It might not be pretty, but it would definitely be better than living a life where you hide things from each other, which piles up over a period of time and creates disconnection and numbness in the relationship.
And finally, make these things a practice. Remember that relationship is a practice. It's like going to the gym. The more you work at it, the better and stronger it becomes!
DISCLAIMER: I have specifically used man/woman genders in this post and not written it in a gender non-binary compatible format. This is partly to do with the fact that I am speaking to the relational aspect of the gender dynamics and not the socio-political aspect of it. Also, in order to keep it simple I have used men=masculine and women=feminine model here. Feel free to swap/mix it based on how you relate to masculine and feminine energies.
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