In our first article on Loving Relationships: Labors of Love, we asked the question: What feels loving to you?  We often don’t even realize that the answer is not the same for everyone.  Then we wonder why our efforts to make others feel loved don’t always have the desired effect!

An experiment where each person in a married couple was asked to record five nice things they did for their partner over the next week, and five nice things their partner did for them, produced a very surprising result: none of the items on the wife’s list of “nice things he did for me” matched any of the items on the husband’s “nice things I did for her” list!

The same was true for all the things the wife had listed as having done for her husband – he hadn’t listed a single one.  All the efforts the two were making to do nice things for each other weren’t even registering in the other’s mind as something nice being done for them.

The lesson?  What we assume will make someone else feel loved reflects what we would like to receive, not necessarily what they want.  In the same way, we think that others just automatically know what we want, because we wrongly assume it matches what would make them happy.

Inevitably these kinds of assumptions, especially when both people in the relationship are making them, lead to hurt feelings, resentment, and even grudges that can last for years.  A heavy price to pay, and completely unnecessary!

Being clear about our own needs, and communicating them, is the first step.  Finding our voice, and then giving ourselves permission to let the other person know what matters to us, helps that person do a better job at giving us what we actually want and need.

Then asking what’s important to them helps us avoid misperceptions and well-meaning but wasted efforts.  With more accurate information, we can do nice things for them that actually please them!  We’ll both be creating more connection, appreciation and delight – and wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?

Some great advice for this part of creating loving relationships can be found in the second half of our “HEARTFELT” acronym.  It’s easy to remember because this half spells the word FELT:

Feel with your heart – don’t Judge
Like listening with your heart, feeling with your heart helps you to pay attention to your inner voice and pay attention to how you feel.  We know way down deep inside when something feels loving, respectful and compassionate and when it doesn’t.  Being in a loving relationship means you can acknowledge when something feels uncomfortable, hurtful or painful.  And because you are coming from a loving space for yourself and the person you care about, you are respecting YOUR feelings enough to speak up!  This connects to loving communication and vulnerability, both of which are vital in all loving relationships!

Evolve and Flourish
When you feel loved, supported and accepted, you can evolve to become the person you were meant to be.   You have gifts that you bring to your relationships.  You yourself are a gift!  As you feel increasingly better and more loving towards yourself, you will increasingly allow your gifts to be expressed and shared.  When you are with people who love, accept and respect you for who you are, you are able to evolve and grow even more, and you can feel yourself and your world open up and expand.  Take a deep breath and just let this truth resonate within you!

Laugh!!! 
Life is serious, so we must make time to let go, lighten up and laugh – with each other and (maybe most importantly!) at ourselves from time to time.  As the saying goes: “we don’t stop laughing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop laughing.”  So let your spirit soar and your heart take wings – laugh with those you love, loudly and often!

Talk openly and lovingly
Remember to always speak with LOVE, RESPECT and COMPASSION, and let the people you love and want to love know how you feel.  Share your loving thoughts and feelings, breathe deeply and know that as long as you are speaking honestly and compassionately, your loving intentions can be seen and heard.

Love and relationships are a wonderful and necessary part of our lives.  When we feel loved or are in love, we find ourselves feeling easy and free, warm and cozy, safe and secure.  All relationships, however, require WORK, as well as our time, attention and patience so that they can grow and flourish.  And in this context, where the rewards are so great, “work” doesn’t have to be such a bad thing!  It’s time and effort that pays a huge dividend, both in the giving and the receiving.

Our loving relationships really are labors of love, and hopefully as you bring your heartfelt attention into your life, you will feel increasingly loving and loved in return.

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Be sure to join us on Wednesday, October 2nd for our free teleseminar on “Relationships, Conflict, Mindfulness and Intimacy.”  In this complimentary training with special guest Mari Mitchell-Porter, author of “Diary of a Hopeless Romantic,” you’ll learn how to bring your heartfelt intentions and expectations into your relationships.

If you can’t make the call live, register anyway – you’ll get an email following the call with a link for accessing the replay at your convenience for up to 48 hours after the call.  Click HERE to read more and register.

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