The more connections you and your lover make, not just between your bodies, but between your minds, your hearts, and your souls, the more you will strengthen the fabric of your relationship, and the more real moments you will experience together.
—Barbara de Angelis
It seems while most young women were reading Cosmopolitan, Elle and the like, I was too busy living, so I missed the relationship advice. As a consequence, I’ve been married, divorced, the heartbroken and the heart breaker. Ironically despite having learned a lot about relationships, all the hard way, I now catch myself reading these relationship how to articles from time to time. Margaret Paul, Ph.D. wrote one entitled, “8 Keys to Creating a Loving, Joyful Relationship.” Here’s her list:
- Take responsibility for your own feelings rather than blaming your partner
- Don’t take your partner’s behavior personally
- Use compassion rather than judgment
- Intend to learn from your relationship, etc., it’s not as hard as it sounds.
- Lovingly disengage in conflict when one or both are not open to learning
- Have each other’s backs
- See the best in your partner
- Fun, laughter and play
The problem with this list is it just sounds like a lot of work. Although she’s fundamentally right, as far as I’m concerned, if you look at “working on a relationship” like to do’s on a list, it will become a slog. Since I’m creating a life I love, I’m trying to add joy and bliss into my life. So I decided to take the above list and put some sexy back into it.
Here are my 8 Keys to creating a loving, joyful relationship with a bit of my thinking behind each:
- Kiss often. My guy and I kiss often, not in a sexy, I want to rip your clothes off kind of way, but in a tender and tactile kind of way. In my house we kiss good morning. We kiss bon appetite. We kiss before we feed the dogs. We kiss “Hi.” Kissing is more than a once a day activity. It’s a constant and there’s a lot of intimacy between us because of it.
- Take my personal time. I’m good at spending time alone, so this one has never been hard. But I’m just now starting to appreciate how important it is. When I’m busy taking care of me, I don’t have time to worry, be jealous, or insecure and lo and behold, I feel safer and more secure when I’m with him. So I take time for me, alone. And bonus we each have new things to share and talk about afterwards.
- Say “thank you,” “please” and “I’m sorry.” It may make the sentence longer, but I love him so he’s worth the extra effort. I say, “Will you pass the salt, please.” I say, “May I see that book?” No gimme, yeah, or sarcasm, ever. Kindness makes everything softer.
- Be touchy feely. This could count as a repeat of number one, but… We hold hands. We look into each other’s eyes when we talk. We stop doing whatever where’re doing when we talk. We face each other when ever possible. Paying attention to one another makes ordinary days, moments, hours special.
- Argue, but don’t be mean. We have flair ups and I think that’s a good thing. We both have a vested interest in our relationship, but we don’t attack each other. When we talk we want to be heard, we want to be understood, so naturally sometimes we argue. But, if something hurts my guys feeling or triggers him, I try not to say it. In short, I have his back even when I’m mad…even from me. We both feel saver with each other.
- Make every situation better. There are things that my guy likes that I don’t, so I make concessions (without resentment.) I’m not an outdoorsy type but my guy is, so if he wants to go hiking I find a place with a nice restaurant in the area to go to afterwards. That way we both find something we like. I seek ways to make what could otherwise be a less than optimal situation a treat for us both.
- Remember the reason you’re with your partner in the first place. Sometimes I just look at him and think about the goofy things he does that makes me laugh, how he tries to help me, how he tries to protect even though I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself. Then I give him a kiss. (See #1)
- Cook together. It’s an activity that improves communications: we decide what we’re going to cook together, we do the shopping together and then we decide who’s going to do what. Cooking keeps things new and interesting: each time we prepare something different we have a new memory or sometimes a good laugh. And preparing food lends itself to being sexy: try giving your partner something to taste with your fingers…
The creation of this list has been a “group” effort. He introduced some of these and I introduced some. We never talked about it. And we certainly never said, “If I do this, s/he has to do that.” I simply started doing things that made me happy. I didn’t want to do all the cooking, so I asked him if he’d grate the carrots, he said yes and we started cooking together. He started kissing me bon appetite and I started kissing him back. What’s so hard about that? In fact, nothing on the list is particularly burdensome. And I suspect that years from now we’ll still have a little honeymoon glow because of these tips.
Can you figure out which of my list tips matches the Dr. Paul’s tips? If your created a list of your own what would it look like? You see even the quiz isn’t so hard.