Whether you are in a long-term relationship or you're looking for one, you've probably noticed something rather obvious: that not all of us are looking for the exact same things in love relationships. Most of us have unique priorities when it comes to what we value most in this as well as every major aspect of our lives. But certain ingredients that stand the test of time usually characterize the most fulfilling marriages and love relationships. So whether yours is in a difficult period right now, or you simply want to make a good relationship even better, remember the acronym TOUCH:
T stands for tenderness and talking. Tenderness can be expressed both physically and emotionally. Think of this as how you express kindness and caring toward one another. This sounds simple and quite obvious, but isn't always easy when you're in the middle of life's challenges. Communication is also a key. Talk about the issues that concern you; and make it a priority to resolve conflicts before they grow larger.
O is for openness and objectivity. Expressing your thoughts and feelings when they occur can increase intimacy and closeness. Allow yourself to be vulnerable at times. True intimacy is about letting your partner know about parts of you that are most difficult to share. During conflict, being objective can often save the day. It may be easier to stand with your own perspective, but the bigger challenge is taking a step back and looking at your problem almost as if you were a third party. Then, it's much easier to go into problem solving mode. When neither of you are willing or able to do this, you're likely to hit an impasse resulting in more accumulated "baggage" when there's a disagreement.
U is for understanding. This is also known as empathy -- not necessarily agreeing with what your partner is feeling, but knowing and understanding it. Asking questions and showing genuine compassion for what your partner needs can help you know what kind of comfort and support to offer each other.
C is for chemistry and comfort. Who knows how chemistry develops, but it's an ingredient that can lead to great sexual, sensual, emotional, intellectual and spiritual connection. While passion in your relationship is important, so is the ability to be together during the ordinary and mundane moments of daily life. So strive for a healthy mix of chemistry and comfort as one more way to keep your romance alive.
H stands for honesty. This is another prerequisite for intimacy. But be careful about being so brutally honest that your message is lost in anger. The goal here is never to build resentment, but trust!
So together, take an inventory of your relationship; and commit to adopting or reigniting these ingredients as a roadmap to fulfillment for both of you!
More specific tips for improving your relationship can be found in my new book, Stage Climbing: The Shortest Path to Your Highest Potential.