Good coupling involves a lively back and forth between safety and risk.
The security of commitment, mutual values, sharing a home, and managing day to day tasks as a team tends to create a backdrop of safety in couple relationships that allows for a sense of comfort, familiarity, and ability to “be oneself” and to “let one’s hair down”. For many people, these elements of safety, belonging, and sense of “home” and “family” are integral parts of the attractiveness of committed relationships.
But too much safety, duty, obligation, and familiarity can easily snuff out the romance and passion that flame the excitement and allure necessary to keep things from getting boring, dull, or too bland in relationships. For a sense of romance to be kept alive, couple relationships also require an element of danger, mystique, provocativeness. One simple way of inviting some excitement is to do fun things together, especially in ways that are spontaneous and break the rules a little bit. Putting obligations and commitments aside for brief periods of “getting carried away” by desire or imagination can go a long way. Leaving the kids with a sitter to go out and have fun as a couple, or taking a day off of work to “play hooky” together every now and then can offer a much needed break from the monotony of every day life.
But sometimes other strategies are needed too…and couples often lose track of how much they stand to gain by taking emotional risks when trust is high. Being emotionally honest and intimate can work wonders for the passion in a relationship- but often this is easier said than done. Putting ourselves on the line emotionally- being truly vulnerable- is a healthy way to push the boundaries in secure relationships, but couples have to be willing to “up the ante” on their mutual disclosures for a true intensity to ebb and flow between them. What once felt scary to share with one’s partner may now feel safe- taking it to the next level flames the fire. Uncovering buried layers of each others’ emotional terrain against a backdrop of safety and commitment can be penetrating, scary, exciting. Feeling that closeness and the next layer of trust deepens the bond and solidifies the glue. But it takes courage and honesty with oneself to truly make this happen. How can we say what we need, let the other know how much they matter, acknowledge to ourselves the limits of our self-sufficiencies, without a serious resolve for uncomfortable self-awareness and a fearless look in the mirror?
Some couples shy away from a useful negotiation of the tension between the comforts of familiarity and the rewards of risk and vulnerability. Using an affair, addiction, or geographical distance to flirt with a missing sense of illicitness, passion, or adventure comes with a big price. Resigning oneself to a union beset by repressive feelings of guilt or duty doesn’t tend to work that well either.
So when things start to feel particularly safe, familiar, and comfortable, it may just be time to look inside yourself for deeper needs, fears, desires, and insecurities lurking beneath the surface…and to allow yourself to be enticed into taking a chance at sharing them.
Are you ready to take your relationship to the next level??