All happy couples are alike, every unhappy couple is unhappy in its own way is a paraphrase of the famous Tolstoy quote about happy families. All couples that start dating are looking their best, are thoughtful, and make time for one another. This is the natural flow of any new relationship and it does not feel like work. Work begins once the relationship settles from thea initial infatuation and romantic love stage. But without work, nothing worthwhile can be accomplished–not parenting, not education, not friendship, not even driving a car (the easiest thing I can imagine).
Love, relationships, intimate connections–the most important parts of our adult lives also require a lot of work and attention–reflection on 1 year of being married… Just a week ago we had a party themed on celebrating romantic love. One of the games at the party was to “share your relationship advice.” It was annonymous and many couples shared their thoughts–some have been married for years, some are newlyweds and some are newly in love. Here is what they had to say…
1) “Look good”–kind of skin deep advice, but if you think about it–now that you have the one you sought after, it’s easy to stop caring how you look. We might assume that our partner loves us anyway beyond skin deep. But the truth is that we all want attractive partners. So, workout to look good on the outside, care about how you dress and how you style. But even more importantly, learn and grow internally to look good on the inside. When outside beauty is eclipsed with inside, one is irresistible to keep for good 😉
2) “Be thoughtful”--whether you make his or her coffee in a.m. or he protectedly takes off his jacket to shield you from the cold–these actions are the language of love. Also, to be thoughtful, one has to listen. Really listen. Because when people listen to us we feel understood, validated and loved.
3) “Make time for connection and stress reduction as a couple”– It is not always about errands, paying bills, and coordinating the car pool. It is about taking care of one another, true connection. Have scheduled dates, take yoga or dance lessons together. Even little rituals, like kissing each other before leaving for work and sending sweet texts during the day, can have a reigniting effect onto the marriage.
4) “Bite your tongue, often”– A lot of pity arguments would not even start if partners are mindful of what they let out of their mouth. If it is a worthwhile issue, address it later but without the heat of the moment. Later it may turn out not to be of an essence to even bring up.
5) “Don’t go to bed angry, always make peace and say ‘good night…I love you'”–this is a definite keeper because 99.9% of the long term married couples that I have personally interviewed during house calls stated just the above quote. So, this one must be truly important 🙂
6) “Walk in the rain, in the mountains, on the ocean, everywhere”–there are good times and trying times. When trying times don’t break a couple, they bring them closer…
7) “It is always good to strive to be in tune with each other–so that you have a sense of what the other is feeling”–this one is my favorite (not only because I made Chris confess he wrote it) because it assumes that a lot of couplehood is being one in body, mind and soul and when there is a disconnect, why be a couple anymore?
There are a multitude of other aspects of “work” in the relationship as a couple(besides the ones mentioned), especially if you have children. I think if people have a more realistic picture of day-to-day life as a family, there is going to be less disappointment. If there is less disappointment there is less opportunity for negativity. Therefore, “work” on your relationship and give your best just because it is one of the most important parts of your life. And anything that is worthwhile does not happen automatically. It takes action. Love is too, a verb, after all.