life advice
6 Tips to Engage Creatively with Your Partner
Trust the intimacy in your relationship to open up and explore.

Marriage vows are as unique as the two people marrying. But how often does a couple vow to speak openly and authentically to each other, alongside the ďin sickness and in healthĒ exchange? Learning to speak openly is the most important vow of all. It underscores everything. So why is it neglected? Maybe because partners arenít sure how to kick off intentional conversation, or even worse, donít see the value in the vow.

Enter strategies of creative strength training. How can exercising your creative selves foster a stronger marriage partnership?

1. Learn something new. Donít be intimidated. Itís as simple as buying colored pencils and drawing paper, or watercolor paints and paper. People pay good money to paint in a class or in a franchised painting party. Go for it on your own! Painting doesnít appeal? Ask each other what sounds like fun. Is there something one of you has been dying to try? Take turns. And if once is enough, move on. Body paint? Now thereís an idea!

2. Cross train. You know what it means at the gym. Apply it to trying something new. Painted last week? Write poetry for each other this week. Main thing? No room for self-consciousness! Have fun. Itís just for the two of you.

3. Engage the inner rebel. Everyone has one. Itís the hard-wired part of being human that takes charge if only youíll allow it. We usually relate rebelliousness to teenagers. As adults, we may sublimate the rebel so weíll be perceived as agreeable adults, but rebel energy is energy that tries on new things for size and also helps keep us from being guilted into doing things we donít want to do. You each have preferences. Invite your rebels to have a friendly conversationóand pay attention. This is how we learn to honor ourselves, each other, our time, and our resources.

4. Dismantle your committees. Do you see faces or hear voices when you feel stressed or criticized? Those are the people who keep you from succeeding, or from enjoying your success. Psychologists call the committee "The Critic." Itís bigger than that. You might be your own worst critic, but you didnít arrive on the planet with that mindset.†A few people around youópast or presentóhelped.

Sometimes itís because someone was mean. But just as often, someone is on your committee because you want to impress them.†Face itÖ dismantling the committee allows your relationship to fly freer and higher. So whoís on your committees? Discussing them is a surefire way to join forces in the name of love.

5. Whatís distinctive about you? Thatís you as in your union together. The two of you are a couple unique unto yourselves. Write down your strengths and specialties; celebrate them; and then cultivate them.

6. Write your histories. I teach a class called "Everyone is Fascinating." Not a new idea, just a reminder. Loads of good stories are part of each of you. Share your stories by writing your histories. Lists are ok. So are short paragraphs or even a timeline. Weíre not going for the Pulitzer here. Canít think of anything to write? Use the list-making approach to unearth crazy, sweet, odd parts of who you are. And donít be afraid to write about it. Thatís how people connect. By authentically telling the truth. Itís what weíre all longing to do.

Bottom line? Relationships only deepen if both partners show up. Nothing happens if you donít choose to be present. Be there for each otheróand be amazed at how ready you are. How good it feels. Play, talk, write, repeat. Human strength-training in the name of love.

Jane Dunnewold is an artist who writes. Although her popular book, "Creative Strength Training: Prompts, Exercises and Stories to inspire Artistic Genius" was written to help artists find deeper joy in creating, her strategies apply to anyone seeking a more creative and boldly authentic life. Jane lectures and leads workshops that honor and encourage our human desire to create. See artwork, read more, or contact her at Jane Dunnewold

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