Dear Neil: We have been married four years, and have noticed that a lot of things can water down our closeness and intimacy for us. Could you describe the traits or skills that are necessary for my wife and I to create the best relationship we possibly can?
Dwindling in Pensacola, Florida
Dear Dwindling: Here are some of the most important traits a good intimate relationship has:
- Assumption of goodwill. Absence of malice and benefit of doubt. Absence of unwarranted hostility. Assumption of trust
- Open, self-disclosing and skilled communication. Good listening skills. Sharing hopes, dreams, wishes, problems and personal intimacies.
- Good conflict resolution skills. Good problem solving, negotiating and compromising skills. Careful and skilled with anger. Absence of threats, name calling and labeling. Making an effort to initiate reconciliation after a fight, and to be healing when the other person is hurt or angry. Absence of viciousness when angry.
- Friendship and support. The feeling that your mate is on your side (Not that he/she always agrees with you, just that you feel your partner generally is your friend and ally and you can turn to him/her for emotional support.)
- Nurturance/Giving. Being responsive to your mate. Making what’s important to him/her important to you.
- Affection. Lots of touch. Sexual receptivity. Trying to please sexually. Wooing rather than demanding sex.
- Fidelity. Doing whatever you can to help your mate feel secure about your loyalty.
- Stability/Reliability. Keeping your relationship on solid footing. Not destabilizing, threatening or withdrawing from the relationship.
- Honesty. This includes the absence of dishonesty. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Acting reliably trustworthy.
- Willing to emotionally risk. Permitting yourself to be vulnerable and to emotionally surrender to your mate. To not be very emotionally guarded, armored, defensed or protected.
- Romance. Wooing. Sweet gestures (massages, meals, help around the house, surprises, flowers, notes and cards, etc). Going out of your way to please, and doing so on an ongoing basis.
- Respect. Believing in your mate and his/her capabilities, skills and efforts. Not trying to undermine her/his self-esteem.
- Reciprocity. Overall in the relationship, what you give is roughly equivalent to what you receive.
- Physically/Emotionally available. Present. Not distracted, preoccupied or thinking about other things. Able to relate in the here and now.
- Both parties have positive self-esteem. Not overly jealous, possessive, controlling or paranoid. Able to acknowledge and admit wrongdoing. Cup half full. Positive outlook. Believing in yourself.
- Tact/Diplomacy. Saying things carefully so you’re not unnecessarily hurtful or wounding.
- Continuously looking at what’s fun for the two of you.
- Receptivity. Willing to take input, feedback and suggestions. Willing to try things the other person’s way. Not too set in your ways.
- Adventurous. Occasionally doing things out of the ordinary. Willing to try new things.
Has your relationship turned cold and distant? Neil’s book Love, Sex, and Staying Warm can help you rekindle your passion.Get My Book Today →