The Couple's Tune Up Kit

We take our car in to get service every 3,000 miles, and are advised to get an annual check-up, but how often do we "tune up" our relationship? What kind of maintenance and care keeps your relationship running at peak performance? The bottom line is that cars come with a maintenance schedule, and marriages don't!

Five Relationship "Tune Up" Exercises:

1. On headlights ...
What is your ultimate vision for your relationship?
What does love, passion, intimacy, connection, kindness and playfulness look like? How do you want to grow, become, and contribute? Are you creating with joy and pleasure? Describe how you would implement this in daily interactions.

2. On gasoline... Do you know how your partner best gets filled up and refueled?

Discover his or her "love language":

(a) Is it physical touch?

(b) Time spent together?

(c) Gifts that are shared?

(d) Words of appreciation?

(e) Acts of service

Pick your top two, and your partner's top two. Compare notes. We call that a "love map", that is knowing where you are going and how to get there. Where? To increased pleasure, connection and gratitude within your bonds of love. How well do you think you are meeting your partner's needs? Fill your partners tank at least once a day with at least one of these five. Five a day is better. Add your favorites to the list. Increase your relationship insurance. Have fun!

3. On the trunk...What is stored in the trunk of your car?
Are there playful games ready for anything, or smoldering grievances that have been stuffed away out of sight? Clutter busting your trunk is an excellent way to remain present to the energy of joy, pleasure and celebration in your relationship.

Axiom: Unresolved feelings from the past create 'charges' or emotional templates that influence my present relationships.

Three steps:

a. When triggered or in conflict, what is your deepest longing? For example, in conflict, I long to be heard and understood. That doesn't mean agreement. It means that my point of view is acknowledged and respected as legitimate, even while you may have a completely different perspective.

Fill in the blank. What I wanted and needed most as a child was _______________________________________________________________

b. The way I felt - and feel - when that desire is blocked is? (helpless, angry, sad,discouraged, frustrated, lonely) ________________________________

c. What I tell myself about the other person is________________________
______________________________________________________________

What is the judgment, criticism, or blame I say inside my head.

4... On the horn...How do you signal your partner?

How well do you navigate conflict? Are you warmer and more connected or more distant and estranged as a result? Anger and hurt ultimately represent unmet legitimate needs.

I recommend practicing 4 steps from Marshall Rosenberg below:

a. Observation: "When I see / hear ___________________________________"

(without interpretation, judgment, blame, evaluation, opinion)

b. Feeling: "I feel ________________________________________________"

One word such as disappointed, frustrated, hurt, angry, sad. See Feelings List

at www.gretahassel.com/ see Worksheets link.

c. Need: "Because I need __________________________________________"

Feelings are caused by needs which are universal to all of us. State your need,

one or two words, such as Understanding, Respect, Connection, Touch, Harmony, Presence, See Universal Human Needs list on Worksheet link.

d. Request: "Would you be willing _________________________________?"

Make requests rather than make the other wrong or stating what we don't want. When making a request we open to a "no". A "no" invites further dialogue to genuinely inquire what the other person may be needing.

5. On the spark plugs.... How do you keep the spark and sizzle alive in your relationship?

Eye Gazing and Hand On Heart mediation-Look into each other's eyes. Slow down, and get in resonance and in sync with your partner. Feel and connect with one another through your eyes. Now place your right hand on your partner's heart, while looking in their eyes. Your partner places their right hand on your heart. Breathe together and feel the joy and gratitude of sharing this time together. Each of you share words of appreciation to expand your heart and connection.

Breath, Sound and Movement- These are the three major keys to spread the charge from your genital area up to the heart and throughout the body for the most expanded experience possible. Inhale through the nose and exhale out through the mouth. Gently rock your pelvis. Add arching of your back on the inhale, and flatten on the exhale. Next, tighten the muscles at your root or base, that is, between your pelvic bone and sacrum. Or said another way, squeeze your pubococcygeus muscles (the muscle squeeze to stop the flow of urine). Pulse these muscles feeling the sensations. Soften your jaw. Inhale breathing from your root and imagine your lungs and chest filling up like a balloon, up to your head, and exhale back down your spine. Exhale with an ahh sound. Allow your breath to be audible. Just as energy follows thought, sound enhances the flow of energy throughout the body. Allow the symphony of your breath, sound and movement to loosen your body, circulate your energy, and open you to undulating waves of pleasure and to increasing heights of ecstatic divine love. Practice and play with these tools for increased energy and aliveness with your beloved.

Author's Bio: 

Greta Hassel is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been in private practice for over 20 years. She has a special passion for couples and relationship work, which has naturally led her to specialization in love, intimacy and sexual education. Greta speaks on such topics as "The Essence of Love: From Attraction to Ecstasy", "The Neurobiology of Love and Addiction" and "Dream Building: Making Your Dreams a Reality Now"!

Greta's years of professional therapy experience, show she is committed to empowering you to overcome difficult challenges. Stress, depression, relationship conflict, addiction - all are painful. Yet, through a shift in perspective these same problems can be seen as a catalyst for your own development and self-mastery. She brings clarity to empower your concrete, steady growth whereby:

Addictions dissolve into freedom and purpose,

Conflicted relationships ignite into conscious and ecstatic partnership,

Loops of fear awaken into increased fulfillment, and

Depression transform into springs of vitality.

With the expertise Greta provides, you will gain results and create the fulfilling life you deserve! It would be an honor to be a part of your healing journey.

Greta sees clients in her private practice in Santa Monica, California