My husband Rene and I have been together 17 years now. Friends often look to us as the couple who has made it work and are still truly happy together. I’m glad that we can be that model for others but, most of all, I’m grateful for our 17-year partnership. Rene enriches my life in so many ways, and he would say the same about me.
But don’t get me wrong—Rene and I have challenges, just like everyone else. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t be as interesting, right? Here’s what I’ve learned about how to keep a relationship thriving.
- Grow within the relationship. Both Rene and I are willing to look at the challenges we bring to the relationship. Once we’ve identified them, we can release ego (also known as pride), surrender (suck it up), apologize, and offer up thoughts on how we can each improve our behavior or approach.
- Live your own life. Because Rene and I do so much together (we co-run an international school and private practice), we’ve found that we also need to have separate lives to enrich our partnership. We have different work schedules, so when one of us is working, the other is doing other projects or self-care. We also hang out with certain friends separately. Rene has his group of friends and I have my posse of gal pals, who I adore and see regularly.
- Support each other in living vital lives.We each have a daily practice, as well as an exercise routine. Since we eat together often, we support each other in eating well, so we have the vitality to be our best in our lives and our relationship. (There’s nothing like a sugar crash to send you into an argument about something as mundane as laundry or bills.)
- Stop and talk. When we get into power struggles, which two thriving independent adults will do, we stop and dialogue. Although we teach this communication skill, we have to make an extra effort to use it. It’s so much easier to drop into less fruitful communication patterns—or simply what feels good in the moment, like blaming, swearing, or yelling. Best to process that energy on the mat or via exercise or solo vocalization, rather than projecting it onto your partner.
- Reclaim pleasure in your relationship. Pleasure is available most of the time, whether you find it in listening to music, dancing, physical intimacy, engaging in lively and fully present conversations, or spending time in nature together. It’s what can happen when you stop, look into each other’s eyes, smile, and connect.
Prana Regina Barrett is the founder, lead Tantra educator, and yoga therapist at Tantra to Love™, and author of Lighter: Living Tantra. Prana and her husband, John Rene Berard, share workshops and private sessions internationally and co-direct the Tantra to Love™ Lifestyle Mastery Program and Educator Certification. Prana also teaches at Kripalu.