The 4 levels of relationship in a couple:

Level 1: One-dimensional – “it’s all about me”
Level 2: Trade – “it’s 50/50”, a two-way street
Level 3: Each partner is 100% responsible for the relationship. Giving without expectations.
Level 4: There is love for your partner even in the midst of conflict/anger (within safe limits of course; harmful conflict is another story). You consider your partner’s needs so that things don’t escalate.

How to move up levels:

1) Show commitment and passion to your partner.
2) Understand your partner’s needs and what stage of life they are in (this is not necessarily related to age).
3) Communicate in the way your partner best receives messages (visual, tactile, verbal; in other words is it a look, a touch or a word that will best reach them?)

Ways to move down levels (ie Things to Avoid):

– Expressing your needs through disappointment (ex. “It’s too late”), shaming or criticizing the other.

– Expecting your partner to have x-ray vision and be able to “read between the lines”. He’s not Edward, ladies.

– Behaving as though you are in competition with each other as opposed to being on the same team. Engaging in power struggles.

– Referring to the general past, ex. “You never did this” or “You’ve always done that” as if the past can alter the present. This leaves no room for improvement.

Take an honest look: What level is your relationship at? It may spiral down at times, but you can always work your way back up.

And yes, it is helpful if both partners are on board!