By Colette Malan (LCSW/ Marriage Counselor/ Psychotherapist/AASECT Certified Sex Therapist)
Compiled by Wendy M. Nelson- The Morgan County News
As Valentine’s Day rolls around, love seems to be in the air, and the time to spark romance in all relationships couldn’t come at a better time! We interviewed Colette Malan who is a marriage counselor, psychotherapist, and the only AASECT certified sex therapist in Utah, to share with us new pointers and methods for keeping love alive, for married couples and singles alike!
In a world where relationships seem to fail left and right, Malan commented,
“Growing apart is a symptom of not paying enough attention to your partner and relationship. With all the demands on our time and energy, many of us put our love relationship on the backburner. Getting only the crumbs of our attention, our love lives starve from lack of nourishment.”
The reality is that “growing apart” is a normal stage for couples in long term, committed relationships. It’s called the “working stage”. The key for this stage is to work on the relationship, not leave it. It’s during these times that you want to invest more time and energy into the relationship and make the changes that are needful.
In their 32 years of marriage, Colette Malan and her husband Dr. Mark Malan (who is also a board certified clinical sexologist) have mastered the art of being in love! “One of our secrets for staying in love is that we have regularly calendared dates. We set boundaries on these dates: We don’t answer the door or phone and we don’t talk about problems. During these dates we totally absorb ourselves into each other. We court and romance each other and do those things that are most pleasurable to each of us. Because of these consistent “feel good” dates we are continually associating each other with love and pleasure, which keeps our desire for each other ever burning.
Colette practices what she teaches. “I am so ecstatically in love with my husband! “ she exclaimed, “Our relationship is pulsing with vitality. But I pay a price for the rich relationship we have. I’ve had to let some things go. Sometimes I let my house cleaning go, but the abundant love we share because of the investment we make into our relationship far outweighs the pleasure I could get from having an immaculate house. Our priority on “making love” has made our house a delicious home.”
Colette acknowledged that Valentines Day can be a difficult time for a single person. It’s hard to endure a day set aside for being in love when you are alone. But Colette shared that there is value in this season of being alone and experiencing unmet longing for companionship. “When you are in a long term relationship it is easy to take your partner for granted and some relationships can get very mundane and stagnant. One of the things I do to revive my appreciation for my partner is to remember back to when I was single, lonely, and longing for love in my life. Remembering that longing makes me more appreciative of the love I now have with my husband.
Colette also advised: “Make the most of your single life. It is not a waste of time. It is a time for you to practice self-love. As a marriage counselor I’ve run into the interesting phenomena of couples who can’t make their love relationships work because they didn’t do the prerequisite work of loving themselves. People who don’t love themselves are constantly needing love from others in order to feel loveable. What they don’t realize is that their lack of self-esteem and “neediness” actually repels others. Also people that don’t love themselves are more desperate to find love, and in their haste to find love, they often make poor choices in selecting a companion. Be highly selective of who you choose for your lifetime companion. This person will be a mirror reflecting to you your self-worth. So you want to find a person who really loves and values you. While you are single, make sure you fill your own cup of love, and you will be in a better state to find another person with a full cup with which to love you.
Here are some tried and true tips that Colette shared for turning your mundane relationships into a luscious love life, full of vitality and bliss:
1) Have Gratitude! Remember what it felt like to be alone, and appreciate the companion that you now have. If you are single, love and appreciate yourself.
2) Couples stay in relationships that “feel good. Be ever mindful of how your relationship feels, and make investments into the relationship that will make you and your partner associate each other with happiness, love, and pleasure.
3) Keep the fire burning by prioritizing your love relationship. Make consistent, high quality investments into your relationship by scheduling regular “love dates” with your Beloved. Put these lovemaking dates on your calendar first before anything else and then schedule everything else around them. If an emergency comes up and you have to cancel your date, make sure you reschedule it immediately. Don’t let your love dates fall through the cracks. If you prioritize your relationship and consistently nourish it, it will flourish.
4) Invest into what is most important to your partner. Often we give our partners what we want to give them, instead of what they really want. Find out what is most important to your partner and then make fulfillment of that desire your highest priority. Imagine the feelings of love your partner will have for you as you position yourself to make his/her most important dreams come true. Couples that are both investing into each other’s dreams and desires as if they were their own are living the secret to real and enduring love.
5) Teach your partner how to love you. Don’t expect your partner to be able to read your mind and just know what you want. It’s a myth that we shouldn’t have to tell our partner what we need. Take responsibility for getting your needs met, by giving your partner honest feedback and specific ideas for how to love you.
If your marriage or relationship needs a boost, or you’re a couple who is in need of some sound intimacy advice, or help in communicating, Colette and her husband Dr. Mark Malan offer couple’s retreats and individual couples counseling in a setting that will be sure to bring in a new spark of love and romance. Dr. Mark and Colette Malan, co-directors of Malan Relationship Health Clinic teach couples how to resolve relationship problems and keep their feelings of love alive and thriving. To Contact Colette Malan go to: www.relationshiphealth.org, or call (801)334-7217 or Dr. Mark Kim Malan (Board certified clinical sexologist) at (801)334-8583.