Summer is here, and as your thoughts turn to summer adventures, vacations and explorations, it’s time to consider taking your relationship on an adventure as well.
I’m not talking about hiking Machu Picchu or exploring the Australian Outback with your significant other (although it could be a wonderful experience).
No, I’m talking about adventures in intimacy!
Now, when we hear the word “intimacy” we often immediately think of the bedroom, of course, but there are plenty of ways to connect with our partner in an intimate way that’s not just S-E-X.
There’s holding hands, backrubs, spending time together—all wonderful ways to reinforce intimacy, but what about emotional intimacy? What about the closeness that comes from spending time together, letting your guard down, and really letting out your authentic self.
I’m guessing for many of us, a safari or a jungle adventure sounds preferable, and maybe even easier, right?
We get scared to let our guard down and be truly vulnerable. Rightly so—when we’re emotionally naked with another person they can see all of us. They can see the lumps and bumps and cellulite. It can be scary. We may want to turn those lights off and hide!
But if you really want to connect with a partner, you have to be willing to let your authentic self out.
We spend years carefully honing and creating our persona. Think of all the things people said to you that you believed growing up. Maybe they said you were “too much” or “too emotional.” Maybe people told you that you weren’t smart enough or that you weren’t someone they wanted to be friends with.
What do those comments do? They build up in our minds. We repeat them to ourselves in our heads and replay them ad nauseam.
I’m guessing if twenty people paid you a compliment and one person said, “You’re ugly,” you would remember that one comment over the twenty.
We all focus on the hurtful comments and the things that bore a hole into our psyche. These comments and jabs reinforce our beliefs about ourselves—the beliefs that hold us back. We call those “limiting beliefs.”
As we grow up, those limiting beliefs, likely reinforced by our parents, become instilled in us. We believe we aren’t enough. We believe we can’t do things as well as other people, that we don’t deserve love and success in our lives. We try to counteract those limiting beliefs by compensating.
We may have strong yearnings that drive us to counteract those beliefs, like a seesaw. We go back and forth. We yearn to be accepted and loved; we yearn to be respected. We yearn to have someone know us fully. These yearnings counteract those voices in our mind that say, “You’re not enough,” or “You don’t really know what you’re doing,” or “Someone else would do a better job.”
All of this stuff…this baggage, is what we carry with us into each relationship. We bring it along with our ideas of what the perfect relationship should look like, and we wonder why our romance doesn’t measure up to the fairytales. Is it because we don’t measure up?
Instead of standing up in our relationship and demanding what we really want and giving what we are capable of giving, we hold back. We might avoid conflict because we were raised in a house where conflict was “bad.” We might believe we always have to put on a happy front or pretend everything is fine while we seethe inside.
Or maybe that frustration is pushed so far down that you even believe you’re “pretty happy” but you’re wondering why the fire and passion aren’t there. You might be feeling like this is just “how it is” so you “may as well settle.”
This summer, instead of settling for good enough, go for great! Jump in! Embrace the mess.
If you want a great relationship, you’re going to have to fight for it! It doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come quickly. It’s something that is built over time.
It may seem counterintuitive that fighting can bring you closer, but look at it this way—fighting arises from truth. We have to believe in something or the truth of something enough to rally ourselves and fight about it. It’s hard to fight for something you don’t believe in. But if you believe in something, you’ll fight to the bitter end.
The a-ha moment comes in when you realize that you need to fight FOR the relationship. Are you fighting just to fight? Are you arguing because you simply enjoy a debate or are you fighting because you want to understand your partner and be understood? Are you fighting for your truth?
This summer, embrace the opportunity to engage with your partner. Embrace the opportunity to explore our most exciting territory—our deeper selves. Discover what you want from yourself and your relationship and start fighting to get there.
Unlock the hard truths about yourself and what you yearn for. Ask what you need to be fulfilled within your relationship, and then GO FOR IT! Share that truth with your partner and be ready to reciprocate. Discover ways you can explore and learn together to move toward your best self—your most authentic, happiest and joyful self.
Have an adventure this summer—the adventure of intimate conflict!
For more on conflict and how it can stimulate and help (not hurt) your relationship, please visit The Heart of the Fight. Join us at the Wright Foundation for this and other ways you can discover your best, happiest self!
Dr. Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.