When I decided to become an Intimacy coach based in Beirut, I tried to weigh all the pros and cons I could think of. The ability to pursue a career I am extremely passionate about and to feel a sense of mission driving my life won by far every time over the risks, critics, and other perils of choosing such a profession in such a place.
However, never have I thought that my career choice would also affect mundane areas in my life such as going out. If introduced or asked about my work, which often happens, I found myself suddenly immersed with a flood of laughs, remarks, and questions; wherever I was, restaurants, bars, clubs, or even private salons. From the skeptics to the enthusiasts, I have heard it all, or let’s say almost!
Questions de tout genre. Questions about intimacy, love, anatomy, relationships, divorce … anything you can think of or not, I have heard it! Interestingly, along the way a fascinating pattern emerged in front of my eyes.
Every now and then, and usually after a comment, advice, or suggestion I had made that did seem to challenge a status quo and was interpreted by some as too “optimistic” or “idealistic”, I hear the recurrent same question: “Are you married?” as if the negative answer would explain everything, my gullibility included, and it will be the end of it. Just another case of say/don’t do, all theory/no practice professional coming to bestow upon his listeners some ideals that never worked and would specifically be inefficient today in a time when we are rethinking everything including our own existence.
“Yes” I would answer, “for more than ten years”. Now, sometimes, if I am lucky enough, it ends here. Some other times, the most daring will take me aside, and, as if in an attempt to extract a private confession, will murmur: “do you really mean it? Do you really believe a couple can stay in love all their life?”
I will say, shout, and repeat: YES, I do believe!
In fact, I do believe in a happily ever after, as much as I believe that the courageous princess didn’t wait for the brave prince to rescue her, while being trapped in her high ivory tower. Hell no! she was facing her own demons and slaying her own dragons before meeting him somewhere along the way!
Yes, I believe they lived happily ever after because both of them were smart, heart and head, to understand that this was the beginning of their journey, and not the end.
A new exciting world awaited them with its own problems, perils, and pleasures to embrace and face.
Someone once said: “We only fail when we stop trying”, and that is exactly what some of us just did. And it is only partly our fault. When the stories we are told end where they should begin, when the epitome of happiness is a ring and a vow, we retract from our greatness, forget our capabilities, and drown into the mediocre, accepting the “what is” instead of seeking the “what is possible”.
When social media, news, magazines, reality tv, and all the shouting voices of the century around us scream conflicts, disagreements, affairs, and divorce, we automatically become unconfident in our own strength and, naturally, the strength of our couple. When we become the exception and not the rule, doubt can become our third wheel, and a heavy one indeed.
So, in an age of excessive nudity but no intimacy; in an era of advanced mass communication but no connection; and in a time when everything and everyone is immediately available but nothing and no one is really appreciated, here is – in my opinion – the essential 3 T’s to thrive as a couple:
- Trust: when we trust, we become exposed, naked, and vulnerable. If – for any reason – we think that our trust was broken, we feel shattered; yes it hurts, badly. But what other choice do you think you have? If you think that by choosing to live in doubt, worrying over every word, spying on every call, smelling every shirt you would be more content, think again. Trust is to the couple what soil is to the seed. Without it, no couple can survive and thrive.
Hemingway once said: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”. So, have faith; first in yourself and in your ability to attract and keep authentic love, and secondly in your merit for it. It is extremely difficult in this technological boom to blink without featuring on national news, so is it really worth it to endure or inflict such hardship?
Therefore, never mistake trust as a favor for the other. By trusting, you are choosing yourself and the couple. By trusting, if a time comes when you feel your trust is shaken, review it, and alter your path accordingly.
Make your conditions known, and ask for the same. In the end, no matter what the end result will be, you will always know deep inside that you gave it all!
- Talk: if trust is the soil, then talking is the water. A couple that doesn’t communicate may exist peacefully, but not in harmony. A silent, slow decay awaits a silent partnership. Never expect your partner to read your mind and always ask for more clarification when you think you misunderstood a situation.
Come from a place of love, not judgement or contempt. Avoid words like “always” or “never” in a heated discussion, and listen with intention. Don’t listen only to answer back or to seem fair. Be kind, after all, this is the partner you did choose amongst all of the others. Didn’t you?
If you feel that your discussion is taking a turn you may regret later on, it is always wise to take the decision to postpone or delay it, but never dismiss or ignore an unsolved conflict.
- Try: so, if trusting is the soil and talking is the water, then trying is the vitamin and the sun, which is necessary for your couple to grow and blossom. The comparison may seem cliché at first, I admit it, but think of it and then keep it in your mind, it will help. If you heard about a new hobby you would like to try a deux, go on and try it! If you read about a new restaurant you think your partner would like, go ahead, surprise them with a reservation, no occasion needed!
A new silly exercise that you think can help you bond and strengthen your intimacy? Go ahead, don’t fear ridicule, suggest it to your partner! Do you feel like spicing things up between the sheets? Why not?!
You got the idea, the most important factor here is trying. Approach your relation everyday as a new experience and opportunity and be playful. After all, isn’t life the biggest game of them all? I really hope that this simple formula will help anchor and strengthen your couple. As much as we are all different and unique, luckily, it worked and still works for me and my clients.
Finally, I find that for a woman to truly thrive in her couple’s life today, she should understand that this relation is a living entity, and like every other living organism on this planet, it either evolves, adapts, and thrives or withers and dies.
The choice is yours, every day!
So, be the partner you wish to see in your relationship, and choose love, everyday!
What do you think of the formula? How do you plan on starting to implement it? Any thoughts or questions? Leave your comment!
By, Jennifer Saliba, Women Empowerment & Intimacy Coach, Founder of The Coaching Boutique