It’s what we say we want. It’s what we long for before it arrives. We daydream about it, imagine it, visualize it, pray for it and then when it finally comes…we ignore it and give it the least attention. Time to tune up your love life. Here are ten ways to kick up the fire in your relationship.

1. Go First! The attitude of you go first is a killer. It creates an emotional standoff and environment of fear because problems are not being addressed. If you care about your relationship and your partner, have the courage to say so. Speak up about the issues and make a commitment to fix them. The thing that kills most relationships is denial, which can, if you let it, go on for years. Opting for the status quo is nothing more than a lack of courage on your part. Ultimately, you’ll be sitting in my office, or someone else’s, hearing “How could you not know I was so unhappy, you boob?”

2. Stop taking your partner for granted. I don’t care how long you have been together, get over yourself, you really don’t know everything there is to know about your mate. In fact, you could sit across from him or her for the next hundred years and still not know every hope for the future, every fear, every dream, and every vulnerable spot in your partner’s heart. Get curious about what your partner really feels. If you are both vital and changing each day, this is not the same person to whom you committed years ago and it could be exciting to find out who he or she has become over the years.

3. Check your report card. Once a year go on a retreat, no friends, and no distractions and find out how you are doing as a partner. Yes I said how you are doing! If you are doing your part to keep love alive, why on earth would your partner wander? Relationships are not about the other person. They are about you. They are about your capacity for compassion, your need for sameness, your ability to forgive, your ability to stay present with an open heart, and your character.

4. Renew your enthusiasm. Create date nights, leave love notes, and ask questions about how your partner feels, even if the answers make you uncomfortable. Remind your self that the bit pudgy, or bit older person that has been sitting across from you for several years has the same glorious spirit he or she had the day you met and a quick look in the mirror will remind you that growing older is inevitable for both of you, not an indication you should leave or shop for someone younger.

5. Overcome your fear of abandonment or failure. Relationships fail, more often than not, from a lack of attention or denial than they do from couples who fight fair. When you emotionally leave your relationship, your partner feels that disconnect and eventually one of you will physically leave. It’s worse being in a relationship and feeling lonely than it is being single and feeling lonely At least if you are single there are options.

6. Stop acting small. Take a minute to look back at the series of things in your life you have never addressed or issues you walked away from. Then ask yourself, Am I living life fully? Do I have a rich rewarding life or is something always missing. The thing that is missing is You! Get in the game. Talk about your feelings and needs. Ask for time and create processes to go deeper.

7. Learn to tolerate and enjoy discomfort. The truth is always healing even though it may not always be comfortable. So your partner is not pleased with something you are doing. Would you prefer that he or she hash it out with the best friend as resentment and distance builds? Or, would you like a chance to fix it. Here’s a headline. It is not your job in a relationship to be perfect. Relationships give us a chance and a place to grow. We all have to make adjustments in relationships. That what they do…make us better people.

8. Take care of yourself. It’s your job to make sure that you are healthy and attractive, no matter what your age or size. If you are letting yourself go, no doubt your partner will be picking up the pieces when you have a stoke or heart attack. Make sure that if you love your partner, that you come first in the care department. That way you will be around for the good years.

9. Make a difference. If you are working on your relationship and everything is going well, there is nothing that creates deeper connection that working together to make a difference in the world. Volunteer to work with AIDS, kids or the elderly. Be conscious about what is going on in the world and commit to making it better.

10. Finally, find a place to feed your spirit. You don’t necessarily need the dogma or doctrine of organized religion, although there is nothing wrong with that either, but we all do need a place to get our character and sense of spirit reflected back to us. Right now more than ever before we need a strong moral compass that aligns with our own spirit. Find a place to strengthen that.

You’ll notice not much was said here about sex. My sense is that if you are doing all these steps, no doubt something fabulous will arise. Have a fantastic New Year.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

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