Although the Righteous Brothers song was titled, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”, I’d rather use the lyrics toward the end of the song, “Bring Back That Lovin’ Feeling.” I find it a bit more hopeful.
For every couple with whom we coach, they know what the loving feeling is. Yes, they can describe it in great detail – about how it used to be – warm, inviting, exciting, inspiring, respectful, kind, fun, great conversation, cuddling, great sex, time together, etc. Yet since we’re working with them, it means they’ve forgotten how to (or more correctly, chosen not to) do the things they need to do to cultivate, and bring back the lovin’ feeling, and have it flourish. As humans, they are not broken, just made some interesting choices. We know there are millions of other couples experiencing the same.
Have you been there in your relationship? Or, are you there now? Com’on, be honest.
The Way It Was
If you think back to when you had that loving feeling, it took work, even though it didn’t seem like work at the time. It took focused thought, attention, intention, and choosing to do some things that might not have been totally comfortable for you – but you did it anyway.
I remember being scared shitless about making those first few phone calls. Would she be willing to talk to me? Would she accept my invitation to a date? What could I plan that would be fun for both of us? If I tried to kiss her, how would she react? What conversations could I start that she enjoys? How could I respond to her questions so she would want to keep talking?
Even though it was uncomfortable then, 38 years later, we’re still together. Although we had many years of “forgetting” how to create that loving feeling, we have miraculously remembered, and our relationship thrives every day.
No, it wasn’t miraculous. It did take conscious, consistent, and persistent work – still does. When I step back away from our relationship, and look at it as if it is in a movie, the work I do to cultivate and bring back the loving feeling is a heck of a lot easier than the work I was doing to destroy the loving feeling and tear our relationship apart.
What’s The Deal?
Why did this, and does this happen?
Ego – the culprit we all need to deal with.
At the core, ego is all about me – my needs and wants above anything else:
- My need for safety
- My need to be heard and valued
- My need for attention
- My need to be seen as intelligent
- My need for sex
- My need for …
But ego plays a sneaky little trick to make us think that it is all about you:
- It’s your fault
- You don’t listen to me
- You don’t make time for me
- You’re wrong
- You’re so needy
- You never … (or you always …)
- You didn’t …
Ego likes us to be confused, angry, defensive, in conflict, discouraged, ticked off, and a big range of emotions that I describe as “not-love.” When ego tricks us into these feelings, it triggers a reaction that pumps cortisol, adrenaline, and testosterone (men and women) into our blood system so that our heart rate increases, vision narrows, hearing is impaired, and our logical brain can’t focus. The Gottman Institute call this condition “flooded.”
A Strategy For Success
If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know this is true. Even though I’ve figured out how to bring back the lovin’ feeling (much of the time), this still happens for me occasionally. But, I’ve developed some strategies to set ego aside, and do the easier work that allows me to feel joy, gratitude, happiness, satisfaction, accomplishment, and what I call the “love” feelings.
The first step for me is to be super conscious, aware, and attentive to my bodily reactions and feelings. As soon as I notice any sensations of tightness in my jaw, clenching my fists, heart racing, confusion, or a feeling that I need to defend, argue, blame, put down, or run, I stop and take a couple deep slow breaths. I recognize that ego is attempting to control and conquer.
I believe it is useless to fight, destroy, kill, or eliminate ego – that only puts a “not-love” twist to this process. Instead, in my mind (and sometimes out loud) I acknowledge ego for its concern for me and my safety. After all, it has done a good job of keeping me alive for many years. Then I ask it to step aside so I can use a new “heart” approach to bring back the loving feeling.
For some clients, it is helpful for them to imagine what their ego looks like, and maybe even give it a name. Then, in their mind to shrink it down to a tiny mouse or fly or worm or cartoon figure – in some way to minimize it.
With ego to the side, it is much easier to think about Carol, her wants and needs, and to do what I can to help her make her day amazing. It is much easier to think about our current lives, a long, happy future together, our dreams and visions, and then think, speak, and act in ways that support those.
If Carol and I can bring back the lovin’ feeling, anyone can.
Regardless of the quality of your relationship now, what are you going to do TODAY, to set ego aside and bring back that lovin’ feeling?
If you’re having trouble with this, you’re not alone. We invite you to call us or send an email. Your relationship is worth the work!!