Deepening Your Love

by Kate and Joel Feldman

Your intimate relationship is supposed to be a safe haven for comfort, reassurance, warmth, and connection. The science of love now confirms that human beings must have love just like we need food. Our immune systems function better, we have more happiness hormones running through our blood streams, we are more relaxed, braver, and our self-esteem is higher. It is so clear why we seek intimacy, friendships, and long-term relationships. Even those of us who are introverted, and need quiet alone time, seek warmth and connection with other human beings.

But we are not just mammals with a predictable limbic system longing for safety and security. We’re human. We make up stories about the meaning of our feelings, our perceptions, and especially about our interactions with other human beings. This leads to a complicated array of reactions and interpretations about whether or not we are being loved, cared for, and wanted. We wonder about our self-worth, we want our dearest friends, partners, and relationships to know us so well that we don’t have to ask for what we need. And when they don’t, we are hurt, angry, and afraid.

It’s not easy to love and be loved, but the formula is simple: You must know and love who you are on the inside, and then you will know and love others. We can work this from both sides: the practice of loving others, and the practice of loving ourselves.

In our work with couples, we teach that openhearted, vulnerable self-disclosure begins the process of building intimacy. Someone once said that true intimacy is really the practice of “into-me-you-see.” The question for each of us is: How openhearted can I be with you? Vulnerability relies on our ability to be honest and compassionate with ourselves first. Can you welcome all of your various parts without shame? Can you actually say to yourself, “All of me is welcome, including my magnificence, my fears, my shame, my mistakes, my past, my deep need for love, and my sometimes-not-so-skillful ways of getting those needs met”? When you do this (imperfectly without shame), then you begin to extend that to others. And lo and behold, your experience of loving becomes deeper, more satisfying, more real, and, for sure, more secure.

Lao Tzu is believed to have said, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

If you think about it, within the practice of intimate relationship, this is exactly true. We stretch ourselves to grow, change, and accommodate, as we love someone deeply. When we receive someone’s deep loving, we feel courageous, open, and able to go through life’s ups and downs so much more easily.

How is all the accomplished? We believe that a deeply loving partnership has to include these principles:

  • The intention to work as an intimate team
  • The practice of vulnerability
  • The understanding that vulnerability is impossible without emotional, mental, and physical safety
  • The commitment to create an emotional space where both partners feel safe
  • Learning what says “I love you” to your partner and doing it
  • Learning to listen courageously to what your partner has to say
  • Learning to speak honestly without attacking, blaming, or shaming
  • Knowing that shame is what hinders our ability to reveal ourselves
  • Taking 100 percent responsibility for your part of any conflict
  • Touching each other often, in and outside the bedroom
  • Learning to be attuned to the world inside of you; then you will be able to be intimate with another.

Find out about upcoming programs with Kate and Joel Feldman at Kripalu.

This article was originally published at