Valentine's Intimacy — As Good as Chocolate but Without the Down Side
By Neill Gibson and Beth Banning
This Valentine’s would you like to recapture that yummy closeness you want with your mate? Is it time to infuse your relationship with the chocolate-like sweetness of intimacy once again? If this sounds good to you, read on to discover our seven-step recipe for coaxing that confectionary delight of intimacy back into your relationship.
What Do Intimacy and Chocolate have in Common?
Well if you feel the same as most people do about chocolate, you want it — even crave it sometimes. We enjoy smelling it, cooking with it, and of course eating it! Many of us drive miles out of our way to try the newest chocolate confection.
But, as with anything in life, it’s good to maintain a healthy balance in our lives so we can fully enjoy the opportunities to savor those chocolate treats when they arise.
This is also true for intimacy. We all want intimacy, even crave it at times. We can’t help but enjoy that delicious closeness that intimacy with another person gives us. And if we want to maintain intimacy in our relationships, we have to be careful to balance the distractions of our busy lives with the effort we put into keeping our intimate connection alive and well.
So if you’re willing to go the extra mile to indulge in the newest chocolaty treat in town, then consider trying this seven step recipe for creating all the intimacy you desire, right at home!
The Valentine’s Intimacy Recipe for Couples
Step 1: Prepare the Bowl — Create a Supportive Space for Intimate Conversation
Many experts suggest that honesty is the best policy. To put this policy into practice, we suggest you talk to each other and really get to know how you each feel about your desire for intimacy.
Discuss what you each enjoy and what things you like to experience during your intimate times together. Starting by sharing this kind of intimacy about intimacy can create a deep connection.
While this is a great first step, we believe that how and where you have this conversation makes a huge difference in the outcome.
We suggest that you start by creating a sacred space for open dialogue — one with clear communication guidelines that will help both of you feel safe and comfortable. Begin by discussing whether there is anything that would prevent either of you from speaking honestly, and if so, take care of these issues first.
When we work with people we often hear them to express fears about being judged, or criticized. This fear can prevent people from feeling safe enough to share openly. Take the time to discover anything that might cause discomfort for either of you about having this dialogue.
Once you have each shared these concerns, come up with some specific ideas that will ensure this mixing bowl will be a safe space for both of you to share openly.
Step 2: Choose Only the Best Cocoa — Leave the Past in the Past
Think about it, you’ve set up a supportive space for dialogue, why waste your valuable time by being evasive or wanting the other person to read between the lines. Pledge to protect this space so that open, honest, intimate communication can thrive.
The fastest way to start indulging in the sweetness of your new chocolaty intimacy is to make agreements about what you will and will not talk about. Make sure you set aside any bitter ingredients that are more appropriate for a different recipe. Ingredients to be sure you include:
- An agreement that you’ll be open and honest about what you want that would improve the intimacy in your relationship.
- An agreement that you’ll only bring up past events if they’ll help you determine what you would like to have in the future.
- An agreement that you’ll focus on one topic at a time and refrain from attempts to “fix problems” in other areas of your relationship.
- An agreement to refrain from analyzing what was wrong in the past or who was at fault — let go of discussing “who did what, when.”
- An agreement that you’ll focus instead on what you’d like in the future and discuss “who can do what now.”
Add any others ingredients that will support each of you. Remember to include only the best cocoa of openness and honesty for your intimate time together.
Step 3: Mix in the Milk — Create a Mutual Intention
Intimacy takes both trust and the willingness to understanding what is deeply satisfying for both of you, as individuals and for your relationship. And a commitment to support your partnership’s ability to grow, evolve and thrive. This unconditional positive regard for each other could be described as adding “the milk of human kindness” to your recipe.
A very effective way we’ve found to do this is by working together to form a mutual intention for your relationship. You can do this by coming up with a clear, concise statement about what you both want to create in your relationship.
Here’s an example:
We intend to create a relationship with each other of freedom, inspiration, and caring where we both experience fun, support, and true intimacy.
Your mutual relationship intention takes the yummy cocoa of openness and honesty, adds the milk of caring, and stirs these together with what you both deeply value, and creates a lasting foundation upon which you enhance the intimacy in your relationship.
For help in creating your values-based relationship intention, you’re welcome to download our complimentary Values Exercise worksheet from the Free Stuff area of our website.
Step 4: Blend in the Butter — Ask For What You Want
Now that you understand what’s most important about intimacy for each of you — at a personal value-based level — it’s crucial that you explore what these values mean for each of you in practical terms.
Let’s say you’ve identified “caring” as one value in your relationship intention statement. For one person caring might be a hug at the end of the day. But for the other a hug might not mean caring at all. For them caring is shown through time spent discussing the days events and sharing what tomorrow might bring. To create the buttery smoothness you want from this recipe, take the time to discover what each value word in your mutual intention means to each of you.
Then discuss the concrete kinds of activities that will transform your mutual intention from words spoken to actions taken. Make a list of these.
Aaah! The creamy butter of knowing exactly how to get what you want, blended with the satisfying cocoa of openness and honesty, and mixed with the milk of mutual intention… you’re another step closer to the chocolaty-delight of intimacy.
Step 5: Supply those Special Flavorings — Negotiate, Leave Compromise Behind
Compromise is recipe for frustration and resentment, not the rich chocolate of intimacy! You’ll definitely want to avoid this recipe entirely.
Why? Compromise is based in the belief that there isn’t enough to go around, so you’ll have to give up on some things you want and settle for whatever’s left over. Fortunately, this just isn’t true. Compromise only happens when you lose sight of your underlying values and stop negotiating too soon.
Negotiation requires a commitment from each person that they will give up nothing they value, while at the same time having an equal commitment to giving up any particular strategy that would prevent the other person from experiencing what they value. Go back to your relationship intention and look once again at the values you identified. Review each of the concrete actions you decided would bring those values to life.
If any action on the list does NOT create the intention for BOTH of you, rethink it. Find a strategy that will work to satisfy your relationship intention for you both.
Remember, don’t compromise — never do anything that you don’t really want to do. The ability to stay true to yourselves in the process of negotiation is what allows the unique flavorings you each bring to the relationship to mingle and create your own unique delicacy!
Step 6: Sprinkle Sugar Liberally — Gratitude
Any time of any day is a GREAT time for adding the sweetness of appreciation to your relationship. While you are creating intimacy, take plenty of time to identify the things you enjoy about each other and your relationship. Finding those things you are grateful for and expressing your appreciation goes a long way to ensure sweetness in what you’re creating. Make a list and then express your appreciation to your partner: Give Them That Sugar!
You can always find one tiny little thing you are grateful for. And noticing even one grain of sugar is all it takes to begin finding all the sweetness you desire!
Let’s recap what’s in your recipe for that deep, rich chocolaty goodness of intimacy so far:
- Create a Supportive Space for your Open Dialogue
- Leave the Past in the Past
- Create a Mutually Inspiring Relationship Intention
- Ask for What You Want and Hear What Your Partner Wants
- Apply the Power of Negotiation
- Give the Gift of Gratitude
Step 7: Delight in Your Intimate Delicacy! — Renegotiation and CELEBRATION
You’re getting closer to the delicious taste, touch and smell of Intimacy! You’ve followed the instructions this far. Now it’s time to follow through on the agreements you’ve made about who is willing to do what, and when.
We suggest, each time someone keeps an agreement; you both acknowledge and CELEBRATE this wonderful contribution to your relationship. Let each other know very clearly the ways that keeping the agreement has contributed to your life and the intimacy you are hoping to create.
Of course you each hope that what you’ve agreed to will happen. But the truth of making agreements is that sometimes they happen, and sometimes they don’t. Normally when an agreement is not kept, this can result in disappointment, irritation, and frustration.
Here’s a much more satisfying way to respond…
When the inevitable happens and an agreement is not to be kept, don’t dump the recipe in the trash can. Celebrate that the agreement wasn’t kept!
Why? Because all it means is that you weren’t as clear as you needed to be when you came up with the strategy and made the agreement in the first place. If you had been then the agreement would have been kept.
Each agreement is your attempt to invent a new level of intimacy. Don’t give up if one part of the experiment fails. Edison failed thousands of time while trying to invent the light bulb. But he knew it was a great idea, so he kept right on trying different strategies until finally the light came on.
So all it means when an agreement isn’t kept is that it’s time to renegotiate. Go back and repeat steps 3 through 6 and figure out what was missing the prevented the agreement from being kept. Make an new agreement and try again.
Renegotiation and celebration are the yummy toppings that make for a Double Chocolate Treat.
Enjoying Your Blended Confection
Whipping up more intimacy in your relationship this Valentine’s Day can be like creating the most heavenly of all chocolates.
All it takes is:
- For both parties to be willing (two cooks in the kitchen)
- That you have the resources you need (fresh ingredients)
- And a mutually satisfying intention to guide you forward (blending in each of your personal favorites)
If you follow these seven steps we’re confident you’ll satisfy your craving for the rich chocolaty sweetness of intimacy in your relationship.
And don’t forget to lick the bowl!
Neill Gibson is coauthor of the PuddleDancer Press booklet What’s Making You Angry? He and Beth Banning are the founders of Focused Attention, Inc. They would love to help you learn new communication, relationship, and personal growth skills that will support you in having more fun in your life, and inspire a more conscious, loving and peaceful world.