Today I’m chatting with Joe Borders, LMFT, a sex-positive LGBTQ therapist and specialist in working with teens, couples, and addiction.Read More
About a year ago I took in a stray cat that had been visiting my yard. She was small with a sleek black coat, little smooshy face, and very affectionate; I named her Panther. Within six hours of being brought into my house she gave birth to four kittens. While my initial plans were to find adoptive homes for her and all the kittens, she and two of the kittens have become permanent parts of my family.
Panther has some adorable ways of showing love. To her kittens, she is an affectionate mama cat, grooming, feeding and playing with her babies. She chases them around the house, pouncing on them from a hiding space before aggressively licking their faces.
Almost every day she greets me by bringing me her favorite mouse toy and laying it next to me. She licks my hand and arm, rubs her face against me, and purrs loudly whenever I pet her.
For Panther, this is how she shows me love and gratitude and appreciation.
Cats and dogs express love pretty easy. They are clear and upfront with how they feel, and they show affection in ways that we can pretty easily recognize is love.
With humans, however, it’s not always so easy. Sometimes we’re pretty good at hiding our feelings of love. Or we think we are clearly expressing love through our actions, but our partner doesn’t always recognize it in the same way.
How do you show love to the people in your life that you care for?
What ways do you recognize people in your life show you love?
One difficulty is that we most likely recognize and express love in different ways from others in our life. For some people, the most powerful way to express love is through direct expressions… telling your partner “You mean the world to me” or “I can’t imagine my life without you.”
But this may not be how your partner recognizes love. They may have a different style that lights up their heart. They may recognize love through affectionate touch (holding hands or cuddling while watching a movie) or kind actions (like when you do the dishes or get the car tuned up for them) or gifts (bringing home flowers or a thoughtful card).
The book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman really brought this concept of different ways to express and recognize love to light.
When was the last time you talked with your loved one about how to meet their needs, or how they can meet yours, around feeling loved?
A friend of mine who recently starting dating someone new shared with me that they have been openly communicating around how they recognize and show affection, love, and romance. They each made a list of things they believe are romantic and shared with each other. What an amazing way to share your needs with your partner!
My challenge to you this week is to open up a conversation with a loved one in your life the ways you show and recognize love.
- Try telling your someone special: “I love it when you do _____ for me.” Or: “I really feel your love for me when you take the time to ____.”
- Ask them directly “How can I show you that I love you?”
- Or you can make it more playful by each making a list and trading with your partner about how you recognize their love and affection. Then, try putting into action the items on their list.
However it comes about, either direct or playful, the conversation around how you show and recognize love will strengthen your connection with your loved ones. Find the courage to be vulnerable in love, it’s worth it.
Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento area therapist specializing in helping people lead authentic lives. Adriana is most passionate about supporting individuals explore their gender and sexuality, and advocating for the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My grandparents have been married 65 years.
Some couples stay together for 20, 30, or 40 years and the deep passion or love they once had slowly disappears as the years drift by. These couples stay together for a multitude of reasons (children, family, religion), but don’t seem to be very happy.
My grandparent’s relationship is not like this.
As humans, deep in our authentic core, we desire and crave meaningful connections with others.
So what is the formula for a long-term, committed relationship?
Over the years I’ve watched my grandparents keep their relationship committed, loving and passionate toward each other.
While there are many factors that have made their relationship work, when it comes down to it, for my grandparents at least, there is one that stands out above the rest: they grew together.
Throughout their 65 year marriage, my grandparents have had many interests, hobbies, passions and adventures together. They began their relationship with common goals and desires for their future, they supported each other throughout their careers, they supported each other raising a family, and they supported each other in their own individual friendships and personal goals.
Most importantly, they found ways to constantly evolve their relationship interests together.
Over the past 65 years together, their interests have changed. The activities and adventures they participated in 50 years ago are different than the pursuits they have now.
When I was a young child, I remember watching (and helping) my grandparents build their dream home together and play fiercely competitive games of gin rummy at lunch time.
As a young adult, I recall my grandparents traveling the US and world together.
They’re older now, so their interests have changed again.
The important thing is their interests change TOGETHER.
As individuals we evolve and grow throughout our lives in many ways: emotionally, relationally, and intellectually.
It’s no different for the relationships we are in. This is easy to see in the friendships we’ve had from childhood. Keeping a friendship active from childhood means evolving and changing as we enter teen years and into adulthood. The things you shared in childhood differ from the activities you participated in as a teenager or adult. To remain friends, to remain close, it’s vital to remain connected. To shift and change as each person develops individually. It’s a natural process, but without some effort there will be increased distance and separation, and the relationship will drift apart and end.
Are you growing together or growing apart in your relationship?
Ask yourself a few questions to evaluate this:
- What am I doing in my relationship to stay connected with my mate?
- How am I working to evolve in my relationship?
- What activities do I enjoy doing with my partner?
- What are some things that are on my ‘bucket’ list? Have I shared them with my mate?
- How am I communicating with others about my interests?
- What new things would I like to try with my partner?
- If I notice that we are drifting apart what am I doing to reconnect?
- How am I showing my significant other that I’m committed to making our relationship last?
It only takes fifteen minutes to starting evolving with your mate.
Begin by exploring the activities, interests and passions you and your mate both have individually. Listen as the other shares about their ‘bucket’ list desires. Are there things in common? Maybe you’ve both dreamed about traveling through South America, starting a business together, living in the mountains, raising foster children, the sky is the limit!
Starting this discussion will serve as a foundation to creating a life map together. Having a common goal or passion that you both work toward together will start your relationship on the path of growing together.
What small step can you take today to create this passion together?
Remember… Grow Together.
I’d love to hear about how you are working to grow and evolve in your relationship. Share with me in the comments or email me here.
Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, support for individuals exploring their gender identity and expression, and the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd. For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email email@example.com.