My husband Andrew and I have a New Year’s Eve tradition. Every year we spend the last hour of the year recounting the highlights and magic moments of the year that is passing. Then we spend the first hour of the New Year imagining and envisioning what we will create in the year to come.
One particular year had been a tough one. Andrew’s business, which was all outside of the U.S., was forcing him to travel far more than ever before. We were apart more than we were together. I had a miscarriage and had also lost my beloved father to Alzheimer’s. Somewhere during all of these external pressures and heartbreaks we lost a bit of our connection, not to mention the passion that had been present in the early years of our marriage.
The last hour of that New Year’s Eve was rough. We were struggling to come up with magic moments in the category of Love. Part of it was a proximity problem. It helps in the passion category if you are actually in the same city. But more than proximity we realized that we had been in survival mode. We had spent that year just trying to survive it.
We decided in that moment that we would make our Love Relationship our #1 focus.
We are both extremely driven people and we pride ourselves on being able to create anything we want. And we also really love to have fun. We knew we had to create a plan that inspired us – a plan that would work well into our 80’s. We called this plan “Operation Bring Sexy Back.”
The first thing we did was get really committed. Committed to making our relationship Legendary. We began by working off the foundation that Lifebook had given us.
We knew the power of interconnectivity between the categories, and that if we followed through with focus on each one we would eventually ‘Bring the Sexy Back.’
We went through our life category-by-category asking ourselves this question:
What do we need to focus on, learn, or do in this particular category to take our love relationship to the next level?
We started with Health and Spirituality.
Health, Fitness and Spirituality – Meditation
Stress was killing our physical intimacy. We knew we had to take care of our physical bodies. So we did the basics: got back into the gym, started eating for life instead of comfort, went back to our chiropractor, got tested for food sensitivities, started taking our supplements, drank green drinks… we did a lot that year.
But the single most important thing we found in the area of our Health and Spirituality was TM – Transcendental Meditation.
Andrew and I had both played around with meditation over the years but never found a form of meditation that stuck with us as a daily practice. I started researching. Who is talking about meditation? What are they saying? Dr. Oz was saying great things about TM… so were Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld, Harvard and Yale. We found a local TM center and began the training process.
Within the first week we started seeing results.
Here’s what is great about TM… It is easy. You really can’t do it wrong. It is a formula – a process. It is 3,000 years old. TM teachers give you a ton of scientific research to back up all the claims, and they make it easy to begin. The effects of TM on our bodies were instant. It immediately lowered our blood pressure, soothed our limbic system and engaged our prefrontal cortex so we had access to our entire brain. We felt more relaxed with each other, happier, healthier and, yes, sexier.
Emotional Life – Imago Relationship Therapy
Emotionally we had a really tough year. I knew that there were some things we needed to clean up and take care of before we could build and step into the vision that we really wanted.
Being a Love Coach, I have access to some amazing therapists, so I started asking a lot of questions. “When it comes to communication what is the best model in field?” Imago Relationship Therapy came up again and again. We ordered every book that the founder, Harville Hendrix had ever written. We got the audios and took two courses – Getting the Love You Want, Keeping the Love You Find.
We fell in love with Imago. It combines all the things that intrigue us: brain science, love, conscious communication, and choice.
But the most important Imago find was our local therapist, Bob. He not only helped us navigate through some difficult times, but he helped us build a vision of what we wanted our relationship to look like, and then helped us identify the strategies that would take us there. To this day we still see Bob once a month, whether we need it or not.
I call this the “don’t cut your own hair “ theory.
We don’t cut our own hair. Even hair stylists rarely cut their own hair, and there is a reason for that. They can’t see the back of their head! From inside your relationship your access to seeing the entire picture is limited, especially in the beginning. It is difficult to see your blind spots, your triggers, and your patterns from the past.
Imago gave us our very own private communication coach. Everyone should have a Bob.
We spent that year looking for all the best resources in the category of love. We EDUCATED ourselves on what was cutting edge.
We wanted to know everything that was available in the arena of romantic relationships. We started looking for role models, we started asking questions of people who seemed to be having success in this area, we looked at all the latest research on relationship success, we looked at the books and audios, and quite honestly we got really, really overwhelmed.
In the information world that we live in today there is no end to the “experts” available on any subject you want to learn. Love was no exception. There were just too many.
The questions we asked next saved us. Who do we respect? Who have we learned from in the past? Who has consistently provided us with quality resources?
The answer was Tony Robbins.
I had worked for Tony for a about a decade and attributed much of my success to his guidance and influence. We quickly got ourselves to a relationship event he was having and deeply immersed ourselves… not only in the material Tony was teaching, but also the work of everyone he was learning from at that time.
On the first day, Tony said something to us that continues to be the foundation of how we look at our relationship.
“Ultimately your destiny, and the destiny of your relationships, are not shaped by your conditions, but by your Decisions.”
- What are you going to focus on?
- What is the meaning you are going to give it?
- What are you going to Do? (What is your Strategy?)
Tony introduced me to three women who have become incredibly valuable resources to Andrew and I. Their work was instrumental in Operation Bringing Sexy Back.
Esther wrote a book called Mating in Captivity; Unlocking Erotic Intelligence. As you can probably guess by the title, this book is all about how to keep the passion alive in long-term relationships. She is a couple’s therapist from NY who studies the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire.
The moment she exited the stage, I grabbed her and organized a session for Andrew and I the next day. In an hour she helped us break through barriers we didn’t even know we had. She quickly became very dear to me. I spent that year learning all I could from her. I eventually brought her down to Atlanta where we lead an event called Passion on Purpose. Her information is fascinating and extremely helpful.
Check out her Ted Talk on The Secret to Desire in a Long Term Relationship on this month’s Lifebook VIP Page. You’ll fall in love with her too.
Another amazing resource Tony introduced us to was Alison Armstrong.
Alison is the founder of PAX (an acronym for Peace, Adoration, and Xtasy). She is the author of two brilliant books The Queen’s Code and Keys to the Kingdom, and multiple audio programs. Her company’s focus is on educating men and women about the predicament of gender, the interaction of masculinity and femininity, and the principles of Partnership. PAX does this through live events all over the world.
For the last 20 years, Alison has been studying men and women. She breaks down the differences between men and women and gives a clean and clear explanation of why we behave the way we do. It is in our DNA to behave differently. Over the past 2 million years our DNA has not changed – each gender has been specifically programmed to act a certain way to survive. It is by design that we are different, but unfortunately women too often expect men to behave, communicate, and operate the way we would – and the same is true for men.
I quickly enrolled myself into the next available live course, “Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women” and within the first 20 minutes I knew I would take EVERY course that was available. Andrew soon followed. We deeply immersed ourselves in all of Alison’s work.
Once we understood the differences between men and women we began to communicate with awareness, compassion and partnership. It changed everything.
Nicole Daedone is the author of a book titled Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm. She has been teaching people for over a decade how to have better sex and better relationships.
Andrew and I were equally excited/curious to hear her speak. I had checked out her work before and, while it sounded great in theory, I wasn’t sure if it would be right for me. She had been highly recommended to me by Dr. Christine Northrup and Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, but I was still not sold.
As Nicole stood on stage speaking I had a whole new vision of what my life could look like in this area: A deeper, richer connection to my partner? Increased sexual sensation? More enhanced sexual experiences? A greater interest in sex? A way to work sexual connection into a busy schedule? Multiple orgasms? A combination of meditative awareness and sexual pleasure? All in 15 minutes a day? It all sounded to good to be true.
So I got the book. And all I can say is this … it’s not to good to be true. It did all those things for us, and more.
My favorite Nicole quote: “A great sex life requires courage and vulnerability.”
Parenting – Leela Leverage
It was easy for us to find the leverage to create a Legendary love affair with this category. There was one reason. She was about three feet tall, and her name was Leela Salisbury. Our little girl.
We spent a lot of time working on the vision that Leela would have of her parents when she was a young women. What would she say about us? What would she have learned from us about love, and about relating to another human being?
We worked on that vision until we could feel it, taste it. We could almost hear her giggling with her teenage girlfriends: “Oh my God, my parents are sooo hot for each other. It’s so gross, but kind of cute.” By the way, we really do want to be those little old people who just can’t keep their hands off each other.
But most importantly we asked ourselves “Who do we want her to be inside of her own relationships?” We wanted her to feel confidence, strength, and freedom. We wanted her to have a strong, solid understanding of men and women. We wanted her to be happy.
Balancing The Mother and The Temptress
I had learned from Alison Armstrong of the Stages of Development of a Woman. The last three stages were the ones that fascinated me the most: The Temptress, The Mother and the Queen (Queen being a combination of both.)
I realized that during that really difficult year I had been living only in the stage of The Mother. It made sense. I was taking care of my daughter, my husband was out of the country and my father was needing my care around the clock. I was mothering everyone. It was necessary for the time, but once Andrew came home I continued in that mode and mothered him too. It had become my predominant way of being. Imagine that bossy kind of mom, ordering everyone around, checking their socks to make sure they are clean, wiping food off their faces. Constantly reminding them to do this or that, to hurry up, to wake up, to not be late.
Mothering your children can be beautiful. Mothering your man can be emasculating.
The challenge with operating 100% of the time in mom-mode is that I wasn’t exactly exuding a sexy invitation. I had shut that part of myself off. Not to mention that sex was the absolute last thing on my mind.
Very quickly I realized that I needed to unlock and ignite my Temptress. She had somehow gotten lost along the way. While caring for everyone else, I had stopped caring for myself.
I knew that I had to be responsible for my sensual self. I started dancing again. I got massages when I could. I purposefully made time to eat chocolate in the bathtub! For 3 months I would ask myself daily … “What would turn you on today?” Each day I would make time to do one thing that would delight and excite me.
Slowly but surely I was balancing my role as a mom and woman. I was stepping into feeling more sensual in my skin, more alive, more vibrant – and it showed. Andrew noticed. Sexy was back
Social was an easy category. We simply made a decision to only spend time with couples that were interested in learning and growing. We spent time with people who were cultivating healthy relationships. We looked for role model couples. And when we found them we asked what was working and what wasn’t working. We would also share with them what we were learning. To this day we still spend time cultivate those relationships.
The category of career has exploded for me as a result of our “tough year.” I knew that by deeply immersing and educating myself, our relationship would change and grow. I knew that it would have a tremendous impact on Leela. But I had no idea the impact it would have on my business, my clients, and my contribution to the world.
I believe we are all here for a reason and that everything we experience is designed to help shape us into more conscious, aware, happy human beings. So, I am grateful for that “tough year.” It made me reach for what I wanted. It made me question. It made me hungry and curious. It made me stop and gain clarity of what I wanted in the most important category of my life.
Maintaining the Sexy
There are few things that we do consistently to maintain what we built in that “tough year:”
- We continue to use our Lifebooks as our foundation for the Life we are creating
- We capture, document, and journal about our magic moments, weekly, monthly, quarterly
- We continue to educate ourselves in the area of intimate relationships
- We see Bob monthly
We schedule our time together – We will never again be victims of proximity.
We move mountains to be together.
Once a week: Date Night – we take turns planning.
Once a month: Stay–cation at the St. Regis (5 miles from our home)
Once a quarter: Weekend trip together just the two of us.
Once a Year: 1-2 weeks in an exotic location. It is full of Adventure and Play. I let my Temptress plan this vacation J
I am happy to say Operation Bring Sexy Back was successful. Not only did we bring it back, but we have managed to keep it alive and growing each year.