Tools for Couples Happiness — 15 March 2009
Practice the five steps toward sustained intimate relationship

All couples wish to have a close, loving and intimate connection, yet many are at a loss about how to achieve this desired goal. Actually, you already possess the skills to create and sustain a wonderful relationship, because you practiced it during your courtship.

If you recall, here is the five-step story of your relationship.

Step One- You and your lover, like all other couples, began your relationship as strangers. As you made your first eye contact, one or both of you transmitted a glimpse of interest. Whether or not it was love at first sight, you held your gaze long enough to convey your aroused curiosity and implied attraction. You were seen.

Step two- The discomfort of the lengthy stare propelled one of you to ask: “Do you come here often?“ “Is this your regular dentist?” “Do you live around here?” Feeling vulnerable, the first inquiry was not profound, but tested for reciprocal interest. A warm response led to a few more exchanges culminating in an invitation: “Would you like to have coffee sometime?” “ Can we get together and continue this conversation?” Phone number or email at hand, you excitedly parted, joyfully anticipating your next reunion. You were heard.

Step three- You felt excited, hopeful, yet cautiously guarded about your first meeting. You wondered whether your enthusiasm will hold and be matched by your date. As you met, you exchanged smiles, looked more intensely into each other’s eyes, spoke with enthusiasm and curiosity and proceeded with your planned activity. Both of you were curious, attentive, interested and fascinated by whatever you saw and heard. “I had a really good time,” preceded another invitation for the next activity. You were partnered.

Step four- At a later time, as you kept gazing, chatting and enjoying another experience, one of you braved the first physical touch. You may have held hands, caressed, hugged, kissed or ended up making love. Time stood still as you pleasured each other with abandon. The physical connection intensified your desire for more prolonged contact, heightened your passion and left you reminiscing about the delights you shared. You were pleasured.

Step five- After months or years of dating, repeated attentive eye contact, verbal appreciations and animated conversations, shared activities, fun and passion, you felt ready to declare your commitment to each other. Whether you got engaged, moved in together, or planned your future, you continuously professed your love for each other, rejoiced in the fortune of your destiny, and trusted that you were meant to be together forever. You were united.

These five phases of progressing from strangers to intimate partners may not have evolved for you exactly as described above. Yet, you did partake in giving and receiving attention, communicated with curiosity and deep interest as you appreciated the best in each other, shared fun activities, touched and loved and became devoted to each other and your union.

Couples who repeatedly get seen, heard, partnered and pleasured, become securely committed and bonded. All you have to do is practice these simple five steps throughout your relationship to create a stable, solid and unshaken union for life.

• Know that you are already a partnership expert since you have successfully accomplished all these steps and established a union with your beloved.
• Understand that the above practices are not only courtship tools, but also long term relationship “musts”.
• You can always assess which need of yours is underserved, offer more of it to your partner, and ask for reciprocity.
• Remember that new or seasoned relationships thrive on the same principles: Providing attention, Listening/communicating, Engaging in activities, Sensual/sexual touching and Uniting. (P.L.E.S. U).
• Be your own couple therapists. It is easy and rewarding to assess together which step needs to be strengthened and plan the needed changes to restore your close, loving and intimate relationship.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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