Our intimate relationships teach us more than from the hearts of those we love. They teach us about ourselves. There are no greater people who cultivate the machine than that of love. Our culture often considers love to be a fuzzy thing that is transmitted and makes you feel good inside. But as we all know, this only happens part of the time. The other part is full of anxiety and frustration. Your relationship can be the foundation for deep growth and vitality. Even Abraham Maslow, famous for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, argued that without bonding with love and affection with others, we cannot continue to realize our full potential as human beings.

Our relationships have intense life lessons if we let them. If you don’t let these lessons go in, you will likely prevent growth from happening, which will ultimately leave you stuck in an unsatisfactory relationship.

What Relationships Teach Us:

1. Facts matter less than feelings.

In a relationship, there are two lines of communication. There are a fact and feelings. As a guy, I got used to the facts of what was going on in my relationship. But our feelings are not a fact that we can verify; these are emotions. When you communicate with our partners, the only thing you don’t want to miss is the feeling. Because it is the feeling that really matters. If your partner is angry, know that there is usually a feeling of pain under this anger. Ask your partner why he is hurt. This is how you spread anger. Once you can show your partner that you understand why he feels like him, even if you don’t agree, the sooner you can connect and find a solution.

2. Withdrawal is death.

One model of dysfunctional relationships that emerged from 40 years of research in John Gottman’s love laboratory was withdrawal. When we turn away from our partners, affection, shared humor and joy come out the window. Withdrawal tends to occur when a person is emotionally unavailable or when a couple continues to behave in a negative and repulsive manner. It’s emotionally crippling. Withdrawal kills intimacy and sexual passion. Personal growth comes from learning to be hurt or angry and not to withdraw from the relationship. To learn to say that you are upset, frustrated and hurt so that you and your partner can get together to talk about it. It takes emotional depth not to build a wall. If you want a close intimate relationship, this is what you need to learn how to do.

3. Touch is the best aphrodisiac.

The loving touch brings us closer and forces us to stay close. If you don’t touch your partner often, your relationship won’t feel passionate. You will both feel that the connection and closeness that you have had diminished. While sexual touching improves romance, emotional touch deeps romance. Touching your hair while you lie in bed. Love thrives in the micro-moments of connection, and sometimes the best way to create a connection is to reach and touch your loved one.

4. Complaining to friends & family doesn’t help.

Sometimes we feel so irritated and angry with our partners that it seems easy to talk to our friends and family about their faults, their lack of sexual desire or their horrible communication skills. Unfortunately, they do not have the power to change the circumstances in your relationship. If you have a problem, speak directly to your partner. He is the only person who can make the effort to change your relationship.

5. Love is a verb, not a feeling.

If you want your relationship to work, you have to make an intentional effort to make it work. Two of my most popular articles reinforce this. If you take the time to think about it, some of the greatest lessons we have learned have come from our intimate relationships. Our relationships offer us a window into ourselves. We grow from miscommunication and misunderstanding. We become mature by learning to control our emotions and improving the way we communicate when we are inundated with anger.

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