Keeping Love Alive
I believe that finding, sustaining, growing, and enjoying satisfying relationships is one of greatest joys and challenges we have as human beings. We have generally been blessed with a tremendous desire to love and be loved; to listen and be listened to; to take care of and accept care from others. And yet meaningful, sustainable relationships often elude us – especially as it applies to the opposite sex.
Here are some things I’ve learned in my walk through life - as a divorced single mom, widower, and over 50 remarried - about finding and sustaining a “soul-mate” relationship:
1. Know who you are and what you want. You’ll never get what you want if you don’t know what it is. As women look for love, we often take what comes our way rather than seeking what and who we want. Knowing the type of person you want to spend the rest of your life with comes from knowing who you are – your values, interests, what you can/will tolerate, what you won’t.
2. Learn how to disagree, speak your mind, and/or confront.
Avoiding conflict is death for a marriage. It may seem like you’re on the right path by never, ever arguing or disagreeing but avoiding conflict requires repression of anger, which leads to depression of feelings. Passion is extinguished in this environment. Learn to fight fair and keep the slate clear. (see article on What Are You Afraid Of?)
3. Speaking of passion – keep the fire lit! I think women often underestimate the critical role sexuality and having a really good sex life plays in a successful marriage. Men, you know what I’m talking about! Create romantic opportunities, ask for what you want, talk, talk, talk – do what you as a couple need to do to keep this aspect of your relationship alive and well.
4. Don’t allow children and child-raising to take precedence over your marital relationship. A great marriage is the best gift you can give your children. Get away from the kids on a regular basis. Find a good sitter! Arrange for an overnight with just the two of you at least once a year. Talk about matters other than the kids, the bills, the family. Someday it will just be the two of you again. Be sure you still know each other.
5. Take responsibility for your actions and affirm each other. Say, “I’m sorry” when you make a mistake or hurt your partner. Say, “Thank you” when they do something for you. Appreciate what your husband does! Don’t take “expected” action for granted. Recognition and affirmation are two of the best gifts you can give each other. Spend them freely.
6. Don’t take on the persona of, “I shouldn’t have to ask – he should know.” This is one of the greatest mistakes women make in a relationship. I hear women say things like, “But if I have to ask for it, the real meaning/pleasure/gesture is lost.” Get over it! Men can’t read our minds. They’re not always tuned in or on the same wave length. Maybe they just don’t know. Be a big girl and ask for what you want! (I’m pretty tough on this issue)
7. Get help if you need it. Don’t put your head under a bushel. If your relationship is in trouble (no matter whose “fault” either one of you thinks it is), seek out ways to make it better. Find a relationship coach, a therapist, a marriage counselor, a book – I highly recommend John Gray’s Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus In the Bedroom (it’s on tape so you can listen to it together), Don’t give up – keep searching and talking and striving until things get better. The answer rarely lies in changing partners.
Review what you have, what you want, the hidden or apparent treasure of love. If you have a soul mate, never, never take this relationship for granted. It is rare indeed!
The average man is more interested in a woman who is
interested in him than a woman with beautiful legs.
Marlene Dietrich, actress