My partner, Philipp and I have been a couple for over 9 years. We are together because we love each other and we are able to grow individually and as a couple. Still, it has been a time full of relationship lessons, that I want to share with you.
We’ve stuck with each other because we are able to make each other stronger. We are able to mirror each others greatness. We are able to kick each other in the ass to transform our shit. We are able to support each other in times of darkness. We are able to grow our intimacy towards ecstasy. We are able to cut through the crap and be transparent towards each other. We are able to trust and let go fully in front of each other. And sometimes we are simply not able to do all that. And that’s ok too.
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Our relationship has had a natural cycle of ups and downs (every relationship has) and on this transformative journey I have learned 9 mature relationship lessons which I am sharing with you today:
1. Your Relation-ship is sailing on the ocean, ahoy
The waves take the relation-ship up and down. Sometimes the ocean is crystal clear and beautifully harmonious. Sometimes the ocean can be wild and fierce, testing the boat in its substance and endurance. If both partners are willing to trust and invest in the quality of the boat’s substance, you will survive any storm.
When Philipp and I started to experiment with open relationships we were tested greatly. Our darkest and wildest emotions came up, jealousy, fear and insecurities…We wanted to stand, hand in hand, together, waiting for the storm to pass. We are willing to work on ourselves and the relationship. Know that hard times, wild storms, are inevitable. They test your willingness. They check if you really mean it.
Know your ship, meaning your relationship and the person you are creating this space with together, inside out. This way you know its weakness and its strength.
If you are going through a rough patch, and you know that you truly want it to work. So work! Put all the cards on the table, go all in, invest everything, do everything to survive the storm.
2. You need a compass
The sooner you get a relationship compass and know which direction you are going the better. In my opinion your vision (which is your compass) is the greatest foundation for a couple.
After a few years of being in a relationship we realized that stagnation was sneaking into our vibrant and fun relationship. In our intimate life but also on an emotional and mental level. We came to the point where we felt that we knew each other from top to bottom, from inside out. We shared all the stories that made us us. And then all you have left is the shared present and future stories. So a compass that guides you towards the direction you both enjoy can be of real use. You can then both work towards this destination and grow into an exciting non-boring future.
My partner and I have a project together, a vision: Constant individual growth, a loving juicy relationship, transforming 1 million people by 2026 with our business, living in the countryside in a beautiful house with enough space for co-creation impactful projects, hosting beautiful people and travelling the world whenever we want to. How exciting, right?
Do you have an exciting future image to look forward to in your relationship? If not, sit down on a lovely Sunday afternoon and create your vision compass dream board together.
3. Get adventurous and invest into lasting happiness
As we now know that every relationship is like a ship, sailing on the ocean, you might wanna think of opportunities for fun adventurous treasure hunts. Being adventurous in a relationship will make sure you don’t stagnate in the day-to-day, and will ensure a long-lasting tailwind.
Shared adventures and experiences are powerful memories which will make you and your partner happier than a house you have to pay off for the next 30 years. This is even proven by many books & studies that have looked at the question of how money can make us happy.
“One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation,” that’s what Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University says; he has been investigating the relationship between money and happiness for many years. “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Dr. Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.” Read more in this awesome article on the science of why you should spend your money on experiences, not things.
I started travelling with my boyfriend after being together for 3 years. This was perfect for us; sharing exciting adventures, travelling the world made us really close. A relationship boat can move towards many destinations; we decided to leave our home harbour and discover the world together. On this trip we discovered Tantra, Yoga and the world of Self-development. This helped us to deal with the earlier mentioned stagnation and boosted our enthusiam for changing ourselves and trying out new stuff in our relationship. Yep, also things which sometimes were even out of our comfort zone.
Think twice before you upgrade your shared car or house furniture (is this really making you happy on a long-term level?). Better invest into a beautiful safari trip, Tantra retreat or that concert you both always wanted to go. A shared experience is shared happiness (which lasts).
4. Upgrade your radio communication transmitter
Communication is crucial when you are, metaphorically speaking, in distress at sea, meaning that you are having a furious fight with your significant other. This happens to every couple. Don’t panic. First rule: You want to make sure your radio transmitter is upgraded and functioning before you do anything else. Are your words reaching him or her?
Many couples presume that more communication is the solution for solving a fight. Because we think that communication is the key for connection – that might be true for some individuals, but for others it’s not.
Figure out what makes you feel connected before you communicate your way through the fight. Cause if you feel connected by, for example, holding hands or body contact, you might much more easily communicate with each other this way.
I tell everything to my partner. He knows the good and the ugly parts. That really brings so much trust and strength to a partnership that any emotional emergency or disagreement can be dealt with. When we ‘fight’, we usually hang out on the couch being physically close to each other and have a heart-to-heart conversation. Sounds cheesy I know. But being in physical proximity will avoid banging doors, hurtful words and running away reactions (remember you are on a boat together).
Learn the language of love through figuring out what makes you both connected, and then, and only then, communicate your way towards harmony.
5. Don’t think you can read your partner’s mind (cause you can’t)
Your partner is an individual. And even though you might know his life and his way of behaving inside out – never think that you know what he thinks. Cause you simply don’t. I mean we can try to focus and open our third eye in mysterious ways and try to see beyond. Still, you’ll NEVER know for sure.
And this works vice versa. If my boyfriend tries to figure out how to make me come again, and I think: “What is he doing down there”, I usually try not to presume he will know that my body doesn’t want any more. Cause he simply doesn’t. Talk about it!
When in doubt, say it out loud.
6. Sticking with your needs and and saying what you really want
Everyone has certain needs and sometimes needs can clash and cancel each other out. Especially when we give in. Chances are that sooner or later one of you gets unhappy. Of course you can avoid conflict through giving in quickly, but that means you live your life in your lover’s shoes. Which, and I promise you, won’t make you happy in the long-run.
I am quite a social person and I love to meet new people. So every week I go to all sorts of meetups, seminars, workshops, and gatherings to hang out with new, interesting people. My partner is a bit different. He loves to hang out with folks he knows and isn’t so much into meeting new people. I used to try to drag him to those events. But very soon gave up and respected his need for privacy and intimacy. So now I just go and follow my need and he does the same with his. We of course still spend a decent amount of time together. Through our friends’ dinner nights or date nights, and during our working hours (yes, we work together too, he is the amazing technical genius behind this blog) but on other evenings we just follow our private needs.
This is a real booster for staying individuals and nourishing your own unique happiness factor. There is a saying that an ideal relationship is a two-way street. If you don’t have your own way, you are riding one-way which means much more traffic and reason for stress in the relationship.
Do you have a hobby or a need that you do because YOU love it? Ask yourself: What is fun for me? What have I been postponing for so long? What are my needs? Do that!
7. Overcoming the Woodpecker Syndrome
Maybe you are familiar with this: One partner keeps lecturing their standpoint forever and ever and the other feels increasingly disturbed by this monologue and withdraws emotionally. Today this phenomenon is called “Woodpecker Syndrome” in psychology. Usually the one doing the woodpecking is not willing to give up on their standpoint, so they keep feeding the toxic communication. In this case more communication would actually make things worse. Nothing gets resolved in those situations. So the one withdrawing hides every time the one with the woodpecker syndrome says: “Let’s talk.”
The usual pattern of the Woodpecker is that instead of talking with someone they talk to someone; this enforces the distance between both partners.
You are the woodpecker? Stop talking. Go on a walk, go to the gym to blow off steam – simply get back a restful moment. Then from a moment of calmness, look for ways of connecting and maybe you’ll find a solution, maybe not. Allow each other to disagree sometimes too.
8. Sailing into freedom
Right, you are in the same boat. But me-time is crucial, for each one of you. So if a two cabin sailing boat isn’t enough, meaning your home is too tiny to find space for yourself? You might wanna consider outsourcing your me-space (if that’s not too expensive for you).
Back in Thailand when Philipp and I were learning Tantra and Yoga together we were actually living in two huts. This really gave us me-time space. We of course enjoyed having sleepovers. This way our together-time became more precious and special.
On top of that, have regular stops at your me-time harbor, which means follow your own goals, hobbies and needs.
In my experience, the more we leave each other space and freedom the more exciting our relationship gets. We stay individuals. We continue growing and expanding as a person. Which means we are able to live our full potential and shine into this world. This is damn sexy. And for sure a relationship stagnation cure.
You find yourself in a long-term relationship and things are predictable and going the usual way? Break the patterns today! Maybe you’ve always talked about that Spanish language course you wanted to do, or that trip you wanted to take to India to this amazing Yoga Retreat all by yourself. You might simply choose to go on vacation with your bestie (leaving your darling at home).
9. Love the other anyways
This is in my opinion is the most important point of all. Let’s be realistic – people make mistakes. We all do. The question is, are we able to forgive each other? Are we able to look beyond our flaws and see the big and strong beautiful being that is there. Are you able to love the other no matter what? If it’s true love, you are.
In my relationship we remind each other about our greatness. We consciously practice seeing the divine in the other. We are there for each other in times of vulnerability. We listen, we care and we hold the space for one another.
Even if it’s hard to take. Even when we feel that we are not heard by the other, we try to hear the other anyways. Unconditionally.
Of course me and my boyfriend are not perfect at all. We fall and get up again. Our relationship isn’t perfect. But the practice of fully loving the other anyways, unconditionally, meaning without expecting and demanding, is a state we are seeking for. That in my opinion is true love, taking your lover all into your heart. Fully.
Practice the transfiguration meditation. Gaze into your partner’s eyes for about 5 minutes and focus on trying to see the divine behind the body, behind the personality. Once you are good at that, you can do this practice mentally any time.
Inspired after those relationship lessons?
I hope I can inspire you by this write-up about the 9 relationship lessons I have learned in my 9 years relationship.. Keep in mind – those are very personal and subjective. They are my experiences. Yours might be different, but I’m sure you can take something away from this – can’t you?
If you are curious about working with me, I do offer sex and relationship coaching.