What Does The Return To Love And Intimacy Feel Like?
That’s a very good question. Here’s how the return to love feels:
Imagine peace and certainty quietly returning to your heart. Imagine looking back and feeling gratitude for your mistakes. Imagine yourself no longer exiled like the prodigal son, but rather, feeling welcomed in your home like an honored guest… all made possible by the return of trust and respect.
Now here’s how the return to intimacy feels:
Imagine kissing each other deeply like honeymooners. Imagine feeling a deeper sense of connection to your partner than ever before. Imagine looking into their eyes as they glow like candles. Imagine touching, hugging, cuddling and holding each other… not wanting to let go. Imagine passion rekindled, romance and adventure reignited. Now the best part… imagine this is only the beginning.
Does that sound good to you?
Do you want things to be better than they were before? Do you want to take things to another level? Above all, do you want to make sure that your mistake doesn’t break the relationship but help it break through to becoming a better relationship? If that sounds like you… I understand your heart’s desire. I understand the powerful yearning to know that you’re loved, wanted, and welcomed back home. And it’s because I understand this desire that I’m honored to help you pave the way.
Let me caution you, however.
Rekindling love and intimacy after infidelity is NOT easy —
especially when it was your actions that derailed it in the first place. But I have faith that you’re looking for what’s effective and not just what appears to be quick and easy. So beware. If you’re impatient with this process, it will only slow you down.
Here’s a story to help you understand what I mean.
Once upon a time, there lived a great martial arts master. A young man who had heard of the master traveled for seven days to become a disciple of the famous sensei. During their initial meeting, the new student asked earnestly, “Sensei, I am devoted to studying your martial arts system. How long will it take me to master it?”
The teacher’s reply was casual. “Ten years,” he said.
Impatiently, the student pleaded “But Sensei, I want to master it faster than that. I will work very hard. I will practice every day, ten or more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take then?”
The teacher thought for a moment before answering, “Twenty years.”
The point of the story is this:
Rekindling intimacy after betrayal is a process. It can’t be forced. The steps can’t be rushed. The more impatience you bring to the process… the longer it will take.
Key Point: Rekindling Love and intimacy requires the following three Ps:
If the thought of all this makes you feel frustrated or impatient, remember you have other options:
- You could find another teacher.
- You could find another process.
But you should know this…
Much like the new martial arts student, you’re going to discover that with patience, you will get there in time; with impatience, it will take you twice as long.
So, are you ready to learn?
Great! Let’s begin with a question.
What’s your definition of relationship happiness?
Here’s my favorite definition: relationship happiness means “wanting the relationship you have and having the relationship you want.”
Would you say this saying rings true for you? Do you have the relationship you want? And do you want the relationship you have? If you do, then your path will be easier. You see, the very fact that you have what you want means you’re extremely motivated to keep it. This motivation is going to make a huge difference in the days to come. What follows are my seven secrets to help you rekindle love and intimacy after the affair. When these tips are mixed with a motivated heart, they can literally move mountains.
Let’s begin that countdown now.
The Power Of The Right Question
Minimum Efforts Don't Work
During World War II, there was a time when one of the Allied Forces felt like they were losing after more than a month of wandering around lost somewhere during a march from the coastline of Southern France to the City of Paris.
Here’s what one general said to his battle-weary men:
“I know you’re tired. I know this isn’t what we expected. I know the march and the trek is long, but that is exactly what the enemy expects us to be thinking. They are banking on our own discomfort to be our weakness. Do not prove them right. Do not prove them superior. Instead of taking a small step, take a bigger step. Instead of firing one bullet, fire many. Instead of taking out one target, take out three. Show them that when we are tired, that’s when we dig deeper, that’s when we are at our most powerful. Because when you are fighting for something you believe in like freedom, minimum efforts just don’t work!”
Like the general, I give you similar marching orders.
When you’re fighting for something this important (like your family, your marriage, your life) minimum efforts won’t work. You have to step up. You have to play full out. You have to give it everything you’ve got. Your standards and expectations for yourself must be higher than anyone else could possibly expect. For example:
- If you’re going to send a letter of apology, send one every day for 30 days.
- If you’re going to send flowers, send them every week for a year.
- When you say “I love you”, say it 100 times, and say it with every fiber of your being.
- In other words, whatever actions you decide to take… double, triple or quadruple your efforts.
As they say in the performing arts, “Leave it all on the stage.”
When you get tired or frustrated, remember the general’s words: “When you are fighting for something you love, minimum efforts don’t work!”
The Right Questions Have Power
Would it surprise you to know that you already possess all of the resources you will ever need?
A key one is the ability to ask the right questions.
As simple as this might sound… when it comes to rekindling intimacy and love, asking the right questions is one of your most powerful assets.
Asking the right questions has been the seed of all of humanity’s greatest accomplishments. Henry Ford asked the right questions and made the greatest advance in public transport. Gandhi asked the right questions and delivered freedom to a billion people without shedding a single drop of blood. The Buddha was said to have asked one right question — “Who am I?” — and became enlightened.
Many others in your situation have discovered that asking the right questions is a powerful part of restoring love, romance, and affection to a relationship rocked by infidelity.
Notice: We’re not just talking about asking any questions, we’re talking about asking the right questions.
What are the questions you should be asking?
The right question has a specific purpose: to capture and lead the imagination of your partner. For example:Suppose you want to put your partner in a more loving mood. The types of questions you want to ask should lead your partner to access their own previous experiences of when they were in a similar loving mood.
Here’s a good example of a right question: “Can you remember a time when you really felt a lot of love for me?” Notice that in order to answer that question, your partner must access that previous time.
Why this matters:
Asking the right questions matters because 100% of the time, we are all dealing with states of mind.
Being loving, being hostile, being open, being indifferent, all the way to being sexually aroused… all happen in the mind.
So, when you ask a question that causes your partner to access previous experience… then your partner also feels those feelings in the moment.
Let me give you a few examples to get you started. (The key is to remember to formulate your questions, so your partner has to access a previous experience that matches the one you want them to feel now.)
Here’s your starter list:
Mood you want to elicit: Being in love with me
Question: Can you remember a time when you were so in love with me that you couldn’t stop thinking about me all day?
Mood you want to elicit: Attraction
Question: When was the last time you can remember feeling so powerfully attracted to me?
Mood you want to elicit: Positive self-esteem
Question: Can you remember a time when you totally surprised yourself by doing something you never thought you could?
Mood you want to elicit: General well-being
Question: I read a magazine article that said people have over a million feel-good memories from childhood hardwired in their brains. Can you remember some of the things that made you feel good as a child?
There you have it…
Some starter questions for you to experiment with.
Play around with these and create several of your own. You’ll be surprised at how effective they can be. Have fun and remember that asking the questions is only half the battle. Listening attentively to the answers as you layer more and deeper questions takes intimacy to another level. When you’re doing it right, you’re going to love the responses you get.
Your Tone, Tempo & Voice Matters
Have you seen some of the recent pharmaceutical commercials?
I find them fascinating. The drug companies seem to have a pill for just about anything — from restless leg syndrome, to lighter periods.
But it’s not what they’re selling that interests me the most… it’s how they’re selling it. Now that the FDA requires full disclosure about the negative (and often deadly) side effects of certain drugs, you might think that would scare away drug companies from advertising. But that’s not what’s happened. As it turns out, the biggest ad agencies and marketing minds know the magic found in Secret #5, and they have proved beyond a shadow of doubt that when it comes to communication… tone, tempo, and voice truly matter.
Here’s what I mean.
Think of a pharmaceutical commercial you’ve seen recently (maybe it was a pill to treat depression, IBS or lowering high cholesterol). Think of any one of them, it doesn’t matter. Can you remember how the commercial begins by outlining the problem and then presents the drug as the solution?
So far, so good.
But nowadays, in drug company commercials, there’s an additional element. It’s the mandatory full disclosure. And the way they get around this obstacle is pure genius!
They list the drug’s side effects in a very light, upbeat, and casual way. For example; “taking this pill may lead to headaches, diarrhea, bloating, redness, swelling” and the occasional uterus falling out! (LOL) OK, I added the last one, but you get the point. Because the tone, tempo, and voice-over is nonchalant that consumers disregard what is actually being said. It’s not what you say that matters most… it’s how you say it.
The same applies to our intimate relationships.
Our tone, tempo, and voice matter a lot. It’s one thing to quickly blurt out “I love you” as you’re hanging up the phone. It’s another thing altogether when you S-L-O-W your words down, reach inside your soul, and whisper to your lover, “I… L-O-V-E… Y-O-U.” One is nice and friendly, and the other goes straight to the heart.
Your voice is one of your most romantic tools. How you use it (or abuse it) will determine how quickly or slowly things heat back up in the bedroom. The right tone, tempo, and voice will melt even the coldest heart as easily as the sun melts an ice cream on the Fourth of July.
Here are a few secrets about voice dynamics:
- The deeper the pitch… the more arousing it is to the ears.
- The higher the pitch (or nasality)… the more irritating it is.
- The slower the words are spaced… the more important and confident you seem.
- The faster you speak… the more nervous and irrelevant you appear.
How you talk to your partner matters just as much as what you say. To get the passionate pot burning again, start paying closer attention to your tone, voice, and tempo.
Let’s move on…
Learn Your Partner's Love Language
There’s a wonderful book I use in my Marriage Rehab Online Workshop. It’s called The Five Love Languages. If you don’t own it already, I strongly suggest you get a copy. (Amazon has it.)
If you already have the book, now might be a good time to read it again.
Here’s why this book is important:
It introduces couples to the idea of “love languages” and helps them to understand that while the attributes of love might be universal, what makes a person feel loved is highly individual.
In other words…
We all have our own Love language.
And sometimes… it’s different from our partner’s love language.
Let me give you a quick example.
When my daughter Sydney was getting ready to start third grade, she told me how worried she was about meeting her new teacher. When I asked her why, she told me she hoped that her new teacher was as nice and loving as her second grade teacher. I asked her what it was that made her second grade teacher so nice and loving. She said, “She had a treasure box in the classroom, and she always gave us presents.”
This made me smile.
Because after reading The Five Love Languages…
It became clear to me that receiving gifts was definitely a love language for my daughter. In addition, I must say I have since exploited this knowledge shamelessly.
Would it be helpful for you to know exactly what to do and say, so your partner feels loved? Well, you can learn that. This book will teach you the five major languages of love. In our online home study workshop, I take things one step further.
Rather than simply discovering each other’s love languages (which is very useful), I also give exercises and experiments to help couples learn how to use this knowledge to their fullest advantage. I firmly believe it’s never enough to just read something. You must practice as you learn in order to experience real, lasting learning success.
Curious about your partner’s love language?
Start by reading the book and then do what I do with my own husband, children, family, vendors, employees, and friends — use this knowledge shamelessly. (Talk about win-win!)
The Power Of Indirect Influence
The Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Chinese cultures are known collectively as “cultures of consideration” because of their style of hesitancy and indirectness. Overall, the East is known for valuing harmony above all else.
This is reflected in a variety of ways, including cautious and indirect speech.
Did you know?
In the Japanese language, there are 16 ways to avoid saying the word “no” directly. For example, instead of saying “no” to her husband, a Japanese wife will make use of many “aisatsu”. These “soft expressions” help alleviate hurt feelings and avoid as much disagreement as possible.
This is completely different from the culture of the West, which is built on directness and straightforwardness. In English, the words “yes” and “no” clearly mean acceptance and rejection.
There are very few “aisatsus” to soften those words.
Growing up… I often felt like an orphan caught between eastern and western cultures.
On the one side, my father was Chinese.
His culture of harmony and indirectness were handed down to me in my genes. On the other side, my mother is Jamaican. Her culture is largely influenced by the Western system of directness. It took me years to find a balance between these two approaches of indirectness and directness.
Still today, there are a lot of times when I wonder if I’ve quite got it.
I’m grateful to have both these perspectives, because each has advantages. In fact, I believe that when it comes to rekindling romance and intimacy, the power of indirect influence should never be underestimated.
Here’s what I mean:
When using direct influence, you ask directly for what you want. You present your arguments and reasons for them. You have a specific outcome or agenda in mind, and you do whatever you can to achieve your goal. In America, most sales and marketing is done this way. Take a look at your junk mail and you’ll see what I mean. There are advertisements for life insurance, lawn care, dry cleaners… all telling you to buy from them. (That’s direct selling.)
On the other hand…
Indirect influence is much more subtle. Rather than using the front door, it makes use of side doors and windows.
One of the reasons I like the TV sitcom 30 Rock is because of the way they handle product placement. Rather than selling the product directly, they make it part of the show; sometimes, they even joke about it. However, they never come right out and tell you to go buy it. It’s almost an endorsement! The difference? With direct selling, you instruct to persuade. With indirectness, you show to influence.
Here’s how this principle can work for you.
Let’s say you’re a husband who cheated, and it ruined the trust and intimacy in your relationship. Now, you’re trying to win her back. So far, the gates of heaven have remained closed to you, so you do what you have been naturally taught to do: you bang loudly and persistently, you beg, you plead, you argue. Alas, it doesn’t work. What you’ve discovered, my friend, is that when delicate feelings are involved, directness isn’t always your best strategy.
Remember the fable of the North Wind and the Sun?
They had a contest to see which of them could get a traveler to remove his jacket. When the cold north wind blew, the man did the opposite of what they wanted: he tightened up his coat. The same thing happens with directness as a strategy for rekindling intimacy and romance after infidelity is used. It doesn’t get the gates to open. It makes them close tighter.
What’s the lesson?
The Sun in the fable uses a different approach. He simply radiates heat, shining brightly. Lo and behold! The traveler is naturally inclined to take off his jacket — no fuss, no resistance. Indirectness has that same effect. It doesn’t create resistance, and it doesn’t inspire rejection.
How can you put indirectness to work for you?
I consider this one to be the biggest (and most powerful) indirect strategy: it’s called “nonsexual affection”.
What is nonsexual affection?
It’s any kind of touch or connection intended to communicate affection but NOT to elicit a sexual response. I’m talking about hand-holding, kisses on the eyes and cheeks, hugs, cuddles, spooning, and all other displays of affection you can share with your partner, while still maintaining sexual boundaries.
Why is nonsexual affection such an effective strategy?
I believe it’s because nonsexual touch is healing. Everybody longs to be touched. Studies have proven that babies can actually die if they’re not held. So if you want to help your partner feel safe again, nonsexual affection is a great way to do that.
In case you’re thinking…
“What if it starts out as nonsexual and then ends up sexual?”
My answer might sound mean, but it’s firm: DON’T LET IT.
Until you’re out of the woods, you’re still being tested.
If you give affection that starts out nonsexual, and you let it develop into sexual affection, you’ve defeated the purpose. You might win the battle, but in the end, you lose the war. So let nonsexual affection be just that — nonsexual. If your partner wants it to progress any further… don’t let it.
And if your partner isn’t open to nonsexual affection, I strongly urge you to find other indirect ways of creating a connection. I’m sure if you think about it, you can come up with a few ideas. Keep everything in the spirit of the allegory of the North Wind and the Sun.
If you come on directly…
Chances are high that your partner will pull back and shut down.
If you find ways to create connection indirectly, chances are better that your partner will relax, lower that guard, and let you in. Isn’t that what you wanted in the first place?
The Power Of Surprise
There’s a sign that’s been hanging on my wall for years that simply says “Surprise Me”. I’ve always liked it because it gives away one of my most secret pleasures: I love a good surprise!
A good surprise has the power to take your breath away. The moment just before and the moment just after you’ve discovered something wonderful… has a way of remaining suspended in your mind forever… like that moment when Bugs Bunny rushes off a cliff and spends a second or two hanging in midair.
But the opposite is also true.
An unpleasant surprise can be devastating. Couples who have experienced infidelity often tell me it was the surprise of getting caught (for the wayward) and the unexpectedness of the discovery (for the betrayed partner) that ended up creating the most traumatic memories. Surprises are powerful because they have the ability to pause time and create a gap in our predictable expectations. The secret, however, is to make sure they result in good feelings, not bad ones.
My question to you is this.
How do you reverse the negative effects of an unpleasant surprise? Well, the logical answer is with the positive effects of good surprise, of course! Let’s pretend for a moment. Imagine that you and your partner had a “Surprise Me” sign hanging in your house.
If you were to see it as a direct message on how to rekindle the love and intimacy in your relationship, what are some things you could do?
Start a list… and remember, minimum efforts won’t work. Neither will just throwing money at the problem. Instead, think in terms of unexpectedness. Think of things that you’ve been resistant to doing or saying. Find ways to fulfill broken promises. Follow through on some past commitments.
Above all else…
…think about things your partner would enjoy. Look to your partner’s hobbies and reading preferences. Think about what makes your partner laugh and feel good. Do the things that are out of your comfort zone but are well within your partner’s. I believe a good surprise is like a good pair of shoes. You can never have too many. (Hint: Shoe Addict Speaking) Why not experiment? If you want to take your relationship in the right direction, I recommend you spend the next 30 days creating good vibes with good surprises, and see what happens.
Dealing With Polarized Responses
Have you ever heard of a polarized responder?
Even if you’ve never heard of that term…
Chances are you can guess what it means.
A polarized responder is someone who feels compelled to respond in opposition to whatever is being asked, said, or presented. It’s both a defensive strategy and an offensive strategy that comes from a desire to assert control.
Polarized responders can be described as people who:
- Could argue with a signpost
- If you say black, they say white
- Disagree just to disagree
- Can be stubborn and inflexible
- Are like the rebel without a cause
- Have a passive-aggressive response to the world
How do people become polarized?
The thing to note with polarized responders is that it’s a learned strategy. It’s usually being adopted as a way to take back power by those who felt like they were powerless or had very little control, because as long as they do the opposite of what is being asked, suggested, expected, or told to them, they feel like they are in charge.
But here’s the problem with polarized responding:
It has a way of becoming a habitual automated response to all situations. So instead of thinking things through, polarized responders automatically move to the opposing position. Teenagers are notorious for falling into this trap. They feel compelled to defy authority… just to feel the power of defying authority. Teens will figuratively cut off their noses to spite their parents… just to prove they can. They often wind up resisting things that actually would have been to their advantage… just to show that they are in control.
Many affairs begin this way — as rebellion against a marriage, a partner, or a lifestyle that’s gotten too controlling. The opposite happens as well. It’s amazing how often a reconciliation effort gets torpedoed because the betrayed partner has become completely polarized in their reaction to the affair. After a decade of doing this work, I’m convinced that if more people knew how to handle their partner’s polarized feelings, the reconciliation and rekindling efforts would go a whole lot smoother.
Keep this in mind…
A polarized responder’s biggest fears are being taken advantage of and losing control. And this is exactly what happens when a person is betrayed. Then it’s a knee-jerk response to push back against the person that inflicted the pain. This isn’t good news for you. It means your partner will feel compelled to do the opposite of any of your suggestions or advice. If you suggest something, your partner will disagree. If you want to do A, your partner will want to do B. You say up? They say down. Soon, your relationship is turned into one big power struggle. And since I know that’s not what you want, here are a couple of ways to help you handle the situation. Two tips to disarm the polarized response:
“It’s not necessary…”
This is a classic aisatsu or Japanese softener. For example, you could say “it’s not necessary for us to cuddle tonight, but I sure would enjoy it.” Did you see the implied directive as well as the “out”? Remember, the polarized responder is inclined to do the opposite of what is being asked. A polarized mind will respond by thinking, “It IS necessary to cuddle tonight.” Doesn’t this just make sense?
“Maybe you shouldn’t feel/do/try…”
Keeping with the pattern of implied opposites, if you say to a polarized responder something like, “you shouldn’t feel this good so soon”, or “you shouldn’t let yourself be swept off your feet again”, or “maybe we shouldn’t rebuild so quickly”. These statements take all the wind out of their sails. Remember… a polarized responder feels compelled to do the opposite of what you say, so they may feel compelled to let themselves be swept off their feet, or that it’s okay for them to rebuild quickly because it’s the opposite of what is stated.
Here’s the caveat. These strategies only work IF you are sincere and IF your partner is not aware (that you are aware) of their polarized strategies. Remember, a tactic known is a tactic blown. In my line of work, I deal with polarized responders every day. Never underestimate their intelligence. In fact, most polarized responders are high achievers because in a lot of ways, going against the norm pays off.
Well, there you have it.
My seven secrets to help you rekindle love and intimacy. I have faith that at least one or two of these ideas have opened your eyes to a new world of possibility.
I have confidence in you.
A part of the function of any good coach is to strengthen motivation for change. And one of the best ways is by inspiring the learner to try new things that guarantee an experience of change. I have confidence that any one of these ideas you decide to test or adopt will go a long way in helping your rekindling efforts.
With that said, I wish you continued love and success.
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!